LDR Stigma... Part 2

Following on from my recent thoughts on people sharing their unsought opinions on my (thriving, thanks very much!) long-distance relationship, I wanted to discuss my confusion at another aspect of the stigma surrounding long-distance. And that is that those who disapprove of long-distance relationships are at best being unrealistic, and at worst, they are being hypocrites.

I think people carry around stereotypes about LDRs. They think they're formed on tumblr between fourteen-year-olds who haven't met each other (OK, sometimes they are). Or they think they're something which two reckless and foolish young things embark upon for a month or two with a holiday fling before getting back to the real world. Rubbish movies like Like Crazy(don't watch it! I repeat, DON'T watch it!) reinforce this view of long-distance going hand in hand with being irresponsible and/or lacking real communication with your partner.
But from my humble observations, long-distance comes in all shapes and sizes.
And if you commit to someone for life, the chances are that you and your partner will handle long-distance in some shape and some size, at some point in your long-legged lives.

My dad spends two days a week in Scotland with work. This is a small amount of distance, granted, and also for a short period of time, but it's still distance, and it doesn't really bear a huge amount of difference from me and my girlfriend being apart because we are studying at universities in different countries. The travelling my dad does for work is also pretty minimal compared to what it is for many people. A friend of mine's parents spend months apart because of his dad's job. And they've been married with kids for years and years. If you surveyed how many couples had experienced time apart because of work, I bet it would be an extremely large percentage. But these married couples whose employment sends them to foreign climes don't seem to be judged. They're not forced to listen to horror stories (see Part One) like my partner and I are on a daily basis. All in all, they are taken more seriously. Perhaps because they're married, perhaps because they have kids... though I find it hard to imagine that if Taylor and I married and reproduced and continued our residences on other sides of the world anyone would be very impressed! And so I suppose it comes down to the factor Taylor and I don't have: their age.

Though on the other hand, I don't know if the respect they receive can even just be attributed to that. Being young and away from your partner isn't unusual at all. Loads and loads of young couples end up in different places once they go to university, especially in England where it is very normal to study far away from the place you come from (although I do know that this can be a problem in America too. I've seen High School Musical 3). When I was at school, there were a lot of couples who had been together for a pretty impressively long time: like, I'm talking a couple of years. I know from facebook that a lot of these couples stayed together after going to study at other ends of the country. And I just had a quick peek and some of them are still together. (Wow, that must be coming up to like five years! Crikey. Congrats, if you're reading this.)

The fact is that being in a relationship doesn't stop life happening to you, and to be honest, anyone who put a stopper in all life experiences just because they had a partner would be wasting their life, big time. I took a gap year before coming to university (also before meeting Taylor), during which I went to Asia with a volunteer company. The volunteers ranged in ages, but there were several who were about my age and had come away for a couple of months, leaving a boyfriend or girlfriend at home. And, for that matter, there were married people who'd left a spouse at home for a couple of months. You probably want to exclaim, "But that's different!" But how is it different? Going away to volunteer for a couple of months in India is not really any different at all from my girlfriend and I being apart for a couple of months while she is at university.

And on top of this, most celebrities are technically in LDRs, when you think about it. Yes, they're generally very very rich so they see each other more often than a loved-up couple of Average Joannes do but that doesn't change the fact that they're in an LDR. It may not be the best example because they did get, um, divorced but I remember reading an interview with Katy Perry where she talked about her relationship with Russell Brand and said how upset she was that the people coordinating her tours weren't factoring in her "relationship days" (ie. going to visit Mr Brand on a regular basis). I remember reading also how Brangelina have a rule that one of them has to be with the children at all times. Why do they have this rule? Because they are so often apart, filming on location or doing other Brangelina-esque things which force them to travel to far off lands. And if only one of the happy couple is with their fleet of kids what does that mean? That's right... That they're apart. Joel Madden was a judge on the Australian The Voice while Nicole Richie was rocking around LA and New York and other such fun, and very much America-located, places. I follow a ton of celebrities on Instagram and all I see is that their jet-setting lifestyles cause them to be apart from their partners, like, all the time. So how are those examples for making you feel in better company, eh, people in LDRs?

It's because of the fact that I truly do believe long distance to be such a common thing in relationships that I have to admit I often shy away from calling Taylor and myself a "long distance relationship". It's not because I'm ashamed of us being one. It's because I don't see the need to label our relationship like that. I'm not even sure it's true. In summer 2013, Taylor and I lived in the same place, together, for three months. We weren't long distance then. We were same-bed-sleeping, morning-coffee-sharing, trash-taking-out short distance. When she is in America, she is a long distance away from me. But I'm not sure it's right, fair or accurate to dismiss our whole relationship by titling it "long distance". Taylor and I are a couple who are kept apart sometimes by circumstances. It ultimately comes down to that I'm not sure what a "long distance relationship" even means, and if we're one then I don't see why a hell of a lot of other couples aren't too.


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