Friday, June 26, 2015

Why Dating Long Distance for the Summer was a Great Thing

I feel so lucky to be dating the guy that I have in my life right now. Nate is one of the biggest blessings in my life, and I couldn't be more thankful. He is hardworking, kind, sweet, funny, and most importantly, a lover of Christ. I don't know where I would be without him, and my life so far, and especially throughout my freshman year. I could not have pictured attending every Pi Phi function, endless library dates, Sonic runs, etc. without him.

With that being said, Nate is one of the most important people in my life. With him being from New Mexico originally, it means that any time we aren't in school, we spend that time apart. In the past, distance had always caused relationships that I had been in to end, but this time, things were a bit different. Until this summer, Nate and I had spent weeks apart, but never months at a time.

In addition to that, Nate spent a month at the beginning of summer serving at a Young Life camp in Colorado, which meant that he didn't have his cell phone. As a result, we basically were able to talk on the phone once or maybe twice during the week, and then send letters as often as we wanted. In today's world, this isn't quite the norm I would say...and I didn't know what to expect. I was nervous, I was scared, and I wasn't ready to say goodbye to someone I was so close with for such a long time, especially without the ability to communicate with them (in ways that I was used to, I should say). However, this period has turned out to be one of the best times for me, and here's why.

I was able to focus 100% on myself.

That sounds obvious, and like something that should already be happening. But during the school year, I was so busy. Quite possibly too busy, for that matter. I had so many things going on, so many people I wanted to spend time with, and when I wasn't busy, I was probably asleep. In college, there are so many opportunities that you don't want to miss, so you just try to do as much as you can. Usually, it works out, and I'm not dead or unhappy, so I think it's safe to say it worked out for me. However, now that I am home, and away from college and all my friends and Nate, I can use the time to focus on myself. I have run more miles in the month and a half that has been summer so far, and gotten to accomplish many things that I didn't have time for during the school year. I also have been able to commit to spending time almost every day laying out at the pool, which I am also really thankful for. All in all, I was able to relax, too. And it has felt really good!

I was able to focus harder on my relationship with Christ.

As a follower of Christ, I value spending time with the Lord daily. Until I came to college, I hadn't spent that much time daily praying and reading my Bible. That's not to say I was able to sit down and devote that time daily during the school year, because I often missed out on that. But this summer, I have had more time and I have been able to grow a lot. I think I can never get close enough to Christ, and doing so will benefit me more than words can describe in all aspects of my life.

I was able to devote my time to my family.

I am so close to my family, and getting to spend a lot of time with them this summer is something I am so grateful for! I love my siblings and my parents so much, and that was one of the hardest parts about going away to college, I just missed them like crazy! Being able to come back home and hang out with my brothers almost every night after everyone has gone to bed has been so fun. I haven't laughed as hard as I do with them in a long time. I'm past the stage where I fight with my siblings constantly, so I am also so grateful for that as well.

I have grown in my appreciation for my boyfriend.

They always say, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" and I am not here to get cheesy on y'all, but I think it's true. When you are apart from people, you either will grow apart (which means you probably aren't meant to be in each other's lives) or you find the feelings for the other person growing stronger or your love for that person increasing. I think this is true of both friends and dating relationships. Time spent apart from people helps you to reflect on that relationship and its importance. I have realized in our time apart that I am beyond blessed to have Nate in my life and I can't really see things being any other way, at this point. And that makes me so thankful for this time apart!

I have been reminded that a relationship doesn't define me.

I think a lot of times relationships that get really serious start to consume people -- and girls find themselves losing friends and other relationships because they are so into their boyfriend. While I don't think this has been the case for me, I am grateful to have this time to remind myself that I am someone apart from who I date, or even who I am friends with. Those around me don't define me, and while I don't want to not have the wonderful people in my life that I do, I am independent and able to do things on my own.

I should be more thankful for little moments.

Being in the same town (and even living within a few minutes walking distance) is something I took for granted during school. I think now I will have a better outlook on the time we do get to spend together. For example, in a few days, I fly out to visit New Mexico for a week or so. I have been so looking forward to this time, and I know it will be a blast! But even knowing that this time could possibly be the only time we spend together until school starts will make me value it that much more.
You can date someone while in college.

As I have had all this time, I have been able to reflect on a lot of things. As I look back on my freshman year, I learned a lot. One thing people always say is that it's pointless to date in college -- that this is your time for fun. I think that isn't true always. For a lot of people, it's a time of self discovery. I don't think that I missed out on finding who I was though. I think a lot of people just don't find someone worth spending their time with, and it's easier to say dating as a whole is pointless. And I totally get that, I haven't met another guy who I thought was worth dating (Nate if you're reading this, don't take that the wrong way! Haha) But it's true. Finding people worth dating in college can be hard, because not everyone is in the right place in their life that they are ready for a relationship, too. If anything, if you haven't found someone you like, it just means you have good standards and you should keep waiting for the perfect person.

But the truth of the matter is, it all comes down to how you spend your time and what is a priority. I don't feel like I missed out on a minute of fun in college. Granted, I might have a different view of fun, but I love my experiences so far. The way I see it, if you do it right, dating someone in college is equivalent to having another friend. Splitting your time can be done in a way that doesn't cause you to miss out on other opportunities.

It helped build a whole new level of trust.

I will admit, saying goodbye to my boyfriend and knowing he was going off to a camp with tons of really cool people was pretty hard. I was jealous because I wanted to be going off to camp, too! Like I said earlier, I would see Nate basically every day during the school year, and I always knew what he was up to. Since this summer was so different, it was hard to get use to at first. When you don't know what the person you are dating is doing or how their day is going or getting to share the ups and downs together was just an adjustment. Not being able to see someone or hear their voice or even read a text from them, is just hard. But as a result, I think we found a new level of trust among each other. Knowing that things will remain the same when we talk next and resting in that has been a blessing. I was constantly praying for peace during this time and I think I can say that prayer was answered! I never doubted our relationship, but now I feel even more confident in it.

I think it’s safe to say that this summer has helped me realize many important things about my relationship with Nate, and I’m so thankful for that! Of course, I would much rather get to live in the same town always, but I’m glad I was able to see the benefits and the “bright side” of this situation. I think distance is a common component to college and mature relationships, and learning to handle it with grace and maturity is important!



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