I get a few responses when I tell people I’m in a long-distance relationship. My favorite is, “Oh, that sucks.” (Thanks!)

DSC_9211-2My favorite picture of us. Old men have a tendency to interrupt our best pics.

In some ways, it does. It’s difficult to maintain love and intimacy when there’s an ocean between you. But it’s good in other ways. It allows me to live my college life without too much influence from a boyfriend. I get to participate in activities, hang out with my friends, and generally live my life like a single girl (minus the dating around) during the school year. And then, when I’m on break, I get to dedicate my whole heart to the person I love.

DSC_9675From our vacation in Rome.

Or, that’s how it was. Now that we’re a little older, my boyfriend Ken has a job and I’m closer to graduating, which means summer work and internships for me. It’s harder to make time to Skype – because of his work schedule, because of the things I’m up to at Oxford, and because when you’ve been dating for three years (as we have), the desire to talk constantly tends to fade.

But as things get harder, we also get closer to being together again. For years, I’ve been planning on moving to the Netherlands after I graduate. If that does happen, it would mean that we could live together and actually experience life in a normal relationship – only four years late.

And a part of me is scared of that. How will we adjust to normal domestic life? How will I handle that in addition to moving to another country, having to make new friends, and leaving my family behind? Can I handle it?

DSC_8407My early attempts at Dutch domesticity.

When Ken and I are apart, I wonder. But when we see each other again, I remember why I made these choices. Because love isn’t about trips to Paris and Rome. It’s about understanding each other – and Ken understands me better than almost anyone.  It’s about accepting each other, flaws and all – and he loves me even when I am messy, or jealous, or bitter. Even when I’m so sad that all I want to do is lie in bed and eat chocolate-caramel digestive cookies (which happened yesterday. Sigh).

Sometimes I wonder how he can love me like that, when I can find so many flaws in myself. But that kind of love is the reason we’re still together, three years after the first time we held hands. It’s how you have to love someone to make this kind of relationship work. It’s an honor to be loved that way, and it’s a privilege to get to love someone the same way back.

And no matter how hard it is sometimes, that love is so, so worth it.

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

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