Half asleep, I reached for my phone to read the text that woke me. “Good morning, love. How was your sleep?” Rather than waking up next to my partner each morning, I get a morning text inquiring about my night—our substitute for a hug and kiss to start the day. These greetings make my heart both soar and ache. My partner and I have been in a long-distance relationship for 3 years now. We’re both single moms to small children and pretty rooted in where we live, which is why, even years after falling in love, we still live 1,400 miles apart. There’s nothing easy about it, but the love we have for each other helps get us through the days and weeks that stretch between visits.
Our relationship started off intensely, as many lesbian relationships often do. We declared our love for each other within weeks of meeting. When you know, you know. The only thing that makes our relationship atypical from many lesbian relationships is that we didn’t bring a U-Haul to the second date.
Though we miss each other so much it hurts each and every day, our relationship is the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever had. The love we share and our dedication to one another and our relationship makes the struggle and angst of missing my partner when we’re apart worth it. And as lesbians in long-distance relationships, we’re not alone.
Lesbians seem to gravitate toward long-distance relationships. As someone who has been in a couple of different long-distance relationships over the years, I can make a few guesses on why lesbians seem to find themselves in long-distance relationships seemingly more than our straight counterparts despite there being no real research done on the subject.
We don’t all live in cities
I grew up when the only Internet speed available was dial-up, and AOL chatrooms were all the rage. As a baby dyke growing up in rural Pennsylvania where no one even so much as uttered the word “lesbian” unless it was whispered in shame, I had to look online to find my people. Thank the goddesses for those AOL chatrooms! My first “girlfriend” was another closeted teen lesbian who hailed from a small town in North Carolina. We met in a chatroom and began an email love affair. Though we never met in person, our correspondence kept me afloat in a time when I felt very much alone.
And for many lesbians living in small towns where other dykes are few and far between, the online world can be a lesbian haven where you can meet not only friends but the potential love of your life. So many of us lesbians who find ourselves in long-distance relationships simply out of necessity. Once you’ve dated the only other two lesbians within a two-hour radius, what the hell else are you supposed to do?
Lesbian bars are few and far between
If you are lucky enough to live in a city with a lesbian bar that hasn’t closed its doors in recent history, consider yourself lucky. Even those of us who do live in major cities with enough lesbians to have a lesbian bar have noticed that lesbian establishments have been closing their doors at an alarmingly high rate. And it’s not for lack of wanting safe spaces for our community. When it comes to LGBTQ culture, our presence as lesbians has been sidelined more often than not. For every one lesbian bar, you’re likely to find 10 gay male-centric establishments. Maybe it’s because once we couple up, we tend to shack up and never leave the house. Maybe it’s because women tend to earn less on the dollar than our male counterparts and have less spending money. Whatever the reason, physical spaces to meet other lesbians are few and far between, no matter where you live. So many of us turn online to find friendship, companionship, and love. And sometimes, that love lives far away.
Meeting people online is easier than ever
We live in a digital world. We use apps to order food, share pictures with friends and family near and far, find rides to places, and of course, to look for love (and sex). Because we can talk to people who live all over the world at any time, long-distance relationships are more attainable than ever. Many of us find love in places where we aren’t even looking. I met my partner through our blogs on WordPress, for example. I can assure you that I was not looking for love when I was blogging daily about single mom life, but here I am, head-over-heels in love with someone who used to read my blog and leave kind comments.
Lesbians love to pine away
Is it just me, or do lesbians have a genetic predisposition to pining? I mean, come on. It’s as predictable as anything. Once Mercury goes retrograde, so many of us are pining away for our exes, romanticizing the past, and agonizing over whether or not to send her that “I miss you” text. (So many of us do and then live to regret it, but hey—our pining made us do it!). Nothing sets the stage for pining for someone more than a long-distance relationship. In an LDR, the intense longing (and desperation) for your lover can make you a little crazy, sure. But then again, aren’t we always intense and crazy about the one we love? I am now one of those people who asks my girlfriend to send me shirts that she’s worn all day and night, just so I can smell it when I’m away from her by wearing it or putting it on my pillow so I can smell her while I cry for her. I have no shame.
Being in long-distance relationships isn’t easy. It can create challenges that you may not otherwise face if you lived with or near your partner. But it can also help you grow emotionally both as an individual and as a couple. So often, we end up in relationships not necessarily because we truly believe someone is the right one for us, but because we are lonely and want someone warm to lay next to. A LDR is something you really only go through for someone you really care about; no one would go through the hell of missing their lover for just anyone.
Being in a LDR requires a lot of sacrifices, but when you really love someone and they love you too, it’s worth it all of the missing, the travel expenses, the pining. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. And when you’re together? Absolute bliss.
Are you in or have been in an LDR? Share your experiences with us in the comments!