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Long Distance Relationship
It was his sky blue eyes that first captured me. His messy mop of brown hair, pushed to the side in an attempt to clear his eyes, showed his rebellious side in a subtle 80s sitcom way. He had nice legs, not too scrawny, not to big; but most of all, an impeccable sense of style. His name is Luke, and for the past two years, he has been a part of my life. But its not as simple as that. If there is a certain way relationships should go; a pattern or path per say, then weve taken every wrong turn, every unbeaten and untaken path; weve been pushed and shoved and nearly run off the road to our unknown destination that most people call success. This isnt to say we havent been successful, because we have; weve just taken the hard way and faced countless challenges that have ended many relationships from the start.
There is no easy way to explain how Luke and I came to be. We never officially became a couple the way normal high schoolers tend to. He was my best friends ex-boyfriend who I coincidentally began to talk to online. I never would have expected that two years later we would be where we are now. To begin with, you never date your best friends ex-boyfriend. Its an unwritten law among friends created to avoid jealousy and unneeded tension. In our case, she happened to like my ex-boyfriend as well. So, we swapped, and in our complete satisfaction, cleverly avoided the unneeded drama. Before I ever even met Luke, I had heard about him. He was the 8th grader that Sarah had dated her junior year of high school. They went to church together and had remained friends. It was also before I ever met him that I became aware of the biggest challenge we would have to face. In a matter of months, his family would be moving to Belgium. His family had been living in the United States for about four years. They are originally from England and have also lived in Switzerland and France. For them, moving to Belgium was almost moving back home. When Luke and I first met, we both knew the time we would have together was limited to about four months. The night I met him, I had a boyfriend. When I saw him, I saw my best friends ex-boyfriend, a boy who was two years below me in school, moving to a different country in a matter of months and ever so appealing- a boy my mother wanted me to have nothing to do with. Naturally, I fell for him.
The situation wasnt all that bad. There were many positive things about him that initially attracted me. He was good looking and he played lacrosse at a very prestigious private school near me. He had the reputation of a guy just out for the fun, never looking for a serious relationship; he also knew the right things to say and he was very comfortable to cuddle with. Within two weeks, my boyfriend and I broke up and Luke and I began our relationship.
For the first month that I knew Luke, we saw each other once a week, on Sunday nights. My mother had heard rumors about guys at his school and saw them as bad news. Knowing he was moving, I simply chose to see him clandestinely, knowing it wouldnt be a long term secret Id have to hide. We could rarely talk on the phone, only late at night. The first time his parents found out about me was after I called their house in the early morning after Luke promised to pick up the phone right away. What a wonderful first impression they had. So there we found ourselves, falling for each other under all the worst circumstances. Perhaps these challenges that we faced prepared us for the challenges of a long distance relationship. We certainly had nothing going for us in the beginning but when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is back up. After a month of secret rendezvous and avoiding our families, I suddenly got the urge to ask my parents if Luke could come over for dinner. I dont know what possessed me to do such a thing, but they said yes. This was the first stroke of luck we received.
Luke has a way with parents, most love him. With his natural talent and a few tips from me ahead of time, the night was a success. All he had to do was compliment my moms cooking, ask for seconds and have a mature conversation with my father and they forgot all the bad things they had heard and loved him. At this point, we had about six weeks left before he moved, but we were determined to make the most of it. From that night on, our luck changed and since then, we have been incredibly fortunate considering the circumstances. There have been many times when I have stopped and reflected about the past and wondered why things with us have worked when they havent with so many other couples. It is then that I realize how I have treated our relationship different from others in my past. From the beginning, I never expected Luke and I to stay together. As much as I believed I loved him, his reputation and the fact that he was moving forced me to prepare and expect the worst.
When Luke moved, we had known each other for about 4 months. The last two months we became very close and very attached, but luckily the whole time we had known each other, we knew he would be moving. Those last two months gave us an opportunity to form a foundation to a relationship without allowing us to become accustomed to a life near each other. Many people in a long distance relationship have had a longer period of time together before the distance sets in. Once the lifestyles begin apart, the shock of being at a distance is simply too difficult to deal with and the relationship fails. Before he moved, we spent everyday together and the night we had to say goodbye was one of the most difficult Ive experienced. We didnt know what to expect or what was to come. I was leaving for Cancun and he was moving while I was there.
After Cancun, I was home for 2 days and then leaving for six weeks in Spain. Was it coincidental that we were both leaving for Europe in the same week? Perhaps it was luck, perhaps it was fate. Had he not moved, we would have spent the summer apart regardless. My summer in Spain couldnt have been better timed with Lukes moving. Not only were we closer in miles, but we were also only separated by an hour time difference. We were both meeting new people at the same time and basically in the same situation. We spoke online almost everyday and on the phone for about 5 minutes when we were lucky, yet we stayed very close still.
My parents were coming to Spain my last week and invited Luke to come as well. Neither of us ever thought it would happen, this same relationship that was so discouraged 4 months before. Needless to say, we found ourselves together in the bus station in Salamanca less than two months after he moved. This week in Spain was a crucial aspect in the success of our relationship. Luke was able to spend time with my parents and meet some of my cousins and together we enjoyed Spain. We had a wonderful week in Spain but we also faced some deep challenges that brought us very close. Had I not been in Spain that summer and able to see Luke, Im not sure where he and I would be today. There is only so much distance a person can take without forgetting what it is like to actually be in the presence of another. The irony of the whole situation still shocked us as he sat at a table with my extended family while cousins made a toast to our engagement, was it only 4 months ago that we were secretly seeing each other on Sunday nights?
When Luke moved from the United States, we both assumed we were moving on. When Luke and I left Spain, we were even more in love and definitely still together. After Spain, Luke started at his new school and I began my senior year. I recall an email that I had waiting for me when I got home; Hey listen, when you get home, its gonna be hard for you. A lot of things are going to remind you of me. Like everywhere in your house, your backyard, around church, and even at your pool. I know this is gonna be hardbut just enjoy the good memories Coming home from Spain was not as hard as I had expected. Although it was the first time being home without Luke there, I had been away so long that I was already accustomed to not seeing him. Communication was easier, with a computer at home, we were able to talk everyday on line, and as time went on, our phone bills got longer and more expensive. The hardest thing about being home was finding my place in Baltimore again. Since October of the year before, I had been dating people from another school and my closest friends from school had already graduated. Before that year, I never really had a reason to befriend people in my class. Soon I found myself into my senior year without any close friends. Once again, Luke and I found ourselves in a same kind of position with new friends. It didnt take too long before I found an amazing group of people that I am still close to today.
The beginning of the school year marked a new chapter in Luke and my relationship. New challenges included a six hour time difference to adapt to, new people to make us question our relationship and a routine schedule to work around. The time difference is still a problem. At 6pm my time, Luke is already going to bed. However, as usual, we have managed to make the best out of the difference. While he is sleeping, I do all my work without distraction. We talk before he goes to bed, and then I call him to wake him up before I go to bed. The whole time he is in school, I am usually sleeping. With the time difference, he usually goes to bed before I go out at night on the weekends and I dont feel bad as if I should be home talking to him instead of being out. It took us awhile to overcome the time difference but I believe now that we have made the best out of it. The challenge of meeting other people has come and gone and still challenges us and always will. There will always be new people and new feelings to make us question our relationship but we have found that communication and trust are the best defense. There are people who have become a threat but amazingly, they never seem to last. Ill never fully understand what makes me different from other girls but in my life, no other guys seem to match up. Ive been told that I am too young to understand love. Mainly I define it as the desire for commitment, the need to be honest, and experiencing the deepest feelings you have ever had for someone. Luke has done something to me that no other guy has ever done, he has made every other guy undesirable. The closer I find myself becoming to someone else, the more I am turned away from them. Through his faults, Luke has remained my focus through it all.
I didnt see Luke again until Christmas. As luck would have it, I was on a cruise when he came. I say luck because it gave Luke an opportunity to see his friends without me interfering for the first few days. Then I was able to spend three days with him before I would have to say goodbye until July. Things at Christmas were somewhat awkward at first but we were able to spend time together and that was great. There were six months between visits after Christmas. It was the longest period of time we had spent apart. This time, I was going to visit Luke in Belgium. After over a year, I was finally going to get to see his room, his house, his school and meet his friends. I remember how nervous I was. I hadnt seen Luke in six months and I was going to be staying with him for 2 weeks at his house. I had never spent much time with his family so that would be a new experience as well. When I first saw Luke, it was like seeing a celebrity. This person that I had longed to see for so long was finally here for me to be with. It took a day or two to get back in the swing of things but we had an amazing time. I loved being with his family and we went to England to visit his grandparents and extended family and to Paris with his mom overnight. Getting to be with his family took our relationship a step further. Coming from a completely different type of family made me love being with his family even more. I learned so much about them, including that his parents were in a long distance relationship themselves. I regret that I didnt get to spend much time with his family before he moved, but now that I have, I talk to his mom online almost everyday and his brothers as well. I couldnt ask for a better or more loving family, and I would consider myself so fortunate to marry into their family one day.
Luke came to visit me in college a little over a month ago. Each experience we have is always new and exciting. We have vacationed together, been to each others homes and being at college brought the independence factor in. For a whole week, we were on our own to do what we pleased. His coming was almost a last minute deal and I never expected him to be able to come. Getting to show him my life here was a great experience for both of us and I cant wait to see him again at Christmas when I go to visit him in Belgium again.
In two years, he has become more my best friend than anything else. Our relationship is different from most here in college because we talk so often and have to deal with not being together. There is no way to know what will happen in the future but I do know that all my hopes and dreams include him. Our journey continues to be hard and requires an enormous amount of strength each day. But everyday gets easier as I realize that each day brings me closer to him. Im a completely different person then I was when I met him and I believe he is too. He has transformed from a typical high school boy with no interest in a serious relationship to a boy committed to keeping a relationship for no reason other than love and happiness. Ive changed because I view relationships completely differently. I know that keeping a relationship with someone I hardly ever see is tough, especially in college; however I also know that he keeps me happy each and every day and I realize that in the end that is what is important. Our story is an unusual one, yet normal relationships seem so boring to me now. Weve had so much luck and I really believe that God has answered prayers for us and I hope that he will as we continue our journey for the next few years until we can be together again and never have to say goodbye.
a year and a half later...
I wrote that for an english class my freshman year of college, and I am proud to say that as I sit here typing this, I am in Belgium, as a study abroad student for a year! Last year, I decided to spend my junior year abroad studying and was hoping to be somewhere in Europe where I could see Luke on occasion, hopefully once or twice a month... then I looked up on the internet, study abroad, belgium, and found an american style, english speaking college, 5 miles from his house. Still not believing that this could be possible, I applied and hoped. I have now already spent a month of the summer in the US with him and have been here almost a month and things are nearly perfect. I couldn't be any happier. I know that our long distance journeys are not over as next summer I will be back to the US for my senior year of college and he will be off to the UK, but I feel as though we have been incredibly successful so far, 3 and a half years together.
We appreciate every day we get to spend together and have waited so long for a situation like this and are incredibly grateful and happy.
Lauren, Maryland, USA
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