When I first met Josh (not his real name), our connection was instantaneous and electric. He was externally confident, internally insecure, well-built, and handsome. He lived in Singapore and was serving NS while I was studying in Canada, but we made it work. We heard many horror stories about failed long-distance relationships, but naively believed we were the exception. And for awhile, we were.
One year into the relationship, Josh and I were still very much in love. He made me feel like I could achieve anything I put my mind to and made me laugh while I navigated depression. He was my personal cheerleader and my best friend. When we were together, it was a whirlwind of passion, excitement and affection, but when we were apart, our relationship was on Airplane Mode—the basic functions worked, but we lacked a meaningful connection.
Towards the end, we were at vastly different points of our lives. I was about to graduate and was applying for jobs while he was just settling into his first year at university.
I saw a shift in his priorities, wherein he continuously placed our relationship last. In retaliation, I met his infrequent messages with feigned disinterest and passive-aggressive replies. We wanted to love each other the same way we had before, but we had grown up and grown apart.
I received The Text while boarding an airplane to meet Josh. It read, “I’m sorry, I just think we should have a clean break,” followed by a single-tear emoji. Countless messages had carried us through our relationship, and a single message had ended it.
My parents were in an LDR for over 20 years. They did it way before Instagram and FaceTime were around. All they had were the occasional expensive international calls and flights that were costlier than they are today. Yet they still made it work.
Today, LDRs should be easier than ever to maintain, but at the end of the day, technology will never be able to replicate the warmth of having someone lie beside you, the graze of their lips upon yours, and the light thumping of their heart beneath the chest. All of this is lost between screens.
It’s hard to grow together when you’re at different stages in life, but it’s even harder when you’re also in different spaces. While it was tough and we eventually broke up, Josh and I recently met up to make peace, and I can wholeheartedly say we’re better people for having dated each other. Our relationship taught me how to love someone else, and our breakup taught me how to love myself.
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ILLUSTRATION DARREN EZEKIEL DEVARAJ (@KYLODARREN)