There was something wrong with my coworker the other night. I could see the pain in her eyes as she went along trying to do her job without letting on how much she was actually hurting. Eventually she told me that her boyfriend left for college, and I immediately understood why she was so distant. She and her boyfriend graduated high school this past June and spent the summer together. They said goodbye the other night.
I watched her Snapchat and text him, trying to get some sort of grip on the new life that he was going to be living. I watched her pretend to be happy and smile at customers, knowing that there was a gaping hole in her heart. I saw myself in her. I was her. I went away to school with a boyfriend just like she did.
I know what you’re feeling: left behind, lonely, empty. It’s a silent struggle. No one understands how hollow you really feel. No one knows how much it stings your entire being to say goodbye. They can’t comprehend how difficult it was to feel his arms around you for one last time.
But I’ve been there. I know the pain of a goodbye. I know the misery of taking that final glance at him as one of you drives away. I know the nights of crying yourself to sleep all too well.
When you go to college with a boyfriend, people are going to look at you like you have ten heads. They’re going to question why you would choose to stay in a relationship through college, where you’re going to meet so many new and interesting people. They will never understand your decision.
It’s going to be difficult. I will not kid you on that fact. You will feel judged and pressured by other girls who love being single and want to go out all the time. They will tell you that you’re no fun. Their idea of fun is flirting and dancing. This is their fix of romance in today’s world. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But they don’t know the complete ecstasy you feel when you meet his stare. Or the electric pulse of holding his hand. They don’t know the warmth you feel in your heart as you lay your head on his chest. Or the moments that everything is so perfect you shed a tear of pure bliss.
People will never understand your choice to occasionally stay in on a Friday night and Skype with him. To them, it’s going to look like you’re wasting your college years because you have a boyfriend from home.
Don’t let that get to you. Going to college with a boyfriend from home is completely and utterly OK. Finding love in the world we live in is very rare. So when you have it, hold onto it, no matter the distance nor the disapproving looks you receive from people who do not understand.
I know this feeling you’re experiencing: the aftermath of your first goodbye. It is gut-wrenching. It is nauseating. It is miserable. But I promise, you will not feel this way for a long time. The first day after saying goodbye is the hardest. Don’t get me wrong; there will be a few sleepless nights. There will be moments where you long for nothing more than their arms around you and their lips on your forehead, rather than a ten-page paper and an 8:00 AM class. But most of the time you will be busy and not overcome with sorrow. Saying the initial goodbye may possibly be the toughest thing you’ll ever have to do. It was for me.
So while it may hurt to say goodbye and start this new chapter in your life without him by your side, just think about how magical it’s going to be when you see him for the first time. Absence truthfully makes the heart grow fonder: it’s a cliché for a reason. The first time I saw my boyfriend after being away from each other for two months, it was indescribably amazing. I just wanted to hold him and kiss him and hug him until I felt close enough to him.
When I saw him for that first time since we’d gone away to school, it was like the first few months that we were dating, when everything was new and dreamlike. We’d been apart for so long that I’d forgotten the butterflies in my stomach when he put his arm around me or the comfort of him coming up behind me to wrap his arms around my waist. It takes some getting use to at first, but then it all comes back to you and it feels incredible.
What it comes down to is that he is worth the wait. He is worth all of the pain that you will feel in his absence. He is worth the looks you will receive from people who cannot fathom being in a relationship through college. He is worth the distance.
People won’t understand but that really doesn’t matter. What really counts is that the two of you understand. The two of you love each other enough to stay together through college and that, that’s a truly beautiful thing.