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I regret staying in a long distance relationship when I studied abroad in England for a year. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I wasn’t warned and hadn’t heard about how terribly difficult long distance relationships can be, but I was determined to be the best girlfriend ever to my distrusting boyfriend.

He was my first boyfriend actually, I hadn’t really ever dated until I was 21, and 10 years my senior, he was a sense of security to me as I sold off most of my belongings, left my apartment and made myself virtually jobless and homeless right before I set out to live in student housing for a year in London. At this point I was almost 23 and had been living on my own for 4 years; I didn’t live in a dorm or student housing and had a real apartment to give up and no parents’ home to return to when the school year ended. This was the biggest and boldest move I had ever made which left me feeling the most unstable I had ever felt in my life. I was just happy that I wasn’t going to also lose the guy that I had fallen in love with.

School in London was great; I made a few close friends very quickly. We banded together as Americans and hung out every day. We went on adventures and explored the entire city, but all I could think of is how I let my boyfriend down and how much I missed him. Everything that I saw I wanted to share with him, I bought him stupid little presents and sent home care packages. Email via Myspace (remember that!?) was our main source of communication, which was BS because I even bought him an international calling card to bloody call me!

The year moved on and I put more effort into the relationship. I went home to visit him for Christmas, seeing my family when he was off at work. He hadn’t gotten his passport yet, something we had attempted to do for him back before I left. He said he’d work out the various complications and visit me soon. I left him a card with money for his passport when I left for the airport to go back to school, hoping that would alleviate at least one of the problems with his lack of motivation.

It was even harder to go back after the visit home. Homesickness was in full effect and I missed him more. I became more and more insecure as I saw more girls pop up on his Myspace page. I never felt crazier in my life and he would send me depressing emails about how much he missed me, but act all cool when I called him. I would rush home from class for these sad emails and spent countless hours on my computer waiting for communication. I asked him to visit, I even offered to pay for half of his plane ticket even though I was broke spending US dollars that were worthless in UK pounds. He got frustrated with my pushiness and I would feel even worse. I had SEVEN visitors during the year, none of which were my boyfriend.

I returned home a month early from my program to attend my graduation. My boyfriend could barely have sex with me. He was distant and even when I specifically asked him to hang out with me (which at first I posed as a joke) he couldn’t find time to hang out one on one. Six weeks later he broke up with me, and then I heard from various friends about some girl who had been hanging around quite a bit. They didn’t think she was a threat because they all thought she sucked, but apparently he didn’t, because they wound up dating, and I suspect this began before we broke up.

Retrospectively I can look at this and say “I regret the long distance relationship;” but it isn’t because I now know we would break up or that he would cheat on me. I regret all of the opportunities and enjoyment that I truly missed out on because I spent too much time missing him and wishing that he was there. Lamenting over our relationship and feeling crazy because jealousy was a new feeling that I had never experienced before. I truly think I would have enjoyed myself if I was single and didn’t get wrapped up in placing my sense security on him. I might have grown, I might have found a career or stayed longer had I not wanted to rush home to him. If only someone had warned me that long distance relationships are bad, not because people get lonely and cheat, but because they distract you from enjoying your own experiences.