By Gabrielle Pech

As a 20-something college student, life is anything but stable. You’re constantly moving from one shitty apartment to the next, from one friendship to the next, from one job to the next. You get busy with school and a job and a mound of homework that seems to replenish itself faster than you can say the words “exhausted.”

The thing that makes this instability even more unsettling is the instability of romantic relationships. 

You see, my boyfriend and I have been dating since I was 17-years-old. He was 20-years-old at the time; we met through one of my friends who happened to be his cousin.

In the beginning of our relationship, he moved to Eugene for a few months and tried to get a job close to me. He didn’t, though, and ended up moving back to his hometown of Longview, WA. We’ve been in a long-distance relationship ever since.

Along with this distance come hardships. My boyfriend and I have almost broken up several times because of the distance between us — a distance that often leads to miscommunications of multiple varieties. Simple things set us off: liking a picture of a girl or guy friend who your significant other hasn’t met yet or reading a text wrong or missing a phone call or two.

The fights are hard, don’t get me wrong, but the fights aren’t the hardest part about being with someone who lives in a different city that is hours away from you. The hardest part is seeing them.

My boyfriend and I only see each other every few months. Seeing your significant other after months of being apart is great and exciting and exhilarating, but time is always in the back of your mind and you want to fit in every single thing that you have missed doing with them. In an instant you’re with them and smiling and laughing and your heart feels full, but before you know it you’re sitting on a train heading back to the place you live with tears in your eyes.

And, suddenly, you feel more alone than ever.

But, at the same time, it’s this missing someone that makes the relationship great. Longing for the person you love is what keeps you in the relationship; it makes the pain worth it. Even if you get into a fight and it’s bad and you don’t talk for a couple of days, you still text them and tell them that you miss them because that is realer than any fight or any tear shed or any promise made.

Right now, I am looking at my boyfriend, who is asleep, and I wonder what I would do if I could go back to the day he asked me to be his girlfriend and do it all over again. I wonder if I would say yes to him or turn him down. If I had told him no, it would have made things a lot easier because I wouldn’t miss him as much as I do or be as scared as I am about graduating next month.

But then I look at him and I know that my answer would still be yes. Because little moments like these clarify any doubts that I might have about the loneliness or the distance.

Does the future after college scare me? Hell yeah it does. Does not knowing where my boyfriend and I will end up scare me? Yes. Very much so. But college is all about growing and changing and instability and I know that no matter what happens, missing him is the most stable thing about my life. And that makes it all worth it.