In a Long-Distance Relationship, What Is the Balance of Love and Sadness?

There are ways to show love, even when you’re far away.

Taru Anniina Liikanen

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Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Diego left me a year ago. I still call him my boyfriend.

I didn’t plan to. When he decided to move from Buenos Aires back home to Bogotá in March 2023, we both thought it was over.

At 37 and 39, we were way too old to believe a long-distance relationship had a shot at working out.

And yet, for now, it seems like it did.

On Christmas, I took a plane to Bogotá to see him and meet his family.

I‘d be lying if I said the distance hadn’t impacted us at all. He was just as tall and cute and bald as he always was, his smile just as wide, but the ease and closeness of two people who know each other intimately wasn’t there.

I imagined I’d cry when I saw him at the airport, but I didn’t. The moment lacked the emotionality I was expecting, we weren’t as tight as we were a year ago. Maybe we were just nervous.

It took a couple of days, but we got back to our rhythms, our jokes, our closeness. It no longer felt weird to be with him. He still called me his girlfriend when introducing me to family and friends.

I stayed in Colombia for two and a half weeks. We both cried when I left. It’s never going to be painless, the fear of losing what we have is hard to overcome. But we were okay.

We text each other every day, sometimes in the morning or the afternoon, always at night. I let him know as soon as I get home after my shows or a long day’s work.

It might sound controlling, but it’s not. We don’t do it to inform the other that we’re not cheating. It just feels good that somebody cares about how I’m doing, wants to know I’m safe. Wants to take care of me, even though he’s not here.

And he’s a great boyfriend, even with the distance.

Yesterday, he sent me a message about a story I’d just written and shared on social media about my grandmother’s death. He’d loved it.

I was surprised. He doesn’t even speak English, but he managed to get through it with Google Translate. But it’s more than that.

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Taru Anniina Liikanen

Stand-up comedian and recovering political ghostwriter. Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Bad jokes frequent.