Long distance relationships are increasingly common among college students, military couples, and others separated by the challenges of finances, career or family obligations. While every relationship faces obstacles and complications, keeping the flame alive when you can’t see each other every day can be especially difficult.
Alvaro Lobos, 18, and Andrea Villalba, 18, were friends for six years before they began dating during their senior year at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida. As Andrea began her freshman year at Florida State University in Tallahassee earlier this year and Alvaro stayed in South Florida to study at Florida Atlantic University, the couple joined millions of others facing the challenge of nurturing their relationships when miles keep them apart.
Alvaro launched the series last week with his first post about their long distance relationship. Today, Andrea begins.
by Andrea Villalba
Alvaro has always been a special person in my life. We’ve spent so much time talking and hanging out the past six years. His friendship through middle and high school showed me how much he cared, that he’d always be there for me through good times and tough times, and how lucky I am to have him in my life.
Years before we went from just friends to boyfriend and girlfriend, I knew it was on Alvaro’s mind. It was on my mind too. And it was definitely on my parents’ minds. Mom and Dad both think the world of Alvaro. Even when I was dating other guys, they’d ask, “When are you going to give Alvaro a chance?”
I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. I thought I was young, maybe naïve when it came to love and relationships, and that so many of the couples I saw in middle and high school had their relationships end within weeks or months. I never wanted that for me and Alvaro. Although I had strong feelings for him, I was comfortable staying friends.
Whenever something bad happened with a guy I was dating, I’d think to myself that Alvaro would never do that. Dad got especially angry and frustrated sometimes with the experiences I went through with other guys. Between my parents urging and the strong feelings I’d developed for Alvaro, I trusted we’d one day make the leap to becoming a couple.
I was really happy when Alvaro asked me to Prom. I’d secretly hoped he’d ask even months earlier when I began shopping for a special dress. Although he waited some time to pop the question, friends and instinct told me it was coming.
Leaving for school was sad for both of us. If not for my strong feelings for Alvaro, I might have thought of wanting to begin life in Tallahassee without being in a relationship. But not with Alvaro. He’s my best friend and my boyfriend. I knew our relationship was strong enough to withstand the pressures of being eight hours away from each other.
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. I miss seeing him every day. We spent so many years seeing each other daily in middle and high school. It’s ironic that now that we’re a couple, we don’t get to see each other nearly as much because of our long distance relationship.
I knew we’d make it work and we have. We text constantly from the moment we wake up each day. Actually, I think the only time we aren’t texting is when we’re sleeping.
OOVOO and SKYPE have been awesome. Although I’m not great with technology, it was easy to set-up and get started. Now we see each other pretty much every day. Sometimes to talk. Sometimes to do our homework together. Sometimes just to hang out. Once I downloaded the programs, there was just one step to getting them started. I can’t imagine what couples in long distance relationships did before online video, texting and picture messaging was available.
We also play games together. One of our favorites is the yellow car game. We get points each time we see a yellow car. Alvaro’s always sending me pictures of the yellow cars he sees. We send pictures of many other things too to make sure we’re constantly sharing our lives with each other. Whether it’s the inside of a classroom, something cool we saw, or a smile for each other, using our cell phones to message pictures makes it like we’re together throughout the day.
Alvaro’s been by my side through anything and everything. The eight hours that separate us during this period of our long distance relationship hasn’t changed any of that.
I can’t wait for us to be together again every day when he transfers to FSU in the summer. Until then, I know we won’t miss a moment in each other’s lives. I’m excited about sharing our story with others, especially students and military families who find themselves apart from loved ones. I hope our story, the things we do to stay connected across the miles, our ability to overcome challenges, and the love we share together will help others love each other too no matter what the obstacles to being together.
Stay tuned or subscribe to FatherhoodChannel.com to keep up with our journey.