Advertisement

How I Make My Ultra-Long-Distance Relationship Work

People are quick to foreclose possibilities in life. But I won't let an obstacle like distance keep me from the man I'm falling in love with.

|
Sep 21 2017, 5:30pm

Illustration by Theresa Chromati

I "met" Noah, a German architect living in London, last June on Scruff, a gay dating app. We "woofed" each other and began a long, intermittent text message conversation. At first, I had no intention of dating him. He lived in London. I lived in LA. I was married to my husband, Alex, and we lived with our boyfriend, Jon.

Advertisement

Jon, Alex, and I had been through a lot the past five years, and I was beginning to question whether a poly or open relationship still worked for me. The last thing I wanted was another man in my life.

Then I ended up in London this January. Knowing that I was going through turmoil in my personal life, my friend Hanno offered me his apartment while he was on a trip to Berlin.

I knew nobody in London except Hanno, who would leave the day after I arrived. So I let Noah know that I would be there for a week. We made a date to meet. I figured we would hang out a bit, fuck a lot, and that would be it.

That was almost nine months ago. I've been to London to see Noah six times since then. And in April, Noah came to LA for his first visit to the States. We spent 15 days together exploring LA and driving to Vegas and San Francisco. It was the kind of trip I wished could never end—but it did. Noah returned to London, and I returned back to my life.

After Noah's visit, Alex, Jon, and I agreed that even though we still loved one another, and we will always be a part of each other's lives, our relationship no longer works the way it once did. Alex and I began the arduous task of figuring out what a divorce will look like. We've each taken our own rooms in our three-bedroom Hollywood home. And while we have decided to change the status of our relationship, the love I feel for them has not changed. We still do our best to take care of one another, like family.

And I have begun to fall in love with someone new—someone who lives 5,447 miles away from me.


Meet the real people behind your virtual boyfriend:


Advertisement

I envisioned that first night with Noah back in January very differently. In my head, Noah would meet me at Hanno's flat, we would spend the night fucking, and then he would leave, nothing more. I would spend the rest of my trip wandering London, meeting guys, getting laid, having adventures, and then return home to confront what was going on in my life.

Instead he invited me to meet him and his friend at the Glory, an east London queer bar, for a drink. I remember the moment he stepped outside the bar to meet me. I wasn't prepared for how good he looked, instantly calling up every Wolverine fantasy I've ever had.

Inside the bar, we talked in person for the first time. I was nervous, waiting for the moment when Noah would realize he was way out of my league. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to take him out back and do dirty, sexy things to him.

I asked Noah, as politely as I could, if I could kiss him. There was a part of me that was sure he would say no. Instead, he smiled and said, "Of course, I want you to."

I walked him home. Halfway to his flat, he asked if I wanted to come up. "Just to sleep and cuddle," he said.

I said yes. I was so jet lagged that night I fell asleep on top of him, halfway between kissing him and groping him.

We spent the next seven nights together, and while I finally got to live out many of those dirty, sexy Wolverine fantasies with Noah, the thing I remember most is standing in the middle of the Barbican Estate, listening to Noah expound on the beauty and solitude of Brutalist architecture, watching as he became more and more animated, explaining the theory and philosophy behind its structure and form.

Advertisement

The day after I returned to LA, Noah and I began an endless text conversation. Then we started video chatting nightly right before he goes bed. Sometimes it feels like he's right there next to me, even though he's thousands of miles away. There are times, late at night, when I wait for him to wake up so I can share something that happened to me the previous day while he was sleeping.

We share the most mundane moments: walking to work, the weather, the kind of coffee we're drinking. The difference between a flat white and a cortado has been the source of many conversations.

I love those mornings when Noah wakes up, and we walk out together, kissing halfway down Hoxton Street before he walks off to work and I go sit at a Hoxton Street cafe and write. In the afternoon, we meet for lunch, and then in the evening, I meet him at the gym, working out together before walking home and picking up groceries to make dinner. I love the normalcy of those nights, the two of us sitting on the couch, eating dinner, watching TV.

In October, Noah is moving to Berlin, and I have tickets to go see him for two weeks. We're making vaguer plans for the future, but my head likes to play vicious games, imagining the men he'll meet in Berlin, the moment he'll realize that I'm way too old for him (19 years older to be exact), that I live too far away, the million other reasons this thing we have shouldn't work. I picture him dancing at Berghain or the KitKat Club, then meeting some hot guy, spending weekends with him, walking along the canal drinking coffee, speaking to each other in German, forgetting about me.

But I think fear is normal in all relationships, regardless of distance. And all available evidence proves my fears to be wrong.

Advertisement

We have our rules—the way we make the distance work, how we deal with the other hooking up with someone else. We try to be practical, and none of this works without trust. We joke that I analyze everything and talk seriously about very unserious things. But I think it's important, especially considering the distance, that we tell each other everything, the things that scare us and what we hope for in the future.

I remember a moment on our road trip, standing in a hotel room in Vegas, the lights of the Strip illuminating our room as we watched the fountains of the Bellagio break through the night like great streams of liquid fire. I'll never forget when Noah took my hand then, the two of us marveling at how beautiful the world could be.

The following day, we drove for 11 hours through the desert to San Francisco, Noah playing DJ, the windows down, talking forever about everything and nothing. All I wanted to do was tell him I loved him. I wanted to scream it as loud as I could—but I held it in, trying to play cool and pretend like I wasn't falling in love.

I waited two more months to finally say the words. Standing in the hallway of his Hoxton Street apartment, just getting in from a night of dancing, I couldn't hold it any longer. I tried to play it cool and be sexy, but I'm sure it came out goofy and silly. I remember the way he looked at me as I said the words, that beautiful smile of his, as he wrapped me in his arms and held me tight.

Advertisement

During a weekend trip to Manchester, we spent practically the entire time in bed, watching TV. He curled up against me, his head resting on my belly, my hand tracing outlines down his back. I remember being struck by how beautiful he was and how lucky I was to be with him. And I remember thinking that I have no idea where we will be in two years. Maybe I will end up in Berlin. Or maybe I will continue to fly back and forth, spending longer and longer amounts of time with Noah. Regardless of how things play out, I choose to believe that we will be together.

It's easy to be afraid. It's easy to think that someone will leave you, even as they lie there next to you, holding you, keeping you safe.

And yet here I am, sitting in the house I share with Alex and Jon, writing about my new boyfriend, waiting for him to tell me about the Scandinavian dinner he had with his friend, or about how it's raining or not raining in London. I will tell him how hard it is to write this story, to convey all the love I feel for him and how amazingly lucky I am.

People are quick to shoot down ideas. They'll tell you in a heartbeat that something is too hard, maybe even impossible. They will call up a million reasons why you'll fail. I've heard countless stories about how long-distance relationships don't work, or how I shouldn't be dating anyone right now, how I need to be alone, to take this time for myself. But all my life, no matter how hard something has been, no matter how impossible, even when it hasn't turned out the way I thought it would, all of it has been fucking amazing.

So I will continue to fly 5,798 miles to be with the man I am falling in love with. And I will continue to go on endless walks with Alex and Jon. I will continue to confront my life and see where things go. And I will refuse to allow my fears to limit me. Because I want everything this life has to offer, and I won't back down till I get it. None of us should.

Follow Jeff Leavell on Instagram.

More from vice