The No Distance Relationship

There are an estimated 7 million long distance couples in America-14 million people with their own lives in their own cities, but with partners living a flight (or drive or train ride) away. It's a great setup for commitment phobes, workaholics, and

I know long distance romance can be tough, and that once you've survived that part, you feel like your relationship can make it through pretty much anything. My fiancée and I are likewise confident in our ability to stay together through anything, and with good reason: Early on in our relationship, we lived together in a studio apartment so small that if one person wanted to walk past the other, a complex strategy had to be devised. The worst part of the living situation, though, was the fighting. The closer the quarters, the more frequent the arguments, and every little thing could turn into a battle-what to watch on TV, the volume of said TV, my fiancée getting angry when I requested that she take her phone calls in the bathroom, me getting angry when she ate a tuna sandwich that made the apartment smell for the next two days.

For couples in normal housing, these little tiffs end with someone simply walking into the next room. But for us, this wasn't an option. I could leave the building entirely, which I preferred not to do. Arguing over whether a sports trade is more newsworthy than a shoe sale is not something that should make someone storm out into the night.

So instead, I would step out into the hallway. And stand there. When neighbors walked past, I'd smile and pretend I was straightening the welcome mat, or gently kick the molding, muttering something about it being of solid construction. And after a few minutes, I would look down again at the welcome mat-which we had bought together the day we moved in, when we didn't care that it was just one room because we were so ecstatic to finally be living together-and I'd step back inside, newly reminded that though sharing a tiny apartment can feel like living in a prison cell, I love my cell mate. (Especially now that we have a spacious two bedroom.)