Remember those old, GIANT phone bills from long-distance calls that lasted for hours? While those may be a thing of the past, long-distance love is still very present. It hit me this morning that I have spent most of my adult life loving long distance. How long have you spent loving from afar? Life is not meant to be lived alone.

Since I moved away for college 19 years ago, I have lived geographically distant from all my family and loved ones. That is sad, but I realize now that I have also spent almost all of my thirties thus far geographically distant from the man that I love. As I prepare to turn 37 years old this week, I can see in retrospect how I have spent my thirties. Initially, I had my soulmate and we were happy, but between my job and his job, we were separated more often than not. Then right after I turned 32, he died and I learned just how major “geographically distant” could be in life. I have spent the last five years loving him in Heaven from Earth.

Now that I began dating again, it seems the men I fall for are never near and I find myself in long-distance relationships. I have heard about the concept of having “non-negotiables” when it comes to relationships and I agree with the concept, but it is much harder in practice. For example, I will not date someone who lives out of state. Non-negotiable. Then I meet someone really special who lives far away. My non-negotiable goes out the window. The idea is I want someone who can sit on the couch with me and watch a movie when we feel like it, meet up with my kids and I at a park, go out to dinner if I can find a babysitter, get to know my kids by spending regular time with us and so on.

It was a non-negotiable for a reason. I do not want to spend the last three years of my thirties loving long distance. I want local love. On the surface, my not being willing to be in a long-distance relationship seems selfish. Until I look at it from the context of my particular life experience. Having spent the last seven years loving long distance, don’t I have the right to draw the line? I will still always love my husband from afar, but as for new romance, here is my non-negotiable: 30 miles. I will not be in a relationship with someone who does not live within 30 miles of me. Done. What are your non-negotiables? What has been your experience with long-distance love?

Wishing you love from far AND near,

Nikola Rosa