Kayleigh was 26 and in an abusive relationship and Joe was a sophomore at Plattsburgh State trying to burn off 100 pounds. The two had met in a League of Legends streaming session Joe created. For those who are unaware with LoL, it is an online battle arena computer game. They quickly became good friends and they soon exchanged Skype and Snapchat usernames.
I had noticed a change in Joe since freshman year. Not just the fact that he was losing a significant amount of weight but because he seemed much happier and content with staying in on weekends. It wasn’t until last week that I realized the reason he was staying in was because he wanted to communicate with Kayleigh and help her through her tumultuous relationship with her ex-boyfriend.
Joe had no problem being there for her, despite the distance. He enjoyed her company, making her smile and hearing her laugh.
“I think that’s the best way to start a relationship, is just as friends. Because what is the difference between a best friend and your girlfriend?” Joe said.
Kayleigh left her boyfriend in April 2014 and as conversation after conversation took place between her and Joe, the two agreed they wanted to meet each other.
Joe waited for his online companion at an airport in New Jersey. With nerves racing and expectations to be met, the second Kayleigh laid her eyes on Joe is the second she fell in love. She stayed in New Jersey for 71 days during the summer months. On the second day, Joe and Kayleigh began dating.
After this visit, it was Joe’s turn to do some traveling. In December, he traveled to England to celebrate New Year with his girlfriend. Kayleigh fed him shot after shot, trying to get him to enjoy the conga line that was commencing out in the road. But what she didn’t know was that Joe was trying to sober up so he could get on one knee and propose.
“I’ve always wanted this. I was never really interested in anything else,” Joe said. “I’m happy.”
Though Joe is still in college, he had no interest in the experimentation stage of relationships as he likes to call it. But the college atmosphere and the efforts of Joe’s friends still trying to get him laid terrifies Kayleigh. However, the one thing that always reassures her is his impressive level of maturity and self-control for a college student.
We need more guys like Joe in the world. His level of fidelity is like none I’ve ever seen in another man. According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, published in January 2014, 57 percent of men admitted to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve ever had. But with the kind of effort that Joe and Kayleigh put into their relationship by having movie nights and dinner dates with each other via Skype, long-distance relationships can actually work, despite being separated by the Atlantic.
The two don’t have any intentions on getting married anytime soon. Joe still has one year at PSUC, and it’s unlikely that Kayleigh will get a marriage visa to live in the United States because of the expenses and exhaustive paperwork. But, according to Kayleigh, Joe would have no problem getting a visa to live in England. And he hopes to land a job over there after graduation.
As I sat there talking with Joe in his room, I noticed the background on his computer — a photo collage of the summer Kayleigh spent in the states with a quote in the middle that reads “Love knows no distance.” And as I kept looking at these photos, I realized that this is what real love looks like.
“Everyone, whether they know it or not, wants a relationship and wants to be loved,” Joe said. “But I also think that realization or admitting that to yourself comes at different points in your life. I’m not mad that my roommates go out and have one-night stands. I’m upset that I can’t physically be with my fiancée but it’s OK.”
With long-distance relationships, the key is optimism, according to Joe.
“Love is love, and I think that’s what we all want in the end. If you think you’ve found it, there’s no harm in staying faithful.”
Email Chris Burek at firstname.lastname@example.org.