When my girlfriend, Bella, shared her lovely personal narrative “Should I stay or should I go?” back in December, the future of our relationship was awfully uncertain. Now, Bella has decided to “go,” and I am left to “stay,” unsure of how to navigate my final college year alone.

Unlike the narrative’s namesake, which alludes to the popular song by The Clash, Bella’s decision to “go” does not mean we are splitting up — but we will be splitting time between Phoenix and Flagstaff. As Bella ventures to her home city to begin her career, I will remain in Flagstaff completing my degree.

There is a note that hangs on Bella’s fridge sent by a concerned student who read her narrative. It advised her to leave me in the dust, urging Bella to get on with her life because I can’t keep up with her. We often read it and laugh because few understand the depth of our relationship, but in all honesty, the note is correct. Bella does need to go and bolster her post-college resume, and I am OK with that.

There is a stigma against young relationships which can be frustrating to encounter. In the past, onlookers who have witnessed our committed relationship have asserted “What’s the point? You two are so young.” I rarely know what to say. Others will ask me how I got so lucky, pointing out that few relationships that begin in high school make it this far. It’s hard to explain to people that our relationship works because Bella and I made a choice to be together. No, we are not blinded by love. Yes, our relationship is not perfect.

Sometimes we are not on the same page, and it is true that our youth gets in the way. Bella is ahead of me because of her intelligence. She is driven and academics come easy for her — that is not always the case for me. But we understand each other. We want the best for each other; we support each other. That is why we made a choice to stay together despite our youth, despite our circumstances and despite the prospect of living in separate cities for the first time in our five-year relationship.

I’ll admit that being separated is going to be tough, but relationships are tough. There isn’t a single committed relationship that came easy, and we are no exception. Bella and I are putting in the work early so that we can enjoy our time together later. Why rush? Harkening back to The Clash, “I'll be here 'til the end of time.”