The Frustrating Thing About Long Distance Relationships

Something’s gotta give

Last week and in the days after my birthday, it dawned on me how badly I never want to do a long distance relationship again. I’ve always been the type that thrives in long distance relationships. For so long it was all I knew. So I’d perfected the art of booking flights. It got so bad that for most of the year, 1 of the ticket agents for US Airways in LGA knew me by name. But now I understand that the physical distance translates into emotional distance, which will eventually settle into resentment. Temptation increases and the passion to make it work wanes. The amount of love that you began with starts to seem like just words on a screen. Even the way they’re uttered, at times, sounds jaded and disinterested. The relationship becomes a formality and before you know it, you stop and ask yourself “what happened to us?”

The deterioration of even the most passionate long distance relationships stems from the lack of immediacy in closing that distance. Particularly when you’re a couple living on opposite coasts, you’re essentially living separate lives. If neither of you have any intentions on making that move, the foundation that brought you together will be the very thing that causes you to drift apart. I’ll share a personal example; in 2010, I was dating someone who lived in Kentucky and I was in Chicago. When we met, she was planning to spend the summer in Chicago. That made starting a relationship easier since we didn’t start out apart. We vibed well enough that before summer even came, she drove up to Chicago then I flew down to visit her. She’d initially been attracted to me because of my love of travelling and the fact that my job took me so many cool places. I told her, as my girlfriend, there’d always be an extra ticket when she wanted it. Being a man of my word, a trip to Belize came up and I asked her to go. Long story short, she said no and we broke up the same week.

Her disregard to compromise had worn thin and rather than communicate her desire to spend time with me, she threw her hands in the air. The most frustrating about being in a long distance relationship is not knowing when – or even if – it’ll stop being a relationship of physical distance. No piece of technology is an adequate proxy for human interaction. We yearn for it. We crave for that closeness from the one we love. And when we don’t get it, the disappointment eventually becomes too much to bear.

I’m by no means saying that long distance relationships can’t work. Even the leader of the free world makes time for date night. Here’s the thing though – if your relationship started out being that way, the assumption is that you thought enough of that person to see them in your life long term. So the denouement of your love affair is admitting to yourself that you may have to leave your established life there behind in order to cleave to your partner here.

Do you think long distance relationships need a goal specific on ending the distance? Would you be willing move to save your relationship? How long do you think a long distance can sustain if neither will budge?

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4 comments

  1. LDRs stink! IMO, they only work short-term & if there is an end in sight (someone has agreed to move OR the distance is temporary). LDRs mask problems in a relationship b/c when you see the person, you’re so happy to be with them, you don’t want to fight by bringing up the stuff that’s bothering you. Its like a mini vaca every time you see them — not the real world. Based on my own personal experience anyway…..

    1. Agreed! But I think you’re speaking to the newness of it. I think when you’ve been in it for awhile, it becomes harder and harder to ignore what’s bothering you or what’s not right in the relationship (outside of the distance). I mean LDRs force you to talk and only a naive idealist would think everything’s fine and dandy all the time.

      In my experience (and in observing the LDRs around me), it’s best to get all the arguing out of the way so that when you see each other, that time isn’t spent addressing/re-hashing old stuff

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