Distance, Long Distance: Dating, Mating, and Waiting

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  1. Funny, I was just chatting with a friend the other day whose husband cheated on her while working in another city on a long-distance gig. It seems almost inevitable, doesn’t it? Sometimes I suppose the distance can’t be avoided. (In their case, they really needed the money.) But it does seem like it opens up a real opportunity for cheating, especially if there are any underlying “issues” in the couple (and when aren’t there?)

    Which of course doesn’t mean that affairs can’t happen when you live together. But the distance just gives them that much more room to breathe.

    Delia Lloyd
    http://www.realdelia.com

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      It does seem that way, doesn’t it, Delia. If there are any issues, the physical distance makes it that much easier to “justify” attachments to others – even temporary.

  2. Long distance relatioships? Forget it.

    p.s. I’ve done them as “romances,” where the limitations are known and accepted for what they are. And we are still good friends. But for serious relationships — forget it. Don’t settle for less.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      There are times when long distance relationships – or “romances” as you say, Paul – are as much as we can manage. I know that was true for me, for many years, working and raising two kids on my own. A full-time relationship? I realize now that I would never have been able to pull it off, but I’m grateful that I learned what it was to love again, even with the issues inherent in geographic distance.

  3. After college, my husband and I lived in different cities for four years. We were only two hours apart and saw each other every weekend and sometimes during the week, but the simple reality of not being part of each other’s day-to-day lives took a toll on our relationship and the distance nearly sunk us. I imagine that there are couples who could make it work, but, for us, it was a real challenge – and that was before kids were in the picture. Now, I couldn’t imagine it.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      You raise a good point, Kristen – life before and after kids. It’s challenging enough when there’s the couple. Add the work of children, and without extraordinary commitment (and support systems), I think it’s an almost impossible.

  4. I wouldn’t call it impossible to maintain a long distance relationship but it has to be challenging. Unless you know that you are going to find a way to make it work and have a definitive timeline…

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      I agree with you, Jack. But as Kristen alludes to, when children are involved, it makes it that much harder. Not impossible – and even with some advantages – but also, very particular struggles.

  5. “So color me surprised when it turned out he had several women on a string at once, with some indications he’d created separate lives with each of us.”

    Where do these guys get the energy? In the words of “When Harry met Sally”, I’ll have what he’s having.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Your comment makes me laugh, Mark. They’re out there. Everywhere. Energy doesn’t seem to be a problem. (Love the “Harry Met Sally” quote!)

  6. “Is marriage sustainable when we find ourselves in these situations? Will physical distance increase emotional distance, or is that a matter of how much time apart, how committed each partner is to regular communication, and the character of the individuals involved?”

    I think the sustainability of it really does depend on the partners’ tolerance for the challenges, their adaptability and creativity, and the length of time that the relationship is long-distance. I did it for eight years across my relationship (six before marriage, two after, with a two-year break from commuting in between those periods). In hindsight, we would have been in much better shape in our second round of long-distance had we not been worn down by the first. Our tolerance for the travel, the expense of travel, the all-too-brief visits, and the difference between physical presence in conversation and the lack of it was at its breaking point by the time we reached the end of the commute. Both of us would now go great lengths to avoid having to do this again, ever.

    “So how do you keep it going? Is staying in touch through talking and texting and Skyping enough?”

    In the end, it was almost not enough to talk via all the technologies we had available. We began to hate talking on the phone because we’d just be irritable and then tensions would lead to blowouts. Which decreased any desire to be creative in making our circumstances less unpleasant. I’d say it’s important to recognize when the routines you have in place to connect are no longer as effective as they once were–that’s the time to get working on additional strategies together, before frustration inhibits your ability to work with your partner and generates only feelings of blame.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      How you managed for 8 years, CT, is remarkable and testament to the commitment you both had – and have.

      Thank you for providing advice based on experience, for those who might be living this situation now, or considering it. What a relief it must be for you both that this is behind you.

  7. lunaboogie says:

    So sorry for your surprise. Hope you are doing OK.

    When I was single, I had several “long distance relationships” – one on the other side of the state that went on for 10 years, (we met several times a year either here or there), – another in another state and we flew back and forth every other year. Neither was serious, serious, and I dated others at the same time who were actually here – until I found the one I wanted to be exclusive with.

    My best friend had a spouse who traveled a lot. Turns out he had a thriving other life for 10 years that she eventually found out about. She says he was then like a stranger. My brother in law, conversely, always thrived on long distance relationships (he adores European women) that I KNOW were exclusive. The first year of his marriage, he and his spouse lived on separate coasts and even now they teach in cities 300 miles apart and are together only 3 days per week. It works for them, but I think, really, it is the exception.

  8. Somewhere, La Rochefoucauld had a maxim about love at a distance being like a flame in the wind. If the flame was small, it went out. If it was large, it was fanned. Maybe it worked that way in the 17th Century..

  9. I have been in a long distance relationship for 3 years and it is awful! We didn’t meet online, we re-connected at a h.s. reunion, and he was my first boyfriend, but that was 30 years ago. We are both divorced and both have 3 kids. We try to see each other every 2 weeks (he lives 915 miles from here, yes 915) but due to our custody schedules we sometimes have 4 weeks in between. We text, we talk on the phone, we Skype, but at times one of us gets edgy and it gets very hard. I keep asking myself how in the hell I got to be 47 years old and in a long distance relationship! I vowed no more in my 20′s!

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      It’s so difficult to find someone you “mesh” with, when dealing with kids and especially, when you are of a certain age. At least, in my experience. This is one of the reasons that we tolerate these long distance relationships with all their challenges – despite our vowing that we won’t do it again.

      Thank you for joining the conversation, Pennie – and all best wishes for this being a good, nourishing, loving relationship – despite the inevitable complexities involved.

  10. My husband and I lived separately for a year and a half after we were married. I think as people and couples we underestimate the daily churnings as unimportant, but I believe it is a gateway to building a more affectionate and enduring marriage. After having our daughter, I couldn’t imagine living in separate locations.

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