Long Distance Love
Yep. That’s my favorite word when people tell me relationships can’t work for one reason or another.
I’ve had many people tell me that relationships can’t work over a long distance, across state lines and especially cross-continental.
Outside of abuse, there is one primary reason relationships don’t work: one or both people give up. Sure, after giving a relationship a good go over months or years, there might be too many issues for the relationship to be beneficial for either party, but it still comes down to one or the other (or both) giving up. As long as you’re talking and building intimacy and loving one another, most things can be overcome.
I’m not saying it’s not a lot of work because it is. All relationships are. As great as Disney is for building dreams, it has done the most damage by perpetuating this myth of “Happily Ever After.” As if once the courting and wooing is done and two people take the plunge, everything is smooth sailing.
Truth is, this is when the real work begins.
Still, this post is about long distance relationships and how they can work. In the short time I’ve been traveling in Europe, I’ve met two people who are successfully maintaining cross-continental long term relationships. One for three years, the other for over seven.
Is it hard? Yes.
Do they have all the issues of geographically close relationships and then some? Yes.
Is it worth it? Fuck yes.
Why? Because of love. Yes, yes. I’m a hopeless romantic romance author. I know, so sue me. Love is still so fucking worth it. And if you disagree, then you’ve never been in love or you’ve allowed yourself to be hardened by heartbreak and no longer see the wonder of love.
Love is worth it.
Why? Because it happens so rarely. As any of my readers know, I don’t give up on love easily. Not by a long shot. I’m 41 years old, and I’ve been in love five times in my life. Just five times. I’ve dated more and slept with even more, but love? Just five times. Three of those ended, two very badly and the other one faded into a platonic love. The remaining two…one I’m fortunate enough for it to be a life-long love I was lucky enough to find with my husband. The other remains to be seen, but I hope it is life-long, too, albeit in a different, unique way that is defined and worked out between the two of us. As any couplehood should, we define our own relationship and don’t allow society to dictate the way it’s “supposed to be.”
It hit me while I was in Paris. I was surrounded by hundreds of men at any given moment on the streets of the city or on The Metro. Hundreds, maybe thousands. Same goes for all of life. I encounter dozens of men at conventions and on tour, but they come and they go without a second thought. Without a second look. Some become friends, but most are passing acquaintences or even just remain strangers.
And I asked myself what is the difference? Why my beloved and not one of these dozens of other men? I suppose if I could answer that I would hold the secret to love, but I do know this: a deep connection with another human being is precious if for no other reason that it is so rare.
Sure, there is sex. One friend I spoke with has had sex with over 300 girls, but sex is not love, although the best sex is definitely through love. Of those 300+ girls, he’s been in love four times. He’s just three years younger than me.
So. Very. Fucking. Rare.
So if the person you’ve connected with lives on the other side of the world, don’t give up because it’s challenging. Sure the girl next door or the boy at work might be more geographically available, but why force something that is not there? Especially today when one does not have to pine away, waiting a month for a letter to be delivered. There is email and social networks and instant messaging. And while these can be good for touching base throughout the day, real communication and intimacy needs to be built and/or maintained on a more personal level. Thank goodness for Skype’s video chatting, Rebtel, and unlimited international phone plans.
Through these modern technologies, one can stay in better touch with one’s beloved in an affordable way. My one friend, who has maintained a long distance relationship for over seven years, calls his girlfriend every night. They even watch movies together, starting them in synch and sharing their thoughts with the other.
Then there is cyber sex and phone sex to help remain sexually connected. Whereas neither can compare to actually being in your lover’s arms and feeling their lips on yours, it is certainly better than nothing. And phone sex can be quite hot and satisfying. In fact, phone sex with your lover is far superior than real sex with relative stranger, or even with someone with whom you are not in love.
Depending on the parameters of your relationship, for example if it’s a primary or secondary one or if there are time constraints, such intimate interactions (emotionally or sexually) need not be every day or even every week. But having something to look forward to is essential. Ultimately, this will be seeing one another again, as nothing could be more wonderful than looking into the eyes of your lover, but in the mean time just look forward to the next email or the next phone call. It’s important to plan these and stick to the plan so the other is not just waiting around, sitting by the phone, as it were.
Little surprises are also nice, however. And in any relationship it’s the little things that make love grow and help one feel special and loved. A quick text or message just to say you’re thinking about them. An MP3 recording of your voice telling them about your day. A short video professing your love or hopes or dreams. A link to a romantic picture or YouTube video. These types of things take mere moments but can mean the world to your lover.
And don’t dismiss the hidden bonus of a long distance relationship, that ever elusive mystery and initial excitement of a new lover lasts much longer if you let it. Where the newness of a relationship with someone you spend every day might last a few weeks or months, with your long distance lover, that mounting passion and wonder can last a year or more.
So, yes. When love touches you, don’t dismiss it because it’s hard. It’s all hard, but what in this life worth anything isn’t?
Embrace it. Find a way to make it work, and enjoy being in love.
It’s so fucking worth it.
I’ll leave you with two powerful quotes, both from Thoreau.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
“Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Don’t be one of them. Sing!
Sing your love loudly.