Long Distance Love

Balderdash.

Yep. That’s my favorite word when people tell me relationships can’t work for one reason or another.

Balderdash.

I’ve had many people tell me that relationships can’t work over a long distance, across state lines and especially cross-continental.

Balderdash.

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.

~ by omgrey on July 27, 2011.

13 Responses to “Long Distance Love”

  1. I see that you put so much into your relationships! Here’s a question I’ve been wondering about: do you think it’s possible to actually develop a long distance love without having first connected in person? That is, is the long distance communication sustaining something that first happened in person or can one actually fall in love from afar without having ever been with them in person? I’m trying to figure this out. thanks

    • I do think that’s possible. I did it once. Well…moderately long term. Lasted 1.5 yrs. It’s trickier because you’re seeing such a small part of them online and sometimes from pictures you can’t really get a sense of them. But you certainly can fall for someone in this way. I’ve known people who got married after meeting and courting this way.

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  4. I have been fortunate to experience long distance love between Greenville, SC and London. And while it didn’t end up in marriage id did end up in a beautiful friendship. And I so agree with you on the little things. Mine was back before the internet and we had to wait for letters and our weekly hour long phone calls, me on my home phone, he in a telephone box done the street from his flat. But we’d send snip its or odd items in our letter bird feathers we found, strips from graphic novels, I sent him a packet of potpourri which spilled on his lap and a long lock of hair. He came to visit (on the trip where he proposed) bearing a small potted tree which we planted in my yard. Do not give up! He gave up first, and I gave up second by not waiting and finding someone else. But we both remarked it was a marvelous way to fall in love, starting out with a love of poetry where we traded verse and then wrote round robin poems. We both agreed we fell in love “from the inside out” because in letters and phone calls the persona, masks and facades can’t get in the way of the soul longing for connection on a deeper level.

    • Thank you for sharing that beautiful story and your wise insight. I’m so pleased to hear you’re still in each other’s lives. I love those little things you did for each other. It is definitely the little things. Such little things that take almost no time at all.

      “soul longing for connection on a deeper level” beautifully put.
      I totally get that.

      X

  5. In answer your question about long distance love before connecting in person – Yes. I met my husband online 5 years ago. He asked me to marry him before we even met. After three months I jumped on a plane to Wales spent weeks with him. People thought I was nuts – but I knew. Now 5 years later – we have been going back and forth and going through the immigration process to bring him here. Which is now coming to the end of that process…in a few months he will be here. So YES it is worth it. He is the love of my life and will always be. I agree….if love touches you grab hold of it no matter how hard it might seem. It is hard, and I miss him everyday….but those times when we are together I hold close to my heart and get me through the tough times. Soon…..there will be no separation.

    • SQUEEEEE! I’m so pleased to hear it! How wonderful for your both!!!!

      Yes. Good people don’t throw love away because it’s difficult. Love is always worth the extra effort. Congratulations to you both!!

      I like to hear happy stories!

  6. I agree completely — and have fallen for someone I’m not meeting in person for a couple more weeks. But I feel confident because he has given me so many ways to know him (and his friends — that’s an important part of the process as well). He has already helped me through trying times. I have been in long distance relationships before as well as being married for a dozen years to someone who was seldom far from me. It’s not distance or the lack of it, but as you say, the will of the people involved to keep it going. The internet is wonderful at erasing many of the effects of geography.🙂

    • Yes. The internet can do wonders with keeping people close, and it is all about whether or not they give up. No doubt. It’s not the geographical distance that matters, it’s the emotional distance. Thank you for your comment. I’m so very happy you will be meeting your beloved face to face soon.

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  8. It’s definitely hard – and it’s totally worth it! Thank you for sharing such a positive and affirming post🙂

    xx Dee

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