Open Thread: Long Distance Relationships (+ Pledge Drive Day 2)

Couple on the Quai in Paris
Photo credit: J. Peepas, Paris, 2008

It’s Day 2 of the Pledge Drive. Thank you so much for the kind donations so far!  One of the things I plan to do with the donations is save for a new computer. Two years ago, your generous support made it possible for me to buy a used computer when I moved out of a place where I shared one with a partner. The thing still works, but the time where it just wants to sit in the rocking chair in the sun resting its creaky joints and telling stories about The Good Old Days is nigh. If you have a few $ to contribute, please consider making a (non-tax deductible) gift  through PayPal or  via Dwolla (for which you must be in the USA with a bank account). Thank you!

By popular request, this is a thread for people who are currently in long distance relationships to talk with each other. Here’s my favorite poem about that:

2 teens on Paris commuter train sharing headphones.
Photo credit: J. Peepas, Paris, 2007

Long Distance Isn’t – Samuel Hazo

Separated by a sea, two shores,
the clans of Vercingetorix, the Brenner
Pass, the boot of Italy
from just below the knee to halfway
down the calf, we nix them all
by phone.
Our voices kiss.
Who cares if the Atlantic bashes
Maine, Land’s End, or Normandy?
We leapfrog hemispheres the way
the mind cavorts through God-knows-what
millenia, what dynasties, what
samples of our kind from
australopithecus to Charlie Chaplin.
The body’s place?
Cross latitude
by longitude, and it is there.
The body’s age?
Count up
from birth or back from death,
and it is there.
But words?
We launch them out like vows against the wind.
Creating what we are,
they wing through seas and continents
and make us more than elegies
to yesterday.
Forget the cost.
Talk louder and ignore the static.
Pretend we’re walking through the dark.
Don’t stop.
Don’t stop or look
behind you.
As long as you
keep talking, I can find you.

91 thoughts on “Open Thread: Long Distance Relationships (+ Pledge Drive Day 2)

  1. I’ve been in a long distance relationship for just about 2 and a half years, and we’re getting married in November. I’m so looking forward to the long distance part being done.

    1. Congrats! We were long distance for 2.5 years before we got married in September. Finally living together was (uh, yeah we are long distance again now as he was deployed to the Middle East) so SOOOO awesome. Enjoy it!

  2. Mildly unrelated, but I got all excited there for a minute until I remembered that Samuel Hazo the poet and Samuel Hazo the composer are different people. Music nerd away!

    (It’s a lovely poem, too.)

  3. So I’ve got 9 months max/4 months minimum of continuing to be long distance. The end date in site really, REALLY helps. But still, I can have a hard time focusing on the short term. We still see each other a lot, every week or so. But on those mornings when I have to leave and go back home, I get so frustrated about it, which sometimes leads to crying. A few weeks ago I cried because we couldn’t work out a time to see a movie while I was in town. It’s not that I’m so sad we can’t see the movie, or that I can’t get on for another week without him so I cry before I leave. I just get so frustrated at the whole thing, and I see dozens of days of crawling out of bed in the morning before sunrise to get back on the rode and I see movie after movie or dinner date after dinner date that we don’t get to have and I just get overwhelmed all at once.

    Any coping strategies to keep my mind on the short term instead of getting frustrated by everything? Or anyone else just want to commiserate?

    1. I totally understand! I so badly want to feel like a normal couple that can hang out after work or who can cancel plans because they’ve had a long day and they can go see a movie any time they want, you know? When I get time with my boyfriend it’s so precious and special and takes so much work to coordinate that I get so frustrated if the things we want to do don’t work out the way I want them to.

      What worked for me was honestly just finding other things I was really excited about, too. Then I’d look forward to that as well and I’d have something new to talk to him about. It kept me focused on living my life the way it was and enjoying that rather than wishing the time away (though I’ve done plenty of that, too).

    2. I so know those feels. I hate that feeling of saying goodbye and knowing it’s going to be what feels like forever until I get another Boy-hug or get to smell his neck or sleep next to him. A while back we had a miscommunication where I thought he was arriving at lunch time and he thought we hadn’t made plans and ended up not getting to mine till about 7pm. By that point I was so so mad and full of ‘I could have done something useful today!’ and ‘I miss you like hell PRIORITISE OUR TIME TOGETHER’ that I was ready to blow up at him. I didn’t, we talked about it instead and agreed to be clearer about time spent together and try and be more organised but I was definitely at a ‘crying because we can’t see a movie’ stage.

      I find it’s easier for me when I’m in a good place mentally, and my life is full of other things. The more I feel sad or lonely anyway, the worse I find things and the more I miss him. And the more I have stuff to do the more I don’t dwell on ‘god I miss him’. I’ve also written him the occasional letter full of feels which I don’t send but keep. They help me vent and get through my feelings but also keep me in a place where I’m not dumping on him. And I often serendipitously get a text when I’m feeling sad saying he misses me or just with the word ‘fishnoises’. It’s an in joke and so it feels like shorthand for ‘we are in this together’.

      Wow that got long. Long distance: it is tricky as a tricky thing.

      1. The last time I got really bummed when we were apart (after a before-bedtime phone call that was nice but ultimately unsatisfying because that phone will never, ever be enough), I did sit down and write a letter–but I actually sent it. I feel more articulate in writing than I do out loud most of the time, so I wrote about the frustration I wrote about here, not that I’m upset about _one movie_, but in the one movie all the tiny frustrations boil up and spill over, but that it’s not his fault and I am so thankful for the time we do get together. It was actually super helpful for both of us–for him to understand my feelings and for me to have a positive outlet for the emotional spill rather than another tearfest. Sometimes you write letters that don’t need to go out, of course, but I want to keep trying actually sending these letters to him. It helps me focus my emotions about missing him into something more positive and enriching.

    3. Ugh, those silly logistical disappointments are the worrrrssst. I never thought news of a delayed or canceled flight would turn me into a crying puddle of misery, but now it does! I see my boyfriend a lot less than once a week, so those disappointments are rare but huge, and those are the few times I’ve really let myself be super sad and pin a year’s worth of bad feelings on one thunderstorm that had the nerve to hover over one airport. So, in my experience, those frustrating moments are a good let-it-all-out-so-I-can-be-ok-the-other-99%-of-the-time thing.

      The best thing for me in dealing with the post-seeing-him letdown is to have something busy but not fun lined up – a hangout with friends is great, but having to write a paper is even better. I’d need to be away from him to concentrate anyway, and no one’s going to ask me how he’s doing, etc.

      I also like to turn those “we could be having a dinner date right now!” thoughts into “okay, what if we actually were?” thoughts. Like, if I’d never moved away we’d be going out now, and that would mean I’d be walking in the hot DC weather from my office (oh MAN I’m glad I don’t work in that office anymore) to the metro (ugh the orange line at rush hour) to his place (oh crap I forgot to feed the cat, gotta call my roommate, oh MAN I do not miss having roommates) etc etc. Basically reminding myself of all the reasons that being together right now! would not in fact make me happier.

    4. I recommend finding more hobbies or things you do by yourself to distract yourself in the meantime. Take a class! Take up knitting! Get a box set of an awesome TV show and watch it! A podcast that you listen to in the car on the way home? Something that you do when you are leaving – not to ‘look forward to when you leave’ at all but just something that you do right away so that you stop thinking about how terrible it is to be leaving.

  4. Long distance is the worst great decision I’ve ever made. It’s so hard (and the worst of the distance is almost over, but we’ll still be apart), but I honestly just didn’t feel like there was a choice. Does that make sense? There was no way I would have NOT had him in my life once I met him.

    Almost two years and the worst will be over in 2 weeks!

    1. Yep, makes total sense, ha! I will never quite be sure why DFTBBoyfriend and I started dating when we were in cities 100 miles apart but it just felt like what we needed to do. And the distance sucks and is hard but I don’t regret all the work we put into this, because what we get out is so much better. Congrats on closing the distance soon!

      1. Thanks! I can’t believe it’s really happening. We’ll still be about 2 hours away from each other, but I can see him on weekends! And he’s taking a week off to get me settled and we can do silly, domestic stuff like go grocery shopping and thrift store hunting for apartment stuff.

        Also – “And the distance sucks and is hard but I don’t regret all the work we put into this, because what we get out is so much better. ” So true! It’s worth the effort and rescheduling and frustrations because a good relationship is a beautiful thing and just makes the world seem a little brighter and friendlier (at least for me).

    2. I totally know what you mean, it was impossible for us not to be together once we both realized we felt the same way about each other.

      Congrats on only having 2 weeks left, I have just under 2 months left.

  5. Oh man, I really need this thread! I was out-of-the-country long-distance for two months while I did an internship, and I’ve been back now for a few months. But I need new work again and I’m afraid I’ll have to look afar for it (I also would LOVE to go out of the country again)…and I’m terrified of a repeat of the last time. I hadn’t thought two months apart would be a big deal–and he hadn’t thought it would, either–but by the end the relationship was very strained. He felt neglected, while I felt smothered (It was very hard to enjoy my time in [other country] when I was committed daily to 45 minutes on the phone of listening to how sad he was that I was in [other country]. I tried to redirect the conversation into quality time together, but it would just devolve into sadness).

    He knows he had problems dealing with my absence and is in therapy for depression now, and he doesn’t want to keep me from traveling again, but I really need some strategies for keeping a relationship healthy long-distance. And maybe strategies overall for dealing with being different personality archetypes–he’s classic anxious-attachment (with abandonment issues) and I’m avoidant-attachment. I know I’m bad at the little details he needs to feel loved and appreciated and bad at feeling closed in, and he’s bad at panicking about me leaving him if I’m off by myself for too long and needing neverending (or so it feels to me) reinforcement. We do an AMAZING job of meshing our two personality types when we’re together in person, but when we’re apart….it was different.

    It seems also like there’s a fundamental difference between being the person going somewhere, and the person left behind–it’s easier for me because I’m busy in a new place, while he’s at home, missing me, seeing the loss all the time. I tried encouraging him to do awesome solo things that he’s always wanted to do while I was away, but we still struggled. He felt like I didn’t miss him, and I did, but I was able to compartmentalize the “missing him” in a way that let me go about my business and enjoy what I was doing, and he wasn’t.

    1. This resonates. I’m done with going overseas for 3 months at a time, but I did it for 3 years while I finished my PhD, and then another year when I got an offer for a semester-long gig at [Fancy Research Institution].

      One of my friends recommends reading to each other over Skype, as a way to have a specific thing to talk about that is not depressing for one or both parties. I wish I’d thought of it at the time.

      Also, I use Google Calendar to give myself reminders to do regular romantic gestures. That way, I can just plan it all out beforehand and not be constantly worrying. (This probably shows that I have a cynical unromantic spirit or something, but it works, and I figure nobody has to know the exact mechanism by which you remember stuff.) You can’t solve this completely by yourself–the other half of the couple also needs to trust you, back off, and invest in parts of their life other than the relationship–but I find it really valuable as a piece of the puzzle.

      1. Movies and skype, tv shows and skype, crossword puzzles and skype. Sometimes just doing an activity together and not feeling the pressure to make brilliant conversation is great.

    2. Being the “left behind” partner is hard. My husband lived 700 miles away for a year and a half (while we were still dating), and at the moment he’s gone internationally for three weeks. I really sort of hate it, and I really didn’t do (and am not doing) well, but we get through it somehow.

      Mostly for me, it’s probably unhealthily sublimating my angst and pretending the loneliness and sadness isn’t happening. He does a fine job of emailing me and telling me he misses me, and taking pictures of things that remind him of me (butts, mostly. Statues with butts, cat butts, butts of strangers wearing funny pants) so I know he’s thinking of me, and I work very, very hard to keep my angst to myself and to only ask from him what he’s able to give. I saw how much my bff suffered when her husband cried and moped and made her feel like shit for going away for grad school, and how her studies suffered because she was spending precious research time on the phone reassuring him.

      It’s a delicate balance, and I think both partners have to be willing to compromise in some way. For my husband, it’s remembering to take the butt pictures and send me e-mails and set aside, oh, 15 minutes for a Skype date. Left to his own devices he’d probably just peace out and come back in three weeks and high-five me when he got back. For me, it’s convincing myself that I’m okay with just cat butts, brief e-mails, and the occasionally missed 15-minute Skype date when I’d really prefer long, detailed e-mails and hours-long chats to catch each other up on our days.

    3. oh do i ever know these feels bro…i’m in year 4 of 8 years overseas for [highly accredited vet program] that took me three years to get into (hence the overly long stay)…its 9 months at a time that i am gone…and just this year he joined the army so has been even more gone for the last 3 months or so (graduated from basic earlier this month so he has his phone more regularly now, before it was snail mail) plus the time difference went from 5 hours to 8 hours and we barely have time to connect…i don’t want to burden him with my problems because i know he is going through so much…but at the same time if i don’t do that i feel like we aren’t connecting or having that shared vulnerability that intimacy is built on

      on top of that we have a shared girlfriend back in [home state]…with her i am very much the anxious-insecure type and she is the avoidant type…but we have learned through the past few months to really communicate which has helped…she also has a very busy and changeable schedule that leaves me feeling neglected and not a priority…so we use google calendar to plan days where we both have time for a “date” at least once a week and get some chat time in a “catch as catch can” sort of fashion for the rest of it…we still have issues and it sucks and there are times when i feel so overwhelmed and underappreciated that i want to HULKSMASH everything and then run away and hide under a rock until everything goes away…but i couldn’t imagine my life without either of them…they bring me joy just by existing so we work through our problems and fight through this

      2016 is really really far away (2017 is even farther which is when boyfriend gets out of the army)…but December is close…that is when i get to come home to spend birthdays and christmas

      we don’t have the option of frequent visits but when i was living in [homestate] we were still a good hour apart when i was working…the goodbyes are the worst…so we stopped saying goodbye and started saying “i can’t wait to see you again” and ending every conversation with “i love you” so that it was the very last thing we said to each other “just in case”

      today has been a long day of lectures and lab so i have lost entirely my train of thought…i’m sure it was around here somewhere…

      TL;DR – long distance sucks and takes a lot of talking about “how are we going to make this bearable for each of us”…and compromise…and most of all being able to still be vulnerable with the person even from far away

      i hope this wasn’t to rambly or off the trail…i think i’m going to go have some tea now

  6. I was in a long distance relationship one and off for two years (I went to an interstate university, the on and off was that I’d come home to see him over the summer and mid-year break).
    We had been dating for two and a half years before I moved away and after two years of studying in separate states he has transferred and we now live together.
    There are a lot of things to talk about so I guess I will break it down into chunks.

    Initial Challenges:
    Since we had been dating and seeing a lot of each other, the transition to long distance was HARD! Because of the nature of my degree, as soon as I moved I was buried under work so it was a welcome distraction however, my boyfriend didn’t cope so well. He had hang-ups from a previous relationship (ex-girlfriend used to go interstate for youth camps and hook up with all the guys, he only found out after they broke up) so he really struggled with the fact that I was living in a college where there are many parties and drunken hook-ups. Not that he had to worry (I am not a drinker/party-er and I don’t do hook-ups) but I guess since his ex screwed him over it was sort of an irrational fear.
    To cope with all his emotional stuff he basically became an alcoholic (he’s always had a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol but this tipped him over the edge, I guess. He IS currently alcohol free – 5 weeks dry. I am so proud <3) After about a month he started to pull himself back together and he realised what he was doing.

    The main challenges/points:
    – Mismatch in needs: I was very, very busy. My life basically became: Wake up, eat breakfast, go to uni for 8 hours, eat dinner, study for 3-4 hours, go to bed. Rinse and repeat. (It was also incredibly unhealthy for my mental state and I did burn out in my second year. I am still feeling the effects.)
    I didn't have time to call and chat for an hour every day but he really missed me so for a while he was miserable because I simply didn't have time to talk and if I did make time, I got really stressed because I wasn't getting enough study done.
    He then 'got used to it' and accepted that I wouldn't have time to talk but in retrospect, that really wasn't fair on him. But we soldiered on.
    – Visiting: I am very lucky; he would save up and fly over to visit me on a weekend every 4-6 weeks. But this also put strain on his very limited finances.
    – Holidays: while going home and spending lots of time together was amazing, it also made returning at the end of holidays really hard. I think that every time I returned to university, he really struggled.

    There are lots of emotional challenges involved and each couple is different. I don't know whether I can give a lot of advice as we probably weren't an example of the perfect LD couple. Sure, we are still together but those two years really were a dark time in our lives for many reasons including him failing uni due to depression and having to repeat a year and all the other challenges that it brought.

    How living LD has affected our relationship now we are living together.
    After my second year we started living together and that brought a whole new set of challenges.
    Going from LD to living together isn't always as smooth as one might like to think.
    Living on my own, away from family, made me very independent.This probably has a lot to do with my personality as well. I don't need a lot of affection these days and sometimes if he gets in a really huggy mood, especially if I'm doing something, it makes me uncomfortable because I am simply not used to it. But over time, I'm becoming more receptive, it's just part of adjusting.

    One of the big issues is that while we were LD, we didn't share the small emotional moments where we talked about feelings and such because it became really repetitive. "I love you, I miss you, I am miserable without you." was a regular theme and eventually I had to ask him to stop saying that every time we talked because it just made ME miserable too. The effect of that was that we now don't communicate as well as we should. But we're improving.

    We also have very different schedules. I tend to stay up and study until 1-2am. He goes to bed at 10pm. I am very busy and he has a lot of free time. It's something that we never had to deal with when we were LD.
    Adjusting to living togather has been hard for me too as not only did I transition from living on my own at college where all my meals were provided and I didn't have to keep a house, I now have to provide meals and adjust my schedule for the both of us (and our housemate) without even adjusting to being able to look after myself. Because he's never lived on his own and his mother did everything for him, most of the housework gets left to me. I think that if we had lived closer and not done LD, the transition would have been a lot smoother as I could have eased him into doing more things, cleaning etc.
    Those issues aren't necessarily exclusive to long distance of course.

    Anyway, that's my long and potentially boring story. It will be good to see how others have handled LD because there will be people who have done a lot better than I have.

    1. Thank you so much for being honest about going from LD to living together – we’re getting closer together, but I’m a little worried about the transition to living together when that becomes a possibility. I know a lot of LD couples go through it and it’s SUCH a relief to see people talk about it. I mean, there are so many little things I don’t know – when he’s sick, what kinds of food does he like? How often does he need alone time and how can I arrange my schedule to give him that time? What about when he needs alone time but I desperately need him? They’re basic things that all couples have to figure out, but if we were at least in the same town I’d have a little more experience with them.

      1. Yes, thank you! I am moving closer to The Boy in about a week’s time and probably long term would love to live in the same city/maybe together. But what if we only work long distance? We work SO WELL long distance there’s a part of me that thinks maybe we just won’t work in the same way living near each other. I have no idea how people actually manage that change: the stories I hear tend to equate no longer long distance with everything being sunshine and roses. Or breakups. Surely there’s something in between?!

        1. My now-husband and I were long distance for 8 months, and then short distance for a year before getting married and moving in together. That short distance time, where we were close enough to see each other on a more regular, normal basis but still had our own places/jobs in different towns was really helpful in making the transition. We had both lived on our own for several years, and I do think some of our habits wouldn’t have meshed as well if we hadn’t had that short distance space to negotiate that a bit.

          Obviously, it has worked out marvelously for us, but that’s not to say there weren’t some big adjustments made by both of us–simple examples being he likes routine, I like variety. I’m a night owl, he’s an early bird. We were both used to having lots of “me” time vs. “us” time, and moving in flipped that dynamic on its head, and is probably the hardest thing to adjust to in going from long distance to living together, IMHO. Luckily, our early bird vs. night owl tendencies helped work that out–he gets up early and has a good chunk of alone time before I wake up in the morning, and I get the same by staying up late.

          If both of you are willing to deal with adjusting to each other, you can absolutely find a middle ground that works.

      2. Can’t help with mutual negotiations, but we have a time-out signal each: an ornament to put on our desks which says ‘can’t brain right now, need my space’. This meant we could negotiate such situations when we were both communicative.
        It also helps to have a spacious enough flat that we can do separate things in separate rooms if we feel like it, so we didn’t go from ‘independent, masters of our time’ to ‘everything together all the time’. And I understand financial restrictions, but I feel that this option did a lot for making the transition to full-time coupledom much, much easier.

        1. I love this and will probably adopt it as it will be great for those days where I just want to be on my own. I think this would be better for me to signal that I need a hug or something because I’m not very good at coming out and saying ‘hold me, I need you to be close’.

        2. i absolutely love the time out signal…i will definitely be incorporating that into my relationships…even LDR we can put up an away message on aim or skype…thank you for sharing this ^_^

      3. It seems hypocritical to say but communication is key. And not just communicating but being clear that you both are going to have to lay things down on the table. Once you are comfortable with saying whatever’s on your mind or answering whatever question comes up, no matter how stupid it seems, it gets a lot easier.
        It might seem embarrassing that you’ve been going out for four years didn’t know his least favourite food was quiche. But you will find out either the easier or the harder way and if you both can accept that you might have to stumble through some of this stuff, it will be a lot simpler.

        I still misread his body language from time to time and we’ve now been living together for over 6 months. But it’s easier if you verbalize what you think is going on. “Your body language is telling me you want to be left alone, am I right?”

        It takes time, patience and tolerance but also you both need to be able to be humble and admit when you’re doing something wrong.

      4. Me and Mr. Q were LDR for three years and several time zones apart. When he finally moved here I was so nervous that the weirdest things would get to me. Like, we would go grocery shopping and I would freak out because OMG YOU ARE PACKING THE BAGS WRONG. And then I redid them. Because optimal weight distribution across bags ARE IMPORTANT AND THIS HAS TOTES NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU SUDDENLY BEING HERE.

        I felt a lot like a dog who’d been chasing cars and suddenly caught one. Now what!? It was weird, and a bit uncomfortable but also totally giddifying and awesome and we solved it with lots of talking about things. But yeah, it’s not all automatically sunshine and roses just because you’ve been struggling towards this moment for what feels like forever. It takes adjustment and compromise and communication like in short-distance relationships.

        I think we expect though because of how badly we want it that it’ll all be amazing, or if it’s not all amazing immediately that we made a terrible mistake (and the stakes are so high!). Or maybe that we’re failing to live up to some weird standards of what “epic” love should be like. It’s a lot of things to be hit with at the same time, but not strange, or bad, or necessarily an indictment of your relationship. It’s just stuff to deal with.

  7. i’m not currently in a long distance relationship but this is one of my favorite songs about them – i wish it had been around in 2000. 🙂

    “bed across the sea” by jesca hoop:

  8. This is timely. A few years ago I was in a US/UK long distance relationship for three years, which didn’t work out because when I moved to the UK we realised we weren’t that compatible anymore.

    And I continued my studies and started living with my current partner and it was all so awesome because I hated long distance so much and we had plans and were getting things for our flat and everything was amazing.

    Then my student loan for this year was denied. And I kept trying to sort things out, but this past week we realised there was no way for me to do my last year of uni, and that that will invalidate my visa, so I have to leave the country in just over two months. We also had to move out of our flat on about two day’s notice because the flat was only rented to uni students (my partner finished a few years ago) and that we could potentially owe up to an entire year’s rent if we didn’t get out of the lease *right now.*

    I always told myself that I would never be in a long distance relationship again, but being with my partner is the happiest I’ve ever been, and I just feel sick about the whole thing.

    1. I said ‘never again’ after my first long distance relationship fell apart and took me, and my mental health, with it. But this time? Because we are so much better suited, and I was so much more willing to say ‘this isn’t working, what does that mean?’ wherever that took me (I did get to the stage where if we’d had A Particular Conversation and it had ended badly, I would have broken up with him) things have been so much easier. It doesn’t feel like an endless battle, it feels like a hard time that we will grow stronger and closer from. I still really ENJOY my relationship! I didn’t know that was a thing that could happen! So don’t lose faith – things can and do go different the second time around.

      1. Thank you so much for this. I’ve been trying to not just mope, but it’s difficult. Reminding myself that it is way easier to communicate in words in this relationship than any other I’ve been in makes it easier. So does remembering the relief when I asked my partner if he would be interested in trying long distance while I tried to work out another visa and he instantly said yes. If that wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be about to try this at all.

    2. My boyfriend and I both said “never again” due to past relationships, but we’re both so, so happy right now and doing long distance. Sometimes it’s about the fit and compatibility, not the circumstances. You can do it!

  9. That is a beautiful, beautiful poem. Thank you, CA. I haven’t been in a long distance relationship for a while, but I remember the many hours spent on the phone and on AIM talking about everything… definitely bittersweet memories.

  10. I was long distance (intercontinental) with my boyfriend for three years before I moved abroad to live with him (my job was portable, his not so much). I was really nervous about it, because we were so far apart that we saw each other for a week every three months, talked on the phone twice a day (sometimes for a minute, sometimes for an hour), and texted and emailed constantly, but none of that is the same as actually living together.

    The way I thought about it was, each of us was in a relationship with our idea of the other person, and to some extent not with the actual other person, so when you start to live together, you need to adjust your mental image of who your partner is from their best self to their actual self. It’s easy when you only see each other for a little while to be on your best behavior, to not get annoyed if he leaves the toilet seat up or leaves everything out of the fridge, and for you to be sure not to, I don’t know, pick your nose or reveal your love for Justin Bieber. You’re so happy to see each other that little things don’t bug you, and you don’t want to do things that will bug them. But when you’re together every day, those things come out, and you start being the real you, not the best one. It’s not dissimilar to how people change as they go through the first few months of dating, it just happens more shockingly because after a long time of long distance, you think that you know your partner really well, and it can be pretty scary to find out that you don’t know them as well as you think.

    We are blissfully happy now, but it did take a good 6-8 months before we got really used to who each other actually is and stopped missing the person we thought each other was. It’s almost like a break-up at the same time as rekindling an old romance- you miss the person you used to love and can’t be with anymore even though you’re with the person you love, but they’ve changed since you fell in love with them. It feels stupid (and possibly sounds ridiculous!) So when I moved, we made sure to give each other space. We didn’t make a big deal out of new things that contradicted things we’d thought we knew, we made sure that each of us had time alone in the flat, and we made sure that the flat itself was big enough that we could both comfortably be in separate room is for a few hours if we needed to. And we practiced using our words to talk about As it turns out, most of the things that we found out weren’t really that annoying, and so it worked out fine. But if there had been big things, by having that physical and emotional space built in we would have had room to deal with them- even with stupid little things we spent a lot more time in separate rooms than I would have expected in the first few months, just processing (or figuring out how to say ‘that really annoys me. Is there anything we can do to work on that?’).

    One thing that will have made my move simpler (and possibly more difficult, depending on personality) than many others is the sheer distance- because I visited so rarely, I didn’t have my own network of friends when I came over here, so I moved into his life and then had to find my own friends. Even five years later, most of my close friends are his friends too. I’m a rolling stone, as it were, and I like moving to a new place and meeting new people, so I was happy to do that and pretty good about keeping in touch with people from home, but for a lot of people not having any kind of a local support network outside of your partner could be difficult/scary.

    I had done long distance before, and both times it didn’t work out, but this one did. So all I can say is that the problems with those relationships had nothing to do with the distance and everything to do with us not being quite right. In the end I’m glad for the distance, because both of them were great guys, and we could have taken years to realize that we weren’t quite right if not for the distance.

    1. “We are blissfully happy now, but it did take a good 6-8 months before we got really used to who each other actually is and stopped missing the person we thought each other was. It’s almost like a break-up at the same time as rekindling an old romance- you miss the person you used to love and can’t be with anymore even though you’re with the person you love, but they’ve changed since you fell in love with them. ”

      YES! You helped me put my finger on it because I’ve never been able to put this into words.
      THANK YOU!

  11. Long-term, long-distance relationship, moving in together in less than a month. It’s exciting! Also inducing some mild anxiety, much of which is just stress from the upcoming move, and a little bit from “Is this going to be as great as we want it to be?” feelings. We’ve lived together before, but never for more than a few months at a time. So starting what could be a new permanent living situation is an adventure.

  12. Is this for non-romantic relationships, too? Because I was pointed to this thread by a dear friend and fellow CA reader who, I believe, may be trying to tell me something. Actually, I know he is.
    I’m one of those people who likes to stay in close touch with friends who aren’t physically near, and I have definite sadness-anxiousness tendencies when my friends are away and don’t feel a need to stay in touch as closely as I do. I would happily text or hear from my close friends every day, but they don’t mind if we go a few days (or, sometimes, weeks) without having an actual conversation. (You know, both of us talking, about something other than a current crisis. It’s the conversational Bechdel test.)
    It ends up looking like I’m angry at them, because anger is easier than “I’m so sad when I don’t hear from you regularly” and far easier than “I want you to please think of me without me having to ask” even though that’s what I’m actually getting at. Both reactions feel pathetic, and anger feels mean. Neither is a good solution.

    Because I’m horribly incompetent at dealing with these feelings, I usually just let it go until I feel *really* crummy and like I’m not worth my friends’ time and that they promptly forgot about me the second they didn’t want me for anything specific. And then when I try to talk about it, I’m so hurt that I end up being a huge asshole, which they don’t deserve, because not needing me or wanting to talk to me regularly is about how much fun they’re having doing other things, not because they don’t care to ever talk to me again. They just don’t want to *right now*.

    I’m the kind of person who just texts out of the blue to say hi, even when I’m off doing other fun things. My friends do things differently. How do I take a metaphorical chill pill and give my friends a freaking break? How have all of you handled it?

    1. I’m going to answer this as a person who finds cell phones & the expectation of being constantly available overwhelming, sets all my chat/IM settings to invisible, and frequently turns my phone or at least the ringer all the way off so as to avoid contact when I am not feeling it but who also has many faraway friends.

      One answer is: Schedule regular conversations in advance. Save up the stuff you have to say for then. Because they are regular – we Skype after Scandal! – you know when the next one is coming and won’t feel so anxious in between times. Maybe make this part of an overall conversation about expectations about frequency of communication. “I feel like I’m overwhelming you with pings, but I also want us to be in touch frequently – in a perfect world, how would this work best for you?”

      And when you text just to say “Hi,” with nothing in particular to talk about, try to have no or very low expectation that the person will be able or willing to answer right then. Sometimes “hi!” with no other info attached comes across as “I’m bored, entertain me!” If I’m otherwise engaged (for example, when I am hanging out with someone else it’s rude to be texting all the time with faraway friends, I’d rather enjoy the here and now), I will not answer or even look at the phone.

      If you’re sharing links, short thoughts, etc. consider making more use of other social media, like Facebook or Twitter, where you put stuff out there but the expectations about interaction are low.

      It’s good that you asked the question – I can see that the hurt and desire for validation and interaction are very real, but I think you are setting yourself up for failure a bit by expecting conversations to happen on demand and lashing out when they don’t.

      1. That last paragraph is exactly how I feel about it- It’s not fair to my friends, and it feels like crap to me. It’s been an ongoing problem for me- and thus for my friends.

        My best friend is the guy who sent me to this particular thread. He’s getting back from vacation and my view of things is that he texted me every time he needed something and as soon as he got it stopped talking. Me: “How are you?” Him: “Good.” End of conversation. He says how would he know I wanted to talk if I didn’t say “Hey, I want to talk.” I thought “So, how’s it going?” after he texted me first *was* having a conversation and that if he texted me he must be okay talking.

        He’s attached to his cell phone and regularly texts other people while we’re mid face-to-face conversation, so I know it’s not a desire to be unavailable and disconnected. He’s also really good at saying “I just want time to be alone” and that request doesn’t have my jerkbrain going “But you don’t love me!”

        Is there any validity to me just telling myself to get the hell over it and find a way to never mention it again? Is my friend totally right that I should have announced a desire to have a conversation- even after he’d started a conversation?

        1. I’m not 100% sure what the actual question is now. Practically, I am getting a strong vibe that texting is not your ideal medium (while it may be yours with others, and his with others) to talk to each other, and if you really need to talk you should move it to a different medium, i.e. texting to say “Can we talk later for a few minutes?”, making requests more specific.

          I don’t know why, but some friendships are great on IM, some by phone, some only in person, some on social media, some through text. There is different chemistry & different vibe with each. That might be what’s going on here, at least partially.

          1. It’s definitely more than comment-thread length. Thanks for your answers, I have good stuff to think about 🙂

        2. Is your friend, perchance, an introvert? If he is, he may share the common introverts’ dislike of small talk and chit-chat. Personally, if I have a conversation I want it to be *about* something (not just passing time with meaningless phrases) and if I’m having a deep feelings-talk with my friend, I definitely don’t want to feel it could be interrupted at any moment as unplanned IM conversations so often are. If I have 1-2 minutes of downtime I might be available to text about logistical stuff, but not to have a real conversation.

          So what I’m picturing is your friend stepping out for a brief pause from work or other socializing to send you a quick functional text (or “when he needed something”) and then you responded with a let’s-have-a-chat text. Not wanting to be rude and not answer your “how are you?” but not having time or inclination for a long chat, he responded with “I’m good.” It doesn’t mean he didn’t want to talk to you in general, it just meant he wasn’t up for a long convo right that moment.

          The trouble with IM or texting is that it theoretically shows you when someone is available but availability is not binary. There’s no built-in way to tell how much time/bandwidth they actually have at the moment. Starting the conversation with “do you have time to chat?” is therefore really helpful.

        3. What you’re texting sounds more like a postcard: ‘hi, the weather is great, the food is horrible (or vice versa), hope you have a great time, see you soon’. It’s a signal that you thought of the other person, but it’s not a conversation, and the other party might well think that you’re just making small talk.
          Many years ago, the Royal Mail had a campaign of ‘I saw this and thought of you’ with people sending their friends/family really weird stuff. The internet makes this easier and cheaper – instead of sending a generic message that might well come across with an undertone of ‘entertain me’, send them something specific – a conversation starter. “I saw these awesome pictures of [place], are you still planning a holiday there?” “Spotted this cat which looks just like yours – how is he?” “Squee, our favorite actor will be in [new film]. I’m sure you’ve heard, but I just needed to share with someone”.

          I want to wish you the best of luck with tackling your abandonment issues. I’ve mostly gotten the obvious things under control – if someone is late for a meeting I don’t think ‘they hate me and won’t turn up and will laugh about how I came all the way out here’ I think ‘their train must be late’. On the other hand, I just delayed sending out invitations to friends who were all delighted to receive them because my jerkbrain insisted that nobody wants to come anyway, and it’s easier to have nobody turn up because the invitations were so late that nobody had time to arrange anything than because they don’t want to come etc etc.

    2. I like the Captain’s answer a lot.

      I moved 1500 miles away from my best friend nine years ago*, and it’s been a lot of time and work – and long lonely stretches when we didn’t have a good system for carving out the time to stay in touch, and hence didn’t, and both felt shitty and anxious about it – but we’ve got something that seems to work now.

      – we maintain “ambient awareness” through Facebook. We may or may not directly comment on each other’s walls every single day, but we have a sense of what’s going on in each other’s lives, and a sense that the other one is out there, paying attention. (Last week, after a horrible busy nightmare of a few weeks when this system broke down and we hadn’t talked in what seemed like ages, she “liked” something I posted and I burst into tears, which was a big cosmic clue-by-four that I needed a BFF Fix, pronto. There was a phone call the next day.)

      – we text silly serendipitous stuff that happens, and OMG THEY DIDN’T stuff, and other things that are private, non-FB-y, but can be asynchronous. (Class here: “Hey. Thinking about you.”) We don’t expect a reply, and definitely don’t expect a reply immediately (although someimes timing clicks and we have long, hilarious, fast-paced text conversations). Because I’m far west of her, sometimes I text something late at night, and she sees it first thing in the morning, and there’s a reply waiting for me when I wake up.

      – we have a weekly “phone date,” which we can keep most of the time, and when we can’t we schedule interim phone dates. We never hang up without touching base about when we’ll talk next, and if that falls through, we reschedule, usually by text. And when life is JUST TOO MUCH and we can’t manage a phone call, we sneak off to our respective offices and have mid-workday FB Chat. (See: Captain’s Paragraph 2, above.)

      – we reserve email for deeper, philosophical conversations, or conversations about, frex, detailed work-related advice, or research/geekery or other non-emotionally-charged information-dump scenarios. Emotionally-charged email, we have learned, is very bad for us; we hold those conversations for face-to-face visits, which happen once or twice a year.

      The two things that really help me get through a day without getting wound up feeling needy or weird are 1.) knowing I can always check her FB (and don’t necessarily have to post or like or DO ANYTHING, but always CAN), and 2.) knowing when the next phone call will be.

      *and when I say “best friend,” I mean “platonic life partner”. She is every bit as much “my person” as my romantic partner is.

      1. I have long-term best friends, too, and all these suggestions sound very similar to what I have worked out that works for us. I am so glad that my best friends have similar communication expectations-needs-desires.

        RJ, I think your friends are thinking of you and love you, they must just not do communication that frequently.

        This question makes me think of That Attachment Styles Blog Article that I cannot seem to find right now. And all the ones I /did/ find are not remotely as helpful.

  13. Does anyone have any experience with long distance sorts of relationships that aren’t as clearly defined? I have a friend who lives about halfway across the country from me. We’ve been really close online friends for about a decade (like, talking almost every day) but about a year and a half ago we both admitted that we really liked each other, and would date if only we didn’t live so far away. We’re both at a point now with our careers where we kind of just have to go where our jobs take us, and I don’t really know when I’d be able to move to be near her. It’s hard — and more expensive than we can really afford until we get more settled — to arrange regular times to visit, too. At the same time, even though we’re not officially “dating” I feel weird attempting to seriously date anyone else in the meantime (although we’ve both agreed that would be okay). I just feel so much more strongly about her, what with the 10 years or so of history and the 2 or so years of acknowledged mutual attraction, compatibility, and interest.
    As much as I want to be with her, I know she really cares about her work, which doesn’t always allow her to keep regular hours, and I know I want to try working abroad for at least the next year — so as busy as we were when we were undergrads we’re just going to get busier. We’ve had a lot of conversations about staying in touch and how to meet each others’ needs while also keeping up with our schedules and local friends and stuff. But it’s complicated and sometimes it gets exhausting and sometimes I feel like I’m being needy or too clingy (even though she assures me I’m not). It feels especially weird to try to explain to friends why I’m not dating anyone — but sort of am? and they sigh things like “I don’t know how you put up with that.” Um, because I like her and she makes me happy and regardless of what we’re calling it this is one of the more important human relationships in my life right now?

  14. Do deployments count?

    My fiance is Air Force. Before meeting him, I never ever ever would have pictured myself with someone in the military. I started dating him kind of on a whim — oh, I haven’t dated in a while, this guy seems like fun, I’ll give it a shot since it doesn’t have to and probably won’t go anywhere. But then he turned out to be just one of a kind, smart and empathetic and supportive bordering on selfless sometimes, and he’s so willing and able to fight the kind of day-to-day battles of calling people out on untrue, bigoted, problematic, or uninformed bullshit, the kind of day-to-day battles that just bleed me dry, and he’s willing to do it in environments that can be culturally hostile to that work, and he does it in ways that leave people still liking him or at the very least respecting him. He’s great at his job and he’s hilarious. I admire him so much. And it all just snuck up on me, and then one day we’d been dating for not-even-a-year and he deployed.

    Now, the Air Force isn’t a front-lines branch (the affectionate-or-not jab is that they’re the “Chair Force”), but the potential of a base bombing for logistical/supply-line reasons is there. He was in less danger this time than his previous two deployments, but I still worried. Throw in my mostly-untreated depression-of-some-type mood disorder, and my tendency to, hmmm, forget people that have moved away exist, and you’d think we would have a recipe for disaster.

    But I am a creature of the present moment, and after I gave myself a week or so of bathrobe-couch-chocolate, I just kind of… moved on with life. I did school, I battled depression, I made food, I wrote music, I worked, I hung out with friends. It helped that we could stay in regular contact, texting and weekly Skype dates. They were logistically difficult, as his base’s internet was stupid slow and we were on opposite sides of the world, but late-night/early-morning meetups seem to work, and one time he got up at 3am to be “there” for my birthday dinner.

    Then, a month before he was done with his deployment, both of our leases were up. And we decided to move in together. GUYS IN RETROSPECT THIS SOUNDS LIKE SUCH A BAD IDEA. We’d spent less than a year together-in-the-same-place. He was the first person I’d slept with. Plus, when I’d spent time at his apartment, I’d been quietly *horrified* at the state of his housecleaning. He simply does not notice things out of place; it may be part of the attention disorder he has. But I packed both of our apartments — “packing” for him involved literally throwing out 1/3 of the stuff in his room because it was literally not even joking just garbage that had never been thrown away — and I moved them into a new apartment, with help from both our friends.

    And he moved in and we had zero problems adjusting. Zero. We have had zero fights about housecleaning or personal habits. It’s been a full year now. Zeeeeerooooo. Things got awkward the month before he proposed, but that was because I was kind of trying to talk about getting married and he kind of had it in his head that it had to be a surprise and it’s probably the one time our communication has failed that epically, leaving us both a little wary.

    Why did this work for us? Why am I even contributing to this thread? Because I’m proud of some of the things we did right to get to this place, and I think I can articulate them:
    1. We are first and foremost individual people. I have a full life without him and vice versa. I don’t need him to function — I just like it when he’s there. He is my preference, my first choice, my favorite.
    2. We talk about everything, even when it’s awkward. The sexual fantasy that’s embarassing. The sexual fantasy that we tried and it didn’t work out. The sexual move that, um, actually doesn’t work for me, sorry? The sex that goes fan-freaking-tastic. The best way for me to remind him to do something so it doesn’t feel like nagging. The best way for him to address it when my mental health is taking a downturn.The best way for him to remember to do something so I don’t have to remind him. The best way for me to let him know the things he can do to support me when I’m down and the things I have to do on my own. The best way to manage impulsive spending, debt, financial expectations, savings. How we each express love and what we need to feel loved.
    3. We have clear boundaries about our respective mental issues. We both know he can’t solve my depressive issues with the power of lurve, and I can’t change the way he forgets non-concrete tasks and mentally edits out garbage and clutter. We both know my depression is no excuse to treat him poorly, and his attention disorder is no excuse to not help with housework.
    4. We respect the power of logistics — planned regular Skype dates when apart, planned regular date nights when together, planned division of household labor according to our own strengths. He, as discussed, doesn’t seem to see things out of place, even garbage — so I take all the pick-up/organize/daily variable cleaning tasks. He does the phone-calendar routine stuff, the laundry and taking out the full garbages. We split cooking and dishes. We work together on big projects like cupboard cleaning. We respect each other enough to do our own tasks because it’s just kind of bullshit to promise to do something and then ignore it — but if one of us is having a terrible or terribly busy few days we don’t mind if tasks slide. We’ll help each other out when we need it.
    5. We are individual people, see #1, who are nonetheless choosing to make each other a collaborator and partner in life choices. Each of us has a say in decorating, in career moves, in finances. Each of us has accomplishments celebrated, failures mourned. Each of us matters. His career will play first fiddle for a while, because, well, the US government pretty much owns him, but that’s okay because I haven’t quite figured out my career yet. After he gets out, and he’s not sure what to do with life without a superior officer, my career will lead us and he’ll follow while he figures out his next possible steps.

    Long story short we’ve done long-distance and will again, and we moved in together while still long-distance. And it worked. And I’m so glad it did.

    1. I am also Long Term Long Distance Relationship (LTLDR) and with one partner in the military (Infantry aiming to go Ranger before he gets out)…i attribute most of our success to the same things…communication is HUGE…i don’t know how i would get along without it…and scheduled calls and “date nights” are a must for us…it is so nice seeing other people who are having similar success with similar tactics…we are going to be LDR for another 4 years minimum while i finish my degree in [country farther away than i would like to think about] and he does his army thing…but we were together 4 years before he joined (well our 4 year anniversary was in the middle of his basic training)…we both figure that we already decided to spend forever together, what’s a few more years before we get there? we have also decided that my career (as a prestigious veterinarian lol) will run the show for the early part of our marriage while we get settled and figure out how life is going to work


    2. You sound awesome together. The best life lesson I learnt was how much *work* good relationships take because you’ve got two people coming together building new habits and negotiating spaces differently. Watching friends who are very good at this stuff – who point out problems and discuss them amiably and find solutions – was an education and a half. It’s been ever so helpful to have these kinds of examples – including many posters here – because I was lacking a model for that kind of grown-up behaviour.

    3. I love your #2 and #3 and well, the whole list. This is very similar to what makes my marriage work. The genders are reversed on our respective brain misbehavior but otherwise this sounds a lot like us. 🙂

  15. Husband and I were long distance for 2.5 years before we got married in September. Then I moved interstate away from all of my friends and family (and, to be fair, all of his friends and family because they all lived in my city too) to be with him (hooray!). Then he was deployed to the Middle East (oh.)

    Marrying a navy officer I did know we’d be on and off long distance forever and 4 months into his deployment I have made some incredibly good life-long-type friends and I am taking an acting class and generally being awesome.

    But it’s haaaaaard. I haven’t seen him in 4 months. We’ve only spoken on the phone once during that time. We email every couple of days but I just want him to be home so that I can look at his face and rub my face on his hair.

    I miss him and it hurts but there is no way to *fix* that because it’s not like I want to… not miss him.

    Anyway I think I’m doing pretty good (excellently, actually) but I’m really really looking forward to October!

    Of course as he’s in the Navy he’ll pretty much always be going away and coming home so I’m kind of glad we were long distance, and had never actually lived together, before we got married. There is no magical time before it was like this.

    1. the one silver lining that Boyfriend and i have found with LTLDR is the built in NRE ^_^ every homecoming is amazing and we get that magical excitement period every time and nobody blames us for being inseparable…now that he is in the army and we are having to figure out school holidays (which are backwards for me since i’m studying “down undah”) to match when he can get leave it is a little harder…but we try to stay positive…and man oh man are homecomings amazing

  16. I’ve found myself in a relationship that is almost like a long distance relationship, given the nature of where we live. Large metropolitan area, and we’re essentially on opposite sides. At a good time of day, it’s at least a half hour trip one way, and close to half a tank of gas after the round trip. I’m a student living off loans and settling into graduate courses and 16 hours each week of internship, plus another relationship, plus independent contractor work, blahblahblah. She is in a much worse financial situation, has two live-in partners, and has her own classes.

    It hasn’t been too horrible yet, but it has suckage potential. Her household may be looking to move to my part of the city, however. Fingers crossed. It’s just such a strange predicament, as someone who grew up in much smaller cities.

  17. Me and my partner became long distance last month, after he moved for a job and I moved to start graduate school. It’s been…surprisingly not so bad up until now. We had a “test run” of sorts last summer when we both had summer internships, and that was SO tough, but this round it has been so much easier because we know what worked (and what REALLY didn’t work) from last summer. We’re anticipating a two-year separation while I get my Master’s. We get to see each other about every six weeks or so once the semester starts, which is wonderful. Our first visit is coming up next weekend, which will be very much needed as we’ve been apart for almost ten weeks now.

    Sending lots of good vibes to everyone else doing the LDR thing. I loved the poem.

  18. My relationship became long distance as of two days ago. We went to undergraduate school together and have been living together / dating for 2.5 years (he basically moved in with me immediately). Sadly, we are going to graduate schools that are roughly ~12 hours car ride away. Since we’re going to be apart for at least four years (minus summers, I guess), it feels like we’re going to have to resign the relationship to failure. It’s uplifting to read about how others have conquered the distance, and I’m not giving up yet!

  19. Oh hello extremely timely thread!
    My boyfriend and I met online as part of an online tabletop-style rp group. Our one-year anniversary will be in September. Most of our relationship has been through the net, but we finally got to see each other in real life for the first time last December and things have just been getting better and better since.
    Mostly. As we’ve gotten closer, the distance has become much more of a problem than it was. Turns out one of the side effects of falling in love with a person is wanting to spend as much meatspace time with them as you can stand. (Who knew?) He’s on the East Coast and in school, and I’m in the Midwest and working (and piss poor), so our meetups are something like one week every six months. I also was just accepted into a certification program, and one of the stipulations is that I have to work in the area for a year after I graduate, which means that we’ll be long distance for at least the next two years. I only found out about that clause two days before I was accepted, but I couldn’t afford to pass the opportunity up. Man, did it hurt.
    I know we’ll keep making things work anyway, it just sucks that it has to be this way. I wish I could come home to him after a long day and cuddle him instead of a pillow, you know what I mean? I think he’s absolutely awesome and amazing in every way and I wish we could see each other more often than two weeks a year. If I can swing it, the next time we’ll see each other will be in October in Montreal–he’ll be there for a major-related conference. The next time we’d be able to see each other after that would be in December again. I could try to express all the kinds of FEELINGS this gives me but I think the fact that I’ve written three consecutive paragraphs about how badly I want to be in the same room as him says it all.

  20. I just moved in with a long-distance partner a few months ago after three years, and I have another partner who’s now even longer distance because of the move. I moved with my live-in partner in tow, so I expected that to be much harder than it ended up being. (It’s hardest for the partner who moved with me, since they haven’t found their people here yet. It’s a work in progress.)

    I think the thing that helped us most was actually being forced to spend time together that wasn’t just “vacation” time. There were several visits where I didn’t have enough vacation time so I worked through them. So I was much more like my everyday self, at least, and it made it easier for everyone else to sort of relax and show their every day selves. So we had a better basis for knowing what it would really be like, or at least something to extrapolate from.

    I just wish going from 2 LDRs to 1 was as much of a relief as I’d thought it would be!

  21. Well, so I’ve got into such a relationship recently (me and my current boyfriend both fell in love with each other long time ago, nearly as soon as we got to know each other, but not stayed in touch). My partner just came back to his motherland, and we realized that both can’t live without each other anymore. The problem is, he actually lives about 950 miles away from my hometown and there’s no real opportunity for us to meet more than twice a year for a week or two each time. In a few weeks he is going to come back there, since his studies are about to begin. This issue really bothers me and I can’t even talk about this with him, as we both burst in tears everytime this topic begins. I am pretty sure, as a realist, that it all is gonna end in a few days after his departure. It is going to hurt alot. And how is that – when the real Mr. Right appears, something must disturb that happiness?

    1. It doesn’t have to end! I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 2 years and we’ve spent a whopping month together in person, and the last year we only saw each other every six months. It can definitely work. It takes dedication, but it is absolutely possible.

  22. This isn’t relationship-specific, but I’ve found that blogging about ordinary life – on a site like Dreamwidth or Twitter (or, I suppose, Facebook) makes it much, much easier to connect with people I don’t see often: when I *do* see them I know which books they’ve read recently, what they thought of them, which films they saw, what happened with friends, which awesome dinners they cooked (or burnt)… . And all these silly details of life give you plenty of chances to delve straight into the meat of conversations – you don’t need to ask (or feel awkward about listing) all the things you did in the last week, you can delve straight into discussing them with each other.

    Also, my partner and I have discovered text messages as an awesome means of communication – short, silly, and a good means of staying connected.

  23. I once tried – or should I say we? – and it didn’t work out.

    We’d known each other for ages, online. We were somewhat different, in very different places, quite far away geographically, but so close. Sometimes we were romantic, sometimes sexual, sometimes we’d not be around each other for a while, but we were always friends. We always liked and understood each other.

    Then, 10 years down the line, he had a business trip to my continent. So we met.

    I didn’t really have any expectations. I figured he’d become so big in my head that a reality check would do me good.

    Which it really, really didn’t. He was so sweet. We fit so well together. He got so enthusiastic to take this into the real world, to have a future together. And the big words didn’t scare me, because it was very natural. I knew him and he knew me.

    Then, of course, we went home. Stayed in touch over the phone, made each other happy. For a while.

    And something happened. And to this day I don’t know what it was. That’s why I always think in the threads where it comes up – how there is no closure, how it’s a fantasy – I would so much rather have known what happened – did he get bored, did he meet someone else, did he think we moved too fast, did something about me scare or repel him? Maybe it would generally be kinder not to be in your face about any of that, but, to me, I’d rather know what’s what and then deal with it. Either way, I have to deal, but at least let me know with what.

    OK, that got long. But I guess what I wanted to say is – in a long distance relationship, be kind and honest. And if you can’t manage both, be honest.

  24. The joys of constantly having to move around in order to build a career in academia mean that I have been in a number of long distance relationships, some that didn’t work, and one that did (and still is). What makes this LDR work for me is that both of us have full lives in our separate cities, that way life is not on pause until the next time we meet up, we have things to do to distract us from missing each other and new things to talk about each time we meet up.
    This means we probably don’t talk as often as other people I’ve known in long distance relationships. But previously I’ve found the expectation that I would be on Skype for at least an hour every evening meant that I didn’t feel like there was enough time for me to go out and exercise/socialize/whatever in my new city, and that lead to me being very miserable.

    The other big thing that makes a difference now is that I have enough disposable income that I can afford to travel semi-regularly to see my partner. I know that I am lucky to be in such a privileged position, and I’m very grateful. In a previous long distance relationship where we were always worried about whether we would have enough cash to meet up again everything became very stressed and overwrought.

    Also, I don’t know how common this is but I find that long distance kind of works for me as a way of having a relationship. I like to be very independent and to have a lot of time to myself and I work long hours at a job that I love so I don’t have that much free time in the week anyway. I find that seeing my partner for a weekend every 2-3 weeks works fine for me. If a magic fairy could transfer one or other of our jobs to the city where the other is I would be incredibly happy, but until that happens I find that long distance is fine with me. Especially considering the alternatives are no longer being in a relationship with the person I love, or giving up the job that I love.

  25. God, I wish I’d seen this yesterday… My boyfriend and I are heading off to different colleges in different states for the next four years. No idea how to do this.

  26. My boyfriend and I have been together for more than five years and it’s been long distance all that time. (Actually, we just bought a house together here, so I guess it’s not really long distance any more — more on that later.)

    We lived 2000 miles apart. Met on the Internet. He travels a lot on business, I have a child and don’t have more than five days apart from her except for her two-week vacation with her dad. The boyfriend visited here about once a month, and the visits got longer, sometimes up to 2-3 weeks.

    I’d sort of had practice in this because I’m divorced and I only have my child half time.

    What I did is, when he’s not here, I focus on the things I get to do when he’s not here. He’s not terribly social so I go out a lot. He doesn’t like spicy food, so I load up on it. In other words, I work to focus on the advantages of him being gone rather than the disadvantages. Oh boy, I get the bed to myself!

    We email a lot. We IM a lot. We text a lot. In fact, for the first couple of years, I’d have my laptop on the nightstand and we’d Skype all night and go to bed together and wake up together. Corny, I know, but it was nice and intimate.

    I travel with him a couple of times a year. Sometimes my work has me traveling, too, at which point he can travel with me.

    We both work at home when we’re not travelling, so when he is here, we spend a lot of time together. Sometimes it feels like a nice break when he does leave, at least at first. 🙂 It ends up diffusing a lot of the minor quibbles in a relationship.

    Plus getting back together is like a reunion. 🙂

    The worst part is when his stepdad was dying of cancer and he needed to stay there to support his mom and help his stepdad. I didn’t see him for six months. But, you know, we got through it.

    Now, we’ve bought a house together. But his family is still 2000 miles away, so he’ll be going back there for a week or two every couple of months. His work still takes him away a week or so every month. So I’ll enjoy him when he’s here, and enjoy my solitude when he’s not.

  27. Reading this thread has my pretty relieved that I’m not alone in having (had) a LDR. In my social circles it seems like I’m the only one (until recently when it seems like everyone is getting into one and now I am instead the go-to person for advice on how to survive it and make it work. Which is also weird).

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that it’s nice to discover community and shared experiences. Yay for not being an island!

  28. Ah man, long distance relationships. One thing, though, that possibly drives you all as up-the-wall as it drives me?

    “Oh, a long distance relationship? Ugh, I could never do that.” OR “Oh man, I would’ve just broken up with them, that’s awful.”

    I know they’re not for everyone! But I don’t understand why people always feel the need to comment on their own feelings on the matter. I’m monogamous, but my first response to finding out someone’s in a poly relationship isn’t “Oh ew, I could never do that,” or “How do you do that?” Because that’s disrespectful and jerk-faced.

    I met my boyfriend online; we were friends for something like five years, and nursed quiet mutual crushes on each other for most of that time. TL;DR, we finally told each other how we felt, spent a week together, and then spent the next three years saving up like crazy to take any opportunity possible to fly 3000 miles and see each other… which still amounted to twice a year at most. I hated where I was living, was working in a nice job, but not exactly a career… so I transferred schools across the country, and somehow wound up still across a mountain range from him. We see each other about once a week, or once every two weeks, depending on schedules and free time and such.

    And I’m still trying to figure out how to answer people when they, inevitably, go “So you’re from [3000 miles away]? How’d you end up here?” …in some way that doesn’t invite still more questions.

    1. My favourite (in full, bold, italic Sarcasm Font) is “Wow, you couldn’t find anybody around here?” with that condescending, “Did you even try?” face. You know what? I dated here. It was one of the more miserable things I’ve ever done. I would rate it more miserable than spending most of my senior year of high school in the cardiologist’s office. It was BAD. And then I met BF on vacation and we just happened to be from opposite sides of the globe with very similar values and senses of humour and so, no, I couldn’t find somebody like him in my town. They don’t exist, I looked! @#%&^&#&^?(#$^*@*^(&$^*%^

      1. I did eHarmony, filled out the whole long questionnaire, and it said, “I’m sorry, there is no one on the West Coast of the United States that is a match for you.” Which was incredibly depressing. but it’s true, I had to import my boyfriend from Connecticut.

  29. My people! My thread!

    I had a long distance marriage for a while…most of 15 years, really. That sucked.

    I have recently turned a long-distance friendship into a long-distance TRUE LOVE FOREVER, and it sucks in the best way.

    We are not that far apart, distance-wise. About a two-hour drive. But logistically, between my kids and unemployment and her lack of ability to drive, and everyone’s general poverty and uncertainty about the future…aaargh.

    Stuff adds up…drive time, tolls, bus tickets. And now, with school, conflicting schedules…

    We are going through a lot of stuff that would be easier together, with in-person support and hugs. I am getting divorced (and that has been a very long time coming) and she is starting to present as female in all aspects of her life.

  30. I started touring as a performer in the summer of 2010, and my relationship life has changed forever. I contain within me a craving for stability, but there’s no denying that I’ve also semi-consciously adopted the motto “love the one you’re with”, because I have… four LDRs of varying longevities and intensities. I’ve been with my husband since 2001, but of that time we have only been in the same city for four years; I see him 2-3 times a year, which doesn’t feel like enough, but from an externally validated view: I feel like I’m letting down The Institution of Marriage by not needing much more than that. My Edinburgh lover is one month new; it feels as though there’s good potential there and I want to grow it well, but I won’t be back here for another 11 months. I will be spending the most time in the next year with my Montreal dude–beginning of December to end of April–but we only started dating in February, so it feels a little strange to feel that close. And then my Boston daddy is still there, I see him 2-3 times a year, too.

    I’m not sure how well I’m juggling all these, and I’m not sure if I’m going to find any more lovers. Probably. 🙂 Even though I know that I am choosing this, as one approach to domestic arrangements and my career, and sometimes it just gets hard.

  31. My long-distance relationship started out as a friendship, actually. He and I had been best friends for a few years, and we’d been sleeping together for about two when I moved to Israel for an internship program for five months.

    He was the only thing I really missed. We spoke whenever possible, despite seven hours time difference and a crappy internet connection. The worst was when missiles were being launched into the country and we had to run into bomb shelters. When I recounted those times to him he said he couldn’t handle hearing about it, and he wished he could be there to protect me. ;-;

    I decided that when I took a one-week vacation home before the program ended, I’d broach the subject of a relationship with him. The night I arrived we met up, and in private he told me how much I meant to him, gave me a beautiful necklace, and asked me to be his girlfriend. That made everything worth it.

    Returning to Israel after that was hard, but I had an amazing story to tell and a necklace to remind me it was all real. The wait to see him again became more tolerable. Now I’m back home, and we’ve been officially dating for about eight months. Moving away turned out to be the perfect decision, and I’m so happy with everything that’s happened since. Hard as it was, I’d do it all again.

  32. Wow, was this ever a thread I needed right now… so much so, that I’m de-lurking for the first time in something like 2 years of following the Captain to actually post in it. There are so many awesome people who have already posted who have what sound like great, functional, enduring LDRs (however long the separation may be) that I’m hoping maybe one or two of you could offer some advice, since I seem to not be as awesomely functional with my LDR-ness as you are.

    Backstory, as briefly as possible: I’m currently at University in a smallish city in the middle of my country’s Bible Belt, after having grown up in a very large city about 2.5 hours’ drive away (and then spent several years living elsewhere in between, but that’s not relevant). Being pagan and lesbian, I knew that coming to school here would limit my personal life for the 6 years of my program, and I accepted that because the program here is the best in the country for what I’m studying, and I love it. One of the ways I decided to combat the whole bible belt thing was to join the pagan church in my home city before I moved down, and to make a point of driving up there for gatherings at least once every couple of months. This strains my already limited finances, but I find the positive effect on my sanity to be worth it. Anyways, over the past 4 years of this I’ve gotten to be good friends with a girl from that church, who still lives in my home city. But because we were both in school, and busy, and both the kind of people who treat good friends in far-away places with a kind of “Oh, I haven’t talked to you in a few months! How is everything?” sort of way, we didn’t actually talk that often, and mostly when I went up for church stuff. But this past winter, we mutually Used Our Words and decided that yes, we quite like each other, let’s give this relationship thing a try. I was even going to be permanently in our home city for two months this summer, due to medical things, so it seemed like a great time to start building something that could survive the distance.

    Except that it turns out that her communication style for Significant Relationship is the same as it was when we were just good but casual friends, and mine very much… isn’t. I was expecting us to start communicating at least once or twice a week and putting effort into getting to know each other better, sharing our lives. I hoped that when we were in the same city for those two months, we’d spend significant time together. We did Use Our Words and talk about all these things, and agreed on them, and then they didn’t happen. Partly this was just bad timing: while I was home she was in the middle of graduating/writing certification exams that would seriously impact her future, and very busy. We only ended up spending about 2 or 3 days together, in the entire 2 months. But we’ve talked more than once about how we need to be communicating more, and every time I come back here we start with my sending a few messages, and her responses trickling off until they stop altogether, until the next time we’re physically in the same place. Which happens once every two months if we’re lucky, but can be much longer. I feel like I’m starting to build walls/get defensive/engage in the kind of passive-aggressive “I’m not going to message you until you message me” behaviour that I really don’t want to engage in, but my sense of self-worth also can’t take a continuing dose of repeatedly trying to talk to someone who just doesn’t respond. (unless it’s an emergency. She does respond, and immediately, to any message that actually directly states that I need her attention to something Right Now.) I need my Significant Person to actually be a significant part of my every-day life, which isn’t meshing so well with her ability to have me be a significant part of her emotional life but be perfectly happy not seeing/talking all that often like we did when we were just friends.

    TL;DR – basically, do any of you have suggestions for how to adjust our communication styles so that, given the distance, I don’t end up feeling ignored/resentful and she doesn’t end up feeling confused by my feeling that way, because she is thinking of me, and we’re communicating the same way we always have? Suggestions other than ending the relationship, please – I have already considered that as an option, but I do care about her in a big way and would prefer to find a way to make this work, if possible, even if it might not be my One True Relationship and we might not work out in the end.

    1. could you compromise with something like a skype date, once a week? would, say, an hour or two chatting with her on skype (with visuals, if both of you have webcams, but at any rate with voices but no cost to either of you) make you feel more connected and since it was a date, feel more like something that she could plan around but not be something so nebulous (“i need to hear from you more”) that she felt overwhelmed by trying to figure out what you mean/need? my partner (who lives 4000 miles away, because i am just that smrt) and i try to skype at least once a week and i can’t tell you how reassuring and helpful it has been.

    2. One suggestion based on something a friend of mine does: her long-distance sweetie doesn’t need as much interaction between visits as she does. What they settled on is that (in normal circumstances/most days), they will talk in some form each evening, which might be a quick hello, a long phone call, or skyping while watching the same movie. In addition to that, she texts him with quick “hello” or “saw a cool rock” or the like when she feels like it, and he replies if and only if he feels like it. He knows he doesn’t have to answer every message, so he doesn’t feel crowded; she knows he is reading them, but won’t take them as “you are neglecting me because you haven’t texted me yet today,” so she feels she has the necessary contact.

      I don’t know if an adjusted version of this–regular phone/skype dates plus the understanding that you can and will send her notes when you think of her–would work for either or both of you.

      (This is second-hand, and isn’t how I do either of my LDRs, so take it for what it’s worth, which I hope is at least what you’re paying for it.)

    3. I second the “schedule a skype/phone date” suggestion – I don’t have the same communication styles issue, but I know my “hi I wanna talk about nothing in particular” messages aren’t necessarily arriving at a good time to talk about nothing in particular. We don’t tend to skype unless we have a thing (like planning our next meetup or watching a tv show together) to discuss, but it’s a fun thing to look forward to and usually devolves into just chatting.

      Also, do you have/can you ask her for some physical reminder of her (a letter, photos, a gift, etc)? For me, that stuff is much more concrete than just the general knowledge that he is thinking of me (I love that texting, social media, etc make this long-distance thing doable in the first place, but oh dang stuff on paper is so great). My favorite thing is reading a book he recommended or lent me, it’s like hours of “hi, thinking of you!” on top of a good story. Maybe looking at a postcard that says “hi, I think you’re awesome!” would be less frustrating than waiting for a text or IM that says the same thing.

      1. Thank you so much, all three of these are great suggestions, and when next we talk I’ll see what she thinks about implementing some of them. I really like the idea of having some kind of physical reminder, too. I think that would help immensely. Thanks again!

  33. What an excellent idea for a thread! I’ve been in a LDR for 7 years now. I know there are a lot of challenges to LD, and this is a good chance to talk them out with other people who have been there. But does anyone want to share some of the nice things that have happened in their relationships?

    Last week, I told my partner that I’d like to be surprised with ‘something romantic’ — I was afraid, even as I asked it, that it was a stupid thing to ask and that she wouldn’t know what to do. Today, I got a package from Adagio Teas — lucky for me, since I’d been running out! But why and from who? Then I turned one of the packets over, and saw it was a signature blend called ‘Lady Mine,’ put together by my partner. I was over the moon!

    Even though we’re far apart, I was so, so pleased that she thought of me. I brewed a pot of the signature blend and put the pictures on Twitter. 😀

    1. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

      It’s really important to know what your partner considers to be romantic, or you end up in the situation where you’ve got one partner saying, I want hir to be more romantic, and they’re thinking of roses, and the other partner is saying, I am being romantic by changing hir car’s oil for hir without asking.

      My LDR partner is *not* the roses and poetry type, but he does things like make the bed and sweep the floor and gets me functional presents like a color laser printer and a tablet and such. It’s really nice that he thinks of me even when we’re separated.

      1. It’s really important to know what your partner considers to be romantic, or you end up in the situation where you’ve got one partner saying, I want hir to be more romantic, and they’re thinking of roses, and the other partner is saying, I am being romantic by changing hir car’s oil for hir without asking.

        This is the truest of truths! A while ago my partner and I had a Google document where we sorted this out — Google documenting your feelings might sound awkward, but I swear to you it was the sweetest exchange of edits you’ve ever seen.

        And practical gestures like your partner’s speak volumes, I think — they show he’s thinking about the day-to-day, and about things you need and will use and that he’d like you to have from him, and how is that not adorable. Plus color laser printers and tablets are awesome.

        1. And it goes the other way around, too. If I were to show up in some sort of naughty lingerie because I thought that was romantic, his reaction would be, that’s nice, but it’s in the way of what I want to get at. But he loves that I scratch his back when we go to bed and wake up and at various points during the day, and that I make coffee for him even though I don’t drink it myself.

          Really, there is nothing more romantic than *paying attention*.

          1. That’s my philosophy, too — it’s romantic when someone shows they’re thinking of you, even if they’re thinking ‘she doesn’t really like hearts and flowers, but she likes being scratched, let me do that.’

    2. Yes! I love these kind of stories! 🙂 About a month ago, I got my wisdom teeth taken out. It was my first surgery under full anesthesia. The day of my procedure, my boyfriend drove the 100 miles to come stay with me, make me smoothies, change my ice packs in the middle of the night, etc. I was asleep most of the time he was there because the pain pill knocked me out. But him driving that far just to come take care of me when there was literally nothing I could give him in return… that meant a lot.

  34. Do you long distance people experience the feeling of certain kind of otherness among people who are not in long distance relationships?

    Because I have come to notice that one of the harder things about my long distance relationship does not actually have anything to do with the relationship itself but with the social vacuum it puts me in among my friends and family.

    I’ve been in an intercontinental romantic relationship for 1,5 years now. Even though everyone I consider to be a friend knows my situation, I find it damn hard to talk about my relationship to them. None of them has done long distance – not on the same scale anyway – and none of them has met my significant other. My friends and their partners are getting engaged, moving together, buying a dog. Surrounded by all this, I don’t know how to get involved in the talk at all. “Woah, your engagement ring is real pretty! I’m so happy for you! Guess what, me and Significant Other are going to try out this new VoIP program that’s supposed to be a lot better than Skype! No more dropped calls! Cool, huh?”


    This relationship is a huge part of my life, and I want to be able to talk about it with people. Right now it feels like some kind of Secret Other Life I’m not supposed to bring up with anyone who is not directly involved. Doesn’t help with the feelings of loneliness already tied to dealing with the distance.

    Have you managed to integrate your long distance relationship with your everyday surroundings and people better than me? How to have a nice chit-chat with a friend about our love lives when she has just moved together with her partner and I haven’t even seen mine in three months?

    1. my entry into these conversations is often initially talking about planning a trip to see my partner–and then the answer to “why are you going to germany?” is “i’m dating someone there.” my friends are then usually open to a bit of talk about the relationship and will supply questions to move that part of the conversation along. ditto the “i;m getting ready to host a visitor from germany” conversation.

      i hope you can lure your SO to visit you and arrange an occasion or two for them to meet your friends. a few of my friends met mine, last visit and i think that gave the whole thing more reality.

      and hey, i am very interested to hear about something that would work better than skype 🙂 .

    2. Sometimes: especially when I am trying to explain that my long-distance relationships yes, plural work as they are, and we aren’t aiming to live together.

      It does seem to be easier to talk about with other people who have done long-distance relationships, because they’re less likely to assume that a long-distance relationship means my partner and I can’t be serious about each other.

      One thing that I think helps is to talk about the things that aren’t specific to long distance, whether that’s “$partner has a new job” or “I’m so glad she was able to come with me to the doctor last week and help me remember the questions I wanted to ask, and by the way we had an interesting incident on our way there.”

      Time helps in some ways: both that the longer you’re together, the more likely that at least some of your friends will meet your partner, and that people get used to things, and realize that this relationship is real and part of your life, and whatever effects it has on the shape of your social life. (Before I moved further away from both my long-distance partners, my friends knew that I was likely to be out of town about one weekend a month visiting one of them.)

    3. Yeah, this part is weird sometimes. For me it’s greatly helped by the fact that my boyfriend and I see each other really frequently, and all my really close friends have met him at this point. So they have a frame of reference to ask about him, and they get to see him and spend time with him every once in awhile. That was huge for them to realize it’s a real thing. What’s most frustrating to me though is not necessarily not knowing how to talk about it, but just missing out on things with my friends because I visit him so frequently. I want to visit him, I want to spend time with him, and he makes me so happy and it’s awesome and worth it. But I live in such an amazing city with awesome things going on every weekend. I missed out on some fun things and good friend time by coming to his town this weekend. It’s ok–no regrets. But I do feel like I miss out sometimes.

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