How Do You Handle A Long Distance Relationship?
Long distance relationships are hard as fuck. I’m sorry, but they are. Yeah, there are some pretty great things about them – unlimited alone time, not having to fight for space, being able to go out with your friends all the time without anyone getting upset — but on the whole, being thousands of miles apart kind of blows. And whether you feel like acknowledging it or not, distance has a definite impact on the dynamics of a relationship.
A serious long distance relationship, I’m pretty sure, is not the same as having a long distance crush. When you have a long distance crush, everything’s new. It’s exciting. You’re getting to know someone over the only modes of communication you have and it’s the biggest emotional tease, really, because the possibility of anything is wide open. Maybe you’ll meet them, maybe you won’t. Maybe it will be idyllic like it is in the movies or maybe it’ll be a horrendous disaster. Maybe you’ll end up getting that brownstone in Greenwich Village and live out your bohemian fantasy together or maybe you’ll realize upon meeting that you actually hate each other. You never know.
But when you’re trying to make something that already exists, something with arms and legs, legitimately work long distance, it’s difficult. It’s difficult because you have the best and worst of both worlds – all the freedom of being single and none of the fun, all the comfort of being in a relationship and none of the contact. It’s like you already have a large part of your life figured out but it’s mysteriously nowhere to be found, and when you think about it, that’s probably one of the weirdest feelings you’ll ever get.
I’m pretty new at this long distance thing so I’m not certain I know what I’m talking about, but I think a large part of making it work is actually two things I’m embarrassingly bad at: hope and optimism. Hope as in, you put your everything into it and hope it doesn’t spontaneously combust (or worse, slowly fizzle out), and optimism as in, you don’t allow yourself to succumb to occasional pervasive feelings of loneliness and pointlessness. But when those feelings crop up, they’re unavoidable. How do you handle them? How do you know it’s worth it? What do you have to tell yourself to feel okay?
My girlfriend and I weren’t always long distance — we actually used to live together – but when we broke up she moved to Texas and I bounced around for awhile before settling in New York. But now that we’re finally back together, it’s like… what now? She has a big girl job in Texas, and New York — at least until I finish my degree — is my home in all its glittery piss-soaked glory. And while we do try to maintain our daily doses of hope and optimism, sometimes it just feels completely impossible. The loneliness is tangible.
And it’s scary too because you realize just how fragile it is, how fragile what you’re trying to keep alive really is. You can visit each other, you can Skype, you can do small things that make you feel connected to each other’s lives, but even those can sometimes seem like paltry offerings thrown into the void when you consider the vastness. You also realize how frighteningly easy it is to disconnect. When you fight long distance, for example, it’s not immediate. It’s all radio waves. You can literally be done with each other in the click of a button and knowing that is equal parts crippling and fascinating and all too real.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”