So I’ve found myself in a long distance relationship, again. Again! I never learn. I was in one a couple years ago and really bitter about it, and then once more, and another time, and at this point I’m pretty sure it’s my problem. I’ve finally come to the realization that I’m just the type of person who gravitates toward long distance relationships because I need a lot of space, both physically and emotionally, and I also tend to like making things harder for myself in general. Walking instead of taking the bus even though I know I’ll be late. Letting myself get talked into signing up for credit cards I know I shouldn’t be using. Allowing shots of Fireball inside my body. Willingly living off the G train. You get the idea.
I met my girlfriend while visiting LA, to which she had just moved from New York six weeks prior because the universe thought that plot twist was funny. No one had any idea what she was doing there, least of all her – she hates yoga and sunshine, and basically everything else there – and every lit-up moment I spent holding her hand I wondered why this was happening to me. Why couldn’t we have met in New York, where it was 100% certain we had haunted the same places? We even had friends in common. Maybe I would have drunkenly hit on her at a show. (Maybe I had.) Maybe she wouldn’t have moved. Regardless, we had a great time while I was there and any reasonable person would have just left it at that, but no, not me. No, I had to get all emotional and personally invested, and as I was dripping tears into my quadruple airport latte in preparation for the red-eye home, it dismally occurred to me that I may love her. Part of me already did.
There are lots of terrible things about long distance relationships – loneliness, over-attachment to technology, sexual organs crumbling off from disuse, and that’s just the beginning. But for every terrible thing, there always turns out to be an equivalent not-terrible thing. And this isn’t just me trying on some candy-aisle asshole optimism. Recently I’ve been trying to practice aggressive positivity, as in, “I will find the silver lining of this goddamn thundercloud if it electrocutes me.” I am at a point where I refuse to feel worse about things than I have to. And now being seasoned in long distance relationships, the positives have slowly become clear. There are actually tons of great things about long distance relationships. I mean, not so great if the relationship itself is unstable – then it feels like a dark, void-like nightmare lake where your feet can’t touch the bottom – but if you’re lucky enough to be with someone who you know loves, wants and supports you with every lepton in their body, waiting to physically be together isn’t the complete worst thing. Here are a few of the perks I’ve observed:
1) Unlimited farting!
It is a well-established cultural rule that farting is not allowed, not ever, not even if you’re doing anal and they pull out too fast, and even then you’re supposed to pretend like it never happened and/or the sound came from an invisible third party. This is because society refuses to acknowledge that human beings, like fruit flies, swamps and the goddamn stars in the sky, are a fusion of chemistry and physics, and to keep this particular fusion of chemistry and physics running smoothly, they must eat a ton of healthy plant foods. The sick joke the universe plays here is, while healthy plant foods keep you glowing and disease-free, they also make you fart like crazy. So the result is looking really gorgeous while your insides feel like a German cannonade. On the other hand, no matter how comfortable you are with your partner, farting like crazy just isn’t a good look – there are few things more romance-killing than a perpetual Dutch oven. But on the other OTHER hand, guess what’s great about being long distance? You get to fart as much as you want, whenever you want because a) no one knows, and therefore b) no one cares. Win-effing-win. Go eat all the cruciferous vegetables your vitamin-starved heart desires.
2) Extreme beauty!
All of those self-care bedtime rituals that were obviously designed for single people, you have ’em. Sleep-in coconut oil hair mask? Check. Moisturizing aloe gloves, and perhaps those hospital-chic socks if you’re an overachiever? Check, check. Saran-wrap-and-coffee-grounds cellulite wrap? You got it. Expensive-ass cell-regenerating lip treatment made from blue algae and the sperm of God himself? No one’s trying to kiss you, no problem. Every wonderful nurturing thing you can do for your body that your faraway bedmate would consider ridiculous or unwieldy is now at your fingertips. You can slather all your extremities in guacamole and wrap yourself in a body bag if that’s what makes you feel good and no one can say anything, because no one’s trying to cuddle you right now. Hell yeah. Bask in your luck.
3) Increased productivity!
You know what’s a major time-suck? A full-time relationship. Sex, feelings talks, dinners, shopping, dog park, friends, brunch…all great, all mega time-consuming and distracting. Having someone to hang out with constantly is obviously amazing, but how many times do you plan to get some important thing done in a timely manner only to get distracted by just feeling good with them, lolling around in bed watching Netflix with $50 worth of Thai food between your thighs, putting off Important Thing until two hours before deadline, or forever? In this arrangement, however, you get to have all the love your soul can swallow and all the alone time your work/creativity/social life needs. You can jerk off in ten minutes, order everything you need online and eat pizza over the sink like God intended all while texting your partner, which frees up actual hours in your day. Sure you might feel hollow and miserable missing them and having to do everything alone, but being miserable doesn’t mean you can’t write a poem or do your laundry. You have So Much Time now. Get it together and do everything miserably.
4) Less fighting!
For the most part. Though it’s a given that you’ll probably find something to fight about – usually something ridiculous, as the distance has a way of inflating small issues and distorting them into deep-scratching monsters that make you question your entire existence – on the whole you will fight less, because the space between you will be a constant emotional burden in itself and will make you want to spend more time making each other feel reassured and happy rather than isolated and freaked out. Your relationship will become like an Eastern European mom who refuses to watch horror movies because life is horrible enough. Unless you’re a particular breed of cantankerous human, you won’t even have the energy to make reality worse.
5) Super polished communication!
Consider your long distance relationship communication practice: you absolutely have to verbally tell each other how you feel. There’s no way around it. Even though learning a person means you eventually become good at interpreting their nonverbal cues, in a way you can almost feel them, the bottom line is you have no physical evidence of how your partner is feeling. No body language, no eyeball activity, nothing. A long distance relationship makes it absolutely imperative that you use your words, because that’s all you have right now – words being both everything and nothing – and if you don’t hone that mode of communication to a fine point everything will fall apart fairly quickly. So you get good at talking, and when the time comes that you’re finally together you can feel comfortable saying to their face, “I’m pissed off at you, here’s why” and stab the problem in the heart instead of disappearing into yourself or out the door. Not only will your bond be stronger for it, it just feels really, really good to have words for exactly what’s on your mind, and even better to have someone actually listen.