On Long Distance Relationships And Temporary Insanity

If Venus had a telephone, I would leave cranky messages. If Aphrodite had email I would flame her. And if Cupid, god damn him, had a mailbox, I would stuff postcards with letter bombs attached in it. All of them would say the same thing: What is this? What have you done to me?

I did not ask for this. I never wanted this. There are thousands of people who do, people who lift their faces to the sky, rip open their shirts and say: Go ahead. Shoot me.

I kept my head down. I said: stay the f-ck away from me. I spent years teaching myself to exist in solitude and in that time I reached a peace. If I was not happy, I was not unhappy either, and there is a lot to be said for that mindless stability.

But one day he sat next to me in a crowded room. And it was like talking to a part of myself I never knew I had. And though time carried us to different places, we kept coming back to each other, through text messages and emails. Like that, the gods shot me straight through the heart.

We live five hours away by bus. I see him on weekends. We talk on the phone every night, we text almost every hour. But there are the weekends when visitors are in town, the nights when work takes over, and the hours when the phone is out of battery. This is the foreseeable future for the next two years.

When we talk and when we are together I am at ease. But then the weekend is over, it is time to hang up the phone, and the world pales like someone has dimmed the sun.

If I think too hard about the future, or about the miles of highway that stretch between us, the pale misery deepens into panic. I can see no world with him, and I can see no world without him.

And so, I have questions for the ones who did this to me.

1. What is this?

The disease comes in varieties. Calf-love, typically caught by the young. Hurts like hell, burns out like a fever, but it isn’t fatal.

Infatuation. Calf-love for people of all ages. It casts clouds over your vision, causes you to see stairways to heaven in empty corners. You believe you can fly. You believe you won’t die. Then you wake up one day and realize it’s all a pack of lies. At the very least there’s permanent scarring.

Then there’s the real thing. No one knows how it starts, or where it comes from, but it burrows into your system, until each of your cells shift and reform. I’ve heard it’s rare, I’ve heard it’s as common as a cold, but what everyone agrees on is once you have it, there’s no escape. You are changed for life.

Tell me what I have. Tell me this is true, tell me this is real.

2. Is this good for me?

I have been burned before. People don’t tell the gods to stay the f-ck away from them for no reason. I’ve been burned to the point where my mind went up in flames and collapsed into ash. The moment when you have been driven out of your mind, is the moment when you are truly homeless.

Sometimes he has the emotional sensitivity of a sea urchin. Sometimes he makes these jokes that are so bad I want piranhas to eat his liver. Sometimes he gives me sh-t and in the moment I laugh and I laugh: You’re so incredibly awkward in photographs. You shed like an angry cat. You’re incredibly sweaty.

Then he goes away, and I think: sweaty like an angry cat?

And mostly — this is what breaks me — mostly, he gets it exactly right.

Then I think of how there are millions of women more attractive than me, more intelligent, more tolerant: woman who are not sweaty like angry cats. That’s when I hear the sound of matches being struck.

Is he going to destroy me?

3. Is this good for him?

It dawned on me, as I cried into the telephone to him one night — you did this and it made me feel like that — that there are ways to make people feel confident in themselves, and there are ways to chip away at them. A voice grating at you about wanting you to change this, add a little something here, subtract something there, that voice can stretch you, force you to grow, or it can shave you down into nothing.

Am I going to destroy him?

4. Can we accept each other for who we are?

What I am constantly hiding from the world is that I am full of little monsters. The polite word for this is sensitive. I have grown used to putting on a little show for people — oh yes, that’s fine, oh no, I don’t mind at all — when actually there is always something there screaming — what the f-ck did you just do? That is not okay.

He sees my show and he cries bullsh-t and I stop because no one, absolutely no one has called me out on bullsh-t before.

And he says, So what’s going on? Really?

And despite myself, the monsters roar. That went wrong. You hurt me. Your shoes are ridiculous. There are laundry lists that cascade into waterfalls and then avalanches and something in his voice breaks:

I didn’t know. I don’t know what to do. What do you want me to be?

And I think: What have I done? Should I have told him? But how could I have not?

Can he live with laundry lists and waterfalls and avalanches? Can I live with someone who inspires them?

5. Is it worth the pain?

They say it is better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all. I am halfway convinced “they” is actually Venus, Aphrodite and Cupid doing some serious marketing. Because, who, having been burned once, would willing lay themselves on the pyre again? The rational thing to do is run far away, to inhabit dark cool caves of solitude. True it is dark, and true it is cold, but there nothing can hurt you. People can live without fire. People don’t need flame. Not really.

I know, theoretically, it’s about what you learn, it’s about the journey not the destination, but I keep trying to rip down the veil that covers the future, in an attempt to answer a single question that is slowly driving me mad–

Will this last?

God help me. TC mark

image – Shutterstock.com


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  • Ryan

    Thought it was a great article! Except… Venus and Aphrodite are the same woman, just with a different name depending on if you’re looking at Roman or Greek mythology. Sorry, I had to nerd out for a second.

  • mm

    perfect. thank you.

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/06/on-long-distance-relationships-and-temporary-insanity-2/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

  • secretadmirer

    wow this is so beautifully written! i can feel your anguish girl!

    • Grishma

      Very well written. Been there, done that..the description is spot-on!

  • RS

    It’s like you opened up my brain and heart and transcribed exactly what I think and feel. Thank you.

  • asdf

    Passively accepting being trampled on while screaming at the person internally is a form of passive aggression. It has nothing to do with sensitivity at all.

    • //////

      Exactly. The OP needs to learn to communicate because expecting your mind to be read and making the other person pull out your proverbial teeth will drive you crazy no matter who you’re with or where you both live.

  • Lauren

    The little monsters thing is SO TRUE! She knows exactly when I’m upset, so when I’m upset about something little she said days before, I can’t hide it. And it turns into this big deal when I tell her what I’m upset about, when it would have been easier to just ignore it all together. But I can’t hide it from her; she sees right through me.

    This article was really very good, and I feel much less alone. Thank you.

  • http://foricontainmultitudes.wordpress.com athos314

    Where did the Disqus Like buttons go?

  • http://foricontainmultitudes.wordpress.com athos314

    “A voice grating at you about wanting you to change this, add a little something here, subtract something there, that voice can stretch you, force you to grow, or it can shave you down into nothing.”

    True enough. Often it can be much better if the voice just shuts the hell up and lets you get to things when you can.

  • http://twitter.com/wesjanisen Wes Janisen (@wesjanisen)

    “The moment when you have been driven out of your mind, is the moment when you are truly homeless.” Favorite line, loved this whole article!!

  • spry

    Beautifully written! I worry about so many of the same things! Sigh.

  • L

    I felt all your “monsters” in different voices, and loved it. Thank you!

  • From a former 4-yr Long Distance guy

    No, it won’t last. Sorry :/

    The reason? You already wrote why: “When we talk and when we are together I am at ease. But then the weekend is over, it is time to hang up the phone, and the world pales like someone has dimmed the sun.”

    You should feel more at east than that when the other person is not around, and take more positives out of the relationship. You should know that you’ll see him soon enough, and be OK with that. It’s not healthy to be that attached to someone, to have your happiness ride on whether or not they are around; it means you fear that person leaving, and soon enough you get stuck in a pattern where you don’t realize that there’s a world out there. Which you have basically said.

    This was me two years ago, the late-night convos, the phone battery always on low, the texts throughout the day, the long, loving emails…what you don’t notice is how taxing it all really is. You’re relying on that other person, when you should rely on yourself. Love isn’t us vs. the world, it should be easier.

    But damn, what do I know…

  • Current LDR (2.5 years)

    I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to read posts like this from fellow LDR-vets.

    I would say, the first 1.5 – 2 years were pure magic. I felt a boundless sense of energy – the distance could never distort my rose-tinted view of the relationship.

    But, I’m looking at another 1.5 years a part (at least), and I just can’t tell you anymore that I’m certain it’s worth it. Worth the effort, the emotional strain, the bus tickets and dates planned months in advance. I wish I could get me ten years from now in a room and ask, “Will this matter then?” I guess that uncertainty is what life’s all about.

    LDRs are inherently full of good days and bad days – I guess you caught me on the down slope today.

    Best of luck with your relationship – ultimately, you know yourself best and only you can decide what matters.

  • Ashley C

    I have been in an long distance relationship for two years and I know it can be worth it if you are willing to devote the time to it. Its hard, there are times when you feel like life would be easier if you were closer but if you are truly in love it doesn’t matter
    What does matter is strong communication and that you are both independent people . If your only time of joy is with each other then there is something wrong. You need to be independent enough to trust and also live separate lives and separate experiences and never regret that. If you’re feeling hurt or dejected or lonely you need to talk to you partner about it though, I can say from experience that that is the only way you will find peace. Communication is huge for any relationship, regardless of distance

  • Cat

    This hit home. It’s been something I’ve thought about every other day for the ten months I’ve been with him.

    But just today, I decided to stop beating myself up and to stop wanting so much out of him. I’m beginning to understand that he’s already trying with his, “What did you have for dinner?” “How was work?” “I saw my old friends today.”

    And with that, I leave a quote: “People will show you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.” – Don Draper

  • abroad

    Thanks for the article and for all those who replied. I am in a LDR and everything really hit home, even the replies from everyone. It’s so good to know that I’m not alone in thinking i’m going insane doing this and the questioning and the lulls, they’re deep and dark. hope this will give me some inspiration to push on so again, many thanks.

  • Shiny

    Reblogged this on Shiny’s Blog and commented:

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  • Chris

    Agree with an above comment. This was also me really about two years ago. It won’t, at least from my experience.

    Had been through a past relationship that broke me. Had a new one that turned into a LDR when lives brought us to different places. She was great, I loved her really, for some time back then. We were happy, but then.
    We were the same, texting almost everyday, talking over the phone if we can, seeing each other every other weekend (if time allows us) etc. And yeah, I’m happy, extremely, during the time we were together on the weekends, but after that, it left me empty and such. That ‘happiness’ didn’t stick to me as much as it would have supposedly stuck. I found myself thinking, “Is this how it should feel like?”

    And the answer? No. It should never be like that. Sure you’d be down when your lover isn’t around, it’s a bit more lonely. But only a bit, that kind sadness will drive you to think that she is the one rather than the opposite. It’s not a depressing kind of thing supposedly.

    Last thing: For LDR’s to work? This: Effort. From both sides and not just one.
    Great article, very very common in the youth today.

  • littlemole

    Mine didn’t. I hope for your sake that everything turns out well. Good luck.

  • shara

    you are such an amazing writer! I feel like we have so much in common. thank you for sharing this it made me open my eyes on a lot of feelings i have been hiding from myself

  • Scott

    Will it last? Not sure….but don’t you want all the chemically charged elements to be there before you jump in with both feet wanting to make it last? Don’t you have to go “all in” and risk losing everything just to have a chance to win it all?
    Take a chance and see where the adventure takes you.

  • http://picturebandit.wordpress.com Picture-Bandit

    “The moment when you have been driven out of your mind, is the moment when you are truly homeless.”

    good quote, goes in to my brain-box.

  • Sydney

    Describes exactly how I feel. Thank you.

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