Timing And Distance: The Charley Horse Of Heartbreak

Before Sunset
Before Sunset

The only thing more tragic than a wrong love lost for cheating or abuse, is a right love lost for distance and timing.

One of my best friends texted me that her first love, the love of her life, was now engaged (and not to her). The same day my friend mentioned that her love could not whit stand the long distance as her now-ex, chased his dreams in another state. My heart sank for both of them.

A few years ago, my grandma stumbled upon her German ex-husband on the freeway and they pulled over. Twenty years later, a few wrinkles, and he still wanted her back; it was too late.

I could keep going.

I, myself, am no stranger to the inconvenient crush.

I’m mused by foreign cultures and the one American interest I met was sent to work in China. But it really started in high school. When going off to different colleges, I put a wall up: why bother, we will soon be in different cities anyways. We are meant to live our own lives and “I don’t believe in long-distance.” (I’ve re-addressed this– I don’t believe in long-term long-distance, I get to this at the end of this article).

The irony is that sometimes we subconsciously like relationships with deadlines. It takes the pressure off. It ends with less pain because you see it coming. And it keeps things casual.

Unless of course, you actually start to really like them, and with a deep, painful blow to your spirit, comes the Charley Horse of heart-break. For those of you readers that are unfamiliar with the phrase, a Charley Horse is a striking, uncontrollable pain, sharp and strong, usually in your legs, back, neck, or stomach. But when you get it in your heart, it’s much worse. It’s like getting the wind knocked out of you. I’ve had it three times in my life and my heart-ache literally made me nauseous.


So, a little advice from a woman who has “been there, done that”:

1. Be honest about your feelings for the person.

If you aren’t that into someone, you’ll break it off, and never talk to them again. And if you care about them so much that you can’t be “just friends;” cut them off until you can.

Or go with them. Those are your options: break up, or keep it going to see if it can become something greater aka do long-distance or make real-life changes.

2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Would you do what he or she needs to do to make your relationship work? If the answer is yes, then…

3. Support them and ease the situation –

Whether it’s by helping them look for a job in the new city, respecting their space, or understanding that they may not have the strength to do the things you would like them to do. There’s no reason to make this any more painful than it could already be.

4. Don’t stop loving.

Some people say that kindness is a sign of weakness. I think they’re wrong. Kindness is a sign of strength. For people to continue to be good, despite all of the bad in this world is the ultimate character trait.

So be good to that person whether or not it works out. Be good to yourself — don’t succumb to regret or questioning your decisions… which reminds me…

5. If it’s mutual, take action on your feelings.

I’ve realized that if you truly care about someone, you will have the strength to fight for them, but you will not have the strength to let them go. So don’t. And if they let you go, you can move forward without regret. I would rather take the risk of getting hurt because the other person didn’t make it work, than hurt myself wondering if it would have worked had I tried.

So if you want it, try. If it doesn’t work out, you can live in peace that it wasn’t meant to be; it was just an inconvenient crush.


I once told my brother that he was too young to be involved in such serious relationships — that like myself — he should focus on himself and be a better person before giving half of himself to someone else. I’ll never forget what he said:

The timing will never be “right.” I would rather be with someone that we can help each other grow into better versions of ourselves.

Smart kid.

He’s right. We will always be too busy, growing, working, family commitments, and more — maybe even traveling.

So I take back what I had once said [the following]:

“Long- distance relationships are reassurance that we can choose to prioritize our careers, our passions, our dreams without sacrificing love. The thought that we don’t have to factor in a relationship into whether or not we are going to do something in a different city or country.

A unique balance between being selfish and selfless. Committing to what we are willing to suffer to have what we want: including each other.

Maybe, what is so impractical, so illogical, so irrelevant, is not doing things for yourself because of the people you love. And if you find someone in this world that lets you put yourself first, that wants the best for you, that wants you to be the best that you can be, maybe a long distance relationship is what is right. It’s what’s worth it.”

And instead I would like to add: yes do long distance — if briefly, if willingly with the intent to figure it out; just needing a bit more time.

This has worked for many.

Otherwise, do just that. Figure it out. Face your fears. Disturb your comfort. And figure it out, together.

If it’s meant to be, you will be. But then there would be no Charley Horse of heart break. Because you see, the truth is, that despite timing and distance, if you really want to be together; it might not be easy, but you will be together. And that’s what’s funny about a Charley Horse; it’s a muscle spasm — it hurts, but it goes away. And love, whether a seed or fully blossomed, is not a Charley Horse, it doesn’t go away. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This Post Originally Appeared On Travel Break

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