July 7, 2015


Lost Angeles: Long Distance Romance Is Hard (But Not Impossible!)

Westend61 via Getty Images
Westend61 via Getty Images

The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. I’m not a doctor or an expert and I’m certainly not always right.

It’s been two weeks since High & Dry drove away from my apartment and I doubled over in pain. I knew saying goodbye was going to be hard and it was, but all I feel today is complete love. There is a comfort surrounding me that somehow resonates as more steady and concrete than many of my past relationships, even my first one with him. 

A month ago I wasn’t sure if I had the strength built up to withstand the jealousyFOMO and hardships that come with a relationship, let alone the long distance variety. But now, I realize it wasn’t up to me to be ready; it happened on its own. Somehow, during the trial run of our long distance situation (my two weeks away for work) our relationship grew deeper, more secure, and this intensified my feelings for H&D. He helped secure my faith in us. 

The numerous hours-long conversations during our time apart, the photo exchanges and the splash of dirty talk was not only a helpful promise that we could get through our time apart in months to come, it even made me wonder if the distance isn’t somehow more beneficial. Is it possible that this could work better because the pressures of seeing one another, balancing the my place or yours? act and social obligations won’t be an issue? If Los Angeles proved to be too busy to make time to date before, is this a suitable compromise? 

Now that we’ve said our goodbyes and been apart for another two weeks I’ve found a couple of things to be true, both in research and in practice. Creating a space for love isn’t solely about physical closeness (while it is definitely a huge added benefit)—it’s more about emotional connection. A space that isn’t delineated on a physical plane, but constructed on a solid emotional foundation in our hearts and minds, allowing us a closeness that people who exist in the same space physically might not even approach on an emotional plane. Cue Kidnap Kid.

I don’t know about you, but when I enter a situation that might lead to any amount of suffering it reassures me to know that other people are dealing with, if not benefiting from, the same situation. Now that we refuse to let each other go despite the distance I was surprised to learn that H&D and I join millions of couples in committed long-distance relationships (including more than 3 million Americans who are married but live apart, according to the 2014 census and this amazing article). 

Because of the growing amount of couples in LDR's (long-distance relationships, people, not Lana Del Reys), there have been numerous studies tackling the “commuter couple” or couples who are geographically challenged. These studies almost always define LDR’s as being just as healthy if not healthier than proximal relationships when it comes to emotional closeness. Amen to that. The breakup rate of LDR’s is also not far off from close relationships, according to the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (yes, that’s a thing, even though the continuing research has ceased).

Now I’m not just trying to find evidence to support my dive into the deep end. I make the leap knowing that a sort of idealization can happen when you aren’t being faced with someone’s day to day flaws and that is one of the reasons why LDR’s often reach a breaking point at their reunions, according to a study by Andy J. Merolla. However, I have to believe that my history with H&D prevents us from falling in love with the “idea” of each other if we can stick to the honesty and reality of who we really are.

To that end I can say, as I’ve said before, H&D has always been the one romantic partner who sees me. I never doubt that he is missing something, or idealizing me. He takes my silly singing and dancing fits, adores my strength as a woman and is honest when I might be pushing something too far. It’s all I can do to show him how much I appreciate him, every single day. For his silliness, his strengths and his stubbornness. Cue Disclosure, the Flume remix.

Right now, I’m relying on our strength as a couple, instead of proximity, rules or statistics. I'm believing that it's up to us and not someone else's idea of what a relationship should look like, knowing that if it's supposed to work out, we will figure it out, regardless of how many miles apart we are.

I am believing in love as a verb, not relying on love solely as an idea or a group of letters we pronounce as a placeholder, but believing in its power as a conveyor of compassion and understanding and demonstrating it to one another. Feeling the comfort of the emotional space we exist in together. Knowing that the distance makes our relationship a little different and very difficult, but not impossible.