Long distance relationship present their own brand of issues. I’ve been in a few (and they were exceptionally short-lived, even by my standards). However, I’ve had a few friends who have met online, though living in different countries, and have not only made a go of things, but even got married. To my mind, a long distance relationship amounts to one thing: missing that person (aka long distance sucks). So, to provide the voice of eloquence, I turned to a friend of mine to give me his perspective.

A guest blog by “redwinegums”

Long Distance Relationships.

They suck.

Plain and simple. Essentially they do. There’s the additional stress and strain of distance in addition to the normal downs in a relationship with very few of the ups. The hazards are plentiful and range from insignificant to major. They can work but there a few things that I feel make the difference. I’m not one to talk really. I’ve had two long distance interests. Neither worked out if works out means leading to a happy marriage. One ended well. One took a while to do so. The experience in my circle is of long distance relationships. In fact my expectation is for a long distance relationship. I’m not even sure I’d know what to do if I got a girlfriend who lived like in the same city as me. I’d be clueless as a result of shock for the first week or so. She’d find a way to snap me out of it I’m sure.

I don’t think long distance relationships are doomed to failure. In fact if you look back on the amount of conventional relationships that fail it’s not any big competition. A person might have half a dozen relationships in their life that don’t work out. This doesn’t mean that conventional relationships are cursed. With any type of relationship it takes work for it to come together. With long distance relationships it just takes a lot more work.

Anyway here are a few thoughts that represent my current views on the whole area. It’s just my opinion. Not a set of rules upon which your relationship must abide by in order to succeed. I’m no expert but when talking about life I’m not sure being an expert means all that much anyway.

The necessity of real time together before the break

I’m sorry to say that I don’t think starting the long distance thing from scratch seems to work. Not in my experience. The long distance relationships that have worked are those where the people involved spent a period of 6 – 12 months actually living their lives physically in the same location. The distance element happened but was never a permanent feature of the relationship. It was always a hurdle to be overcome; merely a phase that both had to endure. It’s very hard for a relationship to work when both people are on two very separate long travelled roads winding further away from each other

Know where life is leading

I think you need to be answer a few questions in an honest and truthful manner. Are we in similar stages in life? Can I move? Can they move? Will either of us actually move when it comes down to it? How does this affect those around me? Does leaving my support circle and starting a new life scare me? It should. If it doesn’t you’re fooling yourself. This ties into the previous point about distance being a phase and not a permanent state of affairs. If he’s planning to live with pygmies in Africa and you are going to become an investment banker in London it’s unlikely to work out.

Everything other than real contact is only almost

We’re spoiled in this part of the early 21st century. With Skype, email, IM clients and text messaging there are so many ways to keep in touch with loved ones. It’s great but it’s not real. It’s a mini date in a way every time. It’s an artificial situation that can seem natural because it happens so often, but it’s that regularity that can be so addictive. It can also become soul shattering because when you flick off that computer screen there hasn’t even been a simple little embrace to say goodbye. There’s just been the same old feeling of I wish you were here and now I have to face my life without you in it again.

You get their version of their life. Not the real version

“How was your day?”

Such an easy question but so difficult to answer. In fact most people never do. They gloss over it. The fine, fine, fine refrain a mother gets when she asks her children about their day is one that is heard in stereo in every town and city. Even if the other tells you they’ve had a bad day you don’t see how it affects them. She might comfort eat or be bitchy to her house mates in a way she isn’t to you. He might completely over react when a small little thing goes wrong on the computer and bang the table and start cursing. You don’t see it unless they tell you. You don’t seem them being mean to that barista or that waiter. Distance isn’t normal even though it can feel like it when you’re in the midst of it. What happens is you get used to living a life without someone it. It can be a tough change to handle when what you’ve wished for all this time actually happens.

Personal Caveat

I’m not sure how much of my experience is of use to anyone. I approach a romantic relationship in the conventional sense with marriage as a very realistic consideration. There’s been no sex and thus far not much kissing either in my life. I’ve never been on a date. Probably why I’m irrationally so good at crafting one for public consumption. In a very real way I’ve never properly had a girlfriend. The last interest was a total of four days physically in the same location in a total of five months. And two of those days were the days when we first met without anything in the picture. It’s easier if you have money and the ability to travel. With me it’s never been a case of hopping on a plane and visiting. In actual fact it’s normally been a minimum of two planes to even get to the other. It’s something to be acutely aware of. How far away does he or she live?

My brother is currently in a long distance relationship with an altogether wonderful woman. She is studying in the USA and he is studying here. Right now she is doing an internship in Australia. When he leaves Australia, having worked the entire summer to pay for traveling 20,000 miles to see her for a mere 15 days, it will bring the amount of time they have physically spent in the same location to a total of two months in two years.

In summary, they suck. More than you know. You might think you’re ready and able to handle it but you’re not. You don’t know how bad it will be until you are lying down wishing he was there and realizing that in a very real sense you are still alone. I’ve had two. Neither worked. Been honest I’m not sure I could handle another long distance relationship. Knowing someone would cuddle or kiss me but can’t due to distance is soul destroying in a situation like that.

I’ve traveled the world for love before and would do so again. Sometimes you don’t care about the odds you just know you have to take that chance. But you can’t be sure until you see the other and decide whether the risk is worth taking

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.