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How a Long-Distance Relationship Can Actually Be a Good Thing

by Cathy Brown Apr 10, 2017

SO, because life insists on staying interesting, I recently fell head over heels in love with a botanist who spends much of his time out in the bush in his homeland of Western Australia. I happen to live way up in the Andes of Argentine Patagonia with no internet or phone signal at home. Most would tell us to give it up, that the logistics of the situation are stacked too strongly against us.

Of the many things I adore about him, his boundless optimism has to be up at the top of the list. This not working out somehow was never an option to him. I’m at my core a pretty intense optimist, so I’m consciously trying to get on board and see the situation not as absolutely sucking, but even to go so far as to see the good side.

It’s a stretch some days, but coming up with the following ways that long-distance relationships aren’t so bad after all is keeping me sane and us together so far.

I always have guaranteed future travel plans.

One of the things that I have found is absolutely necessary for me to not freak the hell out that this relationship is going nowhere, is to have a concrete plan for the next time we will actually see each other in person. He’s a traveler, I’m a girl who travels, so it’s a great excuse to have to plan a quick jaunt to Europe when he has a week or two between work assignments. And I definitely have to end up in Australia soon to meet his friends and family and to get to know for myself his favorite beaches, forests, and other hangout spots.

Expectations have to be communicated clearly.

Sometimes in past relationships, I’ve found myself going along with things almost unconsciously and then, BAM, one day it’s like I wake up and think “How the hell did I end up here?”

The day he got on a plane, I entered into this current situation by conscious choice. And tough conversations had to be had, difficult questions asked, which for me is a lovely, honest, and direct way to form a relationship. Do we really want to be creating this kind of relationship? Or are we in it because it just seems too hard to let each other go? Do we have the same relationship goals? Do we have roughly the same expectations in terms of time, patience, and frequency/intensity of communication we’re willing to give? Does the other expect monogamy? What does the other need to be okay with a non-monogamous situation — do they want to know or not know if something happens with someone else? Realistically, time and money wise, when and how often could in-person meets take place?

I’m someone who values direct communication very much, and I’m finding that it serves me well in a long-distance relationship.

It’s somehow more acceptable that I’m “monogomish”.

I’ve never been sold on the idea of rigid monogamy. Now I’m in a situation where months and months may pass between when my love and I see each other in person. I’m not going to ask that he stay miserable and lonely and not be with other people. And he would not ask that from me. We’re secure in the fact that we have each other’s hearts and that no one else can take that away. We’re secure in the fact that when we are together in person, the other gets everything, 100% presence and attention. A one night stand for a little physical affection every now and again that we personally can’t give the other is not going to be a deal-breaker here.

It would be practically impossible for things to go too fast for my liking.

I freak out in relationships when the guy goes from “let’s hang out” to “I expect exclusivity and, while I won’t usually vocalize it so directly, I expect you to hang out with me every day and I’ll insecurely pout when you don’t”. That shit’s over basically before it even begins with me.

Instead, now there’s letter writing. There’s genuine caring about how my day went without feeling like he had to be a part of every second of it. There’s total acceptance that I will be hanging out with friends a lot — even an appreciation of those friends for looking out for me when he can not. There’s no “So, um, it’s been a while, when are we moving in together?”, it’s more like “Hey, I can swing a week or two off work in June, let’s road trip Macedonia”. I can hang with that.

If I use my imagination I can feel like I’ve time traveled.

Beautiful handwritten letters that have to cross the oceans to get to me? And they include flower petals and pretty feathers he knows I would love? The die-hard romantic in me eats that right up. The very present and available guy just down the road never wrote me any handwritten love letter.

I can’t lose my interests and friends just for some guy who showed up in my life.

They say that you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first, and I think it’s true. I’m not about to spend the next few months until I see him in some horrible gray cloud, moping about. I’m going to fill my time with fun. I will take Italian classes and practice my fire-staff skills and bake and read and get together to drink wine with girlfriends and talk excitedly about how full my life is.

Meanwhile, I can send messages to my man in my newly-learned Italian. He can send me video help, giving me tips with the fire-staff twirling. We can read the same books and chat about them, and I can bake his favorite items and enjoy them while thinking of him. My partner will not resent me for living happily in the real world like a real human — if he did, he wouldn’t be the one for me.

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