Why I Would Never Recommend Long-Distance To Anyone. Ever.
Take it from a girl who has a track record for managing to get herself deeply involved with men bound to circumstances that keep them everywhere but here, there’s not much about a long-distance relationship that soothes like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book might have you believe. Love is great, but it’s not a free pass to torture yourself in the name of all things Nicholas Sparks and chocolate-covered strawberries and let me tell you why, just in case you’ve gone ahead and gotten yourself into a position where you might actually be considering one.
- Every day is a struggle. Not all day, every day. But without fail, each day, there will be a moment that you want your person around simply because you know you cant have them. So everyday you create something to miss them for, even if it’s something that never reminded you of your person ever before. It’s like when you’re running the most mundane errands, like getting your car’s oil changed and you’re perfectly happy reading the six-month old issue of People in the waiting room until you look up and see some couple laughing with each other about something probably really stupid, and you suddenly remember that normal people drag their boyfriends and girlfriends along to these kinds of things so they don’t have to resort to reading the sad six-month old People that you were totally satisfied with just a couple minutes ago. And for that, all I have to say is, Damn you normal couples for ruining yet another Lindsay Lohan breakdown for me.
- It’s like taking the “wanting something you cant have” cliché and putting it on steroids. Not to mention, it’s worse because you’ve invested all the work in making something yours and now you cant even hold it in your hands. It’s exactly like online shopping. You’ve found the perfect pair of shoes, put down your credit card information, and then have to wait 5-7 business days before you can actually have them in front of you. The normal shopping high is totally empty now when you wonder how you’re going to fill your next 5-7 business days in such a way that you wont just think about how bad you want those shoes in front of you immediately. Sure enough, you get through the 5-7 business days, probably living your life as you usually do, but there’s sort of a looming feeling like something is missing from your life…or maybe I’m just a little too invested in my footwear. Like something you signed up for and were really excited about, and then it got postponed but it feels like it got cancelled.
- Your obligatory date person is nonexistent and therefore not able to protect you from continually having to explain to others that your dating life isn’t as pathetic as it looks. It’s supposed to be okay, the long-distance thing is supposed to be your get-out-of-happy-hour-jail-free card and yet, there’s nothing like watching someone’s face fall between the phrases, “Oh, no, actually I have a boyfriend,” and “But he lives in Seattle.” It’s like this hopeful, bright-eyed, “Congratulations on finding someone to put up with your not-even-kind-of-charming antics,” and then it quickly turns to a confused tilted head and pursed lips that silently scream, “Nevermind!” Wait a minute. I was under the impression that this whole long-distance thing would get me out of those exact kinds of looks but as it turns out, I think people are taking it worse than me just being flat-out single.
- Airports are no place for lovers. No really. In my first long-distance relationship, I spent more time in the airport than actually with my boyfriend. And let me tell you, there is nothing wonderful about the Philadelphia airport. Not one thing. Not the $8 items on the McDonald’s “value” menu and not the token old woman who asks why you cant land “a real man” as she offers you a piece of toffee. Look lady, just because he doesn’t live in the same state as me doesn’t mean he’s not real! “He’s real,” I try to convince her as I pull up photos on my camera phone. “Oh, he looks just like my oldest granddaughter!” she exclaims happily as I try my hardest not to scream and throw her bag of toffee circa-1998 across the terminal. The airport is like the DMV but with overpriced fast food.
- Trust is something you might have taken for granted when it wasn’t really an issue but when you’re in a long-distance relationship, trust is all you have. Without trust, there is no long-distance relationship, and it quickly turns into one of those relationships where the two of you see how much you can psychologically damage the other person. And as much fun as it is to scream over the phone, “I will personally shatter you,” maybe that’s not your idea of a good relationship…though the me circa 2010 would maybe beg to differ. While the Internet has blessed the world of long-distance dating, it has also filled it with more paranoia that you ever thought possible. I’d be lying if I said I never once fell for the powers of a Facebook photo uploaded by another girl on a long-distance boyfriend’s profile. God, it’s a cruel cruel form of shame when you and your best friend are hovered over the computer screen on a Friday night as you extensively stalk said girl’s photos all the way back to her high school prom, only saying horrible things about her how prom dress looked like it came from the Caché outlet while The Wedding Date plays in the background. It’s moments like those when you start to wonder if you’re a terrible human being and yet, there’s some slight masochistic satisfaction in letting your mind believe that your boyfriend is cheating on you with a girl who still wears white eye-shadow and scrunchies. Don’t you judge me. It’s not like you’ve never done it. Thanks to Facebook, we’ve all said horrible things about people we’ve never met.
Even after saying all of this, I can’t say that i didn’t learn a lot from dating long-distance. And I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, if you hate it s much, why did you do it?” But the truth is I don’t hate long-distance relationships; I just would never recommend them to anyone. Of course, it all depends on how much you like or love the person. I mean, obviously that’s the reason you’ve ever get into a long-distance in the first place.
But I think that a lot of people get into them knowing that it’s going to be difficult but they rarely expect so much of it to be so difficult. It’s like you forget the little things you normally take for granted. Like in a normal relationship even if you’re not coming home to someone because they aren’t home yet, you’re at least coming home to their shoes at the door, or their horrible Willie Nelson cd in the cd player. You’re coming home to traces of them, traces that remind you that they’ll be back. When you’re long-distance, the traces of a person are mostly memories—the way they slept in your bed, the way he made coffee for you in the morning, the stray sock left behind after a weekend trip—and they only make you happy after they’ve made you sad for a little while.
I used to think long-distance relationships were the best of both worlds, and to some extent I still believe it because I actually really enjoy being alone. Sure it’s all well and good a couple months in, while you still hold the hope that you’ll be together one day in the back of your pocket like something to fall back on. But as time goes on, there’ll be no doubt be a point when you get frustrated with being frustrated and you’ll wonder how much longer you can live on a half-time sort of love. It’s not all terrible. The boyfriends I’ve been closest to, had the best communication with, and loved the most were long-distance. It’s funny how you can feel more open to being yourself when you’re not directly in front of someone. There’s something magical about a phone line that can give you the courage to be more of who you are than ever before. But as kind of spectacular as that is, I’d still never wish a long-distance relationship on anyone I even slightly care about. Because people who have done long-distance dating are all a part of this little secret club that knows it’s never as glamorous as romance novelists would have you believe it is, and that the only reason you go through something you hate so much is for someone you love.