Oh boy. In response to a hilarious “reader e-mail” (wouldn’t a normal person excise the “you look radiant” part of the e-mail if the point of the post was simply to provide long-distance relationship advice?), Donkey has provided a long spew of laughable advice filled with mischaracterizations about most of her relationships. And really, who wouldn’t seek advice from a 30-year-old woman who hasn’t managed to make a relationship last beyond a couple of months for several years?
Anyway, my remarks in red.
Hello there! So I got this email today from a lovely reader who asked me if I had tips for LDRs, given that I’m really – unexpectedly – happy (or at least not UNhappy) with the distance between Jack and me. Below I wrote a few of my tips, but I wonder – what has worked for those of you who have successfully maintained long distance relationships?
Date: February 20, 2011 5:45:25 PM CST
Subject: long distance help!
first off- you look so radiant and it makes me smile because I can tell you’re SO happy, which is why I’m emailing. So. Very. Radiant. Despite the approaching expiration date!!
I recently started dating someone long distance- he is so sweet and perfect and gives me everything my ex close distance (cheating) boyfriend didn’t.
but it’s very hard to keep up this long distance lifestyle- and you seem to be doing it wonderfully (and gracefully) so I was hoping you could offer some pointers!
It’s funny – I actually stopped my five month (non-exclusive) relationship with Daniel (“Hipster Lawyer”) back in January 2010 because of the “distance issue.” Uhhhh, actually no, according to our tipsters. You thought he was a lousy lay and not in your league in terms of physical attractiveness, or at least that’s what you told several of your friends.
He lived in Chicago, I lived in New York, and I thought it would be much easier to date Justin (“Prom King”), who lived just 10 minutes from me (*actually, I basically moved in with him). Moved in with him? You crashed his place for a couple of weeks and allowed your parents to set up shop there as well at one point as though you owned the place, something that did not endear you any further to him.
I had just tried the whole long distance thing from July – Oct 2009 with Toph (“Code Name TK”), who lived in LA, and after three or four months, I felt the distance really hindered any chance at a normal relationship, so I suppose I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. Bwahahaha!!! Does she honestly not remember that she posted her entire breakdown when she was alerted that he had a girlfriend? Their breakup had nothing to do with long-distance — it had to do with him just not being into her and having an actual, real girlfriend who did not embarrass his ass daily.
But things were different by the time I started dating Taylor (“SF Boy”) who, um, lives in SF (duh), in the late summer of 2010 – because I had finally realized that with my travel schedule, EVERYONE is long distance. Even if a guy lived next door to me in Chicago, I’m in another city (or three other cities!) 2-3 weeks of the month. Plus, who knows where I even want to end up, location wise? I could happily move to San Francisco or LA or even stay here in Chicago.
Once I accepted that as a fact, long distance didn’t become such an issue anymore – and oddly, I started realizing there were some unexpected benefits. (Who knew??!) Mostly, it left me with lots of time on my hands so that I could obsessively pursue another guy who came from more money and a way more famous family!
Keep in mind, I don’t think this is an ideal permanent state for any relationship, but I do believe that there can be unintended positive effects from having your partner in a different city, depending upon:
- your personalities (you MUST have a mature and trustworthy partner or this will NOT work) Which is why it never works for you, dumbass.
- how creative/flexible/communicative you can be
- how motivated you are to make sure the relationship succeeds
Here are a few of my keys to successful LDRs, even though I have never had one:
- A very wise, very beautiful girl friend of mine, in a four-plus year LDR, once told me the secret to her successful relationship: “always know the exact date of when you’ll see each other next – before you get on the plane to leave.” I absolutely agree with her. In my LDRs which didn’t work out, in other words, all of them, we never knew when we would see each other next (maybe next week, maybe next month?). With Jack, we plan in advance. We’ve never left each other without knowing the next time – or two or three times – we would visit each other, down to the dates. There’s something psychologically soothing about being able to count down the days to your next in-person rendezvous.
- Use all of the technological tools God & Steve Jobs have given us. I had a LDR my freshman year of college (with Dan, my HS boyfriend), and it was filled with total and utter angst about phone bills (!!!) – hundreds and hundreds of dollars in long distance charges neither Dan nor I could afford. I doubt we would have struggled as much in the era of Skype and Facetime. SMS has saved many a LDR. I think Jack & I text each other upwards of 50 times a day, from his good morning text to his goodnight text (poor dumb bastard), there is rarely a moment we’re not in touch with one another. We’re also really big into sending each other photos via SMS. Not THOSE kind of photos, c’mon. But cute little pictures of where we are or what we’re doing. And yeah, we flirt a lot, too – or, “flext” (flirt-text?) as I like to call it. In fact, he just flexted me right now. 😉
- Enjoy your time away from your partner. I know, I know! Controversial concept I’ve learned from my 347 relationships:time away is just as important as time together. Case in point: I’m sitting here in my sweatpants & fleece, looking incredibly grungy, because … well … no one is here to notice. It’s awesome. One of the most difficult aspects of living close to someone (and this is exacerbated by living WITH them) is complacency. When I lived with Alex for two years, it was – ironically – our closeness that ended up killing the romance. We were BFFs and just adored each other, but I started treating him like a roommate – I never bothered to get dressed up anymore, I would walk around naked or in sweats constantly, we did the same thing every weekend. When you’re long distance, that’s far less liable to happen. Every visit feels special, and while you long for them while you’re away, if you know when you’ll see them next, you can focus on your work, your friends, your family and yourself in the meantime.
- Trust. Jack is the single most trustworthy person I know besides my father. He is both honest to a fault and extremely reliable. I don’t think I could do this if I were worried – at all, ever – that he was up to god knows what out there in San Diego (or any city he might be stationed in the future). The few LDRs I’ve had which worked only worked because of this. (Taylor was/is super trustworthy and honest as well … some others in the past, cough cough, not so much.) I have a feeling we’re going to be returning to this one at some point.
- Emotional communication. I don’t know what other people need, but I know I need a LOT of loving communication (no shit) and from experience, the lack of that can torpedo an otherwise amazing relationship. I need to feel secure and cherished (what a surprise, that whole ‘cherished’ thing), and especially when my partner isn’t around to hug me and kiss me, I need to feel that love via email or text or phone or skype or … something! Perhaps I’m the only one (doubtful, but I realize not everyone is as emotionally needy as me, LOL), but I know it’s really important for me to feel that connection – and it actually doesn’t matter what the medium is!
- Try not to go longer than two or three weeks without seeing your partner – in person. Jack & I agreed that we would make an effort to see each other at least that often, if we possibly could. Because of Fashion Week (and him moving from Pensacola to San Diego) we had to wait four weeks from our last visit until our next one (on Tuesday), but we’ve had several conversations about how that was not ideal, to say the least. 😉 Obviously, if we’re still dating when he gets deployed, we won’t have that luxury, but until then, approximately every 2 weeks that’s our goal. I think it’s important to mutually agree on a maximum interval, because if you feel you can go a month without seeing him and he finds it difficult to go longer than a week without seeing you, that’s bound to lead to massive disagreements, and eventually the downfall of your relationship.
That’s just a start (but I need to get to bed). I’m really curious, though – for the readers who have had LDRs – what works, and what doesn’t?