Long distance relationship challenge

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December 17, 2013 by nooffensebut

A friend once told me long-distance relationships should be avoided like the plague.

“In fact,” he said, “they are worse than the plague because at least with the plague you can die and be put out of your misery.”

He and I aren’t quite on the same page there, but there’s no avoiding the fact that long-distance relationships can be, to put it mildly, tricky.

If love were all logical, no one would get into LDRs. What reasonable person would make an investment in someone who isn’t going to be around? But what about those who are involved and later become separated by distance? Well, if you’ve been there, you know it’s not easy.

The times when you do see each other can be head-spinning. You need intimate, romantic time. You need town-painting time. There’s often even a need for Talk About the Relationship time. And then you want to cram in as much hanky-panky as you can stand. It’s exhausting.

But is it worth it? The ache of separation, the phone bills, the cobwebs in your knickers, the pain when goodbye comes around again? The easy answer is that if the person is worthwhile, so is the hassle. And sometimes, some sacrifice is necessary.

“On the one hand,” said Chloe, “why not explore your own opportunities while you are still young? On the other hand, why have to give up someone you care about in order to do that?”

Fortunately, the myriad methods of communication available make it easy to stay in touch, though there really is no substitute for the real thing.

Still, I know the pain-in-the-rear-endness of the LDR I’ve been in for the last three years has been much easier than the four years my grandparents were apart while my grandfather was stationed in North Africa and Italy.

The key is that for all the effort a relationship takes, a long-distance one takes even more. You have to be thoughtful. I’m a fan of cards for no reason other than to say “I love you.”

A game plan helps, including some notion of when you’ll be back together for good. And you have to be creative. (I stop short of recommending e-mailing dirty pictures. If those were to get into the wrong hands … egads.)

Most importantly, you need love. Plus plenty of cell minutes, a dose of healthy optimism and perhaps a bit of masochism as well.

Originally published Jan. 21, 2011 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Reader response:

Holly:
 
I liked your article this past Friday on long distance relationships a lot.  I have been trying for months to apply the same logic to a pending divorce where your children live in another state and you work here but it’s like you said, “it’s just not the same”.  Skype and all of that are great but it’s lonely and often gut wrenching.  
 
Keep up the good work however, I read you every week.
 
Adam G

Dear Ms. Leber,
 
Call me old fashioned… but I’m a parent of teenagers.  One of them in particularly had enjoyed reading the Life section dating column back when it began.  However, even she has commented lately how borderline vulgar your column can be.  Today’s column in particular mentions needing to “cram in hanky-panky” and “cobwebs in your knickers”.  Could you not have let it go at “intimate romantic time”?  You are writing in a borderline rated-R manner for the front page of the Life section of our newspaper.  
 
Please, simply consider that some parents still hope to instill the idea that chastity and abstinence are healthy things before marriage for a variety of reasons (emotional health, physical health, religious values).  Our kids are bombarded with other messages from every angle. You may intend for your column to be read by an older crowd (20s-30s), but lots of younger minds are reading it. 
 
I did, out of curiosity, look at your twitter site today and see that you’ve pitched for stories about sluts and religion.  More to look forward to on the front page of the Life section, I guess.

Sincerely,
Deb C

Holly, I enjoyed your comments today on LDR’s.  When I meet the “love
of my life”, she lived in Gatlinburg and I was from Chattanooga.  We
endured an LDR for 16 months …….  and will be celebrating 29 years
of marriage this coming June!  One of your lines said it all, “…. if
the person is worthwhile, so is the hassle.”  I drove to Gatlinburg
every other weekend during this time and she drove to Chattanooga once
a month.  We stayed apart the 4th weekend for some down time.  It DID
take a lot of sacrifice from both of us, but I believe that is what
made the relationship grow and strengthen.  The weekends apart didn’t
hurt either!!  I am not a fan for finding your true love in this
manner, but I have always felt that we were meant to find each other
and in our case it could not have worked out better.

Once again, enjoyed your article!

John M

 

Dear Ms. Leber,

My name is Earl. No, really. Earl M. B.

I’m 66, married, and live in Cleveland. I moved to Tennessee in 2005 after 27 years reporting, writing, copy editing, and managing newsrooms for newspapers in three Western states.

In 1968 I was a not-quite-rookie reporter at a small daily outside San Francisco. I applied for and won a reporting job for the larger daily in Reno, NV. One day near the end of my time at the California paper a complete stranger walked up to me on the street and said, “You’re Earl B., aren’t you?”

I acknowledged that he had struck upon an indisputable fact and he said, “Well, I hear you’re leaving our paper and I want you to know that I’ve followed your work and I think you maintained your independence admirably.” I thanked him, we shook hands, and he walked away. I never got his name, never saw him before or since — and never forgot that moment.

I’m writing today hoping to provide you with a similar encouragement.

I buy the TFP each morning out of a street rack outside the Bojangles where I stop for breakfast on the way to work. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years. Over the months you have written your way to my attention. I now find myself anticipating Fridays for all the usual reasons, plus I have come to count on finding your latest ruminations on love and such, down there in the lower right corner of the “Lifestyles” front.

The name of your column is, in itself, a lovely company of words. It brings a smile to my face and a tiny, tiny tinge of joy to my heart every time I read it. The five words together capture and reflect what I have come to see as a unique writing “voice.” Yours.

I believe I notice in your column (I’m attempting to close the circle here) a strong and consistent whiff of independence. Also a certain freshness. Along with small examples of true insight traveling in company with intelligence and gentleness. All of which has led the ancient editor in me to start consciously seeking out other pieces that carry your by-line.

Or maybe I’m getting it all wrong. What do you think?

A fan,

EMB

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