Long Distance Relationships

Singles advice guru Marnie Macauley has humorous and savvy solutions for those faced with the perils of a long distance relationship.

Long Distance Relationship

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You go to a conference with no expectations, and then, across a crowded room, “he’s” there. A perfect prospect. You spend the week falling madly in love, and then it’s goodbye. But is it? Both of you don’t want it to end. You decide to keep things going by SKYPE, texting, calling and e-mail. The feelings grow stronger. The few romantic visits hype it up. How many of us have been hooked on a LD, a Long-Distance relationship? You’ve got a hopping real estate business in Los Angeles, and he just got a promotion as a software exec in Chicago. The Big Question is … what now?  Let’s look:

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? 

Dear Marnie: I’m a 34-year-old lawyer. I met the perfect guy, or I should say, re-met him at a college reunion in another state. He’s in the midst of a divorce. We had a fleeting crush in school that went nowhere, but now, wow! We slept together during the reunion and spent every second together. Since (a month ago) we’ve been texting daily and calling. But I’m concerned. We both have active careers, he has a daughter he adores, and I love what I do — and we’re hundreds of miles apart. Is there any hope for this long distance relationship, or am I just pipe-dreaming? — Lois in L.A.

MARNIE SAYS: Sweetie, you’re only pipe-dreaming if you stay in the land of Oz. LD relationships are tough. They demand similar hopes, wishes, expectations, and the readiness to make some tough changes? Are you ready? Is he? Let’s look.

Getting it! Your Long-Distance Strategy

* A long distance relationship is fantastically fantastic … but it’s not real. It’s a perpetual honeymoon. Can it work 24/7, with issues of child care, bills, Tidybowling, changing jobs or careers? That’s the harsh reality.

* Are both of you on the same page? What are you each hoping for in this relationship? Fun? An escape? A commitment?

* What sacrifices are each of you willing to make?

* What are the LD “rules” for the two of you? Exclusivity? Can you date and have sex with others?

* Testing: One way to find out is to test each of these through both talk and actions.

* The more “real” time you have together, that is, “non-honeymoon” time, is critical. (And remember, he’s still in the midst of a break-up. RED LIGHT.)

You see, sweetie, the thing is, ultimately, the distance will kill the deal or solidify it. Now it’s up to the two of you to look seriously at the roadblocks and figure out the game plan.

FARAWAY LOVE

Dear Marnie: I’m in love with an army boy stationed in Germany. When he returned for Christmas last year, the deep feelings mixed with our natural chemistry, and BAM! I was in love. We knew he could be sent to the Middle East. He asked if I would come to Germany during mid-semester break. He’d pay expenses. When I told my parents, they banned me from going. (I’m 20, live at home and attend college) saying “it’s not a good time right now,” that I didn’t know him long enough and they barely knew him. I talked to my dad and told him I was willing to do whatever it takes to go. He said, “Get a job, an apartment and declare yourself independent.”  Marnie, I want to see Tony before he’s shipped off for who knows how long. I’m trying to get a job. My friend offered to go to Germany with me. How can I get my parents to allow me to go without getting thrown out of the house? — Hopeless in Pasadena

MARNIE SAYS: Angel, that sound you’re hearing is an older heart breaking for a younger one. Especially, since I must say some words to you that even I don’t want to hear, as they fly in the face of one of greatest joys of this journey, The Grand Passion. But sometimes strong words are needed to keep a warm soul young.

Getting it! Your Personal Strategy:

* Your parents’ true concerns: Are they afraid you’re jumping too fast and desperately? Worry you’ll get hooked on a relationship that may not work out — and more, sidetrack your goals, your life? Find out.

* Play the trip out in your mind. Two young people deeply attracted. He may be shipped off … hurried moments in Europe. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan couldn’t do this intense scene justice.

* Scene Two. This is hard. Please ask yourself, “What will I do and in what shape will I be when I come home?” I fear you’ll return pining and with promises that will keep you on hold and hooked by a moonlit view of a man you barely know.

* Gain vs. Cost. The gain? Perhaps a few magical days and potential. The cost? Possibly your immediate future re: family, school, career, finances — and your ability to move on while under the spell.

* The Net Result. If you don’t go, you’ll still have the potential and your parents’ support. If he’s “the one,” when he returns, you can make real decisions about getting to know one another; decisions that will turn your passion and promises into more than a memory; decisions about a long, rip-roaring life together — one that can withstand the glare of the war-torn desperation.

Angel, this isn’t what you wanted to hear. But before you call me an old prig, my “soldier” was named Michael, and I too, was 19. And now I’m glad I didn’t go — but I feel your heartbreak.

LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP DILEMMA

Dear Marnie: My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. Many have doubted our relationship would last because it’s long distance. Recently, we have been arguing a lot. I am emotionally unstable because of my past. Almost every boyfriend has abused or cheated on me. My boyfriend treats me like a princess, but I feel he deserves better than a crazy lady like me. I’m the one who is starting arguments because of my unstable emotions. I love him dearly and he loves me. I trust him completely, but it’s my insecurity I’m worried about. He has female friends from school that are just pals but it make me crazy. Please, I don’t want to lose him and I’m afraid if I keep getting like this when I know he’s been around his gal pals, he’ll feel suffocated. – Suffering in Long Beach

MARNIE SAYS: Angel, angel, angel. If you don’t quit with the loser labels, I’ll personally catch a plane and set fire to your self-help shelf! Considering yourself to be a “crazy lady,” is (at the least) a partial lie. But sadly, it’s one you believe. And more tragic, it’s sandbagging the very thing you want — a relationship with him. Or do you?

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* You chose a long distance relationship guy.  What’s that about, honey? Choose one:

1. It just … happened. You (or he) flew to a wedding – whatever, and the Big Kavorka hit you.

2. You don’t trust him, me, the world. Long-distance keeps the love-jiggle illusion alive without any nasty truths that might come from real intimacy.

* The LD sucker punch. There are more potential nasty truths and surprises long-distance, than in day-in, day-out, let’s-do-meatloaf-together. Despite what you say, trusting him is the issue.

* My hunch is you’re bobbing in two different directions:

1. I don’t want to get hurt, so distance keeps me safe and “stable.”

2. I don’t want to get hurt, but that same distance is keeping me out of the loop and loopy. “Are these women friends?” “Is he playing me?” One part of you is pulling east, the other, west and you remain stuck and bruised.

* Choose a direction. If it’s toward him, take the risk. Decide what you truly want from this deal. A commitment? Marriage? Then follow, by taking the steps toward trust. Many long visits, but more … an eventual decision that requires one of you to relocate.

* Meanwhile, find the confident, remarkable you. Not through a male. No. But by visiting your pain with a pro counselor. Then, experience all the fascinating, non-male possibilities. Volunteer. Giving love to seniors, the needy, children, feeds back love — and lets you love you more (something, you desperately need, angel). Explore new avenues — dance, writing, girls’ nights out, travel.

Once you build life your way, without depending upon “him” – or anyone – to wash away your pain, you’ll be whole again. And a whole woman is never a prisoner of her past. She’s a survivor who moves, not in self-deprecation, but self-love; not in fear, but in courage — and always in freedom. You see, it’s not he who deserves better from you … it’s you.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2014 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on Liveperson.com or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
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