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According to the news from around the world, that all of us are currently
long distance relationships.
it seems, is in France. Or might as well be.
> The Italian magazine Noi Donna reported that 26% of women
surveyed were planning to cheat on their husbands or boyfriends during the
World Cup. (Which begs the question: with whom?) (And then again,
another study counted 48% of Italy's women as soccer fans
> According to Breakup Girl's London
stringer, they don't even bother releasing new movies in England during Cup
Month;. instead they're hyping "Sliding Doors" to the "world cup
widows." (Credibility issue: as if women believe that Gwyneth Paltrow ever
wonders "What if...?")
> The word on the street here at home: this past holiday weekend, only
Black Cats and Purple Dragons could drag the gentlemen away from Croatia (vs.
Germany). "Fireworks reawaken the curiosity that preadolescent boys have
about things sexual ... men sort of regress about it on the occasion of the
holiday, psychoanalyst Dr. Michael Colman recently told the Detroit News.
"Fireworks explode ... they make brilliant colors. It's all an allusion,
in a way, to sexual activity." (Who, indeed, can forget Bobby Brady's
Millicent moment? ) Likewise: according to psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Shiener,
"People are fascinated by fire, and some get very excited that you can
take something that's so dangerous and control it" -- well, mostly men, he
says. "In general, women tend to be more secure about those kinds of
issues -- sexuality, adequacy and control," he explains. "Men
struggle with those things and they're always doing things to prove that
they're adequate and that they can be in control."
Uuuuuuuh, perhaps, but now how many of us are feeling inadequate because
"sexual activity," for us, does not in fact "make brilliant
But I digress.
Point is, by today, or at least by July 13 -- the day after the finals --
all these couples will, presumably, be reunited.
Which leaves the rest of you -- folks separated not by sport or sparkler,
but by summer break or camp; and couples in which Men are from Mobile, Women
are from Vanuatu
-- to try really really hard not to, er, mind the gap of long distance
hear long-distance success stories, of course: the summer fling that lasted a
lifetime, the professors with bi-coastal tenure, WOMAN WEDS ALIEN.
But it's hard. And that's the main -- and not as obvious as it should be --
thing you need to know about LDRs. They are hard. It does bear noting
that the information age has made LDRs both easier and more difficult. Used to
be you had to wait months for the steamship to deliver one letter, or fight
with your siblings to get the horse for the weekend. Now, however, we've got
the opposite problem: "Why didn't you respond to my beep/email
instantly?!" "If you loved me, you'd take the Concorde.")
Anyway, the fact that LDRs are hard, like built-in hard, doesn't mean
there's something wrong. People forget this. It's like, "Dear
Breakup Girl, my girl/boyfriend and I argue about phone bills, have trouble
getting away to see each other because of work and expenses and feeling like
we're blowing off our other friends, and then when we do get together there's
all this quality- and quantity- pressure for it to be GREAT...are we
fundamentally incompatible?!?!?!" Uh, not necessarily.
That's the main thing. Other points on the map:
1. Know the deal. Do not assume that long-distance logistics -- and the
"meaning" that humans naturally attach to them-- will just sort
themselves out. What, roughly, is the plan? How often do you call, write, fax,
email, visit? Do you "see other people?" (See below. ) Hammer this
stuff out. For real. I don't need to remind you of that all-too-oft-quoted
scene from Annie Hall where each tells the therapist how often they have sex.
He says, "Never! Three times a week, at most!" She says:
"Constantly! Three times a week..." You get the idea.
2. Here's the existential version of the above. Short-range couples say
things like, "My partner and I enjoy three-legged races, tandem bicycles,
and good old-fashioned holding hands." What about you? What is the
backbone of your relationship? Wishing you were together -- and killing time
while you're not -- does not count. Counting the days 'til the reunion does not
a relationship make. Figure out rituals and activities that are yours, that are
special, that do fill the time and space -- watching "Road Rules"
with your phones cradled on your respective shoulders? Sending creative care
packages? Setting up an online "palace" where "Pooky" and
"Muffin" avatars can make out? You tell me.
3. Don't stay together for the ... frequent flier miles. Don't cling just
because it's there -- to stick it out, to make a point -- because it's ...
4. "Seeing other people" is weird. I'm not against the principle,
especially if you're young, but you've got to define your terms. First of all,
"seeing other people" does not mean "I can, you can't."
Also, think about this: If you're dating
someone at home, are they the Main relationship, or the Auxiliary one? How much
do you tell them? How much do you tell your faraway friend (I say not much --
see Summer Reading, below). There's not one particular Breakup Girl Rule here,
except (a) that you need to work this stuff out for yourselves, and (b) the
overriding requirement to take good care of people's (and "other"
people's) hearts, wherever they are.
5. Remain circumspect. Close-range couples have problems, too; just a
different set ("Couldn't you go away more often?"). By the same
token, relocating to be together -- a bold move indeed -- will not auto-resolve
all your problems, except maybe the Concorde question.
6. While we're on the subject --just in case -- exactly how harsh is the
long-distance dump? At first glance, it does seem like a snap compared to the
regional rejection: there's less of him/her to miss, none of him/her to run
into unprepared, and so on. But if you're in the thick of it, you know better
-- and you can be the first to tell your lonelier-than-thou pals that the
long-goodbye is no rest-stop picnic. Before we move on, some talking points for
the debate over who's more bumming.
significant increase in time available to
explore and enjoy your own neighborhood
in frequent flier miles
in phone bill
frequent flier miles
you can finally
sell your car
gas card scored you
frequent flier miles
scary chance meetings
much less likely
"chance" meetings much scarier; means he "just
happened" to hitchhike across two time zones
since he's not
normally around, you don't notice that he's missing as much
short of a
long-range military radar system, no efficient way of tracking his
justification for buying clothes that "don't travel well"
now no justification for buying cute
"travel size" cosmetics
loads of free time on weekends
loads of free time
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