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July 19

LDR: London to LA

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:34 am

longdistanceStaying strong on July 6, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

My boyfriend lives in London and I live in LA. We met last summer and I spent all of September with him in LA and all of December with him in London. The separations are really hard on me. Really hard. I don’t want to go out with anyone else, but I feel really sad that he’s not here to share every single little thing with me and vice versa. What can I do to make myself feel better? I cry a lot and know that that doesn’t help the situation — it won’t make him be able to come out and visit any earlier. I know I have to be strong, but how do I do that? The relationship is stagnant, even though we talk and email almost every day. When I do see him, how do I make him feel that he can’t live on without me? How do I get him to talk about his feelings about me? It’s always stressful for both of us to talk about one of us leaving because we want to spend as much time together being happy and not sad? How do I alleviate some of the pain of not having him near me?

— Ina


Dear Ina,

One thing I haven’t said yet about LDRs is that some people actually do take to them sort of naturally. These folks like the built-in space and compartmentalization, the NOT having to negotiate daily life together.

You are not one of these people. It sounds to me like you are someone who likes and needs constant interaction — and, more to the point,¬†reassurance. (My tip-off: “How do I make him feel like he can’t live on without me?”) Which are not common characteristics of LDRs. So yeah, of course the separations are hard on you, even though you LA folks probably get email in your car. That’s why you do need to recast your expectations somewhat. Here’s the reality: at least right now, by definition, it’s not going to be the kind of relationship where you share absolutely every little thing. Even when you’re actually together, because (1) that occurs so rarely that you want to do the big things, not, like pick up your dry cleaning, and (2) at least in LA restaurants, the food portions are too small.

So what you’re going to have to do is refer to #2, above. You know what you don’t have, but what can you two create to fill that space?

And while you’re at it, refer to #1. You wonder if he’s being demonstrative enough; maybe, in his British stiff-upper-lipdom, he already thinks he’s positively gushing. So maybe it’s not about getting him to talk; maybe it’s about getting the two of you to talk more about the nuts and bolts. It may be more “stressful” and sad in the moment, but you know what? Deliberately not talking about something takes as much energy, stress, concentration as does just talking about it. As you’ve realized, this long distance thing is not going to just work by itself. You need to get creative about filling the space between you, as well as the space around¬†you, Ina. Make sure you’ve got stuff going on in your life — and I don’t mean find a hobby to pass the time. I mean, have something going on — school, work, whatever — that makes you feel secure, skilled, capable, and loved. Right nearby. This will help make sure that you’re looking across the ocean for romance, not reassurance.

Love,
Breakup Girl

[breakupgirl.net]

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