Long Distance Series
Vol II: Distance Fatigue
In my opinion, there is no guide to a ‘Long Distance Relationship’ that should go beyond – ‘it’s hard as hell’.
During all this social distancing stuff, it’s overwhelmingly apparent how random touches, kisses, gropes or eye rolls play such a key roll in the intimacy being in love provides. I miss how my boyfriend ignores me when he’s watching Ballers and I’m asking a million questions that have nothing to do with the show. I also miss how heavy a sleeper he is but still when he’s seemingly dead to the waking world; when I toss and turn next to him, he still has moments he pulls me closer to him and sometimes I even get sleepy forehead kisses.
We’ve never had an issue talking but for a while, my bf and I genuinely lacked any sort of communication necessary to comprehend the needs the other had to make a successful union. We have an easy connection and magnetic vibe that we often mistook for us not needing to put tangible work into our relationship. This has been our downfall too often and a lesson we constantly avoid revisiting because we’ve failed the other way too many times. We could spend hours together, doing nothing and laughing about everything but when it came to having a honest conversation that mattered, the silence and awkward ramblings were less than perfect.
I was terrified of rocking the ‘happy boat’ so I wouldn’t mention things in a desperate attempt to keep the peace. While he was stuck so far in his head that any sign of conflict he would shut down his mental like Fort Knox. We were together, just not healthily together. A pretty couple on the outside with a non-existent foundation, ill-equipped to bare any substance a strong relationship required.
Early on in our newly acquired distance, even though we’d fallen in love years prior, I still didn’t know how to communicate my deepest wounds which were emboldened by the fear that being apart would ruin us. I found myself obsessing over all the scenarios in which we couldn’t work. I discovered insecurities I didn’t know I had when our relationship wasn’t long distance. My boyfriend would call and I would thwart his excitement of hearing my voice with a dry hello or negatively charged response.
Why was he so happy when I physically felt pain from missing his hugs?
Was it another woman closer to him in proximity that had him so cheery he was practically harmonizing with the birds outside?
Why was he so calm when we hadn’t seen each other in 23 days 9 hours 38 mins and possibly 20secs?
He OBVIOUSLY didn’t love me the way I loved him because clearly I was making all the sacrifices and he was out – living his best life without me.
Being apart forced us to tap into the ugly parts of our genetic makeup, meaning we either had to work on our fallacies or allow the excuses that held us back before take over again and we call it quits for the 4thish time (number varies depending on who’s telling the story). I’d always been the ‘fixer’ when we shared zip codes but this ’air travel needed’ type of distance had me weaker than Iron Man after he put on the gauntlet and snapped his fingers.
A girl was struggling.
Somehow, my bf tapped into his reservoir of God-given man magic and was strong enough to find a voice louder than our fears to remind us our love was worth the journey and the distance was only temporary. I began to smell my own shit and realized that even though I was close to perfect (in my head) I had more issues than a little bit.
They say the first sign of growth is awareness. We found it at the same time!! Don’t get me wrong, we’re far from perfect. I still have moments when the physical absence feels heavier than I can carry and he’s still CLUELESS to my desires often, but I have learned just because he doesn’t express distress in the same flavorful manner I do, doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. He’s calmer than cool, which still drives me crazy but I have learned to speak my feelings at the moment and not let them fester and become unfulfilled desires or unmet expectations. I now listen to the actions his heart speaks that his mouth doesn’t quite know how to say.
As you go through your relationship – remember the distance is temporary and the extra work you put in now will only translate to relationship gold when you make it out the lonely phase and are in the same shared space permanently. I’m not naive to think I have the perfect formula nor do I think I’m immune to heartache. However, the openness to the reality of falling in love with all its bumps outweighs the fear of walking away from a love that offers this kind of feel.
What are some tips you have in your long-distance relationships to manage to distance fatigue? How do you manage different reactions to the distance? Which one of you is the drama, and who is all about being practical in distress?