There’s been a lot written about long-distance relationships of the non-platonic nature. That writing includes this here study claiming that folks in long-distance relationships form stronger bonds in a shorter amount of time than couples dwelling in the same area code.
From everything I’ve read about Fievel-Style (you know, because you guys are both like, “Soooomewheeeere ooout theeere!” to each other as you FaceTime) relationships of the genital touching persuasion, this study stands in stark opposition to the common stance on LDRs.
I should be clear that when I say "common stance," I mean "stuff my friends say." I’ve seldom heard good things about long-distance relationships. Most of my friends seem to agree: If you aren’t near enough to touch someone’s wiener or front bottom on the regs, the longevity and stolidness of your relationship is bound to be in jeopardy.
I’ve never been in a real long-distance romantic relationship. This is because if I’m going to go out of my way to make myself romantically miserable, my preferred dose of awful is falling desperately in love with a man who will absolutely never return my affections.
That said, one of the most successful relationships of my adult life has been, by and large, a long distance one, so maybe there’s something to this study in question.
I met one of my best friends right after I turned 18 and started college. Her name is Alex, and she was my freshman year roommate. I was puttering about our dorm room, nervously awaiting her arrival in my Ani DiFranco concert-tee and my novelty pink sunglasses. I don’t know what I was expecting from the high-pitched voice I’d heard on the phone, but the nearly six-foot-tall, curvaceous Texan who opened the door, doffed her snakeskin cowboy hat and bellowed “HOWDY” was not it.
We circled each other warily, before spending our first night at college together, lounging on her bed and watching When Harry Met Sally. It’s now 12 years later and we are closer than ever.
Though we’ve known each other over a decade, most of the time has been on opposite sides of the country, her in Texas, me in New York. Still, we talk almost everyday, though seldom on the phone since I abhor that device. (WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE TALKING ON THE PHONE? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO TALK? YOU CAN’T SEE THE OTHER PERSON’S FACE, Y’ALL!) Granted, mostly these conversations involve her harassing me into watching all of "Shameless" or "Orphan Black," but we’re always in touch.
When we do see each other, we fall right back into our own rhythms. Living together definitely helped -- we’re both chicks who need our “FUCK OFF WORLD” time in order to be decent. But I think ultimately our friendship has not just survived but thrived for reasons contrary to what the study might suggest.
The study says that couples in successful LDRs are characterized by a tendency to idealize each other. I do not idealize Alex. In fact, she is a moody twat-face at times. (LOVE YOU, MEAN IT) If I idealized her, it would make the times we saw each other miserable. I’d be like, “Alex, why aren’t you educating me about Japanese feminism and making me chicken fried steak while grinning?” Then, she would hit me, and I would deserve it. Conversely, she would probably be like, “Oh my god, are you crying again? WHY DO YOU HAVE ALL THESE FEELINGS? Loser.”
Our friendship transcends time and space (whoa) because we don’t impose idealistic standards upon it. I’m highly sensitive and emotional, she turns all that shit inward. I can’t expect her to come to me in a time of grief and offer wise words and hugs, but I learned when my family dog died, that she will be more than willing to stuff me with Oatmeal Pies and prop me up in front of Indiana Jones. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you ever had a successful LDR of the romantic or non-romantic persuasion? What do you think are the secrets to making it work? Also I am trying to make Alex move into my apartment in New York with me here in December -- everyone tell her that she should. Seriously though.