The Divas & Men ask, Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Do long-distance relationships work out? It seems this is a subject that most of us have some experience with. Personally, my recommendation has pretty much always been to avoid long-distance relationships wherever possible. The mortality rate for such romances is, unfortunately, very high.
I went through three such relationships before I met my wife. The failure of the first was my own dumb fault; I was young and immature and my heart wasn’t in the right place. I did, however, learn much from that experience.
My second long-distance relationship was probably my hardest. I’d already been with her for over a year when she found she needed to move back to her home state to finish her schooling. Things worked out for several months, and then everything fell apart. In the space of a couple of days, involving several _very_ long phone calls and lots of worry, things fell apart and she called it quits. Because she was the first woman I’d really ever loved, it was also probably the worst pain I’d ever felt. We had been so sure we were going to get married, and all those dreams and plans went up in smoke in a matter of moments. It still amazes me how quickly it happened, and to this day, I’m still not entirely sure what happened. It took me several months to get over the anger and bitterness of that breakup. But again, the 18 months I’d had with her, and the ultimate collapse of the relationship, were very enlightening and enriching for me.
My third long-distance relationship was a bit more brief. She graduated from college a year ahead of me, and so we parted ways for the summer. It was not too long after that that I noticed something was wrong. A brief conversation during a short visit with her confirmed it – she wasn’t sure she could deal with my periodic bouts of depression. We actually parted on very good terms; I appreciated her openness and honesty, though it still hurt to lose another woman I loved.
At this point, I was beginning to develop a superstition about long-distance relationships. So far not a one had worked out.
Then I met my wife. It didn’t take long for us both to discover that we were a perfect fit for each other. We’d both been through the School of Hard Knocks in Love, both been through long-distance relationships, both knew exactly what we wanted in a spouse. She was the one who proved to me that it _is_ possible to survive time and distance apart – she spent the summer in China right after we got engaged. And when she got back there was a little of that shyness and awkwardness that comes from being apart for so long and from not really being able to talk as openly as we’d have liked. We brushed the figurative dust off things and began the serious work of strengthening our relationship and planning our wedding. This May we will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary, and she is _still_ the perfect fit for me!
So, does absence make the heart grow fonder? I tend to think it does. At least, it did for me. Do I recommend long-distance relationships? Not really, though admittedly they are sometimes unavoidable (and I have seen quite a few strong, healthy couples emerge from such struggles). My philosophy of dating is that it is the get-to-know-you time for a couple to determine if they are compatible for marriage. That’s hard to accomplish when you’re in separate cities. You can’t see the situations and contexts that bring out the various nuances and behaviors of your significant other. As a result it’s difficult to actually get to know the other one and is part of why I think most long-distance relationships ultimately fail. You need that time together to learn about each other, to see how the other acts and reacts in as many different situations as possible.
Long-distance is still possible; it just means you both will have to work harder. Not everyone can do it, but those who can also seem to have very resilient relationships – they’ve already overcome a huge obstacle together.
Check out the others in this little collaborative for more viewpoints on the subject – “Silk”:http://justbreathe.blogs.com/just_breathe/2006/02/so_near_and_yet.html, “Theresa”:http://www.thismomblogs.com/2006/02/09/absence-and-matters-of-the-heart/, “Phoenix”:http://villainsvanquished.blogspot.com/2006/02/distance-makes-heart-grow-fonderor-go.html, “Ally”:http://whomovedmytruth.com/, “Darren”:http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/, “James”:http://jamesyboy.blog-city.com/, and “WitNit”:http://witnit.blogspot.com/.