How to resolve rational/emotional conflict over temporary LDR?
September 12, 2012 6:50 PM Subscribe
My serious partner and I are not going to see each other for about two months, and its causing intense depression for me. Is this period of long distance in my serious relationship an opportunity to work on improving myself and fixing the mental health issues it triggers? Or is the difficulty I'm having a sign that I'm not cut out for this kind of relationship? Help me think this through and make the right decisions!
posted by supernaturelle to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Here are the details:
My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years. I am in my mid-twenties, he is in his early thirties. We are both musicians and both have moved about once a year for most of our adult life. Our lifestyle is alternative enough that marriage and having a family are not active concerns for us at all.
We've lived together for about a year and a half of our relationship. During this time, we've had our struggles and most of them were because of cohabitation: we both do creative work for most of the day, everyday and neither of us work regular jobs, so living together meant that we were literally in each other's presence all day, everyday. We get along extremely well, but this close proximity started eating away at our individual pursuits, especially in the form of our large-scale creative projects. We both started feeling very restless and depressed, confused about how we could be so in love and be so compatible but still feel a constant undercurrent of resentment that would manifest in bad moods and occasional fights. Luckily, we've figured all of this out and are consciously making sure that we both get the space we need to do the things we need to do.
Boyfriend has about 3 full-length records waiting to be produced that he's kept on the back burner since we started dating that he is now turning his attention towards. He has found an absolutely perfect living situation that is cheap, flexible and also involves access to recording/production resources that he otherwise would not have. I have taken a job for the fall semester that I have always wanted and am enjoying it immensely. It pays well, but it is only part-time so I have a lot of free time still. I also have a recording project that I've been putting off for about a year that I'd like to complete. Our individual living situations for the next 3 months place us about 12 hours of driving apart. After the semester is over, we have plans to live in the same city again and maybe live together if all of his work is complete. We'll visit each other in late October.
When I am feeling relaxed and secure, I feel good about what we are doing. I am happy that our relationship is built of respect for each other's needs and I am proud of what we are doing individually. There is some quote by Rainer Maria Rilke that suggests the ultimate goal of marriage is to become the protector of each other's solitude (sorry for butchering that quote, can't find my book at the moment). I find this sentiment to be so beautiful and inspiring that it makes me shed a tear! In other words, I like this situation. Rationally.
Here's the problem:
No amount of rational Rilke-reading can keep me from becoming a sobbing mess about 2 or 3 times a week. I am not good at being alone. I'm having deep, deep trouble with this separation and I can't think my way out of it. When I feel upset, it doesn't even come from anywhere in particular - it starts as a physical feeling in my chest and I spend the next half an hour trying *everything* to keep it away, but eventually I break down in tears for anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple hours of on and off crying. Even when I'm not acutely upset, I'm having a lot of trouble focusing. I had to drop an online class I was taking and have barely touched my music gear. I go on trips to visit friends every weekend to try to keep myself busy.
What is confusing and distressing to me is that when I am depressed and upset, I feel like I can't handle this situation for another minute. I often feel like I should bail on the relationship because I am not strong enough to endure the separation and it is distracting me from my own goals. I KNOW these are extreme negative thoughts, but the pain I'm feeling is real and the thoughts do sort of make sense on a rational level: if I'm suffering so much, I should change something I can control to make me suffer less. I don't feel particularly nervous that my boyfriend is going to leave me, I don't worry AT ALL that he going to cheat on me. There isn't anything in our relationship that I can blame this on. He texts me throughout the day and we talk on the phone every couple of days, which is fine with me.
I realize I'm anxious and depressed. I wasn't like this before my boyfriend left (he's been gone two weeks), but I have been like this on other occasions when he's gone on trips for more than 4-5 days, so its not a huge surprise. I have contacted a therapist, but it looks like I won't be able to talk to anyone for a couple of weeks. I feel like all of my energy is going towards keeping myself on an even keel. I'm dissatisfied with what I'm accomplishing right now. I feel so confused.
---Am I going to feel better, or am I a person who just can't be alone for extended periods of time? If its the latter, do I do my best to take life day by day until we get back together, or do I bail on this relationship so that I don't waste three months of my life getting nothing done?
---If things are going to get better, how do I deal with these urges to give up that I'm having now? I already rationally support this situation, but the feelings I have are so intense that I can't think my way out of them. Should I contact my G.P. and try to get a script for Xanax or something?
I want to be OK with these next three months so bad, and my rational-brain is. My rational-brain is thrilled, actually. But I'm worried about myself. I don't know how to evaluate this situation! Give me your experiences and advice.