How much distance is too much distance?
September 28, 2010 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Is it a bad sign that I don't miss my LDR boyfriend? snowflaky details ensue.

We met this summer and had a totally wonderful whirlwind romance. Three months of total bliss -- when I met him I had just found out some terrible news about a friend's health and he let me cry on his shoulder and was thoroughly wonderful, we ended up living together for ten days after knowing each other a month and even that was great. We communicate very well. When he was in town we were totally in love -- I could see myself having this dude's children and making a life together. We've talked about meeting each others' parents, taking vacations together. Serious stuff, especially for me!

He's gone back to Vancouver for work and has been there for about a month, to be moving to my city mid-October. Not just to be with me, but I think mostly. We talked on the phone every few days when he first left and it felt so good. I missed him tonnes. He writes to me all the time. But....this week, I just don't find myself missing him anymore. I was sick with bronchitis for two weeks and couldn't talk on the phone and didn't want to write emails much. And now that i'm moderately healthy again....I just don't feel like talking to him. He's sent such sweet texts and emails...wishing me health, showering me with such compliments and flattery that it makes me kind of annoyed and uncomfortable (I just don't tend to go in for that sort of thing). And I just feel kind of 'whatever' about it.

When we're together it was total bliss, but now I find myself focusing on the more annoying things about him. Nobody is perfect, and I don't expect to find anyone who doesn't have qualities that irk me, but seeing as though he's about to make a huge life change in order to be with me I can't help feeling guilty and a bit freaked out about the immensity of the commitment we're about to make. I'm having serious second thoughts.

What are those annoying/incompatible qualities, you ask? Well, he's a total romantic. Loves grand gestures and sweet favours and cute things and fawning over me, and I do not consider myself a romantic at all. Those things make me blanch sometimes; they make me uncomfortable and annoyed. I've always been that way -- I can be cutesy with someone for a few weeks and then it just seems like a waste of time and energy to me. I'm not the most emotional person, and he's a total softie. Also, he's a total creative type. Filmmaker by trade, musician by hobby, and it's not like I'm not supportive, I just find myself a little bored and uncomfortable with self-expression that is so personal and intimate.

But of course, he has tons of qualities I really like. Handsome, smart, entertaining to talk to, clever...we get along really well. I've never been good at long distance relationships before (even short-term) as I tend to just get used to my current situation without the person there, but when together things tend to pick up where they left off (or at least have in the past). I'm not interested in anyone else, I'm just worrying that this kind of commitment is becoming more of a bad idea if I don't find myself missing him. He's way more into me than I am into him, or at least he is in a different way. He's passionate and over-the-top, I'm pragmatic and would prefer to be *comfortable* with someone rather than passionately in love with them. I'm concerned that in the future we'll find we're incompatible.

Should I tell him this? He'd be CRUSHED if I told him this when I wasn't totally sure, and I haven't brought it up because I don't want to hurt him needlessly. This could be a really good thing for me. Should I be concerned? If so, how much? Am I just totally over-thinking this?
posted by custard heart to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Look, my husband is a total mushball...and I am NOT. We are still incredibly compatible.

Is there any way you can visit him there before he moves to your location, to see how you feel once you are in his presence? Some folks just don't like to do the long distance phone mushball stuff.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:17 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think, for me at least, that the whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing only works up to a point. A couple days or a couple weeks, and yeah, you (the universal you) miss him a lot. A month, or a couple months, and you've settled back into your own life and the guy sort of becomes an afterthought. You're doing just fine on your own without him, so you feel a awkward and pressured by sending you texts and emails and stuff, since you don't feel like you're 100% in a relationship.

I think this feeling might be especially pronounced because you haven't been together-together for very long. You were only physically close for a couple months, which isn't really enough time, in my opinion, to form a serious bond between the two of you.

If you're not that into him, then by all means tell him and move on from the relationship. But if you think you guys could be good together, wait until he gets back home and see where things go from there. You may just not know him well enough to really miss him yet. Give it time.
posted by phunniemee at 11:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would wait until he comes back to decide.
posted by elpea at 11:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

You're totally overthinking this. Some people, myself included, are just not good at sustaining long distance relationships. I completely understand the not-missing-him feeling you're currently having. It's healthy, in a way- spending all your time missing him wouldn't exactly be fun, would it? You've adjusted, but don't mistake what you're feeling for an ending of your feelings for him.

Now, if you still feel this way when you're together IRL, then you reconsider. Maybe he really isn't for you. But consider that maybe he's right for you, but the weirdness of long distance isn't your thing at all. If you're going to be together again soon, wait it out and don't tell him any of this until you have a chance to gauge your feelings when you're in a normal relationship with him.

And oops, I didn't see that you already know you're like this in long distance situations. In that case, don't let yourself turn something about how you are in relationships generally into something about your relationship with him specifically.
posted by MadamM at 11:21 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

He's sent such sweet texts and emails...wishing me health, showering me with such compliments and flattery that it makes me kind of annoyed and uncomfortable (I just don't tend to go in for that sort of thing). ...

What are those annoying/incompatible qualities, you ask? Well, he's a total romantic. Loves grand gestures and sweet favours and cute things and fawning over me, and I do not consider myself a romantic at all. Those things make me blanch sometimes; they make me uncomfortable and annoyed. I've always been that way -- I can be cutesy with someone for a few weeks and then it just seems like a waste of time and energy to me. I'm not the most emotional person, and he's a total softie.

Instead of breaking up over this, could you tell him about your preferences?

You just met over the summer. It's September. The fact that he's acting over-the-top passionately crazy about you could have to do with the early stages of the relationship. Things could settle down more in the future.

Also, it could be that the LDR is causing him to do more of the kinds of things you don't like. He might feel the need to do really overtly "sweet" and "fawning" things in order to get through to you long distance and make it unambiguously clear that he's still crazy about you.

But again, it seems like the main thing to do now is talk to him.
posted by John Cohen at 11:25 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Eh, I used to feel this way about my boyfriend when we were apart for long periods of time. Phone conversations were agony. We've been married a few years now, and the (in-person) relationship has pretty much been an uninterrupted stream of win as far as I'm concerned.

I think the effects of absence on one's romantic feelings may largely be a question of temperament, so I wouldn't necessarily read the cooling of your passion for your boyfriend as a death-knell for the relationship. It's his choice to move to your city; let him come, and see how things go when he arrives. The whole point of pre-marriage dating is to figure out whether you're compatible; it'd be ridiculous to end the relationship just because you don't 100% know at this point.
posted by Bardolph at 11:26 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth I don't really miss my huband when he's gone. I am delighted to see him when he comes home but I lived alone for a long time, I like my own company, and I am content with my life and really busy with my activities. I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean we're a bad match - it's been seven years and we're one of those annoyingly happy couples.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:31 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]

Seems like you need to see how you feel when back together. If you can, spend a few days with him in Vancouver before he gets back. If the spark is gone, you'll know it at that point. And, you can do him the favor of telling him before he moves, so that he can change his mind about it if he wants.

Good luck figuring it out.
posted by Citrus at 11:47 AM on September 28, 2010

Honestly you all just don't know each other that well. Even if you did spend most of the summer together, its a short, whirl-wind relationship. You need to talk to him about this, and own up to the fact that you both have a lot of "getting to know you" done, and he's really taking a big risk to be moving to your city.

You really need to have this conversation, soon.
posted by RajahKing at 12:03 PM on September 28, 2010

Oh. You've just had bronchitis? Well there ya go!!

I don't know what it is about being really sick, but it so damn consciousness shifting. It makes you feel like an alien in your own body. And when you feel better, you're never really back to your "old self" because you're just a little tiny bit different for all the alone-time and crappy thoughts you were having while you were sick.

In other words, you are TOTALLY over-thinking this:))

He sounds like a great guy. I bet he's all nervous and excited making this big change in life. And he's not just moving for you, right? So no real pressure there on you. It'll be fine.

I think you should treat this blessing as a blessing. It's weird and new being around someone who genuinely likes you. Try not to see that as a burden.

I bet dude doesn't need you to match him feeling for feeling -- and that will never happen anyway for very long because people vary in their energy levels and emotions -- so you can give yourself permission to stop worrying about it!

Lastly. You are recovering from effing bronchitis. Your energy is going into feeling better and getting well-rested (because I know coughing all freakin' night long kept you from having good sleeps!!) By definition, you just don't have a lot of energy left over right now for feeling Lovey Dovey. If dude is half as smart and thoughtful as you seem in your question... he knows where you are at right now. It's Ok. You're good.

Congratulations. What a great thing that is happening for both of you.

posted by jbenben at 12:10 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Ignoring everything else, having someone move to be with you after you've only been together for a few months is a BAD IDEA. It will usually either make one person feel guilty, or the other person to resent the choice, or whatever. Not a good idea, at all. I've been there, done that. I'd give the relationship at least a year before either of you commits to moving / living with the other. If it's meant to be, it'll work out in the end. If it's not, then at least neither of you has gone through the trouble of uprooting yourself.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 12:14 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're overthinking. This is one of the reasons lots of LDRs don't work - you don't have all the awesome fun together time, you just have phone calls and texts and it's really tough to sustain a real relationship over the phone. Ride it out until he moves to your city (and maybe start poking fun about how mushy he is - that's what I do with my overly romantic bf to get him to tone it down a notch!) and then see where it goes.
posted by coupdefoudre at 12:22 PM on September 28, 2010

You're fine. A lot of the time, I felt the same way when I did the LDR thing with my boyfriend (for five semesters; we've been dating for a total of five years and getting married next July).

I also felt exactly the opposite when dating an ex who started working out of town several days a week after we had dated for about a year. I'd get upset when he was gone, and would miss him terribly and daydream about our perfect lives, but tended to be annoyed and generally irritated by a number of his traits whenever we were together (we lived together at that time). Guess which situation is preferable?

Also, you've just been dating for a few months. He won't be "CRUSHED" either way.
posted by halogen at 12:41 PM on September 28, 2010

I agree with the other commenters that this isn't a problem, but please have a conversation about whether he's mentally prepared for the possibility of moving only to have you two break up. For the same reason, I hope he's moving into his own place, not moving in with you. In my experience, going from long-distance to 5-minutes-away is plenty exciting / good for your relationship.
posted by synchronia at 12:48 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Jbenben -- thank you so much. that's totally what's going on I think. It's just so helpful to hear from someone else.
posted by custard heart at 1:34 PM on September 28, 2010

Some people, hell I'd say most people, don't like long distance relationships. They can be great if you like a lot of alone time and they do tend to keep a relationship new and exciting. If you're not looking for more commitment or conversely if you both have plans to ultimately be together and see this as a temporary arrangement they can work out really well. However they're not for everyone, so don't feel bad or guilty if you decide it's not for you.

I was in a long distance relationship for almost 5 years, but were together before that for 2.5 living in the same city, but separate apartments. I just wanted to chime in that although my then boyfriend was a great guy and I really loved him, I didn't miss all that much when we were apart (and we were very far apart - DC - London and then DC - SF. I got excited about seeing him when we had a visit coming up and for a couple of weeks after our visits I missed him terribly, but then I returned to my "normal" life and while I didn't forget about him, I wasn't overtly missing him. I'd lived alone for years and like living alone so there's that. I did sometimes miss him when I went out to a movie alone and saw all the other couples, but otherwise I was focused on my life.

I'll say one more positive thing. Not to be too "new-agey" but that relationship really did help me to live "in the moment." When we were together, we were together and I learned to just enjoy and value that time for what it was and not worry about us not being together when we weren't. Note that while I had some hopes that we'd eventually end up together, I'm older so having kids wasn't an issue and I was overly focused on getting married either. If I were younger and wanted either of those things (or both) then it wouldn't have worked out.

Our relationship was mostly pretty even. Like I said, ex-boyfriend was a good guy (we're still close friends and we broke up 2 years ago), but he was not overly romantic and neither was I, so I can't speak to your issues of incompatibility, perceived or otherwise. I will say that I do think that most relationships are not 50-50 all of the time. Usually there are periods when one person is more committed than the other, but I've found that it shifts. I, personally, have never been in a relationship where one person was way into the other during the entire run.

tl;dr: Not missing him when you are apart is not an automatic red flag.
posted by kaybdc at 7:28 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not missing him when he's not around is just normal hedonic adaptation. It's healthy -- it means that you enjoy him, but you're not dependent on him for happiness. I've been in a long-distance relationship for years, and one of the differences between me and my partner is that I don't actively miss them like they actively miss me. It's okay! Neither of us is right; we're just different. We still feel fantastic and close when we're together.

On the other hand, you might want to check in with your boyfriend about what happens if he gets to your city and you do break up. Among other things, understanding his Plan B can take some of the pressure off your embryonic relationship, and let it grow more comfortably and naturally.
posted by endless_forms at 8:17 AM on September 29, 2010

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