How to manage an LDR when there's no end to the distance in sight?
November 4, 2013 9:45 AM   Subscribe

I have just moved to a new city for my dream job and I can’t stop crying. Long distance relationship woes inside.

I am a mid-20s female in the early stages of my career. This economy hasn’t been kind to me, and when my first contract job couldn’t be renewed, I was able to find a short-term gig that was commutable (barely) in another city an hour away.

This whole time, I’ve been dating a fabulous man, D, who has supported me nonstop through the bumps and hurdles of job loss, money worries, and all of the emotions that go along with those two things. When our respective leases were up last spring, we moved in together, introduced our pets to each other, opened a savings account, and had a blast spending time together. Everything other than my precarious work situation felt right.

Then, out of the blue, my dream job came up in a city five hours away. Unlike the contract jobs, it’s a permanent position in a niche-y kind of place, and I’ll have benefits and a pension. Since so many of my anxieties were career-related, accepting the position was a no-brainer. So we split up our belongings, rented a van, and moved everything to new city. D will be staying in our old apartment indefinitely—he has a permanent job that he’s okay with, and our lease still has another six months to go. Also complicating things is D’s immigration status—he’s in the country on a work permit and can’t work outside his field until his paperwork is processed (another year at least).

Even through I know that we’re both committed to this relationship, and that we'll still be able to visit each other, I’m having a hard time coming to grips with the idea of being in a long-distance relationship without a definite end to the distance in sight. Going through the motions of splitting up our furniture and other possessions looked and felt like a break up. Now we’re spending money on two apartments and money will still be tight once all is said and done. And most of all, this apartment doesn’t feel like home without him.

How can I learn to love my new job without resenting the fact that it’s keeping us apart? How do other couples manage long distance relationships? Is this what therapy can help with? I'm trying to be strong, but it's been a rough year.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am in your shoes. After 9 years of marriage we are in two homes and two countries. My suggestion for the short term: throw yourself into hobbies that maybe you don't have time or space for when you are living with your partner. We decided to buy some decorating duplicates - the same rug at Ikea for each place, for instance.

In the longer term, have a firm deadline, dream job or not. We decided on two years to move in either direction (he comes here or I go back there). Within that two years we both look for comparable jobs, and when that deadline gets closer we start to compromise. It sounds like that is a bit more complicated for you, but it helps mentally.
posted by wingless_angel at 9:57 AM on November 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

"our lease still has another six months to go."

TINLA, but at anglo-american common law, a tenant breaching such a lease might not be liable for six months of rent. the landlord has a duty to mitigate his damages by making a reasonable effort to find an equally creditworthy new tenant, and the existing tenant can accelerate this process by finding and presenting a suitable candidate.
posted by bruce at 10:35 AM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're going to need to make an end point. Based on the info given, I would aim for the endpoint being dependant on immigration being sorted out then having him move out to you and finding a job out there.

One side effect of the economy is the lie of being able to "have it all". Eventually you'll need to choose whether to pursue a dream career or close proximity to your partner as your primary goal and for either of those to work, one of the people in the relationship is going to have to take it on the chin a little.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Why can't he look for a job in his field in your city for when the lease is up? Failing that, in a year, why can't he look for any job he's he wants in your city?

If these wheels are in motion, then you'd have something to look forward to.
posted by cmoj at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mr Telophase and I lived five hours apart for three years, until he finally got permission to telecommute and moved up to join me.

How we handled it: we lived our own lives during the times we were apart, exchanged frequent emails and texts and less frequent phone calls, and one of us traveled to visit the other every 4 to 6 weeks. It helped that we're both introverts, and that we didn't think "Oh, I can't do X alone!" We each took classes, followed hobbies, visited friends, and even traveled without each other. It gave us things to talk about, and to plan to do or revisit later with each other.
posted by telophase at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

It won't cost any more in rent, and maybe less in utilities, to pay the rest of the lease on the old place and have him move in with you. He can apply for jobs in your city.
posted by yohko at 4:51 PM on November 4, 2013

My partner and I have been doing the LDR thing for the past two years. One thing we've found helpful is just turning on skype and going about whatever it is we'd be doing anyway: cooking dinner, washing dishes, making coffee & getting ready in the morning, &c. It's really less about talking than just being in each other's presence; sometimes we're really focused on each other, but other times we're away from the screen or occupied with a task. It sounds silly, but we've found it really helps the "sense of home" aspect feel more real.

... especially when one of us sets off the smoke alarm while cooking dinner together over skype ;)
posted by Westringia F. at 6:42 PM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

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