Long distance hurt
February 10, 2007 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Can it be fixed? Long distance heartache question

A friendship became intense during a two month period of time after I found out that I would soon be moving far away.

In that two months, I became closer and closer to a compatibale, fun hot and in evey way radical person. We left it open ended and didn't call our relationship by name, but there was a deep emotional connection. I was really happy.

Then, I moved away and she helped me through a bunch of insecurites and junk that goes along with moving to a new city with no friends. We talked almost every day but soon the long distance became a drag. Communication needed to be really good, and it was okay but never perfect. For a while we even got closer despite being far away from each other.

With busy schedules though, we grew apart and in a groping attempt to make things the way they used to be, I accused her of not trying enough, not calling enough, etc. I thought she might make more of an effort, but instead she feels slighted because she put a lot of effort into the "relationship" earlier on. And she sees my comments as an intentional attack to make her feel badly.

I feel horrible and she is my best friend. I don't want to be needy (I sometimes am), but at the same time I feel that we have no idea what is happening in each others lives anymore. This to me is a scary thing. Can long distance relationships work? Is there any way that this is fixable? How can we be more in touch with each other, from afar? Or should I drop it and move on?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
With busy schedules though, we grew apart and in a groping attempt to make things the way they used to be, I accused her of not trying enough, not calling enough, etc.

Understandable, but a bad move.

There are lots of ways to try and stay close. Ask her on a movie date. Then rent the same movie and watch it at the same time, then call each other and talk about it afterwards. Send her flowers. Or chocolate. Or both. Write a letter to her every day (doesn't have to be long) and send it in the mailbox. Send postcards on the days you don't have a lot of time. (Get the stamps & cards in advance and put them out, and it's easier to write.) Call her sometimes. Send her text messages to let her know you're thinking about her.

In essence, take it on yourself to try and keep a connection - don't make the mistake of blaming her for it. Even if you think she has dropped the communication a bit - blaming another person hardly ever helps. It's much better to attack the problem from your end and see if you can get a positive feedback loop.

A word of caution: Ultimately, if you want a relationship - at some time in the future you'll have to bridge the distance gap. In my experience, they can't be sustained indefinitely. (Nor should they be - you lose a grip on who a person really is if you're not near them).
posted by eleyna at 6:16 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think long distance relationships can work if it isn't an indefinite amount of time apart.

I recently made it through a little over a year apart, her in Chicago, me in Florida.

Emails, text messages, IMs and phone calls go a long way.

Cheap flights on Southwest and other airlines also make it very easy to see each other at least once a month.
posted by jbiz at 6:17 PM on February 10, 2007

This looks like a drop-it-and-move-on. Not a very helpful answer, but two months doesn't make a relationship very deep, and it's going to take a lot of efforts and patience for you two to make it work. This is going to be a problem for you and blaming her for not calling often enough is definitely not a good move on your part. How far away are you from each other? Do either of you intend to bridge the distance eventually?
posted by jchgf at 6:24 PM on February 10, 2007

from experience. it can work, only if you both accept and discuss the possibility that it wont work. that is, give each other the option early to withdraw if things change.
posted by edtut at 6:34 PM on February 10, 2007

Relationships are built out of shared experiences (that's how it got so intense, right?). You're no longer having the same shared experiences that built your relationship. This is not anyone's fault. Perhaps you can find new ways to have shared experiences over a long distance -- but this also means a different relationship.

It is also useful to think of the relationship as a third entity that the two of you build together. It requires conscious thoughtful work from both to build and maintain it. This approach also helps one to distinguish between what the relationship requires of me and what s/he requires of me.
posted by winston at 7:03 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

My husband & I started as long distance, and one thing that helped me a great deal was having routine. My husband does not talk on the phone, so we managed the first six months apart purely on emails - but the routine and promise of having that waiting for me every day went a long way. That, and I absolutely echo what everyone else has said - there needs to be a light at the end of the tunnel - you both need to know that long distance isn't forever.

As for not knowing what's going on in each other's lives on a daily basis, what about a blog? Even if you two just did private livejournals that only the two of you could read, you could share daily happenings and bridge that gap. Also, I strongly recommend random texts that say things like "I saw this and it made me think of you." Let her know that even though you're not together, that she pops into your head a million times a day. See something that makes you think of her? Can you afford it? Buy it and care package it. Visits are important as well. Being able to say that this goodbye is only temporary, that there's a countdown until you see each other makes the time apart manageable.

Two months can be a long time if you've found the right person. I know from experience.
posted by librarianamy at 7:14 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

From what you've said here, it doesn't sound like you really have a relationship -- at least not of the boyfriend/girlfriend variety. She is your best friend. It was maybe turning into something else before you moved, but now you have defaulted back to friends.

You're lonely in a new city. You don't really know anyone yet. So instead of clinging to this thing with this girl who is far away, and who, much as she likes you, still has her in-person life to live, why not -- go out and be part of the city you're in? Find a hangout. Meet people. Once you do, you'll have a lot more perspective.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:34 PM on February 10, 2007

Can long distance relationships work?
First off, distance does not make the heart grow fonder, it F's things up. You need to understand that. So if you are going to make it work, you are going to have to figure out how to deal with the distance, because it makes it harder. Some people do can do it, some can't. long distance can also be hard when if you and her are both growing a lot right now as people. There have been many long distance relationships that work great at a distance, but once the people finally get back together they realize they aren't quite what they are looking for any more.

Is there any way that this is fixable?
Sure, apologize. Realize that you are going to have to live with not knowing whats going on all the time. You can not let yourself get too jealous of her life with out you. Thats spells death for any relationship, long distance especially. Best bet would be to find some time to she her, to rekindle the relationship. Then try not to accuse her of anything after the rekindling...

It just dawned on me that you might want to give yourself a name like boyfriend and girlfriend. (you said you didn't call the relationship anything) Cause for all I know she isn't putting as much in because she isn't really sure what you want from the relationship.
posted by magikker at 7:45 PM on February 10, 2007

It sounds to me from your post like you're really craving some intimacy and contact. Your best friend isn't giving you that to the level you'd like. Long-distance relationships tend to work better when both parties feel comfortable with periods of lessened communication. It doesn't sound to me like you'll ever be fully happy with this situation. The longer you stay emotionally exclusive with this person, the longer you deny yourself the opportunity to find someone physically close to you who is prepared to give you the attention you need.
Also keep in mind that distance allows you to romanticize. You've got a lot of blanks to fill in now that she's not around, and you can fill them in however you choose; chances are, you'll fill them in with sunshine and rainbows. The relationship may seem better than it is simply because you'd like to view it that way. I'd encourage you to find someone in closer proximity and start fresh. Long distance can work, but it requires a lot of effort from all involved. If you need some affection, you'll have an easier time getting it from someone in the same zip code.
A couple words of warning: it may be difficult to bring up the "break-up" since you never firmly established that you're in a relationship. Not sure how you'll want to raise that subject, but I'd say do it carefully to make sure you don't damage the friendship. Then again, given the unresponsiveness you describe, it's entirely possible that your girlfriend won't have as big a problem ending the relationship, or might not perceive it the same way you do.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 8:50 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you're communicating every day and making an effort to be emotionally close despite whatever physical distance is between you, then yes, long distance relationships can work. There will be periods where one of you will accuse the other of not trying enough, followed by "I'm sorry!" flowers (send. flowers.), etc. These things happen. Every relationship has its rough spots, even those that occur in the same house.

My husband and I started dating six weeks before he moved back to Iceland from Massachusetts. We were long distance for a year with him in Iceland and me in New England with two visits. We talked on the phone every single day and emailed constantly. No matter the expense (and believe me, it was great - at one point I was spending $150 a week in phone cards), we made it a priority to be a part of each other's lives even though we were five time zones apart.

It helped us that there was a definite end to the distance - after I graduated college, I moved to Iceland with him and we got married. (It was definitely intimidating to go from living on different continents to being married, but such is life and so far it's worked out just fine - we've been married a little over two years.) Had we not known when the distance would be behind us, I don't think we could have done it. Also, the periods of being apart were broken up by two longish visits (one two weeks, one six weeks), without which it wouldn't have been conceivable to even try a relationship.

Neither one of us had ever wanted a long distance relationship, even when we started dating we said we'd just remain friends when he moved, but the connection between us was too strong to just let it go. (And well, I'm just too damned stubborn.) If you have the connection with this girl, don't let her go. Keep at it. It will be messy sometimes, but if the connection is there, you owe it to yourself not to let her get away just because it's difficult. If it doesn't work out, you'll always know you gave it your best shot.

If you need any more advice or just want to commiserate, my email's in my profile. Best of luck!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:04 PM on February 10, 2007

...yeah, distance stresses communication big-time. I'm currently in a similar situation, aside from the fact that we were dating for those 2 months before my boyfriend moved, instead of just "intense friends".

Is it possible? I believe that, while distance in relationships stresses both parties, that it is possible for it to work...if you're BOTH willing to work really hard on the communication. It's something that it seems that you and she should probably sit down and talk about (in person if possible) and really hammer out: are you a couple? do you want to make this into an exclusive relationship? are you willing to put that effort into the relationship to make it work?

As for things that make it easier to deal with the distance...We try to see each other face-to-face as much as possible (every few weekends) and we talk on the phone (and on AIM) whenever we get the chance. Since he moved, he's developed a new circle of friends from the one that we both moved in previously, and our lives have moved in separate directions...for a little while we got into fights over that, and over the fact that I was needy in that sense, always wanting to know what he was doing, and wanting to be part of it. Since accepting that we can still be together, and still be in love, without sharing every nuance and detail of each-other's lives, that fighting has started to fade away. And trust me, I know that it's hard to take that step and let go of that need...but it's helped so much, even with my own piece of mind.

All in all, I really think you should sit down and talk to her face to face about all of this, including just what your relationship is, before you worry about anything else.
posted by azriel2257 at 10:48 PM on February 10, 2007

Oh, long distance relationships are so hard. I've been through a few. In some ways, you have to completely let the other person go, you have to set them free and trust in your connection (if you get insecure & clingy, it'll wreck things)... in other ways you have to keep that person with you even when they are nowhere nearby (because otherwise you may lose your connection to eachother).

The last man I had feelings for lives 7,500 miles away... talk about geographically undesirable. I've learned that the best thing is to try to accept the situation for what it is, and figure out what you both want it to be. Be honest. COMMUNICATE. That way you can keep your expectations reasonable. And if you find that it's not working, don't push it. You have to be able to let it go and not force things. Be understanding of the struggle it is for both of you... and even when it's difficult, try to open up to eachother about it. Help eachother through it as best you can. If the relationship is worth it, fight to make it work.

For me, the hardest part was not picking fights when I got frustrated about a long term relationship. I would think "Ok, screw this. It's too hard. I can't take it. He doesn't care. He's probably seeing someone else. I deserve better than this. I'll just make him hate me. That'll be easier." Handling things like adults who care about eachother is much, much better and a lot less emotional drama. Try not to lash out when you get frustrated, and if she does, try to understand where she's coming from.

Oh, and I totally agree about the routine suggestion. That's REALLY really helpful. My ex used to call me every night to wish me a good night's sleep, no matter where he was. It made me feel like he was by my side even when he wasn't.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:08 PM on February 10, 2007

Move back or move on. She's not going to move for you. I had my husband move to me when we were dating, and that's the only way it could have worked. We are humans... we need each other.
posted by JJ Jenkins at 8:34 AM on February 11, 2007

Are you missing the best friend or the open ended relationship?

I am thousands of miles from my best friend right now and it hurts like hell. send her urls that you find funny or interesting. try to save up topics to discuss with her. email, cam, chat, phones are all good but none of them will take the place of what you're missing.

i am the one that moved far away and while the suggestions of 'go out and meet people' is a good one, i know that i have little interest in new friends right now. hopefully that'll change because i'm really fucking lonely. hopefully it'll change for you too.
posted by nadawi at 10:45 AM on February 11, 2007

« Older Please forget you knew my name   |   What do women wear under board shorts? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.