There’s no doubt that it poses some unique challenges
By Adam Segal
About two years ago I met a man while I was on a business trip in Mexico, and there was an immediate spark. I felt as excited about him as I did about the first guy I had ever fell in love with, and we’ve been in a long-distance relationship ever since. We make an effort to see each other about six times a year, but the rest of our relationship is through phone calls, texting and Skype. So much of our relationship feels right, and we both talk about wanting to ultimately live together so long as we can sort out the immigration process—which would be quite the undertaking. My biggest fear is that we will go through that whole process and be together, but then I will discover that our relationship only works with distance. Our times together are so brief and exciting because of the long stretches of time where we don’t get to see each other. I have no idea what it would be like to wake up with him every day to grocery shop, do laundry and all that boring stuff. I love him and get excited at the thought of him being here, but wonder if I’m living in a fantasy. How can I know for sure that this will work? —Paul
First, congrats on not only enduring but also enjoying a long-distance relationship for two years! There’s no doubt that LDRs pose some especially unique challenges: clumsy phone sex attempts, sad airport goodbyes, finding things to talk about over Skype when you’d rather sit together and zone out to Netflix, etc. On top of that, it’s definitely scary to take an LDR and convert it into a live-in situation (never mind a stressful immigration process!). Sure, it would be great if you could find a way to spend a protracted amount of time together so you can see how it feels after the reunion thrill has simmered down—but it would still be hard to fully replicate what living together full-time feels like.
Despite all the geographical challenges you’re facing as a couple, it might help to think of your relationship as similar to any other. Even if you were dating someone close by, there would still be a moment where you would go from dating to taking that leap of faith towards something more committed. There’s always an element of unpredictability with relationships, and no amount of thinking can circumvent that. A decision like this shouldn’t be made through endless obsessing or pie charts that weigh the pros and cons, but from a quieter place inside you—the same place that decides whether to accept a job offer or even which holiday to plan. There’s nothing I could say that would be better than your gut instinct—and beyond that instinct, you don’t have much control over how things unfold.
Even though you haven’t lived together and haven’t racked up much day-to-day domestic time, the fact that two years later you still love each other’s company says a lot about your connection. You might be feeling a little fear, but I wouldn’t assume that indicates true danger—fear and excitement can be remarkably similar.
ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions @firstname.lastname@example.org.