Tuesday, September 23, 2014 Elul 28, 5774

Life on the Long-Distance Land Line

May 24, 2007 By:
Adina Matusow, JE Feature
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Most people would not choose to be in a long-distance relationship - -- or LDR. Then life happens -- one of you is hired for a more prestigious job in London, or one of you realizes the school program most fitting is in a city three hours away. Maybe a parent gets ill, and you have to move back home to help take care of him or her.

Just because you choose to apply to a school or job in another city does not mean you love your significant other any less. It also does not mean that you love your career more. All it means is that you are trying to better yourself, and sometimes, bettering yourself involves hard obstacles such as starting an LDR.

Some might say that if you really love your significant other, you can find a way to make your life work by living in the same city. I believe this is not always true. I believe in head-over-heals love. However, if you really love your significant other, you should be supporting what's best for him.

This does not change the fact that a significant other in a committed relationship should be an important factor in your decision-making process. This is a tricky area because if you are not married or engaged, whose decision is it really? Is it the person who wants the new job, the one who wants the relationship to stay the same, or should it be a mutual decision? There's no right answer. The important part is to ensure that both of your needs are ultimately met.

Rachel has wanted to be a veterinarian since the moment she first saw a dog. She has worked in various animal hospitals and labs since she was a Bat Mitzvah. Since graduating from college, she's had trouble getting into vet school. A new vet school opened in California, and she applied, knowing that this could be her only opportunity. She is currently wait-listed and faced with the possibility of a cross-country LDR.

"The minute I found out I was wait-listed, I asked my boyfriend to come with me. He panicked and told me that I do not know what I'm asking of him, and that I was asking him to change his whole life. He told me he didn't know if could join me there."

The rest of their conversation ended with a lot of mixed emotions and no rational decision. Jacob called back a few hours after he processed the possibility of his girlfriend moving to California to follow her dreams.

He said, "I thought you were asking me because you were being selfish, but I realized you are asking me because you love me, and you are thinking about our future."

Although Rachel will not hear from the school for another couple of months, the couple is willing to compromise. He'll join her after a year, and she has promised that no matter what, they'll move back east after she graduates.

A Bit of an Adjustment
In an LDR, you lose the physical contact: the hugging, the kissing, the touching. There's no getting around the fact that it will be hard. Whether you are just approaching the possibility of an LDR or it represents the next step, if an end is in sight, then it can be manageable. Here are two couples who endured up to three years of separation, and are stronger in their relationship for it.

Hailey and Richard were not only a city apart after two years together, they now had opposite schedules. She worked 9 to 5; he worked into the night. The only time to talk was really late at night or very early in the morning; the only visits were on weekends. When they saw each other, they experienced tremendous pressure to have memorable quality time.

Hailey said, "We didn't want to sit around and do nothing. We weren't having fun because there was too much pressure. We were never relaxed. If we were just sitting around the apartment, we felt like we should be doing something special."

She had trouble adjusting to the time restraints in her already difficult LDR.

"I relied on him a lot more than I should have for my social life. There were times I wanted to talk to him as my night activity after I was done work, but I couldn't because he was still at work. I wanted to see him or talk all the time, and I couldn't, so I got annoyed and took it out on him. I was being selfish."

Hailey realized about a year into the LDR that she needed to make a change, or the relationship was not going to make it. She decided to get a second job in order to keep herself busy.

Hailey described much of their experience in an LDR as pure agony. Visiting each other on the train got expensive, and finding parking spots became a pure hassle. They felt like nomads because they were often in transit. They loved each other, but even with all the compromising and hard work, the relationship remained strained.

After three long years, they finally moved in together; today, they are happier than ever.

"There were times I thought we were not going to make it. We did break up, but we always came back together because we love each other. I couldn't imagine not being with him. He is my best friend in the whole entire world," she said.

Jamie and her boyfriend experienced a less rocky separation after being together over a year, but that didn't change the fact that they missed each other. To feel closer, the two talked on average four to five times per day, and visited every other weekend.

The time apart, they said, allowed them to strengthen their bond and to develop individually.

The most important question you must ask yourself before applying to a position in another city is if you do not take a challenge that comes your way because of a significant other, are you going to regret your decision? Or worse, are you going to resent your significant other?

Dating, Jewish and gay in Philadelphia? Share stories at: [email protected].

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