Long Distance Relationships – Can They Really Work?


The Question: I met a wonderful man in April 2006. On our first date he told me that he would be moving across the country for graduate school in August and would not be interested in a long distance relationship.  I continued to date him anyway, and we had a great relationship for 5 months.  We saw each other every day and basically lived together.

When it was time for him to move, I told him that if he was willing to change his mind, I’d love to stay together and do the long distance relationship, but he was sure it would cause too many problems.  He wanted to keep a friendship and to stay on good terms so a future together might be possible.  Since he moved, we have spoken almost every day.  He flew me to New York for Thanksgiving, and Florida for Christmas so I could meet his family.

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It’s been bothering me that he won’t commit to be exclusive with me, so I told him to either stop calling me every day telling me he misses me and giving kisses over the phone, or show me he wants to be with me and be my boyfriend.  I felt like I was giving him the benefits of having a girlfriend, without him having the responsibility of having a girlfriend. He thinks I’m worried too much about the title.  I don’t know what to do because we’re a really great match.

Should I continue to talk to him and stop worrying about the title?

Or should I break up with him and move on to find someone who wants to call himself my boyfriend?

The Answer: I think your boyfriend is very wise and is showing great responsibility by not making promises that he’s not necessarily ready to keep. He told you up front what his expectations were for the relationship – something that a lot of men would not have been strong enough to do.

I agree with him, boyfriend is just a title.  The terms boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, and wife are often used to imply ownership. Titles are for cars, not people. We cannot own or control another person, especially their feelings and emotions – as hard as we may try…

It sounds like he really likes you and that you have a great relationship.

Why does the relationship have to be exclusive for you to enjoy each others company?  If your relationship is strong enough, why not just agree to be completely open and honest with each other. Agree to tell each other if you’re seeing someone else.

Seeing someone else doesn’t mean your relationship has to end. That’s just jealousy rearing its ugly head. Jealousy is an emotion of fear and control. We’re afraid of losing something that doesn’t even belong to us in the first place.

Since you’re so far apart

Why insist you each be lonely and miserable during the times that you can’t be together. Go out and enjoy life, rather than sitting around waiting by the phone. That way when you are together, you can really have fun and enjoy each other without the worry and dread of when it’s going to end and you have to be apart again.

If you’re afraid of losing him to someone else, then you are letting fear and jealousy get in the way of a perfectly good relationship.

Are you ready for a really controversial statement?

Complete honesty and trust in a relationship is more important than complete monogamy.”

Trust has nothing to do with what someone is doing or who they’re with.

My definition of trust is “knowing that the person you’re with feels comfortable enough with you to tell you absolutely anything without fear of retribution.”

Dan and I have an agreement that if we are ever interested in someone else, we’ll talk about it and if it seems like the right thing to do, then so be it. Isn’t it a little selfish to keep our partner from being happy, just to satisfy our own selfish desires?

“Unconditional, or true love means that you love someone regardless of what they say, do, or feel. Love is something we give, not something we take…”

This is probably not what you’re going to hear from other people, but I recommend not trying to hold on so tight and letting things develop naturally. Enjoy the time you do have together. Life flows much more easily when we stop trying to control other people and make them fit into out tight little boxes. And trust me; we all have our boxes of how we think reality ‘should’ be.

In summary…

  • Accept him for who he is, not who you want him to be.
  • If you’re going to have a long distance relationship with him, then enjoy it for what it is, see each other when you can, and stop worrying about commitments and what he’s doing when you’re not around.
  • When the time is right and you’re BOTH ready, you can make a more serious commitment.
  • Worry less about what everyone else says that you should do and follow your heart.

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