The dizzying highs and soul-crushing lows of long-distance relationships

The distance from my home in Sydney to Perth is 3,300km… equating to about 5 hours in the air, or a 40 hour non-stop drive across the desert, or a walk that would surely kill me. New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are both closer and during summer there is a three hour time difference. Also it’s where my boyfriend lives.

Generally when people discover this, pity fills their eyes and they respond with a sympathetic “ohh”. Yes dating someone via long-distance does suck at times, and isn’t the most ideal way to start a relationship, but it definitely has its positives as well…

The highs: Cruising at 30,000 feet you are physically about the highest you’ll probably ever be and your emotions will feel equally as high as you anticipate folding into their arms at touchdown.

But what goes up must come down: After three perfect days together the sky clouds over on your return home. Bad turbulence and a rough descent will make your stomach flip as the pain of missing them too much already sends your heart into freefall.

You figure things out quickly: You won’t casually run into them at a friend’s BBQ and you can’t just “see what happens” when you live that far apart. The distance, travel time, costs, and planning necessary for even one date will make you figure out pretty quickly if they are worth it. You’re not going to pay $600 to fly to another city to spend the whole weekend with someone who is just “ok”.

The cost: Yes, paying for flights will send you broke and you will become one of those people with email alerts for airline sales… But on the flipside you will feel like a boss as you rack up frequent flyer points and wear that ‘Priority’ luggage tag with pride.

You count sleeps: Time is no longer measured in days of the week and months, but sleeps until their next visit. You count down the days with cutesy “Good morning” texts and as a distraction from work. However, continually focussing on the next visit may mean you miss out on your present life – so it’s important to remember to live in the moment.

You don’t have anyone to go to Ikea with: I can’t decide if this good or bad. On the downside there’s no one to lift all the heavy boxes into the car (and in my case also no car), but then again avoiding potential Ikea fights could be priceless.

Time zone differences: Depending how far away your lover is, keeping in touch could mean phone calls as you’re falling asleep, rushing home from work, or accidentally forgetting the time difference and making inappropriate drunken phone calls (woops!).

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Time to slow down: Forced down time as you travel means you can catch up on the novel you say you don’t have time to read, the films you missed at the cinema, and naps that you have been neglecting.

You get creative with your Skype calls: not that way sicko… arrange virtual dates with your partner, take them places and show them things. Although I must admit, seeing yourself in the little Skype window is pretty annoying.

Intense pash rash: If your partner has razor sharp stubble you may be inflicted with some serious pash rash during their FIFO visits, but on the plus side it will have time to heal in between trips.

Time to yourself: a new relationship can have a way of taking over your life. However, when the barrier of physical distance is enforced, you may find you have more time to follow your own interests and see your friends than you might in a relationship where you live closer.

The future is uncertain: unless you are happy with seeing them once a month or so, one of you will have to move. While this change could be a major adjustment involving compromises on both sides, the potential reward and scope for personal growth is large and (hopefully) worth it.

Time together is cherished: Weekends are planned in advance and involve proper dates and fun activities. No moment together is taken for granted and, while brief, the time you spend together is quality. This is both due to and as a result of how behind each visit there is a definite end-point looming. Time runs out when your Sunday night flight boards or their awaiting taxi beeps. Goodbyes are passionate, and you steal extra kisses if you can. Perhaps the extra effort needed to see each other makes your relationship stronger – I don’t know. But I do know that nothing makes you savour a cuddle more than knowing it will be your last for a while.

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Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? What was the best/worst part?

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10 thoughts on “The dizzying highs and soul-crushing lows of long-distance relationships

  1. The worst part of my long-distance relationship is that he’s in the military – so he doesn’t have a cell or readily available communication for most of the time we’re apart (which is sometimes six unbroken months out of the year).

  2. the worst part is when you fell terribly ill… 😦
    the best part is when you realized that, despite all the challenges: he/she is the one you want to spend the rest of your lives with.

  3. Pingback: My Big Move to the Big State –  it’s not all sunsets and sharks (but some of it is) | The Naked Envelope

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