How to do love long distance

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Lesbians have a higher-than-usual tendency toward long-distance relationships, whether due to the fact that not everywhere in the world has the luxury of a density of lesbians and some of us have to travel out of state. Lesbians also seem to have a genetic predisposition toward pining which really helps the whole long-distance thing thrive.

My ladybabe who I have been with/married to/cohabitating with the last six plus years has been working in global health for as long as we’ve been dating, and it’s very common in her field to have to go on jaunts out of the country for two to six weeks at a time, often multiple times a year.

Some of the things we’ll discuss in this article will be helpful for long distance honeys, but this is particularly geared toward folks that find them in a circumstance that requires a lot of time and distance from their partners on a sporadic basis.

Here are some things to try when your honey is far away from you:

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Long distance back in the days of phone cards was really different! There was one summer I worked at a Girl Scout camp, and I only ever talked to my college girlfriend on the phone by standing on a milk crate and punching in all the numbers to the phone card that I had memorized. These days, people are much more connected, so it’s a matter of both time and preference.

Since my honey and I are on the same phone plan and both have iPhones, we Facetime every couple of days, because I am lazy and like to look at her face. For the poets and wordsmiths among us, lengthy emails detailing your day may be a better fit. There are multiple messaging apps and video chat apps for you to choose from/ depending on how far away your honey is.

For the adventurous among us, phone sex and Skype sex are both options, though I think the former amounts to masturbating on either side of the line, and the latter sounds like a high-tech peep show, which is fun. If you two (or just one of you) are the exhibitionistic type, that can be a playful way to mix it up across time and space. Peek-a-sexy-boo!

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Talk about how frequently the two of you are going to be in touch. If her being out of town is the time when you get deep into the hobbies she hates (roller derby, ayahuasca, whatever) then you’ll be busy in ways that she might not want to hear about.

Conversely, if your impulse is to hover around your phone/the computer and wait for her to get ahold of you, take yourself out to see a movie or something you can later tell her about.

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Sometimes when we are going to be away from each other for things like Valentine’s Day we leave little presents and cards for each other to open on the day of. She hides mine because I am a sneak, but I give her hers to pack in her suitcase and save until the holiday. Some especially twee folks will keep a journal while their sweetheart is gone, and include things like pressed flowers, ticket stubs, and badly drawn illustrations.

Anxious attachers have a particularly hard time with distance. At some point, you may feel like you are going to die, and that is pretty normal, actually. The emotional distress of being away from your honey may cause some very real physical distress. If you have run the usual gamut of distractions/spending time with friends/ice cream/YouTube videos of pandas going down slides.

If none of these things work, not to be crass, but have you tried crying in the fetal position? It may help.

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Did your babe go out drinking with her co-workers instead of heading home early to Skype with you? Has it been a few days since the two of you connected in a meaningful way?

Jealousy happens in relationships, but can be really exacerbated by distance, or if your babe has a crush on her co-worker. If she has a crush on her coworker, have some concrete conversations about this before she leaves, because work trips are the place where lots of shenanigans take place.

Be clear on what is jealousy and what is reasonable suspicion. Being unavailable or tired or not having much to say are not signs that your honey is running around, but they can be harder to roll with when you already miss each other.

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Out loud, with words. Distance makes it hard to work things out in any significant way, but saying “I miss you” is an easy way to settle down friction that was arising due to hurt feelings/missed phone dates. Having feelings when you’re apart from one another is understandable, but those feelings of loneliness/frustration can sharpen into anger and resentment if they go unchecked and unarticulated.

Most time apart has an end date, and when your sweetheart needs to travel for work, it is something with a known end. When you are fretting about the distance, consider that Rilke quote, “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them, which makes it possible for each to see the other as whole against an infinite sky.”

Your sweetheart is somewhere, against an infinite sky, and will return to you to live side-by-side. In the meantime, love the distance.

Maria Turner-Carney is a therapist and writer who lives in Seattle. You can follow her work at seattlefeministtherapy.com/blog.

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