“Is my long-distance relationship really going to last?”

Dear Sarah, I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for four years and three of them have been long-distance. I live in Arizona and he lives in Texas. We’re both in our early twenties. We met through online gaming and quickly became friends and then a couple. I consider him to be my best friend and two years ago, I flew myself and my mom to meet him for the first time. Shortly after that trip, he moved to Arizona to go to college and be with me. Unfortunately, he lost his job and had to move back to Texas to continue school—he didn’t want me to support him financially while I was barely starting to support myself. It was tough, but I figured we’d be okay because we’re basically pros at this whole LDR thing. Now that it’s been a year and we’ve only been able to visit once, it’s becoming really hard for me to cope. He’s busy working and going to school full-time and we barely get to speak. I’m proud of him, don’t get me wrong, he’s become more mature and self-sufficient. Still, over the past few weeks, I’ve been cracking and feeling needy and irritated if he’d rather get extra sleep than Skype. I don’t want to be mad at him, and I shouldn’t be, there really aren’t any issues, just the distance thing. I know what it’s like to touch his skin and feel his arms around me—that makes it so much harder. Another thing—when he lived here, we never went “all the way.” We were living with my parents, and since we were both virgins, I didn’t want the first time to be there—out of respect and because I thought we’d have our own place soon. I’ve tried pinpointing the source of my unhappiness, and it has nothing to do with work (I love my job), nor my social life (I have supportive friends and am in a band that’s starting to take off), and not even my finances (I’ve managed to save some money). I think it’s the thought of not having the one person I want here with me to share all of the great things that are going on. That and the fact that my body is reminding me how much I miss him. Basically, it sucks. I have a beautiful relationship with a beautiful person who has never wronged me, yet we’ve spent more time apart than we have together. We won’t be able to start our lives together for at least three more years, and I’m so tired of waiting. But I have no reason to break up. I have a drama-free, love-full relationship that other people have told me is rare. What would you do? What should I do? I feel like our lives are passing and by the time we can be together, we’ll be in totally different places than we are now. What if it’s all a waste? Is there a way to make the waiting easier? And what if we have sex the the next time we see each other, will it make it even harder? Flights aren’t cheap! Ugh, help. —Heart vs. Head in Arizona Dear Heart, Successful lasting relationships have two important sides: deeply felt love and day-to-day compatibility. My younger, more romantic side would have scoffed at emphasizing the latter, but after twenty years of being with the same guy, I gotta say it’s our working partnership that keeps things rolling smoothly. You and your boyfriend have spent so much of your time living in a virtual romance, it’s hard to judge what it would be like if you were seeing each other day-in, day-out, living in your own apartment. There is a lot of room for untarnished fantasizing when you aren’t having to deal with who’s going to make dinner or plunge the toilet or how to split up finances. You sound like a pretty pulled-together young woman. You have your job, your buddies, your band. One of the benefits of a long distance relationship is that it gives you freedom and time to create an independent life—with a comfy cushion that somebody out there loves you. The downside is, as you are keenly experiencing, the gnawing physical and emotional longing. As I see it, you have two choices. The first is that you commit to scrimping and saving and seeing each other 3 or 4 times a year, including a chunk of vacation time. Take the bus, monitor discount flight websites, whatever it takes to make that happen. Also schedule in regular Skype time, speaking face-to-face needs to be a priority. This will at least give your LDR a shot at surviving and ease the misery. I don’t think you or your boyfriend is going to love the second choice, at least not immediately. But here goes: if you can’t swing seeing each other and speaking more often, you should consider opening up your relationship to dating other people. I know, I know, reading that might make you want to puke, but here’s the thing: your hormones are buzzing and, if he’s a typical young male, his are too. You’re setting yourself up to slip. It’s so much better to make new rules than to cheat and shred all the trust you’ve built over the years. And the sex thing? Yes, unless you are seeing each other in the flesh regularly, having sex will make waiting even more agonizing. I feel for you, these are not easy decisions, Love, Sarah Have an issue that could use amom’s-eye-view? Ouradvice column features a real live mother of three who is ready to discuss any of your burning questions judgment—and baggage—free. Email [email protected] with the subject line “Dear Mom.”Please include your first name or nickname and where you are from. Questions may be edited for clarity and length.

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