The Agony and the Ecstasy: Life in a Long Distance Relationship
by New Dealer
I was always suspicious and extremely cautious about long-distance relationships. They always perplexed me. Why would you choose to enter a relationship with someone who lives hundreds or thousands of miles away when there are plenty of people nearby to date (note: I’ve always lived in or very close to big cities). When I was doing on-line dating, I would never respond to messages from women who lived in places like Sacramento or Davis or Santa Cruz because it seemed like they lived far enough away that we would only be able to see each other once a week at most. Sometimes people would complain to me about how infrequently they saw their significant other because he or she lived in San Francisco and their partner lived in Marin or Walnut Creek and both places are under an hour from San Francisco. When I was in New York, people complained about dating people who lived in different boroughs or sometimes different sections of the same borough. I am also not a person who throws caution to the wind and moves to a different place without a purpose. I am pretty sure I ended up spending most of my twenties in New York because I grew up in the New York suburbs. If I grew up in suburban Chicago, Seattle, or Boston, I probably would have ended up in those cities. I only moved to San Francisco because the right law school was here for me both intellectually and emotionally. In short, it is not in my nature to move to a place without a job lined up.
This is the story of how I ended up in a long-distance relationship anyway.
My girlfriend and I went to the same college and we were acquaintances but she graduated two years before I did. This was in the days before social media so we were out of touch for a while and went our separate ways. We became facebook friends sometime after I moved to San Francisco. I can’t remember if she friended me or I friended her. We had a typical facebook relationship until she contacted me out of the blue in September and told me she would be in town in February and wanted to hang out. She also found my dating stories hilarious. Like many Jews, I can also turn my dating woes into hilarious stories. February became a sudden visit in November and we hit it off well. We decided to make our relationship facebook official in December.
We are in a strange place. We knew each other but barely when we were very young and this provides some familiarity or at least people in common, values, stories, and interests. However, we had 13-14 years of silence and distance from 1999 until now. In some ways this helped because we have both grown and matured. She is not as daunting as I thought when I was an eager sophomore and she seemed like a too cool for school senior. She thinks I am more put together than I was back then, there are no more dorky t-shirts in my wardrobe. But we are also a new couple and still in the getting to know you process. This is hard enough when you live in the same city but even harder when you are a country-wide distance apart. My visit to New York in January was our third date or third-eight or so date depending on how you count.
Romantic relationships change a person’s life and in many ways my life is changed but not completely based on the distance aspect. My social life is still largely the same as is my day to day existence. There isn’t anyway to text or call her randomly and ask if she wants to get a last minute drink or spend the night at my place or vice-versa.
Weather becomes a more fraught thing. My girlfriend is supposed to visit next week. We are going to Napa on Sunday. Winter Storm Pax is predicted to wreck much havoc on the East Coast from Wednesday night to Thursday night. I’m hoping with all my heart that it does not delay flights and my girlfriend leaves on time because after this trip we have nothing planned and March is out, April might be out. May is a maybe. I can probably be in New York at the end of June/July, and then I have a wedding in Boston in September. Our time together is also super-jammed packed. When I was in New York, it was two activity filled weekends mixed between a week of work. The best moments were when we were just hanging out in her apartment with take-out.
There is also the fact that one of us will eventually have to move. Neither of us are interested in dating other people and have said so to each other numerous times. But we also both seem to acknowledge that in some or many ways we are good friends who get together romantically while in the same town and this will change only when in the same city. But both of us have built lives and careers in different parts of the country. I did not move to San Francisco with a feeling of permanence but made friends here during my five plus years, in many ways a much better social life than I ever had in New York. Plus the market for lawyers collapsed and getting a job cross country is hard if not impossible in the Great Depression. This is where my cautious side flairs up, I don’t want to move without a job or apartment lined up.
Something needs to happen and eventually something will but determining when to move is very tricky. We are still in the dating stage. It seems to me that stress and anxiety are measured in the long term. If I am in a successful long-term relationship or marriage with my girlfriend, these will seem like trivial things worried over too much and I will ask myself why didn’t I live in the moment more. If the relationship does not work out, I might ask myself why did I put myself willingly through so much pain and anxiety. The only answer I can think of is that my girlfriend makes me happy and I love her and sometimes you need to take a gamble.