Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Distance makes the heart...

There are two possible conclusions to that phase. Distance either makes the heart "grow fonder" or "go yonder." And a lot plays in to determining which direction it goes.

My experience ended the best way possible, but there are a lot of reasons why that happened. People used to ask me how I handled being 800 miles away. But that was how we met, we didn't know any different the first 2 years we knew each other. And that helped. If we'd started closer and then been that far apart our story probably would've had a much different ending. The heart would've gone yonder. But that's not to say that the distance made the heart grow fonder initially. Because it didn't do that either.

Long distance relationships have several challenges in common with regular at-hand relationships, but they also have their own set of problems. And at the same time they also have some of their own advantages.

Here's just a few of those challenges and advantages from my own experience.

- The relationship is based on communication, because that's all you have. I've been in relationships that were based on the physical, and that always implodes. I've been in relationships that had no base, and those fall quite fast. But learning how each other communicates can be huge.

- Some people develop multiple personalities when they communicate through technology. Who you think you are communicating with might not be the person you'd communicate with in real life. That's not so much a problem with the distance as it is with the person. I'm actually very wary of people who act one way on-line and a completely different way in real life. It feels like a lie to me. If someone says "but I'm real nice in person" I don't want to be friends with them.

- Speed. There generally isn't any in a long-distance relationship. You get time to think and for things to develop. Leaping before looking is much less likely (as long as you aren't psycho and up and move right after meeting).

- Speed. There isn't any. There are so many things about a relationship that develop through the day-to-day of life and they just can't happen over a distance. Distance allows you to not see each other at the end of a bad day at work. It means that when you are together you are at your best, your house is clean, and you put on your first-date behavior each time.

- Depending on just how you communicate, your entire relationship can be documented in writing. We used email and instant messenger mostly and it is real fun at this point to go back and read those.

- It is real easy for one person to make more out of the relationship than the other. While this is true of any relationship, when you have more time to think between interactions, when you don't have the intricacies of body language to help you interpret what is being said, it is very easy to misunderstand each other.

You can develop good friendships over a distance. But if you want more out of the relationship, you just have to be closer. The distance part of our relationship gave us a solid friendship built on communication, but when my life brought me closer we still had to build our friendship all over again, this time based on life.