McCarthy: The real way to go the distance

Long distance relationships can be difficult, but perhaps that’s how they should be.

Kate McCarthy

I’ve spent two summers in long distance relationships, this being my second. Two different summers, two different relationships. There’s been so much writing and rumination on long distance dating, how to ease the difficulty of it and so on. But maybe the difficulty is not only okay to experience, but a little bit necessary.

This time last year, my partner and I spent over three months apart. I was on the West Coast and he was in the Midwest. Turns out, we didn’t need any list of tips and tricks to make the distance work — it all went swimmingly. There was no urgency to find a way to see each other, very minimal texting and perhaps one phone call a week.

I forced myself to just put the guy out of my mind and go about my business. And that certainly made for great efficiency, but what about feeling missed and wanted, the intensity of longing for someone?

I had always told myself that a longing like that equaled codependency, lack of autonomy, all sorts of bad things. I wasn’t some flimsy waif who couldn’t exist without her relationship! But as I’m learning a year later, there’s a way to sustain desire and longing, ways to nurse that little spot where the other person resided, in a way that is healthy and nurturing.

You can miss someone, feel the delicious agitation of just wanting to be with them, express that and then part ways to go about your long-distance lives. A little discomfort is perhaps how it should be.