Dear Dr. Date,My…



Dear Dr. Date,
My girlfriend and I have been dating for several wonderful years. Every day, every night I spend with her increases my appreciation for her superior charm, intelligence, wit and style. Unfortunately, these blissful nights and days are separated by gruelling months of separation ever since I moved to Minnesota to attend graduate school in the fall of 1997.
To combat loneliness and frustration, we have recently decided to see other people — fun, friendship and perhaps physicality, but no big romances. We both believe that our relationship needs this flexibility in order to survive the time and distance. My question is this: In a relationship which has flourished on a foundation of candor and honesty, what is the best way to handle the scary, exciting developments which will soon be occurring in our social lives? It is almost as unthinkable to me not to discuss the new men in my girlfriend’s life as it would be unbearable to have a conversation about her most recent rendezvous. I don’t want to have any secrets from her, and yet I don’t want to hurt her by providing to much detail about my own dating adventures. Do we need to limit our communication to non-dating topics only? What bad feelings might waylay us if we try to deal with our open relationship, well, openly?
I have asked for advice on this topic from various friends, but there is no consensus — except that seeing other people at all seems incredibly risky. I should mention that, although many of my friends have had long-distance relationships, none of them have had successful long-distance relationships. (It would be great to hear from any of your readers who have succeeded in long-distance love, where so many others have failed.)
Anyway, I think this would be a great topic for your column, since so many students do experiment with cross-country love …
Thanks!
Long-distance lover

The last time I was separated from my sweetheart for a period of three or so months, we decided to do much the same thing as you and yours. It worked out fine. Here’s the deal, however, to this day, neither one of us has spoken a word about what happened while we were apart. No questions and no stories. We just went on with our lives. We, too, are honest people, but what purpose is telling each other going to serve? I have zero desire to know what she did and even less desire to tell her what I did. She must feel the same way.
Our arrangement was this: Do anything but fall in love and engage in any STD-causing activity such as sex or oral sex. Simple, really. In the end, each date made me miss her more.