For most of the human history, long-distance relationships have been impossible to sustain. The internet age has made them much more feasible but there are still many difficulties to overcome.
Long-distance relationships are possible. Absolutely.
But, especially if you’ve never met the other person, you have to keep your illusions in check.
Because it’s too easy for us to picture how perfect things may be and then discover that life is a whole different story. Yes, it can be done. But it requires great commitment from both parties.
The secret is just to let go of the expectations and see it as an opportunity to expose your weaknesses and grow stronger from the difficulties.
One of the biggest difficulties is that you wish you could be there, but you can’t. This feeling of absence causes tension and breeds paranoia.
It doesn’t take much to realize that physical affection gets lost with distance. Often you communicate primarily via instant messaging and occasionally voice or video. The fact that you can’t talk face-to-face is a big step down, there are whole swaths of human interaction that you completely lose.
When you’re separated by hundreds of miles the only way to communicate is by spending a lot of time with a cold, digital display.
You don’t get to see the other person smile. You don’t get to sit next to her on the couch. You don’t get to hug her. You can’t tell that her body language is different when she’s upset.
In fact, during a text chat you can’t know her mood at all, unless she volunteers that info.
If you were to walk into a room and see your partner crying on the couch, it would be insensitive to shove a funny video in front of her face. However, if you primarily communicate through instant messaging, you can do exactly that without ever realizing it.
When we hide behind a digital display we only show people what we want them to see.
Maybe unconsciously (or maybe not) we show only the best of us.
We see only one side of who they are.
The problem is that the less information we have, the more we project what we like into the other person.
Our mind tries to fill all the missing information by projecting the traits we are attracted to, the perfect characteristic we would like to see.
But then when you meet the other person it is a whole other story and all the illusions may be shattered.
Despite all these difficulties it is still possible to make a long-distance relationship work. We’ll see how in part 2 in the next post.