Friday, 5 June 2009

Lovers apart

It must be really hard maintaining a long-distance relationship, where a couple are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles and only meet up at long intervals.

Their passion for each other must have to be pretty strong to overcome the obstacle of being so physically divided, not to mention sexually deprived.

When I lived in London, I once had a girlfriend in Birmingham, and we would only see each other at weekends. It was so frustrating and agonising not meeting more regularly that she eventually moved down to London.

Ironically the increased proximity led to less passion rather than more and we split up six months later. It really was a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.

But how people cope when they're in London and New York, or for that matter one partner is working away from home for months on end, I just don't know. At times they must be desperate for physical contact and the emotional warmth that goes with it.

You have to be very trusting too, not to suspect your loved one of having other relationships behind your back. Anyone liable to paranoia would soon be in trouble. You have to be confident your partner is honest and loyal and not a compulsive flirt.

When you do manage to meet, you're anxiously looking for any sign that your partner's enthusiasm has dimmed, that while you've been apart they've noticed all your bad habits and disillusion has set in.

That so many long-distance relationships not only survive but thrive is a tribute to the doggedness of the human heart.


  1. Welcome back Nick. Hope you and Jenny are settling in. Do long distance relationships ever work? I managed one for four years . .there were 'indiscretions' inbetween on both sides but 12,000 miles is a long way and no internet, Skype or webcams.It was doomed to fail. Maybe it's easier these days but no . .we need physical contact not just words and you can't do that on the other side of the planet.

  2. Baino - We're settling in nicely! You're right, 12,000 miles is a hell of a distance and even with today's communications it would probably fail sooner or later. Regular physical contact is so essential.

  3. Is Jenny off on her travels again? ;-)

    My Big Romance began long distance but we quickly married and were seldom parted for 20 years, so I am in no position to pass comment here.

  4. Nick, I was married to my late wife for forty plus years and bar the last eight years, we were more physically apart than together as, I was a traveling man with an average of 21 nights away from home every month. That was the average, there were occasions when I used to be away for two to three months at a time and some months when I would be away only for a few days. Both of us believed that our marriage grew stronger because of the absences. Both of us also grew as human beings and parents because of that. Let me quote you something that may answer your wonder about this phenomenon.

    "Interestingly, religious practices and prohibitions make clever use of optimal timing. Orthodox Jewish married couples, for example, are forbidden to touch each other - let alone be intimate - during the seven days surrounding the woman's menstrual period. To ensure that inadvertent physical contact doesn't occur, even such mundane acts as passing the salt must be conducted with forethought and care; the wife must place the salt shaker on the table in front of her husband, leaving just enough time to pull back her hand before his comes close to hers. This might seem absurd to some of us, but the unintended (or perchance, intended?)fringe benefit is the maintenance of the flames of love and passion. How wonderful it must be to be able to resume physical contact after the period of prohibition each month! Notwithstanding the origins for such practices, we can borrow their spirit, if not their substance, to enhance the love and happiness in our own lives.".

    -The How Of Happiness, A New Approach To Getting The Life You Want. Sonja Lyubomirsky

  5. Grannymar - Good point about Jenny. When she was on her own in Oz for five weeks in November, I missed her badly! Glad your long-distance romance worked out.

    Ramana - That's interesting that your relationship grew stronger because of the absences. And I'm sure it's possible for deliberate periods of abstinence Jewish-style to renew and enrich a couple's life together.