Murphy's Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
DEAR STACY: I am in a long distance relationship with a man who works overseas. We dated a long time ago and then broke up when he moved. But we stayed in close contact and my feelings for him never really died. Long story short, we rekindled things a few months ago and now are giving it a go long distance. The problem is that I have very little in the way of financial resources, so regular visits are out for us. Is this relationship doomed?
– Am I Wasting Our Time?
DEAR WASTING: Long distance relationships are challenging, particularly when they don't have an end date, such as returning from grad school, ending a military tour, or simply deciding to move to the same locale. It doesn't sound like that is your circumstance, so basically you are intimately involved with a person who will not be physically present to you except for on very special occasions. The relationship is not “doomed,” but you may have to do some defining of this relationship, because it's not going to look like those around you.
You absolutely can love and be connected to a person who does not live near you. The question is, how do you fulfill one another's emotional (and physical) needs when you are not meeting regularly? Yes, you can Skype in a restaurant and you both can commit to watching the same Netflix at the same time. Perhaps that is enough for you. But you both need to sign on for that – honestly, by naming it as such. The risk is that if you aren’t very specific about what you each expect you can wind up disappointing the other person (E.G. Were you secretly expecting him to move back here? Is he hoping you will get the hint and find a job overseas?), leading to deep resentment (AKA: relationship poison) over time. Please do yourselves this favor and have that conversation ASAP.
Stacy Notaras Murphy www.stacymurphyLPC.com is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.