Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Woman worries about effects of maintaining long-distance love
Va.: My boyfriend is leaving next week to work at an archaeological site in Europe for 2 1/2 months. We're both 26. Basically, he'll be on the side of a cliff with bad/no reception, and he'll be able to go into the local town every Friday. He feels confident that our relationship will be fine and that we can talk/ e-mail on Fridays.
I am nervous, Carolyn! Seems like a long time to not see someone. I am planning to stay focused on my life — work out a lot, travel a little — while he's gone. How can I best approach this (extremely) long-distance period of our relationship? Advice? P.S. I love him.
Carolyn: Two and a half months? A "long time to not see someone"? Piker.
Approach it by pointing out to yourself that if you can't pull together a rewarding 10 weeks in his absence, then you've probably grown dependent upon him to an unhealthy degree, which will be a lot tougher on your relationship with him in the long run than this temporary, closed-ended separation will be in the short.
Also remember that feeling sorry for yourself is an emotional nonstarter, since it's essentially deciding to make the worst of a bad situation, instead of the best. If you feel a bout of self-pity coming on, maybe you can take a moment to imagine military families, who this decade have been facing multiple, life-threatening, year-plus-long separations, often while raising small kids.
You've got the right idea with focusing on your life, travel, etc., but it can't just be about killing the time till he's back. Time with him, time without him, it's all time — and when it's gone, it's gone. Make sure you really live it.
And, miss him. There's nothing wrong with that.
Va. Again: I understand why you would call me a piker and say it's not a long time. I have enough of a life to have a fulfilling summer. I guess I was really more worried about the fact that he might forget about me, what with all the grad students (many girls) running around in scuba gear at their isolated cliff site. He did insist he wants to be monogamous. Am I being silly and insecure? Should I just tell myself to shut up?
Carolyn: Well, you can be nicer to yourself: "Hey, insecurities, would you please keep it down in there? I'm trying to enjoy myself."
This will never ever be as easy as it looks in print, but it is always true: If he falls for someone else, he will have done you a favor.
He's either blown away by you, or he isn't. He either sees it as a privilege to remain faithful to you, or he doesn't. You either have something that renders this separation as a blip, or you don't.
You only want the former, and you only want it if it's mutual. So often the things we regard as problems are actually solutions.