How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘long distance relationships’

The Faraway Lover



Absence extinguishes small passions and increases great ones, as the wind will blow out a candle and blow in a fire.
—François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

One problem faced by the two-career couple is that of being able to pursue their respective professions in the same city. When this is not possible, one solution to the crisis of having to choose between one’s marriage and one’s work has been to stay married but to live apart in different cities. The long-distance marriage is a relatively new phenomenon, but from all accounts, it seems to be very difficult to maintain. The constraints of marriage, which are considerable, often outweigh the benefits of being a wife. However, a long-distance love affair is not as constraining and may be a rewarding possibility. If you are picking a lover, why not pick one in another city? Even in another country? He would not be a good prospect for a husband unless one or the other of you could relocate, but he may be fine for a series of exciting and rewarding encounters.

Some couples have managed to conduct meaningful and erotic love affairs over ten, fifteen, or even twenty years while living thousands of miles apart. It is not an easy alternative, but it can be done. If you have a real ambivalence about marriage, then a marriagelike arrangement in which you are involved intensely but intermittently may be the ideal solution. There is an excitement and a vitality which can be maintained for a long time because you are never around each other long enough to get tired of each other or to get caught in deadly routines.

One such part-time mistress explained, “When Jonathan is at home in Seattle, I’m on my own again, and I love it. I don’t have to cook or be home on time. I play my music full blast at all hours and don’t pick up my shoes. I leave the car parked in the driveway. I put on a facial mask and chat on the phone for hours. But then I get bored. Bored and lonely.

Before I get too bored, Jonathan comes back to town. I fly around and make myself beautiful and get everything straightened up. We fall on each other and have a little ‘honeymoon’ for a week or two.

“Before I get resentful that I have to pick up his shoes as well as my own, he is gone again. Some nights peanut butter, some nights canard à l’orange. Contrast is everything. It keeps us up. When we are together, we are always on, and it’s been years now. Why get married and spoil it?”

A successful long-distance affair depends a lot on being able to manage the logistics without too much stress. You need to be able to communicate effectively on the telephone and to resign yourself to horrendous telephone bills. It helps a lot if you have learned to write effective e-mails or letters although curling up by the fire to read nice e-mails on your Blackberry or a specially delivered letter is still not the same as curling up by the fire with a more substantial presence.

Couples in a long-distance affair need to have the kinds of jobs that leave their work time flexible. Since few people can work out their own schedules as someone who freelances could, that means a lot of juggling of long weekends and sick leave and holidays. A long-distance affair also demands a high-enough level of affluence to make frequent travel possible.

Not only affluence, endurance is also needed. Commuter travel takes planning and organization and the ability to defer gratification and to tolerate frustration of many kinds. Planes are late, schedules get changed, storms occur, flights get canceled, suitcases get lost. You must be willing to slog along late at night, schlepping your suitcase onto the last airport bus, humming cheerfully the motto of the New York City mail carriers: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this courier from the swift completion of my appointed rounds.” You might add to that “neither strikes
nor traffic jams nor airport security checks.”

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