Why I Don’t Like LDRs

Oh, $deity—I’m turn­ing into my par­ents. Maybe even my grand­par­ents. I’m sit­ting here look­ing at what I’ve writ­ten, and real­iz­ing that I would have hat­ed every­thing I’m say­ing back when I was 16 or 26—and that it might be a good thing, as my par­ents and grand­par­ents are pret­ty smart peo­ple some times.

I don’t think long-dis­tance rela­tion­ships are a good idea. There. I’ve said it. I real­ize that I will prob­a­bly get emails from scads of peo­ple telling me about how they found the love of their lives on the net and are suf­fer­ing through liv­ing thou­sands of miles from each oth­er and I’m being close-mind­ed yad­da yad­da yad­da. I know some LDRs are successful—heck, I know that from first-hand expe­ri­ence. And I still don’t think they’re a good idea, although they seem to be increas­ing­ly com­mon due to the internet.

So now I’ll say some­thing that will get even more peo­ple ticked at me—I don’t think it’s wise to let any rela­tion­ship move any­where near “SO space” with­out know­ing each oth­er very well in the phys­i­cal world. I have sev­er­al rea­sons for my opin­ion. For one, it’s just too easy to pre­tend to be some­one you aren’t, even over an extend­ed peri­od of time, online. I know many peo­ple do it (some of them are my friends) and I sim­ply hope, fer­vent­ly, that they don’t get hurt. Some of them do it with­out even real­iz­ing they’re doing it—they aren’t mali­cious at all, but they are try­ing to be their LDR SOs dream lover, and that’s much eas­i­er when you see each oth­er at most once a month than when you see each oth­er dai­ly or even weekly.

Next, reason—there’s a com­po­nent of attrac­tion that is pure­ly phys­i­cal, and there’s no way to know if the chem­istry will be there no mat­ter how hot the per­son­’s pic­ture is or how mar­velous your tex­tu­al inter­ac­tions might be. For all you know the per­son just won’t smell right, or their body lan­guage will annoy the heck out of you, or you’ll find their table man­ners so dis­gust­ing that you can’t stand to be in their pres­ence while they’re eat­ing. And if like many (most?) peo­ple, your con­cept of “sig­nif­i­cant oth­er” includes a phys­i­cal com­po­nent, that’s important.

So you’ve got­ten all hot and heavy, writ­ten love let­ters, done the phone and/or cyber­sex thing (come on, admit it), etc.—and now you’re togeth­er in the real world at last and there are no sparks. Nada. Zip. The per­son you’ve just met at the air­port does not, in the flesh, make your thing sing. Are you going to say, “Whoops, sor­ry, this was a mis­take, let’s just be friends” or go through some awk­ward cha­rade or what? If the lack of attrac­tion is mutu­al, and you’re both mature, fair­ly secure peo­ple, you can at least laugh at your­selves togeth­er and go on to have a fun visit—but if one per­son is attract­ed and the oth­er isn’t, you’ve got a prob­lem. And if one per­son is con­vinced that he or she is in love! and the oth­er per­son is just try­ing to fig­ure out how quick­ly he or she can move on to oth­er things—you’ve got a mess. You might well have a nasty scene (I hate those) or even have a recipe for an unhealthy obsession.

Let’s be hon­est here—any sig­nif­i­cant trav­el for the sole pur­pose of meet­ing some­one in the flesh involves some expec­ta­tion of romantic—most like­ly sexual—interaction with the per­son being met. If you accept air­line tick­ets to go see some­one you con­sid­er “just a friend”—please. Are you tru­ly that out of touch with real­i­ty? If you agree to have this “friend” come to see you and are going to be offend­ed if he or she is imag­in­ing scenes from Pent­house let­ters while you’re expect­ing deep philo­soph­i­cal conversations—hello? Hey, deep philo­soph­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions are mar­velous things, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, we’re liv­ing in a soci­ety that’s high­ly sex­u­al­ized, and even if both of you have stat­ed that there’s no expec­ta­tion of sex, some­body prob­a­bly does expect it if he or she has trav­eled more than 50 miles or spent more than $20 in set­ting up this meet­ing. Sad, but true. I speak here from unhap­py expe­ri­ence, hav­ing had to get very phys­i­cal about enforc­ing my non-sex­u­al expec­ta­tions due to one “just friend’s” rather insis­tent hopes of get­ting laid. Look­ing back, I was beyond naïve and well into will­ful stu­pid­i­ty there. (Note: Even if there was sig­nif­i­cant trav­el involved, if the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of the trip was busi­ness or some­thing else besides the two of you meet­ing in per­son, you’re much more like­ly to be able to meet as friends with­out any­body hav­ing oth­er agen­das. I’ve done that many times and things have been peachy keen.)

Okay, so let’s say there is a mutu­al attrac­tion. In fact, you can’t keep your hands off each oth­er. You can’t wait until your next meet­ing. You’re tak­ing out a sec­ond mort­gage to pay your trav­el expens­es, you’ve got­ten way too adept at one-hand­ed typ­ing (and prob­a­bly have carpal tun­nel syn­drome rapid­ly devel­op­ing in that hand) and the two of you are rack­ing your brains try­ing to fig­ure out who is going to move where so you can be togeth­er. You’ve dis­cussed the kind of wed­ding you’ll have, you know what you’ll name your first­born, and you’ve agreed that there will nev­er be any ver­sion of Mon­et’s Waterlilies hang­ing any­where in your home because it’s just too common.

So…what do you know about this per­son­’s cred­it rat­ing or retire­ment plans? How does this per­son treat their moth­er? Did you have any idea that you’re Mx Punc­tu­al and they’re like­ly to be late to their own funer­al? How can you be sure that whichev­er of you moves to the oth­er’s home­town won’t ever get resent­ful over all that they have left behind? (If you both move to a third loca­tion, it’s per­fect­ly like­ly that you’ll both get resent­ful at some point, but at least you’ll be even.) How are you real­ly going to han­dle the fact that they’re prone to strip­ping off their dirty work clothes in the entry­way each evening when they get home from work, leav­ing them lay­ing there, block­ing the door, until you pick them up and take them to the laun­dry ham­per? Will you get ter­ri­bly pissed off when they bor­row your tools to work on their car, then leave them lying in the dri­ve­way to be run over, rained on, or car­ried off by the dog as a chew toy? (True sto­ry. Seri­ous­ly.) How about the fact that they’ve nev­er met a cat they did­n’t like, but appar­ent­ly have no sense of smell when it comes to litterboxes—when you know as soon as the cat has used the box and absolute­ly can­not tol­er­ate the aro­ma? Or that they appar­ent­ly have a need to cre­ate some sort of psy­chodra­ma every­where they go, whether it be at church, at a restau­rant, or in the mid­dle of a fam­i­ly reunion?

Yeah, most of it seems rather minor, even pet­ty. But those are things that you do learn when you’re in and out of each oth­er’s homes on a dai­ly or week­ly basis. They are not things you usu­al­ly learn if you only see each oth­er once a month, even if you have three phone con­ver­sa­tions, a dozen emails, and a non-stop text mes­sage con­ver­sa­tion every day. And these are things that mat­ter when you’re talk­ing about any kind of seri­ous rela­tion­ship that has more to it than bump­ing fuzzies. If you aren’t in it for any­thing but sex—well, you aren’t my intend­ed audi­ence. The rest of you—think about it, please?

One thought on “Why I Don’t Like LDRs

  1. This was real­ly well said and I.agree while heart­ed­ly. One thing the tick­et forthe friend is so true. Meet­ing with no sex is real­ly short sited

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