The Secret to Lasting Love Is Staying the Hell Away From Each Other

Editors Note: Autostraddlers, we thought you’d have some feelings about this from your queerlesbianbipanasexual perspective. Do you feel like conventional relationships could benefit by adapting long distance relationship habits? Does our queer perspective change these applications in any way? Share your feelings in the comments! Do it.

by Tracy Moore

phone

When you like someone and want to be with them, all you wanna do is see their face all the time. Coincidentally, seeing someone’s face all the time is exactly how to kill a relationship softly with face-overloaded garlic breath. What the hell are faces supposed to do with other faces all up in their face? (Besides not eat so much garlic?) The answer: Go the distance. The long distance.

Researchers did a study published in the Journal of Communication of 63 young hetero lovers, half of whom were geographically separated, about their talky styles. Keep in mind these are young people, around 21 years old, who are still dumb about love, but still. After asking them to keep a weeklong diary, researchers discovered that it wasn’t all the stress and brouhaha it’s often depicted as, and in spite of not being around each other, they felt greater intimacy. These lovebirds didn’t interact as much as couples in the same general vicinity, but when they did, they kept things as fresh as hours-old leftovers by rarely cracking open that Tupperware lid. (The Tupperware bowl is the Pandora’s Box of TMI in this stellar analogy.)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder vs. out of sight out of mind is basically the conundrum of all love everywhere. Everything hinges on the perfect balance of these two conflicting notions. I love you so much and want to see you all the time, but I can only see you so much before you become as appealing to me as a glass of cod liver oil. We know this. We know it intuitively, and yet, we can’t seem to stop being in the same room with the people we are with, especially if we share the same house. Balls.

But we can solve this problem. We can make our everyday, in-person relationships exciting and fresh by pretending we are not really together at all. Try this:

Change Your Appearance Constantly

Study: Long-distance lovers didn’t see other face to face a lot, so they had to make up for that in other ways.

Application: You’re you, all day, every day, 24/7. And that, my friend, cannot stay exciting forever. By altering something about yourself often, you create the illusion of a different person who is more mysterious and intriguing than you ever could be according to the laws of physics. Wear different glasses. Start dressing in monochrome. Change your hair part. Talk with an accent. Do whatever it takes to seem endlessly new, short of inventing entire personalities, because that would be too hard to keep straight.

Ignore Each Other

Study: People who don’t live around each other don’t “hear” each other “talking” in their own “homes.”

Application: Far as you know, you’re the only person in this house, and you definitely don’t hear someone asking you if you paid the gas bill or why you forgot to take out that smelly trash. Must be a ghost or something. Oh look, it’s another Snapped marathon on TV!

Don’t Talk About Your Day

Study: Far-flung lovers rarely talked about the mundane, preferring instead to focus on more meaningful interactions like thoughts/feelings.

Application: When your partner asks how was your day? Refrain from actually answering with the story of how gross the veggie patty was you cooked in the office microwave that still smelled like reheated salmon. Instead, say something more urgent and romantic like, My god your eyes YOUR EYES. Or reveal something that hints at previously unseen depth, like, I just got back from staring out at the ocean for an hour, feeling so insignificant in the face of her vast glory.

Talk Primarily on the Phone or Skype

Study: The long-distance lovers talked more by phone or video messaging, and not so much by email, which was considered unromantic (clearly, they haven’t seen Gmail’s new tabs).

Application: Even if you live together, consider Skyping from different rooms to catch up about your lives (omit everyday details!). Even if you could literally get in your car and drive over to their house, just call them up and chat for an hour about your deepest most private feelings and concerns. If they ask if you want to come over, suddenly remember you were supposed to be somewhere.

Limit Physical Contact

Study: Being apart meant LDRs had less frequent exposure, but for longer periods of time.

Application: How can you miss someone if they won’t go away?! Cut whatever amount of time you physically spend with your significant other in half, so that whether you are in the next ‘hood over or merely the next room, you seem hard to overdose on and ripe for pining over. But feel free to text at length from the bathroom of your house or the restaurant you’re in, even when you’re together.

Also try:

+ Turning your head away a lot, so they can’t see your face too much.
+ Driving separately to events/dates you’ll attend together.
+ Canceling every other date due to work engagements.
+ Meeting up when you only have five minutes, to create urgent longing.
+ Refusing to see each other when you’re sick/bloated.
+ Making out a lot in cars.

Make Every Date Your First Date

Study: It goes without saying that when these folks finally see each other, it felt like a first date all over again.

Application: Everyone goes bowling and takes an archery lesson together in the beginning. Later on, spending an evening together online looking for an apartment with a slightly better patio officially counts as quality time if there’s booze involved. No matter how much easier it is to settle into your respective couch imprints and call it a day, try to plan actual dates that encourage new experiences or at least good stories for later, when you’ll need to talk about something other than what you actually did.

Idealize Everything Your Partner Says/Does

Study: When you strip a person down, removing all their tedious, mundane, everyday logistics, what is left but a skeleton of ideals, principles, values, and feelings? LDRs were able to easily keep each other on a pedestal because there was no everyday stuff to taint up that golden image of perfection.

Application: You can still slather some polish on this tarnished lover of yours who lives three blocks away and works out at your same gym. For instance, if your partner mentions he’s experimenting with different cuisines, you should interpret this as proof positive that he’s both deeply open-minded and seriously committed to fostering meaningful connections with the global bazaar that is our new world, and could perhaps pursue a new career as a diplomat. And you should tell others about it. Maybe on Facebook.

Try Harder

Study: Separated lovers could not rely merely on physical presence to signal continued loyalty, interest, or love. They took nothing for granted. It was show-and-tell day every day.

Application: Pretend you are in a real-life version of the movie 50 First Dates.

Of course, if all of this seems like waaay too much effort for someone who is literally on the couch right next to you and hasn’t moved in 2.5 hours, and you realize that you are not equipped to keep up massively stressful early courtship rituals for the rest of your life, you could always just go the easier route here and create actual distance. Apply to an exchange program thousands of miles away, or, if all else fails, simply move to a new city. Hey, remember? You were looking for a change.

Originally published on Jezebel. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

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37 Comments

  1. Thumb up 8

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    Personally I found with long distance I ran out of things to talk about because we didn’t have any day-to-day shared experiences.

    But I’d probably go insane sharing a bedroom with someone.

    Gotta love studies done on 63 college kids

  2. Thumb up 2

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    This is the recipe to keep the passion alive, I don’t think this has anything to do with love..
    Once you meet someone you truly love (and not just someone you desire or wanna be love by), all you have to do is to keep private space, like your own room (office for example) at home or even better having each your own apartment. Have both your own friends, take trips separately sometimes..
    Long distance relationship is just frustration if you truly love each other and if it does help to last longer just it was only because you didn’t have the chance to see on time that it was not the right person.

  3. Thumb up 2

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    I understand that maintaining some distance does help you not get sick of each other, but some of this stuff seems like it wouldn’t foster a very good relationship. Focusing on overly romantic things or really deep things is all well and good, but I think it’s just as important to also be able to talk about the day-to-day things.

    Also, I find this kind of weird:
    “When you strip a person down, removing all their tedious, mundane, everyday logistics, what is left but a skeleton of ideals, principles, values, and feelings? LDRs were able to easily keep each other on a pedestal because there was no everyday stuff to taint up that golden image of perfection.” I understand TMI is a turnoff, but it seems a little extreme to keep your partner in an image of perfection. If anything, doing that is dangerously close to being in love with the idea of a person rather than the person herself, because you don’t get any of the everyday things, little and big, about her that make her who she is.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    I’m this way, or more successful this way. I used to think I was an asshole because I am an extrovert and I get bored easily, but loving a person this way helps me to not be an energy vampire and also maintain interest. Also I really like facts and remembering them, so getting the information from well spaced communication keeps the idea of the person in my head pretty balanced. I dunno if that makes any sense, but it is who I am.

  5. Thumb up 5

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    I like to pretend that every relationship I have is basically Amor Prohibido by Selena (or Love Story by Taylor Swift for you english speaking weirdos). Keeps it melodramatic which is hot.

  6. Thumb up 13

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    I get that a lot of this is not serious/ is very sarcastic. And that makes me smile.

    But it also reads like some hopeful humor for people in LDRs. Or some tips for keeping the passion after the “honeymoon phase”. And that also makes me smile.

    Yet deep down it makes me kind of cry a little for some reason.

  7. Thumb up 2

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    Wait, seriously? Ok.. I have to wonder how long the author of this article has been with her partner.. All I can say is, 10 years after my partner and I got together, we’re still overjoyed at the sight of each other everyday. I feel like it might have something to do with the fact that we committed to one another early on, and acknowledged that it wouldn’t always be easy. Yes, there was excitement when I’d return from having disappeared for 2 weeks at a time to visit my parents in Florida, but the fact of the matter is, we both look forward to spending time together every evening. The only advice I could offer younger couples is, (like I said above,) commit to doing the work that a relationship requires. Don’t expect I’ve another to remain the same, and be unafraid to keep learning about each other.

  8. Thumb up 3

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    I don’t think the OP is talking about long distance relationships, they’re talking about understanding how crucial personal space is for many people (but not everyone). And to make the time you have together really count and focused on each other and your partner’s emotional needs. Just sitting next to one another staring dead eyed at your phones (which I see happen way too often these days) is not quality time spent. Wanting to spend time together is fine but being controlling about your lover’s schedule or constantly breathing down their neck has zero to do with the relationship or your lover and everything to do with your own issues which need to be dealt with.

  9. Thumb up 6

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    This is obviously tongue in cheek and I doubt anyone longs for a long distance relationship. I feel like if you are in a relationship where there are separate jobs and hobbies, and boundaries, there shouldn’t be a need to adopt long distance habits.

    I found a lot of the LDR statements hard to believe, like “Far-flung lovers rarely talked about the mundane, preferring instead to focus on more meaningful interactions like thoughts/feelings.” I’ve been in a transcontinental LDR for 3 years and sometimes the only things we can cling to are the mundane.

    My partner is leaving me today for 5 months, so I’m pretty sad, but yeah.

    • Thumb up 9

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      “I made pudding and it was amazing!”

      That line alone extended a LDR I had once because I really missed her and we kept talking about “meaningful” thoughts and feels. I felt like I was performing but hearing her say that I felt she was right there. I made pudding after but it was *not* amazing very bland.

      I hope you feel better about your partner leaving, I’m too aware of that ache.

      *hugs and tasty pudding*

  10. Thumb up 2

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    OK so, what happened in my experience of a long distance relationship is you don’t share experiences together, sometimes you know people your partner doesn’t and vice versa, god forbid you meet someone new and fail to underline the fact that you were talking to them about your relationship the whole night, or mayhem will begin. The point is, you don’t have shared experiences to talk about, and you end up talking on for 10 minutes each. No real interaction, just short meaningless comments and questions in between. That love that there was becomes enmeshed in mundane, uninterested and apathetical small talk. Okay, rant over. You can imagine how my long distance relationship ended. x cheers

  11. Thumb up 4

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    I’m the type of woman who likes to stare and NOT SAY A THING! I really need to be able to enjoy the silence with my girlfriend/sexytimes partner or it will not work. This translates into sharing a space together but we do not need to engage all the time. Personal space is a must and separate friends.

    The last time I had a girlfriend I used to stare at her and when she catches me I pull a funny face and she laughs, sometimes does the same. Oh.

    We are not talking.

    I’m single, hey girl, hey!

  12. Thumb up 20

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    Wow. Just…Wow. The study being referenced lost all credibility with me when they revealed it involved a group of people with the romantic attention span of a fruit fly. From 20-25 my longest “relationship” lasted 2 weeks. And that was because she didn’t quite get that we’d broken up. I was an ass at that age. Not saying all are, but I was and so were all of my friends. So many of the suggestions are..well..ludicrous. There’s a difference between “falling” in love and “being” in love. “Being” in love is when she has a cold and you not only dont care that you’ll catch it, you’re collecting and throwing out the snotty tissues without giving it a second thought. “Being” in love is listening to her squee over the Baker Creek seed catalog for like the 50th time, not because you give a rats ass about seeds or gardening, but because SHE does. and because her eyes light up when she talks about it. And her face and body get animated as she gesticulates wildly about the many different colors of carrots. And you never get tired of seeing that. And it never fails to fill your heart. New is exciting, but it’s also exhausting! That newness magic wears off eventually. It has to. But if you’re lucky, patient and mature enough to handle what comes next, you’ll discover that’s when the really good stuff happens.

    • Thumb up 1

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      I know. And the actual study doesn’t even go up to 25, it tops off at 21!

      Even if Jezebel’s take is satire, because of the crapload of technology that’s out there, voice or even actual contact is now perceived as high maintenance. I was no sentimentalist in my 20’s – open relationships, secret relationships, fears of intimacy, craigslist trolling (I haven’t entirely outgrown at least one of those)- but this strikes even me as cold. Loving someone fully is much different.

      That having been said, I think the world is changing and we’re going to see more of this. Minus the laughs.

    • Thumb up 1

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      Advice on how to go about a LDR? I think the one thing that’s gotten my wife and I through it all this time is not thinking about the distance so much. You can’t surround yourself with the negative about time difference and distance and communication. If you both want it bad enough, you will make it happen.

      I’m not saying overnight you’ll get used to everything…there’s going to be an adjustment period and for a while you’ll feel very ‘euphoric’ about it…calling each other all the time, texting every second of the day. Pictures here there but like most relationships, you’ll eventually find a routine you both fit into and sometimes it’ll be frustrating because your schedules are out of whack and things will get difficult.

      I’d say don’t adjust every single thing around the time you have for one another. At some point, it’ll drive you crazy because there are things that will be more important and yes that’s okay.

  13. Thumb up 2

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    Ok as someone who’s been in a long distance relationship for what abut four and a half years now…I have to say, the distance does seem to keep the love young and alive. But there’s just always going to be that part of the relationship that longs for you two to be together.

    I can agree on the ‘Don’t talk about your day’ part. And I’d say it’s applicable to both LDR and non LDR. I would sort of put in with emotional punching bag kind of thing. Being together constantly then falling into routine will of course take its toll LDR or not.

    As to whether to apply these to your relationships, I don’t know. Every relationship is different and they’ll have different circumstances. My partner and I have been doing it for a while, hell we haven’t even spent half the time of relationship physically together. THANK GOD DOMA AND PROP 8 ARE DEAD. But I guess you really have to keep at it. My co workers ask me how we do it I say we just do. Routine is definitely bad so make sure you guys do something to keep the love alive!! :)

  14. Thumb up 1

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    As someone in an LDR, it’s nice to know there’s someone on the internet longing for my life. Though to be honest my girlfriend and I mostly do talk about the food we’re eating and the weather….doomed, I guess…

  15. Thumb up 1

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    I’m not in a long distance relationship, but I might as well be. We see each other once a week, but stay the night together. Our work schedules are crazy, but I have to say, that all that time a part definitely makes for a hot time together, when we do see each other.

    And, this article was hysterical.

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