Dating at a Distance...
Dating at a Distance...A wry smile flickered across my lips when speaking to a client recently. Janice, 31, proclaimed that her long distance relationship was the perfect relationship. Janice is a busy corporate interior designer with clients up and down the country. That's how she met Ben, 35, when making a proposal to one of her northern clients.
Janice explained that the only hiccup was that Ben harped on about one of them moving - either he moving south or Janice north - to be with each other. "Why spoil a perfect thing?" she complained, "There's plenty of time to make such a decision in the future...it's only been 20 months!"
Yes, Janice was right her relationship is perfect if she only wants to skim the surface of relating to Ben. If she simply wants the sparkling excitement of getting together every so often without the day-to-day grind that really tests a couple. But after nearly two years Ben's request didn't seem unreasonable. And, no, their relationship is far from perfect if you want to relate at a truly intimate level as he obviously wished.
Of course many people don't have a choice when it comes to long-distance dating but others do and still opt to keep the distance. What does this say about them? That distance can become a defence mechanism that in one sense keeps you "safe" from what’s really going on. It was time to explore with Janice what underpinned her desire to maintain their long-distance dating.
It was no real surprise that she saw Ben as a bit of fun but not potential permanent-partner material. As her business was thriving Ben fulfilled her social and sexual needs to have an occasional partner.
I challenged Janice on whether honesty was called for since Ben obviously viewed their long-distance dating in a different light. With her conscience tweaked she's considering how to approach this.
I always recommend opening a discussion on expectations and whether both of your expectations can be met by the relationship. If not, how compromise can be reached or whether the relationship has little chance of success. Such discussions may kickstart the beginnings of real intimacy and who knows where that may lead, even a better relationship!
If you're keeping yourself "safe" through distance this is an unsafe way of conducting relationships. You'll never learn to face challenges that real intimacy brings. You won't develop the give-and-take, patience and respect, fundamental to a healthy, intimate relationship. And after all, as the saying goes there's safety in numbers and in this case it's two people, together.
A similar article was published in The Times