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Long Distance Love�Who Moves Where?

Dear Philippa,

This great woman and I have been dating long distance for about 6 months. I've visited her most of the time and I originally planned to move out with her. But after a while I pleaded with her to move out here. We've gone back and forth over the who moves where issue until there was a standoff and now she's backed way off and seems resentful of how I handled things. She says she needs some space and time to decide. I'm afraid I may have lost her. I'd move there in a minute. What should I do?

�Brian, Baltimore, MD


Dear Brian,

Long distance love affairs are like vacation romances, the romantic setting and intensity of the moment distorts the reality of day to day existence. You are focusing on the issue of who moves where. I feel there are much more important issues here that have to do with how two people work out problems and make decisions together.

If you both had been living in the same town during the past 6 months and one of you got a job out of town you would be facing the same issue. The big difference would be the amount of actual time you would have spent together during that time.

What I am trying to tell you and anyone else dealing with a long distance romance is, you can't measure the maturity of your relationship by the time you've known each other. It's the actual time spend together that allows two people to really get to know each other and learn how to best work together to resolve difficulties.

You can write and talk on the phone until the cows come home, but that is not the same as having someone in your life as you live it. Why am I telling you this?
I want you to understand why this problem is not necessarily who should move where. Your problem is that your relationship has not had the time to grow to the point where you can effectively make this kind of decision.

My advice is to put the whole moving issue on the back burner and concentrate on healing the damage. If you moved to be with her right now to "win her back", that would probably back fire. She is taking the space to decide if you are right for her and you also need to decide if she is right for you.

More importantly, you each need to decide what kind of life you want to live, including where you want to live. Each of you needs to focus on what you personally need to be happy. Then you need to learn how to negotiate any differences with each other and understand what the non-negotiables are. There will always be differences and decisions to be made in any relationship.

Have you blown it with this woman? Maybe, maybe not. One thing that is for sure is that you're learning a tough lesson. Long distance relationships are complicated, not because of the distance, but because of the lack of reality both people have about the relationship. It's so romantic when you reunite and then you miss each other when you're apart. These, however, are not reasons for making a major change in your life and moving to be close to each other.

The reason for making the move is because you both know you are compatible with each other. You need to see how well you get on together over extended periods and normal circumstances-like illness, financial problems and job stresses.

Both parties need to invest the same amount of emotional energy and effort that it takes to maintain a long distance relationship. That means, both parties travel to see each other and make room in their life for the other person.

Don't beat yourself up for the way you've handled this. You are both equal contributors in this situation. Maybe this is the reality check you both needed so you can work on a real relationship and not a fantasy. I hope you get another chance to work this out together.




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