Charlene has been married to K for 5 years. They are involved with B, who lives 250 miles away. They are maintaining a long distance relationship. This MFF triad have decided to give an LDR a chance with a hope that one day they will make the move to be together. Join Charlene every month as she experiences love, life, and an outrageous phone bill!

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

The Luxury of Distance

When most people think of a long distance relationship, they immediately think of distance. As if distance could only be a bad thing!

I know, I know…when people first fall in love they want to be with each other 24/7. They have romantic notions of holding hands while walking on the beach with the moonlight shining down from above and the calm waves lapping their perfect feet. They imagine themselves stopping, turning to each other, holding each other tightly in their arms as they sink down to the powdery white sand and make love all night long. How many movies can you list with the above cliché as the love scene? I can name about 15.

The reality is that relationships don’t always fall into neat little categories. Sometimes you have to redefine how a relationship should be conducted to better suit your life and the life of your partner. This is especially true with people in polyamorous relationships. With several people involved, different schedules to take into consideration, and living arrangements to be worked out, polyamorous relationships are, by definition, unconventional. One possibility that can be explored is the long distance relationship, or LDR.

K and I are married and live in a small country town. We both have jobs, both have friends, and both have commitments within the community. B lives 250 miles north of us in a major city. She has a job, family to look after, a billion friends, and two very needy cats. The reality is that although we’d love to spend every single waking moment together (preferably making love on some beach) we have to balance our new love with the responsibilities in our daily lives. Those cats won’t pet themselves, you know!

A long distance relationship isn’t all that bad. It really does have some unexpected perks. Ever have phone sex? If you live 15 minutes away from your partners you probably just hop in your car and in 15 minutes you’re there and ready to go. But with an LDR, unless you own a private jet or have unlimited amounts of gas money, you won’t be seeing your partner for weeks at a time. The phone becomes an extension of your partner. You find yourself lounging in bed, with the phone cradled between your shoulder and ear (or on speaker if there is more than one person there), and you say things into that you might not even have the courage to say in person! You have to use your imagination to visualize what your partner is wearing and doing. Never mind that he might be wearing underwear with holes in them and a stained tank top, in your mind he’s wearing a sexy smoking jacket, silk boxers, and rubbing himself with lavender scented massage oil. Ah, the power of the imagination.

In a relationship where the partners all live within a few miles of each other, there is more of a chance that fights, hurt feelings, mood swings, and misunderstandings might occur frequently. After all, how long can you stand to look at someone before you want to smother them with a pillow? In an LDR, you have the luxury of distance. If I’m in a bad mood, I don’t have to email B right then and there. I can take some time for myself and maybe walk around the block or eat massive amounts of chocolate to make myself feel better and then when I am in the right frame of mind, I can email B without ever having to bring up my bad mood. K and I have been together for so long that we have an understanding about space but with B, since our relationship is so new, my mood swings and K’s bad days at work would most definitely cause conflict in our budding relationship.

And who here likes to get mail? I’m not talking email but actual pieces of paper that come to a box outside of your home specifically designated for them. I love getting mail. Don’t get me wrong, I hate junk mail as much as the rest of you, and let’s be honest, if a bill got lost I wouldn’t cry over it but I adore getting mail from my friends and family. I get so excited when I see a letter that I dance around and act like it’s my birthday. B loves to send K and I care packages. She takes a small box and fills it with stickers, CDs she made for us, pictures, cards, small gifts, etc. We send her cards, CDs we’ve made for her, candy, and goofy pictures that we take of us. She’s a sucker for goofy pictures. If she lived down the street I seriously doubt we would mail her things. What would be the point? We could just walk down and hand them to her. What would be the thrill in that?

Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m completely happy with B living so far away. I do wish she lived closer but our circumstances aren’t going to change any time soon, so it’s either we decide it’s too hard and end it or we accept our positions and simple manage the best we can. As K says, “Keep a stiff upper lip.” We learned to deal with missing each other by constantly chatting on the phone or emailing each other. Sometimes K comes home to 25 emails in his inbox from his “womenfolk” and it takes him a few hours to respond to it all. LDRs are hard work and not for everyone. You have to really love and want to be with your partners for your relationship to have any chance of lasting.

The general goal of an LDR is that someone will eventually move closer and the relationship will move to the next level. Your partner moves to your city or town, or you move to theirs, and they live separately from you or they move in with you. K and I hope that one day B will leave her idea of city life and condos behind and move to the country to live with us. We’ll even allow her to bring her needy cats.

Charlene is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Charlene Mansel ; June 07, 2007


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