Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Long Distance Love

Budding romance can be exciting, euphoric and all engaging. When relationships move past this initial stage they tend to settle into a rhythm that, hopefully, reflects the wants and needs of the couple as well as the two individuals. Add the complexity of living in different cities and the complexity of making it work grows exponentially. This is easy in the abstract but challenging in reality.

Romantic co-stars

Consider Rachel & Jack, who started dating in high school. After graduating, they each attended university in different parts of the country and it was difficult to grow or even maintain their relationship. They began arguing every time they talked on the phone. Each wanted to stay together, but they were nervous that the other one was having too much fun without them. Soon, Rachel was demanding that Jack text her to let her know where he was and what he was doing every night. He resented that she didn’t trust him, but instead of trying to find a way to build her confidence, he began asking her to text him in detail about her whereabouts. This continued for almost 2 years. Her roommate and friends grew tired of the drama, but didn’t know how to tell her that from their perspective Rachel was in a dysfunctional, dead-end relationship.

When they returned home in the summer, they continued their pattern of fighting and making up. Finally, they had enough and for the first time in 2 years talked about their feelings and shared doubts about remaining a couple. Neither wanted to break up, but things had spiraled out of control. They were unhappy. The romance had stagnated. They realized the difficulty of a long-distance relationship, especially when each was in new environments and evolving into new roles. Both were sad to end what started as a storybook romance, but Rachel and Jack’s painful two years helped them realize that people change and relationships change over time.

Scrutinizing relationships allows you to evaluate whether it is working and giving you what you need. Deciding whether to stay in a romance or exit stage right can be difficult. The path of least resistance – not making a change, even when needed – is easiest, but not always, the best choice.

Just ask any single woman, such as Rachel, and they’ll tell you that it’s not easy finding the ideal romantic partner. There are many contributing factors. Living in different cities is a complicating factor, but not a showstopper. The best romantic relationships help you grown and achieve your goals. Lasting relationships take work.

Janet Walkow is the Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Drug Dynamics Institute at The University of Texas and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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