Yep. Hard hearted me handled the situation really badly. It started well, as we shared a 3-person row, on the plane, with the middle seat between us remaining empty. She was friendly and we developed an immediate bond by agreeing to not look anyone in the eye who was walking by, during the boarding, to avoid having anyone connect and then sit. We waited and then the plane door closed and we knew we had accomplished our goal of having an empty middle seat for the almost 4-hour flight. After such a harrowing experience, we bonded and began chatting.
As it turns out, and usually does, her story was more interesting than mine. I was leaving my grandchildren and flying home to my husband. While I miss the children so much when we are apart, our relationship is, without a doubt, a forever one. The only sadness is that I won’t see them for about 6 weeks. However, the upside was that I was returning home to my wonderful husband who I was looking forward to seeing. Romantic, but sort of dull!
Now about my new seat friend: She has been dating a man from California for about 2 years and was not happy that the relationship hasn’t progressed. They meet in Las Vegas about every few months. It is much closer for him then coming to the East coast to see her. She seemed sad and said that he has never made the effort to come to her home. Along with that, she said that the relationship didn’t offer as strong as a connection as she would really like to have. She offered that for the Christmas holidays she always goes to a warm climate with her girl friends (thank goodness for girl friends!!). They leave on Christmas or right before, staying through New Year’s Eve.
This is where my tough love, tear inducing self enters: I ask her how she met the guy and she says online, which I truly believe can be a great way to meet someone. Then I ask why she doesn’t date someone closer to home, if this isn’t working for her, and that’s when her sadness begins to explode. She hasn’t been able to meet someone that she is attracted to and wants to date. The men associated with her job are married and, thank goodness, she said that she doesn’t want that at all. Then I say: Why not get back online and look for someone else if this guy isn’t giving you what you want! I told her that I am not Dr. Phil, but I could see that she is unhappy even talking about this. Then she began crying. OY! I felt so badly for her and then felt totally uncomfortable about not being able to say the right thing. As you can imagine, I tried though. I told her that she seemed like a lovely person and deserved better than to not have what she wanted in love. It was my attempt to validate her, even though I didn’t really know her life history. Then, I told her (and probably shouldn’t have) about an ill-fated long distance romance that I had before meeting my husband. I thought it would give her hope for the future – wrong!!! It was very sad and she cried more. She told me that the guy isn’t financially stable and she works hard to save money for retirement. As she was talking, she was hearing herself and became even sadder.
Now for the hard hearted part: She was looking out of the window, so I pulled out my iPad and began watching a movie I had downloaded for the trip. Even though I was enjoying the distraction of the movie, I still kept a semi-watchful eye out should she want to talk more. She fell asleep and I was glad, yet hopeful that meant some peace for her. Also, I wasn’t sure I wanted to say more to someone I really couldn’t do much for. I am always about the fix-up, but didn’t have anyone I could match with her. In a way, I was emotionally done with the discussion too.
After returning home, I wanted to learn more about long distance romances so the next time this comes up, I could offer advice that would be helpful rather than blab on in a way that makes things worse. I found a beinggirl.com article about long distance relationships that would have been useful, even for us grown-up girls. The reason I liked the article is that it offered advice in a context that would allow someone to assess and move his or her relationship to a more satisfying place. Here are the topics covered in the article:
Be realistic about your feelings for him and vice versa.
How strong is your connection?
Is your long-distance relationship fact or fantasy?
Facing the challenge, anticipating the obstacles.
The pain of saying goodbye.
The importance of seeing each other as often as possible.
Make sure you’re clear on the terms of your relationship.
Finally, make sure you don’t start living the life of a hermit when he’s not around.
If you know someone in a long distance relationships who talks about it a lot, and not in a good way, you may want to forward the article, as I believe it might help her take another look at what she is experiencing. It might also give you a better way to discuss this with her.
To all who love in a long distance way, hope it ends happily!!