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Conquering Long Distance

Communication between couples can be difficult from the next room, let alone the next city or state. Can your relationship go the distance? The 4-way panel discusses long distance relationships.

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Dear 4-Way,

Recently, I broke up with a guy that I’d been dating for three months, but I’ve known him for six years. I am deeply in love with him, and we only broke up because we had to move away from each other because of jobs. We now live over two hours away from each other. I still can’t seem to date anyone else and neither can he. He doesn’t say that he doesn’t love me, but he told me he won’t say it because last time he said it, he got hurt. We see each other every other weekend, which has been fine, but today he informed me that he’s moving even further away—four hours!—which will make it harder on us since we won’t be able to see each other as often. Should I wait it out and see if something happens because I do love him, or should I try really hard to find someone new?—BH, San Antonio, Texas

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox

Is it more of a hassle than it’s worth? It sounds like it. I know you aren’t going to like hearing this, but if you’re doubling the distance, you already know it’s going to be even harder to see the guy regularly. What are you planning to do now? See each other once a month? Don’t you deserve more than a once a month visit? You mentioned that you’re deeply in love with him and that he “doesn’t say he doesn’t love you.” What does that mean? Have you asked him if he loves you and gotten a response of, “Yes, but I can't bring myself to say it?” Then we may be on to something. I guess I’m just saying that I don’t understand why, if someone loves someone else, he can’t just say it. How can he not say it? Since you’ve known each other for six years, maybe he doesn’t want to hurt you by saying he just wants to move on and have you in his life only as a friend. A lot of guys have a hard time telling the ladies that it isn’t working out and that they need to move on. Instead, they string you along with false hopes that someday things will change. Get back in the drivers seat, BH—not to make a road trip, but to get to some solid reassurance that you aren’t just wasting time and gas money.

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

I wish I was one of those hopeless romantics that would tell you that it will all be okay. But I’m not. I’m just bitter old me, packin’ my unfiltered Marlboro Reds, a shot of Maker’s, and my advice, which you probably won’t like, but here goes.

There’s more to a successful relationship than just love—you also have to consider things like timing and geography. And in long distance relationships, you need to have a plan, which might be something like this: we’re going to date for (insert the time limit of your choice here) and see how it goes. At that point, we’ll see how we feel and how it’s working. If we decide to keep going, we need to figure out what steps to take to be in the same place, wherever that may be.  Maybe the first step is to talk to your guy about creating a plan. Discuss how often you’d like to see each other and how the effort will be divided. How will you split up the traveling? Will you date other people while you’re apart or will you be exclusive?

It concerns me that you say you’re deeply in love with him, but he hasn’t admitted to having those feelings for you. I still think you should talk about a plan, but be prepared to be met with some beating around the bush. If he doesn’t jump at the opportunity to figure out how to make it work, don’t wait around for him. But don’t necessarily “try really hard” to find someone new, just for the sake of having someone. Just keep your heart open, and let the universe work its magic. Love will find you; you just gotta have faith. That’s what George Michael says anyway.

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy

In honor of you being from Texas, let me slip on my cowboy boots. (Grrr … they’re a little tight … ugh … ah, here we go.) Now, that I got ‘em on, prepare for a good ole Texas butt-kickin’.

I was expecting you to say this guy moved halfway across the country or at least to another state. But two hours away?! Who breaks up with someone they’re deeply in love with—your words not mine—because their lover moves two hours away?!?! Inconvenient? Yes. Dealbreaker? No. Maybe this is the LA commuter in me talking, but two hours is like a neighbor to us Los Angelenos.

And here’s another kicker, you still continue to see him anyway!  Woman, you’re confusin’ me. I got a hunch you’re throwin’ around the word “love” like a rancher throwin’ a lasso at a wild herd. You jumped out of this relationship quicker than a rodeo bull out of the shoot. The fact that you’re already trying to date other men is an indication that you’re ready to move on and not so deeply in love. But no one else has come along, so you go back to the well of your sure thing.  But NOW, your sure thing is ridin’ off further on down the road and you’re realizing that you’re alone.  You have to ask yerself, do you just want him cuz you don’t want to be a lonesome dove? Or do you really want his boots on your doorstep?

If you find he’s really someone you love, put everything you have into it. Four hours still ain’t that bad—couples lots father apart than that have made it work.  If you find you don’t really love him like you say, then you can end it and recommit yourself to finding someone new … within two hours of your homestead.

The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer

Lots to consider here, BH. What’s up with the double negatives? “He doesn’t say that he doesn’t love me.” A double negative equals a positive. Translation: “He loves me.” Maybe, but he seems stuck. This guys needs to get into some good therapy and see what’s holding him back from connecting. His flesh may be willing, but his words are weak. But he isn’t asking for advice from us, you are—though I do wonder how he feels about the move and how he sees it affecting your relationship. Clearly it’s made you upset and wanting more of him. Does he still want to “not not love you” from afar?

Growing up, my mom told me to take note when people say they will try to do something. In her experience, when people say they will try, they do not believe that they will actually succeed at their task. Think about it. “I will try to love you.” But “I’m not sure if I’m up to it” can certainly be heard echoing through the words. I don’t really feel that you’re interested in trying really hard to meet someone else. You want this guy. Why you want a guy who is clearly afraid to move forward and is living in his past deserves a whole separate column.

If you’re really interested in seeing where things are with Mr. Move-Away, pull back in your contact with him. See if he’ll come forward to meet you. If not, you have your answer and you must do better than try to move on. You need to get out and find someone with whom you can build a relationship and don’t have to spend $100 on gas to see. You need a guy who is traveling on the road towards connection, not away from it.

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