The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

January 11, 2008

Long Distance

Oh boy.

And I do mean boy.

But boy means male, and a boy can be any age, really.

I thought my son, 16, was over his long-distance relationship with a girl who used to go to his school and who moved about seven hours north of here.

In fact, it was only Thursday night that he told me thought he would end it, acknowledging that he thought I was right. That's now changed again because she'll be able to come and visit every once in a while.

I had been gently trying to tell him that, well, long-distance relationships don't work, or at least rarely can.

See, there's this problem.

You can get emotionally attached in a beautiful way. But how can you really know who or what you are getting attached to? I mean, totally?

You're getting attached to something or someone you can't see, can't feel, can't touch.

You can't see their eyes when you say something, you can't be mesmerized or repelled or whatever by their body language and little nuances, can't see how they are at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. or in between.

Emotional attachments, don't get me wrong, are spectacular. They're the foundation, if they last, for amazing relationships. Those kinds of things can't be denied and they're what we all seek the most, I think.

But emotions are just part of the equation, and even then, they can't be totally believed if they're just by email, text messaging, IM or whatever. There's chemistry and intermingling and other neat stuff that no electronic medium can replicate.

There's a look in the eyes, a recoil to the touch, a turn of the cheek towards or away, a whine or a frown or whatever that makes all the difference...smells, unique features or ways of doing things...

A hand placed on the lover's lap that just isn't visible or possible from hundreds or thousands of kilometres or miles away, no matter how passionate you want to be.

I have had, or have tried to have, such relationships. And the results have been, to use a cliche, close but no cigar.

There's a reason why we are creatures who have evolved things like dances and other social occasions to meet members of the opposite sex (or whatever sex we prefer). It's called reality, which includes using all of our natural senses.

My son's decided that because she can come here and visit a few times, that he won't split with her. He knows what I think, because I've told him, but he's going ahead anyway, which is what I've told him he's got to do.

I want him to learn on his own, without me dictating to him, and I want him to make his own mistakes, if that's what this is, and I think it is. We've gotten past the issue of long-distance telephone bills and that stuff.

Now it's just about him and her. I think he'll eventually figure it out himself, but for now, some girl 700 kms. away is almost all he's thinking about.

There's something lovely about that, but also tragic in the sense that the prospects are dim.

But life's prospects are always dim, if you look at it in a negative way. He will learn. And I want him to learn. And to love.


  1. Been there, done that. I was in a relationship with somebody I'd never even met for about two years. It's tough, painful, and in the end it's just not worth it. But it's something he needs to learn in his own time.

    Then again, I look at my brother - he went to college with a girl from Malaysia, and she had to go back there afterwards. They've been dating for about seven or eight years or something now, despite him living in Canberra and her being in Singapore most of the time. They see each other as often as they can, but it's far from what I'd call a "normal" relationship. They did break it off at one point and see other people, but that soooo didn't work, they're just so right together despite the distance.

    So maybe it can work, sometimes... good luck to the kids!

    Sorry about last night, by the way, I really shouldn't drink alone!! haha

  2. Stace:

    Ha! Who hasn't been there?

    We need to remember he's only 16. Still, I can't tell him it's all puppy love or whatever, that would be disrespecting of him and his feelings.

    He's a very compassionate, feeling, emotional guy. I don't want to put a blight on that.

    I agree (as per your brother, potentially) that it CAN work, it's just the odds are so much greater and you're just putting more hurdles in the way.

    It seems to me it's difficult enough to find a fantastic connection, forget about putting extra challenges in the way.

    Don't be sorry about last night. If I could magically pop into Melbourne, I would do so...

  3. I'm sure most have experienced long distance relationships. I know I have. I was in Montreal, he lived in Toronto. The relationship lasted two years and we saw each other as often as possible - usually every second weekend or once a month at the very least. After the relationship ended, we maintained a platonic friendship. Ten years later, I discovered he had been lying to me about who he was through all of those years.

    I think I'd be hesitant to engage in a long distance relationship again. Sometimes, though, you just can't deny the connection and you feel compelled to explore it.

    Once again, you show just how much of an amazing father you are by allowing him to make his own mistakes while doing everything you can to share your wisdom with him. You rock! ;)

  4. You're a wizard, Chris!!! (I might have recently been re-watching Harry Potter the first) POP!

    I was about 16 when my long-distance relationship ended. It's easy to say he's just a kid or whatever, but I remember perfectly well that I truly believed I was in love and it was all going to work out. Just because the person feeling an emotion is young or emotionally immature, that doesn't make it any less real to him.

    Being a parent must be tough. I pity my own!!! (Although I still plan to be one, one day...)

  5. Anna:

    Another new avatar! Nice!

    I think I remember you posting about him. And who knows for sure, but maybe that distance helped him convince you he was someone else rather than who he really was.

    The beauty of us as people is that we're intelligent and feeling enough to be able to form bonds over long distances, now especially more than ever before.

    I agree that once a connection is there, whether you're 10 inches or 10,000 miles apart, it's hard not to want to pursue it.

    And sparks and fireworks can and do result, despite the distance. Still, it's not entirely real.

    I rock, all right, in a rock-headed sort of way :-)


    Pop! Maybe I should watch Harry Potter again tonight, so I can figure out how to do that...

    You're's not about what I feel or know, it's about what he feels and thinks he knows.

    That's No. 1.

    I'm sure you'll be a great mom...

  6. I totally agree, and I learned the hard way, that things are not entirely real. However, I think a relationship that starts as long distance, and has two people who are working towards eliminating that distance, can totally work. Then again, maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic or a very naive woman in spite of experience that tells me to be otherwise.

  7. Anna:

    You totally agree I'm rock-headed?


    We're just having a pleasant conversation here...

    I'm not saying it can't happen. But it seems to me that it just makes the odds against it working skyrocket.

    If the basis of the relationship is built on the Internet, email, IM, the phone or anything other than considerable time spent with that person, I wonder how both those people can know enough about each other to make the commitment to eliminate the distance between them.

    If one gives up their job and life and what they know to move to the city where the other lives...yeah, it can work.

    I guess what I'm saying is there are so many things those two people can't know about one another. And it's a mighty big risk to take and could result in a lot of potential hurt and disappointment.

    I can't say I'd never do it again, but I sure would have to be thinkin' I can't be without her and I'm willing to go to the wall (of China, if necessary) to be with her.

  8. Agreed, minus the rock-headed part... you silly goof! :)

  9. Anna:

    There's that word "silly" again. Kinda goes good with "rock-headed," doncha think?


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