Long-distance relationship: Is it worth it?

A friend once told me long-distance relationships should be avoided like the plague.

"In fact," he said, "they are worse than the plague because at least with the plague you can die and be put out of your misery."

He and I aren't quite on the same page there, but there's no avoiding the fact that long-distance relationships can be, to put it mildly, tricky.

If love were all logical, no one would get into LDRs. What reasonable person would make an investment in someone who isn't going to be around? But what about those who are involved and later become separated by distance? Well, if you've been there, you know it's not easy.

The times when you do see each other can be head-spinning. You need intimate, romantic time. You need town-painting time. There's often even a need for Talk About the Relationship time. And then you want to cram in as much hanky-panky as you can stand. It's exhausting.

But is it worth it? The ache of separation, the phone bills, the cobwebs in your knickers, the pain when goodbye comes around again? The easy answer is that if the person is worthwhile, so is the hassle. And sometimes, some sacrifice is necessary.

"On the one hand," said Chloe, "why not explore your own opportunities while you are still young? On the other hand, why have to give up someone you care about in order to do that?"

Fortunately, the myriad methods of communication available make it easy to stay in touch, though there really is no substitute for the real thing.

Still, I know the pain-in-the-rear-endness of the LDR I've been in for the last three years has been much easier than the four years my grandparents were apart while my grandfather was stationed in North Africa and Italy.

The key is that for all the effort a relationship takes, a long-distance one takes even more. You have to be thoughtful. I'm a fan of cards for no reason other than to say "I love you."

A game plan helps, including some notion of when you'll be back together for good. And you have to be creative. (I stop short of recommending e-mailing dirty pictures. If those were to get into the wrong hands ... egads.)

Most importantly, you need love. Plus plenty of cell minutes, a dose of healthy optimism and perhaps a bit of masochism as well.

Contact Holly Leber at hleber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6391.

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