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Too close for comfort: The downside of long distance relationships

Leon Saw

Thu Aug 23 2012

too close for comfort

WE’VE had a lot of sad, long distance relationship stories lately, but maybe our columnists are being a tad melodramatic. Leon Saw sure thinks so. He shares this thoughts on the sometimes “suffocating” nature of long distance love.

“I’m going to miss you so, so much,” she whispered tenderly into his ear, as delicate teardrops trailed down her pale cheeks. They had been holding each other, entwined in a tight embrace as though their very existences hinged upon it.

When they finally, gingerly relinquished each other, his hand was still in hers. Their arms eventually formed a taut horizontal line as she reluctantly backed herself towards the departure gate. Just as it seemed like she would collapse back into his arms, she let both theirs fall lifelessly, forlornly accepting the inevitable.

Giving him one last melancholic look, she rounded the corner, physically disappearing from his world for the next couple of months.

“Wow…that was what, the fourth time? Are you alright?” I enquired, concern etched across my face.

“Relieved,” my friend replied flatly.


After that display, the romantic equivalent of fingernails on chalkboard, I expected, “Devastated”, “Distraught”, “Gutted”, “Shattered” or “Kill me now”. I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at a half-hearted, “Sad” even. But “Relieved”?

“Dude…you aren’t…cheating on her…are you?” I ventured cautiously.

“Huh? Oh, no…It’s just that every time she’s back for the holidays, she wants to spend every single second of her time with me and it’s suffocating,” he sighed.

And then it dawned on me, it was suffocating indeed. Our friends hardly see him when she’s around. And even when she isn’t, he’d almost always has to leave us early to take her long-distance calls.

We’re childhood friends. Back then, his mother imposed the curfews. Now, it’s his girlfriend.

The power of love indeed. Or should I say, the all-consuming, soul-destroying power of love?

“Well have you talked to her about it?” I pressed.

“No. You know how she is, I don’t want to upset her,” my friend explained. “I’m just hoping things will get better once she’s graduated and back for good.”

“You know it’s not going to end well right?” I said.

The silence that followed my question spoke louder than words.

It didn’t end well.

He called it off after she finished her degree and they never saw, or spoke, to each other ever again.

It did end well for another friend of mine though.

His girlfriend was going away on exchange and they took the opportunity to give each other some space and revaluate their relationship. After she got back, they concluded they weren’t right for each other and parted amicably, remaining friends up to this day.

It seems long distance relationships aren’t always the catastrophic nuclear holocaust, where buckets of tears are shed, wrists are slashed and kittens are drowned, as some people appear to liken it to.

Can’t they be viewed as periods for personal growth, which in my opinion help strengthen the relationship?

If your partner’s heading off to a foreign land to study or work, wouldn’t you be excited and happy for them? Why would you bawl your eyes out and emotionally shackle them to the fact they won’t be physically around for you, thereby possibly making them feel guilty for feeling  just about anything other than sheer, utter despair?

Similarly, if you’re the one going on the adventure, wouldn’t you want to have the experience of a lifetime? Go explore, acquire new experiences, and dare I say, meet plenty of new people? Who knows? You may end up appreciating your partner more. And just imagine all the interesting and memorable stories you could share.

In a globalised era where career or educational pursuits can take you or your partner to faraway places, committing to a long distance relationship is commendable. However, it should, in no way be allowed to adversely affect either person’s well-being.

Perhaps then, absence will truly make the heart grow fonder and not be met with a heavy sigh of relief and the dread of an impending reunion.

Ever been in a long distance relationship that suffocated you? Share your thoughts with us below.