February 29
I've worked for a big multi-national, lived abroad for several years, travelled a lot, now in politics. Married once but separated; no kids. Generally utilitarian except for minority rights.


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DECEMBER 4, 2011 8:04PM

Like Crazy–The Loneliness of the Long Distance Relationship

Rate: 19 Flag

          There’s a movie out now called Like Crazy and it’s about the effects of distance on a romantic relationship.  As I’ve had more of the long distance variety than I might have wished for, I was curious.  Then I got a strong recommendation from Hayley, with whom I had an eleven year romance where only three of them were spent in the same city.  I double checked against Rotten Tomatoes.  Not bad – low to high 70s.

          All the movie’s principals – director Drake Doremus and lead actors Felicity Jones and Anthon Yelchin were unknown to me.  The promotion budget was whatever it costs to run off one poster per cinema.  But it’s an engaging enough story.

          A couple, Jacob and Anna, fall for one another in college.  Both actors are a little underplayed and the movie doesn’t go for big, obvious lines or gags.  Much of the dialogue was improvised by the actors, as it was in the marvellous Before Sunset.  But the romance is plausible and both characters are likeable.  She’s British and overstays her visa because she can’t bear to part with him just yet.  When she returns to the UK, the overstayed visa prevents re-entry to the U.S.  She tries once but is turned back at the LA airport.  This established the distance.

          The coping part is handled pretty well.  Your life goes on but you don’t feel fully engaged.  There’s a phone call to be made or received, a letter (email these days) to compose and the general sense that whatever outing you’re on would be life-meaningfully enhanced if your love were with you.  While you try not to acknowledge it, you’re worried that your love will be swept of their feet by someone new; maybe a little more charming than oneself but definitely more available.

          At home you’re out with your friends when it dawns on you that part of the early 20s social scene is the expectation, hope or off-chance that you’ll hook up with someone.  But now you’re not interested; flirting is as far as you’ll take it, and some nights you find the wingman role uninteresting.

          Your plans revolve around weekend trips or vacations to see the other.  Finally they come but much as you want to see one another, there’s always a readjustment, some unnatural catching up, and reacclimization.  Idle, relaxing time is at a high premium so it gets short shrift.  Which doesn’t help because those languorous, aimless hours flesh out any relationship.  Sort of like how dark matter has to exist because the universe would be impossible without it.  On the other hand you go out a lot, it’s a whirlwind of activity and the sex is more than usually exuberant.

          Then there’s the anxious days or hours before the trip back home.  And the airport.  The ride there is tense because you’re rechecking your passport, your ticket and wondering what you might have forgotten.  Then it’s the inadequate parting, the realization that it’s way too much time till the next visit, followed by the disoriented, lonely trip back from the airport.  Invariably you find yourself seated near an excited couple who’ve just reunited.

          You face the recurring questions.  How long till we’re permanently in the same city?  Who would have to move and who, in terms of job, family, friends, cultural familiarity, gives up what?  Does winding up in the same city imply marriage?  Is it a pre-condition?  Is this really the right person for the long term or just a good, open-ended relationship?  Might I overly procrastinate and risk losing him or her to someone else?

          Most of the above themes were covered in Like Crazy.  They certainly were in my own life.  In an ultimately unsuccessful relationship there’s never just one problem.  But a big one in Hayley’s and mine was the non-agreement on who should follow whose career.  The outcome was that neither was inclined to be the follower.  And if I were the type given to wallowing regrets about roads not taken, I have the material for it.  Happily, I’m too superficial for that.




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Obviously the long odds of continued OS access don't phase me.


Seriously, me and wifey did the long distance relationship, me in Butte, Montana, her here in New Albany, Indiana, the phone bills were terrible(*now that we got anywhere long distance calling program, NOBODY TO CALL!!! :D)

Trying to explain how the dating and/or 'other parts of unmentionable things of relationship' worked to folks who most the time have their loves in the same city, is tough.

It can be done but it is work, which is why a lot of them go poof after awhile.


I hope...

I've seen the trailer for this film and it looks good. My wife, Marty, and I lived in different cities for about three years -- reengaging each weekend was really pretty hard, trying to merge back into each others lives -- it ain't for sissies.
Hey Tink, OS is just playing hard to get. But if they keep this up I'll be adding one more long distance relationship to my list.

I'd forgotten about those monstrous phone bills. Back in the 80s there were no phone cards and I've no doubt a few of those 1%ers bought yachts thanks to me.
It sure takes a toll MH. In my case I lucked into a great job that had me living in hotels all over the world for 10 years, which meant that the only relationships i had were long distance. It didn't help that Hayley seldom stayed in one city for more than a year.

The movie is low-key but enjoyable enough. You might want to check out Rotten Tomatoes and see what you favorite critic(s) have to say.
LSD = Lonely Separate Dating.

It's a drug! Just say no!
mhold - easier said than done if you think you may have found the right person. Anyone who winds up in one has my sympathies.
There is a lot to be said for superficiality.

On the other hand—and I have not seen the film of course—you were certainly not superficial in you analysis of the components of one of these deals. I swear, everyone's experience of this is exactly the same.
Thanks Brass. I had a lot of first hand experience to draw on. And by superficial I meant that having read a lot of other OSers blogs, I don't have it in me to write the searing, self-analytic posts. I think I must be less introspective, or less capable of it, than most folks here. Perhaps "superficial" isn't quite the right word.
Well I have had many long distance relationships and they are just as difficult and rewarding as any relationship. On the plus side you get your own life and a relationship too. You can smooch and talk on the phone or other cybersites for long hours but then you log off and you are in your own space and can veg out and eat pie to your hearts content. Then they come back in their electronic form and turn you the blank on and you get all excited and satisfied and then they are gone again and you are on your own and it isn't really that bad. The modern world has many options and making "it" work isnt easy no matter what you do. I just know that real love can climb mountains and overcome time and space as we know it.
You are anything but superficial! I know people who believe they would prefer a long-distance relationship. They have no idea.

Thanks for these personal observations on long distance relationships. I've never been in one and don't think I'd be cut out for it, for many of the very reasons you outline above. For me, the thing about being in that special relationship with someone is the actually being with them and the day-to-day time spent interacting. I understand that sometimes people don't have options but I thank my lucky stars that I haven't had to go there.
"Idle, relaxing time is at a high premium so it gets short shrift. Which doesn’t help because those languorous, aimless hours flesh out any relationship. Sort of like how dark matter has to exist because the universe would be impossible without it."

Sounds like the observations of someone who is both introspective and has done more than a little self-analysis. You don't necessarily have to be searing and emotional to uncover truths about yourself and your experiences. And wallowing in regret, unless it leads to growth or discovery, is just wallowing. It gets old, too.

I've never had a long-distance relationship but I can easily see how not having that day to day time could kill it. I knew a woman whose husband's job required him to be out of the country for most of the year. She said when he was home, she and her daughters had gotten into such a routine that he was more like a guest and sometimes an irritating, inconvenient one at that. They'd lived this way for over ten years and it sounded awful.
Superficiality comes in handy sometimes, doesn't it? Abrawang, sometimes romance on the road sounds kind of exciting, but I know it really isn't. Especially when love and the tangled-up in blue part comes into it.

Thanks for the movie recommendation and great version of this song.
zanelle – I had one where for a year and half we just vacationed together. She lived on the west coast and iwas in Europe so the distance was a huge factor. I liked her a lot so the distance wasn’t a problem. And you’re right about being able to fall back on your own routines. But had I been in love it would have been quite different. One of the characters in the movie said something like how the world just didn’t feel right when they weren’t together.

Lezlie – maybe they’re in a bad relationship where the distance factor is appealing. But if you’re really fond of the other, it’s bad.

Count your blessings Various. You’re right that the day-to-day trivia can really add, not just to a relationship, but with your whole outlook on life.

Margaret – thanks for the comment. I guess I’m lucky in having a bit of that Don’t Look Back strand of DNA. At least not to the extent of stewing. That woman you know sounds like a lot of wives after WW2 who had trouble coping with their hubbies after a few years of absence. Or retired couples who hadn’t reckoned on so much company.
Hi Scarlett. The romance on the road has plenty of exhilarating moments so it's good in that sense. Terrible though for building anything long-term and sometimes those absences just feel like life slipping away.

The TUIB version is from the Rolling Thunder tour. There used to be many numbers on YouTube but about a year ago almost everything of Dylan's was taken down. A highlight was a rollicking version of Isis.
i'm thinking i would like this movie, so thanks for the review, abrawang. the long-distance thing and whether it would work is dependent on a zillion things: what you want your day-to-day life to be like, how much you need someone around all/most of the time to be what you call happy, if you want a committed relationship/marriage or not. and all that excludes kids, i think, since if you're going to be a parent, you have to be around. my daydream of a perfect marriage has always included distance, or two houses a few blocks from each other or across town. maybe i'm superficial :) or a little selfish or busy or ... or just old and have done all those other things. i liked this post for lots of reasons, one of which is making me think about this again.
It's been so long I can hardly remember the pain and joy of long distance relationships. Whose career follows whose, seems to be a big source of stress in a relationship. I regret that we couldn't have let mine follow my wife's at some point. OS is working this morning. This weekend was impossible. R
femme, or Candace, what you’re describing is similar to Kathryn Hepburn’s observation that men and women should be neighbors and visit one another now and then. You’re right that kids change the equation. And how much you want someone around of course depends on how well you fit with them. I need a certain amount of private time, a fair bit more than my ex did.

Rodney – had I followed Hayley’s career, I’d be living in Berkeley now. Not too bad an outcome. But when the crucial moment arose I couldn’t resist a few years working in Europe.
You are making me re-think my membership in a UK dating site.
Great piece of great meaning to those of us who have been (and may still be in) long-distance relationships. And you're right. Someone has to move. But who?
There's pros and cons Ardee. The fact that you have "someone" is comforting and means you have someone with whom to take vacations. Plus as femme noted, you still have your own space. The catch 22 is that as you get more serious, the separation is harder to take. And the separation makes it hard for it to develop into something more serious, or the distance leads you to overlook things that ought to be warning signs. Good luck regardless.
Nice summary. I'm not familiar with the director or leads either. Although somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice was telling me, "Felicity Jones - good looking." Which IMDB confirmed.

My longest distance relationship was a grand total of around 100 miles. It collapsed within a couple months.
I've been eyeing this movie, and your personal (unsuperficial) experience and perspective make me really want to see it.
Mary – may still be in a LDR? That’s the most enigmatic comment I’ve read for a long time. As to who moves, I’d say the factors are who is most easily able to find work in a new location, whose current job comes closest to being the dream job, which location is the nicer to live in, who is cutting themselves of from the most, and maybe who’s in love the most. Note that I’m better on questions than answers.

Stim – yes, Felicity is pretty but not in the overly Hollywood sense. And 100 miles still means it’s a weekend relationship at best. Even that is tough to sustain, as you say.

Bell – you might want to check out a couple of critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle has a very positive, insightful one. As I mentioned to Brass, superficial may not be the best word. I was looking for something like an antonym for introspective.
I agree long distance relationships are really trying affairs. I think I will follow your lead. Cheers and more and always double check for the passport.
Hi Algis. All that last minute checking about the passport, ticket, entry card in some countries is why I prefer to say my goodbyes in the city. And sometimes the LD relationship beats nothing at all.
I will have to see it! Great review~!
Hi Susie. As I mentioned in my comment to Bell, I'd check out the reviews of one or two critics. I liked it but it's not your usual Hollywood movie. Then again, I don't know what your tastes run to.