I’m dating a Parisian, the hardest part of which isn't all the cigarettes and mistresses, but rather the 3 hours between us by train, a pricey trip. So we’re doing the whole long distance thing, which'll be even longer when we’re soon on different continents again. You know what, though? I could get used to it.
I started thinking about this last week, on Valentine’s Day, when he was in Paris and I was in Saint-Nazaire. The height of the day’s celebration was my addition of a cupid bitmoji in our snapchats. Other than that, it was just a Wednesday--chill, no pressure. Then I got to scroll through Instagram that night and live vicariously through pictures of friends celebrating Galentines or couples on candlelit dates or individuals tearing up love letters. Of course, since I’m me, I did worry that we failed Valentine’s Day as represented by Instagram’s explosion of all things pastel pink, but by the next morning I woke up with enough perspective to go on not caring.
It does help that France as a country doesn’t get quite as hyped for Valentine’s Day as Americans do--they call it Saint Valentin, and while I’m sure that some people somewhere did something to celebrate it, I didn’t see much. Actually, France is pretty low-hype in general. They’re better about finesse and subtlety than my toddler of a country, which tends to shout everything from the rooftops.
That chill vibe is what works for long-distance, or at least it does for us. Well, until I draw attention to it by making our relationship the subject of a big fat blog post, I guess, but here we are.
First of all, when you’re dating someone who lives far away, you get to have your own independent lives and then bring them together from time to time when the excitement of finally seeing each other is so great that neither party thinks too much about the little annoying habits each of you has developed in the other’s absence. It’s like when you made up that Canadian boyfriend to seem cool in middle school when everyone else had already been kissed, except that now he’s real, and he has an apartment in Paris you can stay in for free.
You’re also not defined by the person you’re dating, since only your close friends and family have been able to see him during the handful of times he’s been in town. That means you get to describe him however you want to whoever asks, since they’ll probably never meet him anyway. It’s perfect for over or under-romanticizing your life to whatever extent you’re comfortable. Want everyone to know about your boo? Post all over Facebook about how much it hurts to be away from your one true love. Want to keep it to yourself? Keep it to yourself, it’s that simple. His physical absence will prevent any tagged pictures from popping up and blowing your cover.
Of course, when it comes to the more private aspects of the relationship, long-distance does mean that most of your life together is just talking, so while that doesn’t always feel like enough, you do actually get to know each other. You're pen pals with benefits. There’s not much else you really can do. I have heard of couples mailing each other surprise gifts and flowers or dressing up for Skype dates, but that sounds like too much effort to be a real thing that real people do. I’m not buying it.
When it comes down to it, I’d say that a long-distance relationship is like having a cat, and a no-distance relationship is like having a dog. A cat might not always be there to greet you at the door, but you know it's around somewhere, and that feels nice enough. A dog is a more constant companion, sure, but at the steep price of constant petting, long walks, and treats. Cats can’t always be there for you, maybe not even when you really need it, but when they are, it’s special. It's no surprise I've always been more of a cat person.
So, to anyone teetering on the brink of a long distance relationship who’s afraid to jump in, just know that I’d recommend it, even though it does suck sometimes. However, if you’re looking for helpful tips and tricks to keep it going strong, do not ask me. Google it. There's plenty of listicles. Otherwise, if this blog post didn’t already make it abundantly clear, I have no idea what I’m doing. That’s nothing new. I’m just happy I’m doing it.