Last summer, I met a woman at an annual event for the company we both work for. We had spoken a few times on the phone, so we knew of each other. But the moment I met her in person, my jaw dropped. I had an instant, gut-wrenching visceral attraction for her that I have never experienced before in my 47 years (she's 39). If she were writing this letter, she would say the same thing about me. I've dated many beautiful women in my life, but she was and is the most utterly and completely stunning woman I've ever laid eyes on. Our mutual attraction was so obvious to each other that we blushingly talked about it, and teased each other about it as well. Neither one of us had ever felt anything like this before. We talked a lot for the two days we were at the event, and, on top of the physical attraction, we discovered we had a lot of similar interests, which only heightened the newfound feelings between us. We were both unattached at that time as well. We never actually had sex that week, but we came close. Sadly, the event came to an end and we had to go our separate ways. And there's the rub -- she lives in Seattle and I live in Los Angeles. I barely slept the following two nights when I got home. I could not stop thinking about her. She had the same two nights I did.
We talked the following Monday and, as much as we both knew it was crazy given the distance between us, decided to get together again. In the interim, we talked and e-mailed each other daily, and got to know each other a little better. The more we communicated, the deeper the attraction seemed to grow.
So I flew up to Seattle one weekend and we had an indescribably marvelous time together. I've since been back a few more times and our feelings have grown into something bordering on loony. Physically, we can't get enough of each other. Every time we make love, it's like an out-of-body experience than can literally go on for hours. Mentally we're on the same plane as well. I'm not one to invoke deities or the powers that be, but it's almost like we were put on this earth just to be with each other. I know how corny that sentiment is, but it's true.
As we knew it would, the distance is proving to be frustrating, and a Catch-22 as well. She's going to pay a few visits here, and if she likes it, may consider moving down here. And here's the catch. We need to spend some serious and extended daily time together. The kind of time where those little personal quirks and ways of doing things surface that can really tell two people if they truly are compatible long-term. The distance between us doesn't allow more than a long weekend together every two or three weeks or so. We're both very aware this ga-ga beginning phase of our relationship, any relationship for that matter, can't go on forever. We are both fearful that we're looking at this through rose-colored lenses, and we'll never have the time we need to truly "see."
Any thoughts or advice on long-distance love affairs, Cary? Do they, can they actually work out in the long run? Is there really such a thing as love at first sight?
Lost in the Distance
Consider yourself found. What a wonderful thing. I don't see why such a relationship couldn't continue for a year or two long-distance, but eventually you will both feel the need to be near each other, in the same city or in the same house. What seems to ruin long-distance relationships is not the physical distance or the practical obstacles, but the way doubts and insecurities arise and multiply during long absences, and the way the distance and the obstacles can become metaphors for emotional insecurity and the doubt that comes of having too much time to think. You start wondering about each other. You start fretting over what she might be doing. To prevent that from happening, I would just be completely selfless and positive; assure her that you're utterly willing to do whatever it takes to spend your life with her, and be completely ready to move; don't let the practical barriers start to look like psychological ones. But don't be rushing her either; just be willing. Wait until she's ready. Sometimes even mentioning the arduous obstacles of distance can make her fear that you're trying to weasel out. Just stay positive.
As to discovering all her little quirks, unless you find, for instance, that she drives a Chevy Caprice with a hole in the trunk for a rifle, or that the bones of her neighbors' children are buried under the floorboards of her bungalow, I don't think you really need to worry about finding all her idiosyncrasies. Sure, if you cohabit, she will drive you mad. That's just par for the course. But what is madness where love is concerned?
Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.