The Constant State of Panic

As I’ve lately alluded, I am currently intrigued by the hypothetical–and possibly practical–prospect of dating someone long-distance.

(Does it seem as though I’m being deliberately cagey about my present situation? It’s true: I am being deliberately cagey about my present situation. It’s gotta be.)

Regardless, it’s also true that several of my girlfriends are now involved, to varying degrees of intensity, with men who live in different states. Men who lived in different states, I should add, when they began to be involved with them.

So, by necessity, these relationships developed and are conducted via technology: through email, over the phone and with text messages.

In other words: these relationships translate to living in a Constant State of Panic. A Constant State of Panic that the other person will not write back. That they will not call back. That they will not return a text. That they will vanish because they have met someone else, forgotten you exist or realized that they simply aren’t interested.

What, does that sound irrational?

The romance, the excitement of dating someone far away lies in the constant exchange of emotional intimacy. Since there is no regular opportunity to be intimate physically, the relationship depends on a connection that must be articulated through words–thoughts, feelings and ideas. Which is thrilling. And also, terrifying.

Of course, there is never total certainty in a relationship. Even in a marriage, as we all know, there’s always the possibility that one person can get up and leave. Love is one part of life in which protecting others means being selfish: to be with someone that we don’t truly want to be with is as toxic for them as it is for us. There is always a leap of faith.

But we’d all go crazy–or, never try and commit–if we didn’t sheath ourselves in various folds of security. Much of that involves the immediate and the physical: living together, sleeping together, eating meals and watching movies–being with someone usually means, literally, being with them.

So how do you feel secure  someone is going to stick around when they’re not actually around to begin with? Especially when they never have been?

You don’t. You trust. You write what you hope are charming and witty letters that not only maintain but further the connection already established.

And then you live in a Constant State of Panic that you’re right.

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8 Comments

Filed under Love Life

8 responses to “The Constant State of Panic

  1. richard vargas

    hmm. been doing the long distance thing since last august. she’s come here twice, i’ve gone back to illinois twice. and she’s moving out here late may/early june. yes, sometimes you wonder if it’s going to last. you commit, but the long distance creates periodic fits of doubt. not for me, i knew where i stood… but i would wonder about her. and i wouldn’t have blamed her. but we face book, talk on the phone almost every night. and then one day we wake up and… boom. we’re finally in the same space. it’s the first time i’ve done the long distance thing, but sometimes that’s where it’s at. my advice: go for it.

    • That’s so exciting that she’s coming here, Richard! I think the “long distance thing” is do-able when there’s an end in sight, but more difficult–though certainly still possible–when there isn’t. I guess, like with everything else, different things work for different people…

  2. Liv

    Wow do I relate to this post. Basically, I owe the continuing success of my current relationship to Skype. Nothing like an undelivered text message lost across time zones from NZ to the USA to set off that “constant state of panic” I thought I could ease out of.

    • Oh man! Glad you can relate. It’s astonishing the fantasies we can concoct in the five minutes it takes someone to return a text, or three hours to return an email, huh…that’s quite a distance you’re managing, though! Try not to panic too much!

  3. davkow

    Too bad you don’t seem to be actively seeking guest bloggers right now because I could write about what it is like to date a woman and then be dropped because she decided to go back to the guy she was dating before me… who yes, you guessed it, was living in a different state.

    • I hadn’t considered this guest blogger idea! But I have absolutely nothing to say today and fear such a thing may happen again…not a bad concept!

  4. Suz

    Yay, for constant states of panic! Without it I might: actually get homework done, have intellectual thoughts again, or maybe even sleep.

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