• Thu, Feb 10 2011

How to Manage a Middle-Distance Relationship

Here at Team Gloss, we’ve written about the middle-distance relationship before. This sort of relationship is hardly a new phenomenon, it seems that the term itself is just coming into being. The term is even new to me, and I’ve been in one for a year and a half (I’ve been referring to it as a “mid-distance relationship,” but I think “middle-distance” glides off the tongue better). To how many others is this a new thing?

Here’s my situation: I live in Brooklyn, and my boyfriend lives in Jersey. By Jersey, though, I’m not talking about a section right outside the city and easily accessible via the subway extension that is the PATH; no, I mean the shore, which is a little more than the proverbial hop, skip, and jump away. The New Jersey public transportation buses do in fact go there, but it’s still an hour and fifteen minute ride in either direction, and that’s at its shortest. Depending on traffic… well, let’s just that it can get epic. Not as epic as a cross-country flight, but still pretty epic; and according to TheGloss’ proposed definition, that makes it a middle-distance relationship.

Relationship expert Chiara Atik of HowAboutWe says of the middle-distance relationship:

“I think especially for young couples, Middle Distance dating can actually be ideal. It gives you the freedom to concentrate on work and see your friends during the week, but you still get to see your significant other on weekends with relative ease (and the distance isn’t so great that you can’t make exceptions to the weekends-only regimen.) It’s a great alternative to the stifling, ‘always together’ mode of a lot of other couples immediately fall into, and allows the relationship to develop naturally and healthily without the immediate loss of individuality.”

I find this for the most part to be pretty accurate. When my boyfriend and I first started seeing each other, the distance meant that we weren’t able to overdose on each other the way so many couples do in the early days of a relationship. Where it DOES start getting complicated is when you’ve been together for a while and would dearly love to have more time with each other than you do. Does it suck sometimes? Of course. It can be tough knowing that we can’t just randomly decide to meet up for dinner one night. In some ways, I think it may even be harder than it would be were we in a cross-country relationship: it can be a weird sort of torture to know that we’re actually pretty close TO each other, but not close enough to SEE each other. We also both have atypical work schedules, which means that we can’t always rely on the weekends being free– and yes, sometimes that means several-week-long dry spells. But it’s no one’s fault; it’s just the way things are, so we roll with it.

How, you say? Like every relationship, what works for one couple may not work for another, but here are some things I’ve learned about maintaining a relationship over a somewhat awkward distance and strategies for how to cope with it.

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  • Ashlee

    I too am in a middle distance relationship. My boyfriend is from my hometown, but he goes to school and lives an hour and a half away. But for basically the first four months of our relationship, he was living five hours away for a Co-op for school. And here in a little over a month, he’s moving to Germany for six months. The distance doesn’t really phase me anymore, we’ve grown used to it. Typically, we’ll text on and off during the day, between classes. And like you, keep our facebook chat logged in for the evening. We see each other at least every other weekend, he’s very generous and sweet about making the drive despite being a poor college student. Recently though, our communication has started to become strained, so we’re going to try the talk on the phone thing.

    It is very frustrating knowing that you’re relatively close to someone, but not WITH them. But if both of you are dedicated to communicating and putting in effort, it’s very doable.

  • Erin

    I feel like my relationship is sort of on the cusp of middle and long distance (2.5 hours), but I really enjoyed both this piece. Lucia does a great job at pointing out hints, many of which we’re already doing and I think are working for us so far. I definitely find it’s often equal parts frustrating and liberating, and the thing that worries me the most is what happens down the road. At 7 months in neither one of us is considering making major geographic changes…but I also feel that for long-distance to translate to long-term something’s gotta give. In the interim I’m hoping we continue to make it work as we have been so far.

  • joofie

    It’s nice to see something out there on this topic. My girlfriend and I have both recently moved back in with our own families, and are currently situated about 80 minutes apart by public transit. We are each looking for as much work as we can find as we wait for news from graduate programs.

    With that said, I wonder if The Gloss could use a part-time or freelance copy editor, as this article is marred by a series of grammatical errors. My service is available.