Dat­ing long dis­tance stirs woman’s self-doubt, in­se­cu­ri­ties

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST / TELEVISION - CAROLYN HAX Chat on­line with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Fri­day at wash­ing­ton post.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Wash­ing­ton Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Wash­ing­ton, D.C. 20071; or email

DEAR CAROLYN: I was ca­su­ally dat­ing/ hook­ing up with “Nick” at the end of the school year. He’s a year older, and grad­u­ated and moved back home. We didn’t want what­ever was go­ing on be­tween us to end, so we de­cided we would be “to­gether, ex­clu­sively,” al­beit at a three­hour driv­ing dis­tance.

We are both work­ing six days a week this sum­mer, so the ma­jor­ity of our com­mu­ni­ca­tion is through long text mes­sages.

I’m wor­ried that be­cause we’re at a dis­tance, one day he is go­ing to re­al­ize he could be with any other girl and will not want to be with me, but I won’t know this be­cause it’s easy enough to hide through tex­ting. I go out sev­eral nights a week, and have a ten­dency of drunk-tex­ting him (I’m a no­to­ri­ous drunk-tex­ter), but when he doesn’t al­ways ac­knowl­edge the drunk texts or if he takes for­ever to re­spond — which I do too so it’s not fair of me to judge him for that — I be­come im­mensely in­se­cure that he even wants to be with me.

What can I do to as­suage my fears and not spi­ral into an end­less pit of doubt?

— Wor­ried DEAR READER: Um. You can stop out- drink­ing your judg­ment, which only yields new messes to wake up to, which hardly serves the in­ter­ests of seren­ity and self-con­fi­dence.

And you can see this: Nick could just as eas­ily re­al­ize the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing with any other girl and not want­ing to be with you when you’re just walk­ing dis­tance apart.

And: See that you can re­al­ize the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing with any other guy, from long- or short-dis­tance. Such free­dom goes both ways.

If you see this free­dom as cause for even greater worry, then that’s where you start in build­ing con­fi­dence — not in this re­la­tion­ship with this guy, but in your­self.

The way you’ve set out the facts, you im­ply the only rea­son Nick chose to stay with you over the sum­mer is that he hadn’t yet “re­al­ized” he had other op­tions. The log­i­cal extension of that mind­set is pos­ses­sive­ness, mean­ing, you make sure loved ones are teth­ered to you as tightly as you can get away with, be­cause peo­ple with op­por­tu­ni­ties to es­cape will ob­vi­ously use them. (And lie about it!)

Please ask your­self: If that were true, why would any­one stay with any­one? There’s al­ways some­one “bet­ter,” some­one else.

What keeps peo­ple to­gether is their free­dom to choose each other, over and over again. And what drives that choice is the in­her­ent value of what they share.

Yes, dis­tance makes choos­ing each other harder, ob­jec­tive at­trac­tive­ness makes it easier, and for­mal con­nec­tions such as mar­riage or kids or shared real es­tate make the ex­its harder to use.

But if you want a re­la­tion­ship to last, then don’t waste angst on things you can’t con­trol, like who he meets and what he does in your ab­sence. Fo­cus on things you can con­trol. Treat your­self well; treat him well; be your­self ver­sus who you think he wants you to be; pay at­ten­tion to who he is, es­pe­cially since you’re ap­par­ently still get­ting to know each other; and know that be­ing com­pat­i­ble — or not — will have more say in your stay­ing to­gether (or not) than any­thing else.

Short ver­sion: Deep breaths, and deep trust you can han­dle what comes — self-med­i­ca­tion-free.

Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group/NICK GALIFIANAKIS

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