Out of sight, not out of mind

If it’s true that a men­tal im­age of your lover is as good as phys­i­cal pres­ence, long-dis­tance love can’t be all that tough. Yes, say four cou­ples sep­a­rated by geog­ra­phy

Mid Day - - Hitlist - DALREEN RAMOS [email protected]

WE’RE con­vinced that ro­mance be­gins in icy wa­ters — both metaphor­i­cally and lit­er­ally. This we know be­cause a study con­ducted by psy­chol­o­gists, at the Univer­sity of Ari­zona last month, drew a con­clu­sion that many will find star­tling. The ex­per­i­ment fea­tured in the jour­nal of Psy­chophys­i­ol­ogy had 102 par­tic­i­pants, all com­mit­ted in ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships, sub­merge one foot into three inches of icy wa­ter. Some had their part­ners phys­i­cally present, some were in­structed to think of their part­ners sup­port­ing them through the task, while oth­ers were told to think about their day. The re­sult re­vealed that par­tic­i­pants be­long­ing to the first two cat­e­gories had a lower blood pres­sure re­sponse com­pared to the third cat­e­gory — thus con­clud­ing that the men­tal im­age of a per­son can be just as pow­er­ful as their phys­i­cal pres­ence. So, does dis­tance re­ally make the heart grow fonder? Cou­ples in a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship say, it’s com­pli­cated.

Shut­tle ser­vice A sil­ver lin­ing

Mum­bai-based coun­sel­lor Abisha Fer­nan­des, 23, mar­ried Sushant Koshy, 29, who works in Bengaluru as a prod­uct man­ager, in De­cem­ber last year. The two have been in a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship for one and a half years. But Fer­nan­des says that the two spend qual­ity time when they Ac­tress, chef and au­thor Tara Desh­pande Ten­nebaum mar­ried Bos­ton-based Daniel Ten­nebaum in 2001. She rem­i­nisces how dif­fi­cult main­tain­ing a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship was dur­ing the time. “You spent $2 per minute on a Skype call. So, it’s def­i­nitely more pos­si­ble to­day with this tech­nol­ogy. It was also one of the rea­sons why I left Bol­ly­wood,” she tells us. Her hus­band vis­its Mum­bai ev­ery few weeks, with Desh­pande also shut­tling be­tween two coun­tries. But she main­tains that dis­tance is not a bad thing. “Some­times, just the thought of lov­ing some­one re­as­sures you. But even with all the tech­nol­ogy to­day, the ten­dency to re­place real re­la­tion­ships with vir­tual ones is a lot like the dif­fer­ence be­tween sun­light and a UV lamp. It is im­por­tant to spend a larger part of the year to­gether.”

A dif­fi­cult choice

Ke­shav Naidu, 39 and Kahini Pan­jabi, 29, be­hind bou­tique cre­ative agency Naidu & Pan­jabi have been liv­ing apart for a year. Pan­jabi works out of Kolkata and lives with her par­ents while Naidu is based out of Mum­bai. “We visit each other ev­ery month and work-re­lated travel in Bengaluru and Hy­der­abad al­ways brings us to­gether,” Pan­jabi shares, and for Naidu, even though liv­ing apart makes busi­ness sense in the in­terim, it’s a sac­ri­fice. “It’s funny be­cause I’ve al­ways avoided long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ships in the past. And now it’s like I’ve gone back to liv­ing like a bach­e­lor again. It is eas­ier when the other per­son plays an ac­tive part in your daily life. But I would not choose this over liv­ing in the same house,” he ad­vises. are liv­ing apart, and merely think­ing of Koshy as a sup­port­ive fig­ure helps her in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. “It’s a sil­ver lin­ing, in a way. We had no plan on how to stay con­nected when we got to­gether but we even­tu­ally fig­ured out a pat­tern. So we talk be­fore head­ing to work and be­fore sleep­ing. We also have date nights,” she laughs. 2. Sched­ule a zero hour. For in­stance, com­mit to a video call and if you’re hav­ing pizza in Bris­bane, don’t talk about the pizza or the scenery but make the con­ver­sa­tion more mean­ing­ful by ask­ing about the other per­son’s day.

3. Many cou­ples as­sume that they were emo­tion­ally in­ti­mate be­fore getting into a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship, so tech­nol­ogy can only help so much. Even though sex­ual in­ti­macy may be ab­sent, you can build on the fan­tasy of phys­i­cal in­ti­macy.

‘Re­plac­ing real re­la­tion­ships with vir­tual ones is like the dif­fer­ence be­tween sun­light and a UV lamp’ Tara Desh­pande Ten­nebaum

The myth of tech­nol­ogy

“Trust is the most im­por­tant fac­tor in any re­la­tion­ship. But both part­ners need to make an ac­tive ef­fort to stay in touch,” says Mum­bai-based film and tele­vi­sion ac­tress San­gita Ghosh. Ghosh and her hus­band, Jaipur-based polo player Shailen­dra Singh Ra­jput, travel across cities to meet each other ev­ery month, and they en­sure that ev­ery meet­ing has a cel­e­bra­tory set­ting — not just for Valen­tine’s Day. Ghosh prefers to talk rather than text. “There’s a lot of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion that can hap­pen when you mes­sage. So, there’s a prob­lem with tech­nol­ogy, too. You’re al­ways de­pen­dent on net­work, and when you don’t get cov­er­age, you of­ten get ir­ri­tated and stupid thoughts like ‘is he avoid­ing me?’ crop up,” she ex­plains.

Tara and Daniel Abisha and Sushant San­gita and Shailen­dra Kahini and Ke­shav

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