How to keep sane in a long-distance relationship

alizey asks: I am in long distance relationship and I don’t know how to make it work without becoming an emotional fool?

Hi alley –


Okay, I’ll be honest with you – to me a long-distance relationship sounds like pure misery!  When my human friend Handsome leaves town, I’m a wreck.  Even if I’m staying with good friends, or at a place with other dogs, those delights only serve as distractions.  I’m a one-person dog, and being away from that person for a long period is just devastating.


But you’re not a dog; you’re a person.  So, unlike me, you can have really fulfilling communication with another person through telephone or texting or even a picture-phone like FaceTime or Skype.  You don’t depend as much as I do on smell and touch (though people tell me those are sure nice parts of your relationships too!).


It really sounds to me like you’re okay with it, as long as things don’t make you get too emotional.  And my guess is that those come down to two issues: Missing and Trust.


With Missing, you’re in the same shape I am.  And it’s just plain hard.  My best advice for that would be to plan visits to each other as often as you can.  Then at least you can count down the days – kind of like the way I count down the hours till Handsome comes home from work every day.


With Trust, though, it’s a way more complex issue. I don’t worry that Handsome’s going to leave me for another dog, and I don’t mind if he plays with one (in fact, I love sniffing him all over when he comes home with other dogs’ smells on him; I can get jealous about some things, but that’s not one of them).  But you might worry that your love is with another human, or could even leave you for one, and with that, your big human brain can go nuts: worrying, imagining, and even convincing yourself of things that might not be at all true.


And while you’re doing that, your love might be doing the same thing while thinking about you, out where they are!


So what can you do?  Only one thing: you two have to talk about it.  A lot.  You need to agree on what you can and can’t tolerate the other doing, you need to agree on what sorts of social lives you each can have, and you need to agree on what amount of communication you each need with each other about what you’re doing.


And if you can do that, then each of you needs to also work to keep your suspicious brains QUIET!  I don’t mean to play dumb when problems are happening around you, but you do need to keep yourselves from being too suspicious about things that don’t really exist.


But I’ll say again, while that last part needs to be done by each of you alone (over and over again), the most important element of a trusting relationship is communication.  You two HAVE to let each other know what’s going on, which includes saying things the other might not like to hear.


As an example, imagine if your beloved didn’t tell you they were working with someone wildly good-looking, who they liked a lot.  And then you visited them and met that person.  You might instantly flip out, believing that their not telling you proves they’re madly in love with them and carrying on a torrid romance behind your back.  While in truth, they just didn’t tell you because they didn’t want you to worry.


So do your best, be open with each other, and that will do everything possible for the Trust part.


But when it comes to the Missing part, just take every chance you can to meet up.  And when you do, jump on them, knock them to the ground, lick their face, sniff them all over, bite on their shoelaces, and…


Well, I guess you don’t have to do EXACTLY what I would…!


Best of Luck!


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