Managing Long Distance Love Affairs

Road Worrier


By Billy Lee Lewis
Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s October 2008 issue

I was recently made aware of the actions of, apparently, more than a few musicians, who, while on the road, have engaged in intimate relations with perfect (or less-than-perfect) strangers. After recovering from my initial shock, I immediately set out to investigate the veracity of this rather outlandish allegation. Apparently, it’s quite true. The only mitigating factor in this appalling revelation is that some of these salacious assignations actually become genuine, loving relationships.

Of course, even in my single days I would never dream of engaging in the “road date” (if you haven’t guessed by now, my wife is my proofreader). I have, however, once or twice found myself bang in the middle of this month’s topic: The Long Distance Love Affair. These, dear reader, are perilous waters, from whence many never return.

Like other ill-advised affairs d’amour (office, inter-band, extra-marital), the LDLA has high points and pitfalls. In the highpoint column: the lingering excitement and date-like quality of each meeting; the freedom inherent in distance (which, remember, works both ways); not being around long enough to really get on each other’s nerves; the mystery and cachet of being the new, “touring musician” lover; experiencing new sights, clubs, restaurants, and so on.

In the pitfall column: the expense of traveling back and forth; the stifled desire to move the relationship to the next level; the loneliness while apart; and — this one’s a whopper — the insecurity as to what he/she might be doing during these periods of separation. The list continues. Remember, we’re dealing with people we don’t really know. It’s easy to put on one’s best face for a couple of days every month or so.

In the long run, I believe the LDLA is fraught with more potential trip-ups than even its stay-at-home cousin. The vagaries of distance can compress and make urgent many elements of this relationship. Irreversible, regrettable decisions can be made. In fact, the most profoundly consequential, potentially deal-breaking decision is inevitable: At some point, somebody’s gotta move. In order to thrive, a relationship must grow. It will remain static only so long before one or both parties become dissatisfied with the arrangement.

Only you can determine what’s right for you. However, I’ve always employed what, for me, is an infallible litmus test: If she’s dating me, she’s definitely unstable. Do I need to find out precisely how unstable, after she’s moved into my house?

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