I met John at a hotel bar one summer when I was visiting my mom and dad, who lived a hundred miles away from my home. We hit it off instantly, but I initially assumed our encounter would be nothing more than a pleasant one night stand, largely due to the logistics involved. He actually lived in another state, over 500 miles away and was in Mom’s town on business. He traveled all over the Southeast with his job.
Fate is funny, though, and it played a huge part in our relationship. His stay in town ended up lasting three months, so I got to see him every couple of weeks when I visited my parents.
We quickly became very close and eventually fell in love.
We were both mature, almost 40 years old, so we realized the relationship would be tough, especially when he had to start traveling again. We had no romantic illusions about how our long-distance affair would be. We could only see each other once or twice a month, depending on where he ended up working. We decided that we would both continue seeing other people occasionally, but that whenever we could arrange to be together, that would take first priority.
We earnestly wanted to be together all the time, but that was not an option. We were able to stay close emotionally through long phone calls and emails. We talked every day. In fact, his daily call became the highlight of my day. I knew every evening at 7 o’clock, I would hear from him. We both arranged our schedules accordingly. We loved having “phone sex,” which helped maintain our intimacy.
We did a lot of little things to let the other partner know how we felt. I sang and played guitar, and I would often tape my private performances and mail them to him. He was an artist, and he would make drawings and mail them to me. Sometimes we’d tape messages to each other and send them. He’d surprise me once in a while with a flower delivery, and I’d send him a balloon bouquet to whatever hotel he was staying in at the time. These little gestures let the other partner know that we were always thinking of each other.
All the thoughtful things he did let me know that even though he was going out with other women from time to time, I was special. I was number one. I’m not saying I was never jealous; I was sometimes. But I knew since neither of us was ready to commit to marriage, nor were we able at the time to be together on a day-to-day basis, our long-distance open relationship was the best we could hope for. It would be unfair for me to expect him to just sit in a hotel room every night alone. And it would be unfair for him to expect me to sit home by myself every night. So we made the best of a bad situation.
Whenever we asked each other about dates, we were totally honest. Neither of us formed other relationships. We both understood that the other people we saw were just for fun, a way to fill the time when we were apart. This complete honesty helped assuage feelings of jealousy and insecurity.
Fate intervened again after a year. He took another job, which was only fifty miles away from me. We were ecstatic! Now we could see each other practically whenever we wanted. At this point, we became exclusive and did not see other people. After a few more months, we got married. We’ve been happily married for twenty years now.
I’ll admit that our long-distance relationship was hard on us, but I don’t regret it a bit. We think back on those days often, realizing how fortunate we are to be able to see each other every day now. I think that year of being mostly apart keeps us from taking each other for granted. The months of yearning to see John when it was impossible to do so just made me love him and want him even more. I honestly believe we have such a strong relationship today because of our initial long-distance romance.