The Misleading Allure of Control

One of the most frustrating and yet invigorating aspects of face-to-face relationships is that not everything is within your control. As the relationship evolves and becomes more serious, you progressively lose control of things like how often and when you spend time with your partner. This isn’t to say it’s some negative or dangerous occurrence. Only, that as you move in together, or spend more time co-present, the relationship requires that you take a different approach to when, how, and where you interact with your partner.

The understandable, but taboo secret of a long-distance relationship, is that you’re able to maintain much more control. You choose when you want to be available for conversation. You control where boundaries are set in a much more concrete fashion. You also get to interact at a pace that suits your mood or needs in the moment.

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This can be something small like waiting a minute to craft a carefully typed response. Or it can be more significant like delaying responding to/ignoring a message or setting specific times for sit-down dates. This also applies to in-person relationships, just at a much reduced level.

A long-distance relationship also gives you much more control over how the other person sees you. You’re able to skip an evening if you are feeling ill or toss on a nice shirt before a video date. It also lets people see you when you’re happy, or positive, or exciting and lets you obscure the less-perfect moments in-between.

For a truly rewarding relationship, these guards need to come down. Eventually, you need to embrace the flaws. Some couples manage that despite the added comfort long-distance provides, but most require time together, co-present, and in-person.

For many people, the added level of control and reduction in time you have to dedicate to the relationship can be a strong attraction to doing a long-distance relationship. It also creates a safe place to explore new aspects of yourself and how your partner responds without as much risk or fear of judgment. As with many of the dimensions outlined in this section, this added sense of control isn’t good or bad. It’s just something to be aware of and act on accordingly.

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