In Eliana Dockterman's first-person essay, she explains her current situation: Her boyfriend lives 2,500 miles away, and while watching Her together recently, she was reduced to tears over how close to home the Spike Jonze film hit. She goes on to describe the various ways she and her partner stay connected: Snapchat, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, text — a love life lived electronically. And, it's a reality all too familiar to the three million Americans currently in long-distance relationships.
In a beautiful, poignant way, Dockterman captures all the pitfalls of this separate-yet-together lifestyle. Texted jokes that go wrong; arguments that can't be soothed by a simple physical gesture, like hand-holding; the inevitable moment when you have to disconnect; the tiny flash of disappointment when a message isn't returned. It's easy to think that maybe a better, more intense connection might solve those problems. But, Dockterman argues, all that pseudo-togetherness isn't necessarily the solution to the pains of being apart.
"In some ways I envy my parents who were far enough away from one another to form separate lives," Dockterman writes. "They didn’t feel guilty when they missed a text or let down when a Snapchat went unopened. Being so close digitally only widens the gap between my boyfriend and me."
Her thesis: That by allowing yourself and your partner to have separate lives that provide enjoyment and opportunities to grow, you'll release the pressure that being apart can create, and be less likely to sweat the little things, like a missed call or the occasional cancelled Skype date. In a nutshell, absence makes the heart grow fonder — but you have to allow the absence to happen. (Time)