I only just posted yesterday about having a difficult week and feeling so lonely even though I’m not at all alone. In that post I noted how difficult it has been to be away from Justina even though Jeannie and I are truly thriving together. These two opposing feelings are clearly not mutually exclusive, yet it has been difficult for me to reconcile this. Then along comes a post on Poly.Land, just hours after my thoughts, that explains this all quite well. It’s like Page was listening to me – or reading my blog, too!
It boils down to a couple of key points:
- Nonconsensual Long Distance Relationships
- Love Languages
Non-consensual Long Distance Relationships
In the Poly.Land post, Page says:
It does remind me of the challenges a lot of people have in long-distance relationships (LDRs). Because suddenly a lot of relationships that weren’t physically distant have functionally been suddenly nonconsensually converted into LDRs.
This is super simple, but also super insightful! I didn’t consider this at all, but two things are happening here that are challenging any relationship where you are not living with that person right now.
First, we’re now in a LDR when that wasn’t our plan. Managing a LDR is so completely different than living with someone; or dating someone locally. Despite challenging calendars, Justina and I could easily see each other regularly – and could sometimes even meet up for lunch or a drink after work on a moment’s notice. Now? Nada. No physical connection. Or even close proximity.
Second, this wasn’t a situation we decided on together and planned for – we were forced into this. And Page using the term nonconsensual here is important. We didn’t choose this, we didn’t plan for this, and anything nonconsensual takes an emotional toll on us. Decision fatigue is already a new problem we’re all dealing with during the pandemic. In short, things that we could do mindlessly before (walking the dog, grocery shopping) now require tons of extra mental effort (Wear mask. Don’t touch face. Maintain distance. Don’t touch food you aren’t purchasing. Etc.) Now add to that interacting with a romantic partner and all the mental energy needed to do this at a distance. Now add to that how this was forced upon us and suddenly our heads are ready to explode!
We didn’t ask for this, we didn’t plan for this, and the nonconsensual nature adds a layer of burden.
The core of the Poly.Land post is about Love Languages. If you don’t know yours, take the quiz – this is a valuable tool in your relationship toolbox. Jeannie and Justina both have “words of affirmation” on the top of their love language list. This means that being given attention and compliments, verbally or through written words, are what excite them most. While I haven’t always been good at this, I’ve been focusing on this a lot lately, before and into the pandemic. Whether in person (Jeannie) or over phone/text/video (Justina) these words of affirmation have the same value and impact. So it is relatively easy for me to keep both Jeannie and Justina feeling loved right now.
In particular, the one friend who wrote openly about this mentioned that physical touch and acts of service are big challenges.
Me? My top love language is “acts of service” with “physical touch” a close second. These are languages that are nearly impossible “to speak” over a distance. Jeannie goes out of her way all the time to do little things for me (refill my coffee, do the dishes, fold my laundry) and each of these little gestures contribute to a strong and healthy love connection for me. This is probably another reason we’re flourishing together through this crisis – we can each easily speak to each other in the language that we need. And we, together, desire to use this time to enhance our love bond rather than simply rely on it. (Side note that I am sooooooo thankful that we both have such strong desire to not take each other for granted!)
Justina, on the other hand, can’t easily speak my language right now. She often asks me the question, “what can I do for you right now?” Hearing those words when I’m with her is beautiful. I can respond and get what I’m asking for,in that moment. Jeannie does this all the time right now and it’s fantastic. Justina will ask me this on a video call, for example, but what I may really want in that moment will be something like “a hug” and Justina, try as she might, cannot provide that right now.
I’m really happy to have read the Poly.Land post this morning because it puts a fine point on my post yesterday. Even though I have Jeannie, I have such a longing for Justina. Some of this is very practical – I’m poly and therefore desire “more than one” and, of course, we always want what we cannot have. But to now understand that a lot of this longing is because Justina simply and practically cannot speak my love language right now just helps me see it all more clearly. This allows my rational brain to understand the longing. This won’t decrease the longing, but it does make it easier for me to handle.
Thank you, Page!