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July 5, 2022 | Rome, Italy

You mean phone sex

By | 2018-03-21T18:17:28+01:00 July 1st, 2004|Lifestyle Archive|
“Email can be super sexy and don’t diss phone sex till you’ve tried it."
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his is a happy, Happy Day. After two long months employing the “fishing line” strategy (tiny bait, reel in; tiny bait, reel in) so carefully laid out to me by my friend Pedro in Madrid, I received an e-mail this morning from a certain individual who has been on my mind as of late. It was the e-mail I thought I would never get and it read: “When can I come for a visit?” (Actually, the precise wording was “when can i come a visit>” but I can forgive a typo or two as long as he really does want to see me).

Now that my fish appears to be hooked, one question lingers. How do I haul this prized catch onto my boat considering this handsome guppy’s native pond is GMT+10 time zones away, 32 hours and 25 minutes with connections by plane, and did I mention: in the Southern Hemisphere? Even proud Pedro was defeatist: “Monica, are you sure you want to bother with someone who lives so far away?”

Looking back, I realize all my important relationships have involved long-distance. I am a Million Miler frequent flyer of virtual love spanning from Boston to Belgium to Kosovo with a pre-boarding call for Melbourne. The affairs of all my closest couple friends have been likewise distance-impaired at one or more times. Living love from afar is par for the course in this era of pre-romance Googling, Easyjet dating and SMS sex.

But why put up with the oxymoronic distance-relationship? They go against everything we are biologically, physically and emotionally programmed to do as a couple. And worse: The odds are against them surviving. My first serious boyfriend stayed back in Trastevere, where we lived together, and I moved to the East Village to get a masters degree at NYU. Yes, we saw each other every three to six months and yes, we exchanged love letters weekly (happily before e-mail). But I felt our relationship was awkwardly flickering forward one film frame at a time. The “motion picture,” as it were, in which a couple’s daily life blurs together harmoniously, ceased to exist. We became two different people who simply no longer wanted or needed to be together.

My parents, on the other hand, credit bouts of distance during my father’s career (consisting of weeks out of town followed by long spells at home) for what remains today a love-filled marriage. “I haven’t killed your father yet,” says Mom.

So which is it: Does distance make the heart grow fonder or fainter? I polled my closest friends to produce the following mini-guide of long-distance relationship rules:

Christopher’s Golden Rule: “Distance makes the heart grow weirder. That’s generally not good for relationships. But if the people in question are already weird, further weirdness can be helpful.”

Andrea’s Golden Rule: “No relationship can survive more than three years of distance. Three years is the absolute limit.”

John’s Golden Rule: “I can only speak to one odd sort of relationship: Where the woman is in love, and the guy is looking for some excuse to push the eject button. In this case, the guy leaves the country for an extended period of time, and, by virtue of the fact that the woman has packed up all his belongings for him and brought him to the airport, it is pretty clear that the relationship is over. The interesting part is that distance, in this case, makes the man question his decision, even if he has met other women and is otherwise distracted from the ex-relationship, while on the other end, distance makes it easier for her to realize she never needed the guy in the first place. I would say distance makes a faint heart grow fonder, and a fond heart fainter.”

Saskia’s Golden Rule: “If you don’t have an idea of when you might be able to create a life together, it’s hard to stay committed.”

Joana’s Golden Rule: “If you are an independent person and know how to relay news about your days and activities cheerfully, being away from your husband/boyfriend for a period of time is very manageable. But if you need constant affection, are jealous and don’t like being alone, separation will backfire.”

Silvia’s Golden Rule: “Re-entry couple shock is a bitch.”

Cathy’s Golden Rule: “Distance isn’t essential to love but, at least at the onset, you definitely don’t want familiarity — you want the spice of the unknown and distance supplies that. Long distance lets you have your cake and eat it — you keep your life without disruption of boyfriend and fly off for delicious romantic weekends together. The thrill of seeing one another after long gaps completely makes up for the missing each other in between.”

Cathy’s Second Golden Rule: “Email can be super sexy and don’t diss phone sex till you’ve

tried it. …”

Monica’s Conclusions: A few days have passed since my happy Happy Day and no reply yet from my far-away friend. Forget “fishing.” Buy an airline ticket instead.

About the Author:

Monica Larner is Italian editor for Winer Enthusiast Magazine. Rome-based, she is the author of three books on Italy including "Living, Studying, and Working in Italy." When not in Europe, she can be found with pruning shears in hand at Larner Vineyard near Santa Barbara, California.

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