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 Counselling and Psychotherapy for Individuals, Couples and Families in London 

Distance and Relationships. Love and care while being apart 

12th October 2015

My “relationship” with distance started quite early on. One of my parent used to spend most of the week in another city for a big chunk of my childhood. A decade later or so, it was boyfriends living on the other side of the world. Then family, siblings, friends. Since then,  I have lived apart from some people I love dearly. Wherever I am, there is somebody I am missing. There is always a plane waiting to take me closer to somebody, farther from somebody else.

 

 

 

I am so not a rare case. This is the modern world. Most of the people I am surrounded by feel pretty much the same,especially in cities like London where the possibilities of jobs, life satisfaction draw students, young professionals from all over the world, putting distance between them and their significant others. Globalization and increased opportunities of geographical mobility distance us from each other.

How do we handle care while being apart? How do we cope?

This is a very frequent problem my clients seek help for. There are so many couples that at some point in their relationship do not live in the same country or continent and often they come to see me to think together how to make their relationships work. What should we do? Who should move where? How often should we see each other?  What is the bigger plan? Are we ready to commit? Is it worth it?

 

 

Thankfully, it has never been easier to keep in touch and this significantly helps “reducing” the distance. However, there are many aspects of caring that are physical,  that take place in the “here and now”,  which are not replaceable, and I am not just talking about physical intimacy. Being in the same place at the same time, sipping a cup of tea while having a good laugh,  having a walk together without the pressure of saying much are things that Skype cannot really recreate. Not to mention the physical care of others when they need us or we need them: illnesses, accidents but also more positive life events such as a preparation of a wedding, pregnancy,child birth and child rearing, the first Christmas show of the kids ,birthdays..the list is long. There are some moments in life where distance becomes even more of an issue. It recreates the child’s separation anxiety when the parent leaves her to nursery or to strangers for the first time.

I am not going to minimize the pain, stress and sorrow that distance can cause. It is hard core. I share all the above feelings.

The good news is that it makes us re-think relationships in our life and the way we care for each other. It encourages individual autonomy and independence as it gives us the opportunity to find out our path,what we really want to do and want to be, our strengths and self esteem.  We discover we can do it on our own.

It can also promote mutual interdependence. When we miss the people we love, it can become easier to let them know how much we love them and how important they are for us. Even if the result is not always perfect, sometimes far from it, when plans are made to travel and be with each other, there is an effort to make things work and there is an opportunity to express how we feel and how we would like the relationship to be.

One of my favourite metaphor (my clients will know) is the one of the painting. If you are too close to a painting, you cannot see the whole picture, you probably see details but you cannot have a comprehensive idea of what the painting really is and what is really going on.

When I find distance particularly difficult, I try to think of that to feel better. A few times it work. When it doesn’t work, I go back to the modern world tools: Whatsapp, phone, emails, Skype.

Thank God for that.

 

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