Is parting such sweet sorrow?

The second installment of New Yorker Liz Gold’s recurring column on maintaining a long distance relationship with a Portlander. And it’s just in time for Thanksgiving when many of us are thinking about those we care about far away.

The nature of being in a long-distance relationship is that at some point you have to say good-bye.

Good-bye for right now, that is, not good-bye forever.

But sometimes it can feel that way.

In my last column I talked about the “amp up” or that time right before seeing my partner, Captain. It’s the 48-hour window of adrenaline, excitement (and yes, anxiety) that happens as I gear up to head cross country to Portland to visit him – or on the flip side, the juice that I feel getting ready for his arrival to Brooklyn.

But of course with the amp up, comes the descend and it starts for me about two days before I know we are going to part. My emotions start working overtime, my senses are heightened and I tend to cry. It’s not pretty and I work on it and Captain is patient with me, but it can be trying because it catapults me into the future taking me out of the present moment.

The point is to enjoy the time we have with each other. And that should be the point for all relationships regardless of whether one is long distance or not. Am I right?

The beauty of a long distance relationship is that it forces you to stay in the present. Sure, we talk about the future to make plans and coordinate our schedules, but the time we have together is our time together. Just like the time we have on the phone, or on Skype or how we communicate via email is our time. We have to make the most of it.

But let’s get back to the saying good-bye part. Over time, I’ve realized a few things can help ease the hard rub of separation. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

  • Create a good-bye ritual. Whether that’s spending the afternoon or chunk of hours before the parting just the two of you having, um, sex, or doing some other activity that brings intimacy and connection, having uninterrupted time right before parting can be really helpful.
  • Try to be as normal as possible. Sometimes getting in the mindset that I have six hours left with Captain puts me in kind of a bummer space and that can trigger separation anxiety. And when he is driving me to the airport I sometimes get the visual I am walking the plank (for real). But what helps me is that I remember that I choose this lifestyle and while saying good-bye is hard, I usually can’t wait to get home or have my space back.
  • Talk about how awesome the two of you are together and how what you are doing is spectacular. A lot of times we just go about our lives without actually celebrating them. It’s not easy to love someone (a lot) and then know you won’t see or touch them for an extended period of time, even if it is a preferred way of being. So go ahead, verbally love yourselves up.
  • Strategize how you will communicate once one of you gets home. Sometimes I need space after a visit, sometimes I want a phone date. Check in about what each of you need and try to provide it for the other if you can. Having a plan can help make the transition easier.

This is by no means a comprehensive authoritative list. And I don’t claim to be an expert here, just sharing my experience. No one said long distance is easy, but the benefits are fruitful if you like autonomy, freedom and the glory of travel. And for me, in the end, the tears are just another part of the journey.

Have a goodbye story to share? Are you bicoastal or long distance? I’m looking to interview folks who are doing this, too. Contact me at

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