You'll Like Him Even More If He Goes Away for a Bit

Romantic getaways have their place. But let me ask you this: When's the last time you actually went away without him for a bit? If you haven't booked a vacation solo or with friends, you need to do that. Plan to be away, for at least a weekend, if not a week or more.

Why? Because being apart a bit is what your relationship needs. Especially if you've been together a lot, or for a long time.

In this Time story, Belinda Luscombe reports that 3 million spouses in the U.S. live apart, and that a new study, published in the Journal of Communication, found that most relationships didn't fall to pieces because of it. What researchers found was that while the couples in the study didn't talk as much, when they did connect, those exchanges had more meaning.

It's that lack of meaning or real connection that bores the crap out of us. And when someone's right there all the time, you're more likely to tell him to hand you the remote than tell him how much you love him. This means a few things: You can have a meaningful relationship with someone who's not in a 20-mile radius of you (though you better read this), and you can also spend time apart from your partner without having a total freakout.

This persistent fear that the moment you let your man (or woman) out of your line of sight, he will be snatched up and gone forever is fiction. You could see him every day and he could still leave. That could happen. But it's this white-knuckled grip that keeps you from being flexibly and sustainably connected—and that's a far greater threat to your relationship than the fact that he may be away for a while, be it on a business trip or a bachelor party.

When you give in to this fear, and make it difficult for your partner to go and do, you're saying: "I can't survive without you," (actually, yes you can); "You shouldn't have fun or do anything without me," (really?); and the worst of all, "I don't trust you out of my sight."

A film director I know bids his wife goodbye every summer for six weeks when she goes off to teach a writing workshop. I asked him if that was hard. He said no—they both look forward to it. They love it. It's exciting to have your own space, and then just as exciting to reunite at the end of the six weeks. They've done this every year for eight years. In fact, he recommends it to other couples.

If you don't give a person room to move away from you, even temporarily, you do not give him a distance to cross to return to you, which in itself should be a choice and a pleasure. Can't let her out of your sight? You never give her a chance to miss you.

My boyfriend told me recently that a buddy of his may be able to swing him a free companion flight to Southeast Asia for a month-long adventure sometime this winter. For a moment, I did feel that knee-jerk fear ("Oh no! Don't go!") but I challenged it. He's so genuinely thrilled about the opportunity, and he absolutely 100% should go. If he can't live any kind of life except what he shares with me, that's not a relationship. That's a jail sentence. And it means putting him in a position where he always has to choose: This trip or me. This friend or me. This opportunity or me. I don't want to be the counterweight to his life. And you shouldn't be, either.

So, go. Let him go. Remember what it is to be two people with your own lives who choose to come back to each other. Because while I have already said I'm not a fan of the long eternal pine of the endless long-distance relationship, a little pining is the most romantic thing of all.

(PS: If you want to read a fantastic book on the topic, check out Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. I nodded the whole way through. Fantastic.)

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