Hello everybody, welcome to episode 158 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. I’m really interested in the question we’ve got lined up for this episode. A listener has found himself in a unique dating situation that I’ll let him in explain in his question, and wondering if distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder. It’s a popular saying that I’m sure many of us have found ourselves wondering the validity of. So let’s hear what he has to say and break this down a little bit…
QUESTION: “Dear Greg, does distance make the heart grow fonder? There’s someone I’ve started seeing who is going to be away for at least 8 months. We’re new, and we started this knowing that she’s going away. It was only a few dates but we both feel a connection. I knew this was coming and we’ve agreed to take it one day at a time. I’m not really wondering about how to keep her liking me (I’m really trying to stick to one day at a time) but now that our time apart has just started, I think back to the old saying about distance making the heart grow fonder. What do you think?”
A Note about Popular Sayings
This is a pretty cool question and I appreciate that it seems to be bred out of curiosity rather than looking for tips or tricks to win her over (that’s not exactly what I do).
Nonetheless, I hope that you get something from this episode that helps you two in your journey, whether it’s best to make it work together or not to.
I think it’s important to take all of these popular plateau sayings with not a grain of salt, but perhaps an entire salt shaker. Especially these days in an age where false news spreads at six times the speed of factual news, it’s in our best interest to remember to question sentiments that have been shared by many people.
Like any popular saying, “distance makes the heart grow fonder” is not foolproof. It’s not an all encompassing truth that has no exceptions. It was actually first shared in a poem by a poet called Sextus who lived in the time of Jesus, so not only has it been shared a lot, but with all due respect to poetry, of course, most of its allure comes from the raw emotion it’s intertwined with rather pure logic.
Distance Making the Heart Grow Fonder vs. Your Own Experiences
But you don’t need me to tell you this. Look back on your own experiences. Think about all kinds of things you’ve been kept apart from, and don’t limit it to romantic interests.
What’s the truth?
Well, it goes either way, right? Sometimes you adapt to life without something, and sometimes you do miss it more. There are a lot of variables surrounding the absent thing in question that are important to look at, so as I talk about them a bit, keep a tally of how it relates to your new love interest who’s away for a while.
A general rule of thumb is that the more important something is to you, the more you’ll miss being without it. In the case of things that are really important to us, they need to be fulfilled and the less that happens, the more important we perceive them to be. It becomes very easy to distort their value as our brains will go out of their way to idealize these things and focus only on the best memories or best versions we perceive of them.
Ever notice how you focus far more on the good aspects of the ex you miss so much, even though they ruined your life? Case in point.
The Element of Replaceability
However, to me, another huge factor in this whole thing is the element of replicability. The more replaceable something is, the easier it is for the heart to not grow fonder.
If you get rid of a shirt, there’s not much concern, because you have so many others to easily replace it. This only gets muddy if the shirt happens to be extremely meaningful to you and have a quality to it that feels irreplaceable.
And how many shirts do you have like that? Probably around the same amount of partners many expect to have throughout their entire lives.
On the other hand, if you’re away from, say, your loving family for a long time, distance can make the heart grow fonder more easily because it’s hard to replicate a good family. Yet still, we can look to widows and widowers who manage to find love again when their grieving process allows them to.
So perhaps there’s something to be said about the powerlessness of knowing that we can’t have something back that helps us to accept and heal.
But I digress.
Does the Heart Grow Fonder in Long Distance Relationships?
A bit of research has actually been done regarding the heart growing fonder in long distance relationships (if you two are officially considering yourselves as being in a relationship, that is).
It seems that people in “LDRs”, as they’re sometimes called, actually have an opportunity to build extra closeness because when it’s understood that the interactions are limited, they tend to be reserved for valuable subject matter, both parties are more present and appreciative of the time together, and quality far exceeds quantity.
Surprisingly, it’s also suggested that the lack of physical intimacy helps, because couples are forced to build closeness on a purely social or romantic level, which is, of course, the foundation of a good long term relationship.
We all know how our attachment to people can become a little blurry if the relationship relies more on bleeping than it should.
Does the Heart Grow Fonder with Distance: Conclusion
So at the end of the day, whether or not the famous saying is true really depends on that blend of attachment, importance, and replicability.
Based on the relationship research specifically, the attachment and importance stands to be altered by how much use is made of the times you and your girl do interact over these next 8 months.
You mentioned that it’s new, and though there’s connection, there probably isn’t a whole lot of importance either way right now. That’s ok, it’s quite normal to not have another person be a main priority in your life after just a few dates. But that’s not to say that the relationship can’t build while you two are far apart.
If you want your journey with her to be organic (as it should be), it’ll be important for both of you to welcome with open arms whatever comes up.
How much do you want to talk? How special does it feel when you talk? How enticed are you by other people? There are no wrong answers to these questions.
Keep an open mind towards your and her responses to them, and the relationship will be most likely to grow in whichever direction is right.
Thanks so much to the asker today for submitting an interesting question, and again, for doing so from a standpoint where he was not trying to manipulation his situation in either way. That’s always nice to see.
Hopefully this episode helped him and you other listeners take a better look at why some things or people have stayed or faded from your minds when being apart from them.
Now if you’ve got a question of your own that you’d like some help with on the show, don’t hesitate to ask us. You can email us with your question or anything else on your mind at advice AT oldpodcast.com
That’s going to do it for today, my friends. Hope you liked this one, and I hope you’ll stop in for the next one. Can’t wait to see you guys there.