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single parent in a long-distance relationship - am I mad?

(22 Posts)
mocca Wed 13-Aug-08 12:10:22

I'm 50, divorced a year, with a child of 8 and work full-time but fairly flexibly. I started a relationship with a lovely man about 4 months ago which has been quite intense but we're going through a rough patch. It's not that easy you see, he lives almost 4 hours drive away and has just started having to work 6 days a week meaning that I'd have to mostly make the journey to him if we want to go on seeing eachother (currently we get together once a fortnight). My ex is very hands-on with our child and has her the weekends I'm with him and she's very happy. Recently he's become very stressed about work, is having problems with his 17 year old son who lives with him and has to focus a lot of his energy on him and finds it hard that when we're together it's wonderful and then we don't see eachother for ages. Also, communication between us isn't great when we're apart (which is most of the time!)and I'd like more than I'm getting.

My divorce was tough and he's made me feel desirable and loved again but I'm beginning to wonder if this is worth it - I'm putting a lot of effort in and don't know if I'm getting enough out. He says he loves me very much, loves being with me and says he can move closer to me when his son leaves home (approx 2 years). I suppose I should never have got involved in the first place but it seemed doable at the start. We've talked and agreed to see how it goes but I'm beginning to think I'm mad to go on with it - trouble is, I think I'm in love and can't bear the thought of starting all over again!

abouteve Wed 13-Aug-08 12:17:40

4 hours drive is a long way especially if he is working 6 days a week. Presumably he knew when he started his job that this would impair your relationship unless you did all the driving.

Only you know whether it is worth it but IME location can be very important to the long term success of a committed relationship.

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 13:05:30

You sound exactly like me, same age, maybe not AS far away from each other LDRwise (me and DP are 2 hours apart).Me and DP are both raising a junior school aged child each.

All you say here is what I go thru and I think its just the dynamics of a LDR.

I am also 50 (51 to be exact)and DP is the first person I have ever introduced to my DD and I feel very seriously for him, as he does me.

The thing is - I am 51 - (luckily I do look younger and am 'fit'healthwise). But our clock is ticking away a lot faster than someone not in this age group (or that is how I feel sometimes). We also know what we want out of relationship and a LDR can fall a bit bald in the inbetween stages of meets.

I have also posted on here about the hurdles that can rise from a LDR... some of which I have sorted out. But believe me I know where you are coming from.

Some days you are fine with it, other days the feeling of being disatisfied totally creep in. Lots of boring lonely evenings when you feel you should be with someone and then creeping into an empty bed when you've got so much to share.... and noone there to share it with.

I have been with my guy now for over 14months and I sometimes feel I am basically in the same spot to when we started. I did have my doubts about it working out and said it would be hard to nurture. I get insecure and feel like chucking it all in many times, but I have hung in there, mainly due to him.

the whole pace is different, the meets are passionate and you don't want to sit and brew over the past weeks negative feelings as they disappear when you're with them. I know all about that.

But I say this, maybe there are other chaps out there to wine and dine me and call in on the offchance, have a cuppa and be more involved, the thing is, when you're inlove (like I feel I am) you settle for quality of feeling and not 'quantity of visits'.

As for the communication, this can be sorted and explain the importance of it to him. I did, and he accomodated, busy or not busy. I demanded proper communication with him and he came through.

It is different with a LDR, I know how you feel.

mocca Wed 13-Aug-08 13:26:27

Gosh Kally, how nice to know what similarities there are between us! Two hours though is a lot better than nearly four - do you take it in turns to visit eachother? Anyway, the key thing is communication and I need to talk to him about it. Thanks so much.

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 13:39:53

I have never been to his place at all!!!! I don't have DD's dad on the scene and so don't have the luxury of free time etc, plus his working schedule (up til last month) was hectic and he'd come when he got the chance. That whole subject (of me not going to his) was a real cropper and almost finished us this month but I have worked that out now and we'll be going there next week. I thought it was deliberate avoidance on his part, but I think I was wrong. It just worked out that way. But that is changing. But those gaps inbetween are hard. I think when you have had a long previous relationship, shared home, shared problems, kids etc, you tend to expect that kind of deep sharing to automatically kick in, and when it doesn't, you feel its manupilative or unsatisfactory or deliberate. Also at this time in our lives, we are taking on/bringing into someone with 'baggage' (I hate that expression) so you have to be a little bit more flexible with regard to their ties and responsibilities. Show more tolerance, it's the 'their previous life responsibilities' we have be tolerant with and understand that we cannot be sometimes top priority (just as they can't sometimes in our lives). You have to be mature when really, being inlove, makes you feel like you've got your girly head on...

Overmydeadbody Wed 13-Aug-08 13:48:14

mocca and kally what you have both described sounds more like regular no-strings sex than a relationship as such, and the effort involved (4 hr drives [shock[) seems an awful lot for a fortnightly shag.

Mocca don't think you should never have got involved in the first place, presumably it has been fun and exciting and boosted you self-esteem, but sometimes, even good things come to their natural end.

Although, having said that, if you are happy with these arrangements (and no doubt it suits single parenthood too) then there is nothing wrong with carrying on with them, but if you want more, changes are going to have to be made aren't they?

mocca Wed 13-Aug-08 13:54:25

Another question Kally, how often do you tend to see him, do you plan meetings in advance and how often do you phone/email/text eachother?

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 14:04:10

OMDB - in defence, life is not all about a good shag. It may start out like that, when its in its early phases, but eventually you grow feelings of wanting to bond a bit deeper, but the logistics of it are a hurdle.

All in all if I was honest, the first 6 months of my relationship suited me fine. I had all the luxury of a romantic endevour with out the hassle of a guy poking about in my independant life. Then it developed emotionally. You fall inlove but you are still left with the distance factor.

There is probably a lot more to it than a fortnightly shag..or the OP wouldn't have vented her frustrations here. I for one am in a similar thing and I feel she can make a go of it, it'll just move a bit slower. Just as I hope to. Some are prepared to sacrifice a bit more, or put more effort in. Just as my DP always treks about on trains at all hours, in all weathers, to come and see me.

Its about give and take, maybe once his hours sort out, he can be more accomodating with OP. Not all relationships take shape on your doorstep or round the corner. Some land in your lap from far away, but that doesn't mean they don't have potential.

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 14:19:06

Mocca he calls me usually every day, even if its just to I love you. And if he doesn't call for whatever reason he'll catch me on msn. It was something I requested though, he was happy and laid back with a few calls a week, this was until I stressed that being in a LDR required a bit more effort, even if there wasn't much to say to each other.
As for visits, - he did work weird long hours and he would call and say 'tomorrow I'll be down if it's ok'. Previous to that he'd be over every weekend. Now he has changed jobs just recently and his weekends are mostly busy at work, so he will be over at the start of the week. It's higgeldy piggeldy, but I don't mind that. He also has a small child he is raising, so his duties are with him first of course. His EW is around but he has full care of the child. He comes with him sometimes. Sometimes a couple of weeks can lapse, especially if I have stuff on when he is available, (my house is small and if my sis/her hubby comes down theres no space). But he is always cool with that. Theres no real big planning going on with regard to him visiting me.

abouteve Wed 13-Aug-08 14:23:58

I have been involved in a LDR but he was only an hour and 10 away on a good run. At first it was fine, 50/50 then he seemed to make excuses up when it was his turn, the car wasn't running right, can you come here.

I got fed up with that and finished it.

I also had a relationship with someone 2 1/2 hours away. He needed to be there for work and family commitments and I wanted to be here for the same reasons, so that didn't work either.

It can work if you are happy with the infrequent time spent together but it needs to be 50/50, strong communication in between and the possibility of relocating together in the future.

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 14:28:23

abouteve - how long did your relationships hold on for before you decided it was a no-go?

abouteve Wed 13-Aug-08 14:34:58

With the lazy one 6 months.

The other one came about because he did relocate to live with me, but the work situation here is dire and he missed his little girl, although he saw her every other weekend when he drove down. We lasted a year after he finally moved back. We are still friends now and he has met someone locally. I'm glad he's happy.

I would hope that my next man, if I ever find one, is as near as possible. Life doesn't always happen that way though.

TequilaMockinBird Wed 13-Aug-08 14:40:47

I was in a LDR with a guy for about 14 months before I decided to end it.

He lived about 4 hours drive away and also still lived with his parents. This meant that he always had to travel for me if we were spending the weekend together as his parents wouldnt allow me to stay there!

I did go to him a couple of times and we stayed in a hotel for the weekend but it was costing a fortune and so mostly he came to stay with me.

The distance did put a strain on things and there were times when I'd had a bad day or had some bad news, and just wanted him to be there to hold me. These were often the times we'd argue because we were so frustrated about not being with each IYKWIM.

I decided to end it because we had a chat one day about where we were going with the relationship etc. and he told me that he loved me but that he would never leave his family to move closer to me.

I wouldnt leave where I live now either because of a number of reasons - family/dd's school/dd's dad etc. - and so the relationship would always be strained by the distance should we decide to carry on.

We're still in touch now as friends but I havent seen him for about 8 months.

mocca Wed 13-Aug-08 15:00:13

Thank you all for sharing your experiences. It's such a tough one, at the moment I feel like giving up because we almost broke up a couple of nights ago because he couldn't handle things - I ended up being really horrible to him because it felt like he'd given up - I hurt him deeply but we subsequetly agreed to keep working at it. I feel very insecure right now and am concerned that communication is breaking down. Time alone will tell whether I can handle this!

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 16:33:16

I know when I've hurt my LDR partner he goes quiet on me, but you have the disadvantage of not being able to 'see' their behaviour (as in a closer relationship) For example if he pops round and got his moody head on you see that and can deal with it. With a LDR you 'assume' a lot more and it can get out of hand. You can't make up as easily. It fragility at times like that seem even more fragile. So plenty of times I have curbed my nastiness which under normal circumstances could lash out and be dealt with there and then. LDR you can't risk this which is a strain. I have kicked him to the curb a few times out of frustration, but all credit to him with this, he has been totally persistant and never let it drop. It's hard to fight on the phone and text, etc. Its dangerously risky. And then when you see each other you don't want to waste time venting on negatives.
I am not a naggy person, and neither is he. I have had my fair share of that in my marriage, fights and rows to last a lifetime, so it is very nice to have a peace lover who knows how to draw me back in to him. When you think about it, it has its advantages and also teaches you restraint and patience you never knew you had. But that is if it equal.
Don't get frustrated and if he is really worth trying for, then give that extra bit of effort. It can make all the difference.

raggety Wed 13-Aug-08 16:43:12

LDRs are difficult. I have had them in the past but I have sworn to avoid them in future. I ended up thinking, why am I doing this? It was almost as if I chose the LDR specifically in order to avoid intimacy in the relationship, to keep things on more of an ethereal basis. In the end, the romance of the weekends isn't enough and you want the intimacy of everyday connection and real life without the huge responsibility of one of you having to take the decision to move across the country.

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 17:17:14

Yeah, I guess if the distance is too much then it can be really hard. And I agree about the fact that you may be avoiding the intimacy. I think that was my main thing in the begining, I wsn't sure if I was ready and it was quite comfortable to be begin with. But we have fallen inlove despite, I guess some pull through and stand the test, and some don't.

mocca Wed 13-Aug-08 22:06:48

Kally, thanks again, yes you certainly have to show restraint, he's still reeling from what I said to him a couple of nights ago (I have a temper unfortunately and he doesn't)and I just want to hug him but can't. All I can do is wait till I see him next and in the meantime tell him how sorry I am. But it's frustrating because he won't initiate contact at the moment. I would love to be able to stay in touch with you, didn't expect to find anyone here my age exactly (am 51 next month), divorced and doing long distance!

zippitippitoes Wed 13-Aug-08 22:10:46

i am in this club too..51 and long distance

i have grown up children tho and he has no children so luckier (?) in that respect

Kally Wed 13-Aug-08 22:30:50

Theres quite a few of us here in the 50's range. I always check on here, daily at least. I find it an enormous help, puts perspective back into things, all sorts of problems arise - some you identify with, and some just make your own life seem so blessed or plain + uncomplicated...
Did you and partner meet online? I did, and that is another 'modern age' thing really (altho its now old hat), so again has its different dynamics.
Plus just generally being a 'second timer' (after a divorce at this stage in life) you do feel vulnerable and confused I think and MMN's on here can be very helpful in pointing out an acceptable norm.
Standards change, norms are different especially if you've been in a long married situation and suddenly find yourself in this new learning curve. It can get quite scarey.

mocca Thu 14-Aug-08 09:27:55

Hi Zippi, how are you? Yes, met mine online too, seems to be the way of the world these days. And so helpful to get advice from my peers.

mocca Wed 20-Aug-08 10:45:06

Hi,things are really doing my head in right now and need to put some perspective on my situation. As fellow long-distancers Zippi and Kally, I could especially do with your advice! And have you decided yet Kally whether you're going to drop in on your man this week? My original post outlines my situation. My man and I nearly split up a couple of weeks ago over the phone because of the pressures of the distance and I was horrible to him (for which I've apologised sincerely) but we've agreed to keep working at it and I’m going to see him this weekend. But since we had this disagreement he’s not initiating contact and it’s been up to me to call him if I want to speak to him. He's seemed very happy to hear from me and has sounded like his normal self and seems pleased I’m going to see him.

But because he used to either text/call me everyday and since we had our "disagreement" this has completely stopped, it’s making me feel doubly insecure. I do know I need to talk contructively to him about it and will do so this weekend. But I’m also having very mixed feelings about going at all now – I’ve had to do all sorts of juggling with child-care but because of the way I’m feeling, I’m very anxious about going. I wonder if I should contact him first and ask if he’s really happy about me coming and also mention my concerns about the lack of contact and how it’s completely changed. Or would it be better to wait till I see him as discussing things like this face to face is probably more productive? I'm just finding this all such a cause of stress as my life is really busy anyway. But I have deep feelings for him and would be very unhappy if we went our separate ways.

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