Long Distance Relationships & Commuter Marriages
Berkeley Parents Network >
Family Relations >
Long Distance Relationships & Commuter Marriages
My boyfriend and I have been in a committed relationship for a
little over a year. We are really well suited to one another;
have a lot of fun, share many common values and interests and
the sex is great. The problem? He lives in Saratoga and I
live in Concord. We are both in our early 40's, divorced and
have kids. Due to careers, schools and custody sharing neither
of us are in a position to relocate in the near future.
Realistically he could relocate in about 5 years. Our time
together is usually on weekends when it's just the two of us.
We really like and enjoy one another's children but, with
schools and extracurricular activities in different geographic
locations, it's nearly impossible to spend 'blended' family
time together. My boyfriend is an all around wonderful guy and
we have something special. It would be great if we could spend
more time together to really integrate our lives but I feel
helpless as to how it can happen. Has anyone made a long
distance relationship (with kids) work?
- Are we kidding ourselves?
My boyfriend and I started with a long distance relationship:
about 50 miles and an hour plus drive each way. We both are
divorced and have our kids part time. Nearly two years later,
we have both changed jobs and we moved in together in May. I
know I am very happy with things and it made all that driving
early on to see each other once or twice a week totally worth
it. Plus, I loved all our phone and email communications. If
you really care for each other, you can make it work. Best
Former relationship commuter
I am in a new long-distance relationship with a wonderful man
who lives on another continent. We, too, are divorced (though
in our fifties), and I have a child young enough to make it
impossible for me to move (I share custody with my ex). And my
job is not moveable, either. So here we are. We send each
other text messages several times a day (just ''kisses'') and
write at least one fairly substantial e-mail per day. We Skype
(free telephone call with video on the computer) once a week or
so, and we see each other once a month ($$). Because we are
very sure of one another and at ease about our deep feelings
for each other, it is relatively easy. Yes, we miss each
other, and it is hard when day-to-day problems arise and the
lover is not on-site to help or just be there. But both of us
have big networks of friends who serve in those capacities, and
it is so rare to achieve this level of closeness and security
with someone that we feel it is worth it. Before I met him I
was trying to find someone through internet dating, and the
contrast is just so striking -- the guys I met on-line were
nice for the most part, but it just didn't ''click.'' With this
guy it has. So I guess I would say that if you feel the
relationship is right for you, and you don't feel that you
absolutely must have the day-to-day relationship right now (I
have so much else to do that I can't honestly say I need it
that much), go ahead and have the relationship you can have
right now, with the idea that you can move closer in the future.
My wife and I dated long distance (LA-SF) for over a year. Two
things were important to the success of an LDR: 1) we both knew
that it was not an indefinite situation. We knew that there was
an end point and that one of us (me) would make the move. 2) we
both made the commitment to see one another basically every or
every other week. Without those two factors, it will be
difficult to make it succeed. Doing the long distance thing is
hard enough. Not knowing whether you will ever be in the same
city exacerbates that. It puts a lot of pressure on the two of
you to make the most of your time on the phone and together if
you don't see one another that often. Forget about email. No
matter how romantic you guys are long ditance, there really is
no substitute for face to face time. More frequent face to face
time helps to 1) increase your familiartiy and intimacy and 2)
reduce the pressure of your interactions. ''Absence makes the
heart grow fonder'' is true only to a point and then it can morph
into ''Out of sight, out of mind'' SOme people manage to make it
work without all this. Some actualy thrive on not being in the
same city all the time but given that you are asking this
question leads me to believe that you are not one of those
people. Good luck!
I'm looking for advice, hopefully success stories, about long
distance relationships. I've been involved with the most
wonderful man for the past 3 years and although we haven't
lived together we see each other several times a week and spend
weekends together. His kids are grown, my daughter is twelve
(I've been divorced five years) and all is fine except he is
moving away. The company he works for is moving to Chicago and
he needs to go. He's looked for other work here in CA but
since he only has 5 more years at the company before early
retirement he can't chance losing those benefits. What do we
do? I can't move now. My daughter's dad is here, my job is
here and I can't imagine uprootng my life right now. I'd go in
a heartbeat as soon as my daugther is in college.
What is sustainable? We could see each other once a month but
can we retain that bond between us? Wondering what other
couples do in this situation.
Why not pay attention that 'heartbeat' and give this long
distance relationship a chance.
Lots of couples are doing this these days. Perhaps because of the
economics. I often hear about these situations in my
psychotherapy practice in email I receive.
In fact, it seems to be so common these days I'm frequently
interviewed on the subject for women's magazines.
I even spotlighted the subject in 'Breathing Room - Creating
Space to Be a Couple' (New Harbinger)
I used to tell my audiences that my idea of a perfect
relationship is someone who lived 7 minutes away. Then I had a
change of heartbeat. I've been in an LDR myself for almost 5 years.
The key to LDRs is keeping the connection and good communication:
-Talk together (and often) about what kind of contact both of
you need to make it work.
How do each of you feel best connected and how often? Maybe
nightly phone calls to look forward to. Or emails. Or texting.
Or chat. Or camcorder. Or a combination.
How long do you need the conversation to last in order to feel
connected. How often do you need face-to-face contact?
-Know that your needs might change, so keep the door open to
refreshing the dialogue.
-Build consistency into the relationship. Because LDRs by nature
cause both of you to shift gears, building consistency helps it
to thrive. And, it's fun to look forward to your contacts with
-Try to get an understanding of how much alone time each of you
needs during your time together. Know what your own 'bottom line'
needs are for time and space. Talk with your partner about how
to get space needs met for both of you.
These tips are from one of my articles and interviews.
Contact me at 510-540-6230 if you want more information or go to
I am seeking advice on a romantic relationship I have been
having. For the last 3 months, I have been dating a woman
who lives just south of Pacifica. Soon after we started
dating, Highway 1 - Devil's Slide - was closed due to the
heavy rains, which caused to roads to need serious repairs.
The scheduled re-opening of this area will not happen until
September at the earliest. As a result, it now takes well over
an hour to commute from Berkeley to where she lives.
My whole life revolves around Berkeley and the East Bay. I
have a child here (part-time), and run my business here.
Both of these things take up lots of time and energy. I have
been driving down to see her every Fridays; and she has
come up to visit me on Saturdays. The problem is, the
commute on Fridays is really getting to me; and the result of
all this commuting is that we rarely get to go outside of our
houses to do any fun activities. Besides, I am pretty
entrenched in the urban atmosphere of the East Bay, and I
find that the rural area is nice, but boring.
I wondered if anyone can shed light on "long distance"
relationships, similar to this? I should say also that both of
us are "over 49", own our own homes, and pretty entrenched
in our own locations. While it is possible that eventually one
of us might move, that would not happen for a long time as it
would involve significant life changes. While I think that she
is a special person, I have also found that there are definite
differences between us.... and when you add the hellacious
commute, it just makes it worse...
By the way, she has no children, but she does have a dog
who is old and cranky, and does not travel well...
A few days ago, I told her that I could no longer make it down
there every week, at least until they re-open Hwy 1. She is
pretty angry about that, and basically I think she wants to
break up over it. I am not sure what I want, but I also see that
it would not be fair to her to continue a relationship if there is
little hope of it working. We have dated only 3 months, if we
break up now it will be better than being unhappy and
frustrated for another few months...
Any opinions on this?
If there's no way you'd move toward her, be straight with her.
If there's no way she'd move away, and wants to break up with you, maybe
you're not right for each other. You can always just ''take a break''
and see if you're really dying to be together again. Frankly, even both
of you traveling every weekend sounds tedious, but if you can't make it
work (even for now), then don't belabor it. But be nice about it, and be
honest. Maybe you'll find you care enough to find some common ground. Or
maybe you'll find that it just isn't right
One thing you might want to do is make a list of the pros and cons for
yourself. Pros on one side of the paper, cons on the other. You could
start by taking the post you wrote, and picking out all the descriptors
you used for your feelings about the relationship, about her, and about
you, and put these feelings into the two columns.
For instance, some of the expressions I see that could go in one column
are that you are, ''commute challenged'', the relationship ''would
involve significant life changes'', that there are ''differences between
us'', it's a ''hellacious commute''. Her dog is ''old and cranky'' and
there's ''little hope of it working''. You used the word ''entrenched''
(twice) to describe your current situation.
Once you have this simple list it may help to shed light on your
question. This method has helped me solve the most intractable seeming
problems over the years. Best of luck, long distance relationships are
Deciding what to do about a new relationship that's having problems can
be very difficult and agonizing. You don't want to give it up out of
fear that it might be the right one but at the same time you don't want
to hold onto something that may not be right. Here are my two cents on
I hear you giving lots of reasons for ending the relationship.
One reason is the commute. Other reasons include having differences with
her and being bored with where she lives. Also, you mention that she
doesn't have children and her dog is annoying.
My advice to you is first to figure out why you're coming up with all
these reasons. Either 1) you're putting up barriers to intimacy (and
letting the commute do the rest for you) or 2) you genuinely aren't
interested in seeing her. If it's an intimacy issue, you really need to
examine this. Perhaps you've explored it in therapy, or might consider
doing so if you haven't already?
On the other hand, if it's a matter of you not really being interested
in seeing her, you need to be honest with her. There's no point seeing
someone if you know you're no longer interested in them.
As for her being angry with you for not wanting to commute, these are my
thoughts. While on the surface it seems inconsiderate that she's angry
at you for not wanting to commute each Friday, it could also be a
response to how you feel about her. In other words, she may be hurt by
the distance you are putting between you and her and the lack of
communication on why you're making that decision.
This gets back to the issue of honesty. If you don't want to see her
(regardless of the reason), you should be forthcoming and let her know.
Or at least tell her you need some distance while you decide what to do.
That way she'll have a chance to decide if she wants to continue seeing
you. This way both of you will get to decide what to do without keeping
each other in the dark Anon
by your message it seems like you already want to break up. i'd say
break up. doesnt seem worth it to keep pursuing the relationship. after
doing a long distance relationship for 6 yrs and then in end just
breaking up, i've always thought that these relationships just dont
work. good luck to you!
So you drive to see her for Friday evening (and drive back?) and she
drives up on Saturday during the day? Do you spend the night there and
caravan back to Berkeley in two cars? Can you sleep over, (on the couch
even if you are not at that intimate a relationship yet)? Can you not
alternate Fridays and Saturdays, or even just Saturdays, one weekend in
HMB, one in Berkeley? It seems ridiculous for you both to be making that
horrible drive every week, for the same amount of time to be spent
together. Why do you both have to be in both cities every week?
I think you can work out a way to do this with fewer sacrifices on both
your parts, and then decide if those sacrifices are worth it. If it is
true love, then it is probably worth the drive. On the other hand, if it
is true love, it will probably be able to be rekindled after the pumpkin
Long distance relationships can work, but I think it take a lot of
patience and humor, and lots of agreement on what you both want from the
relationship. And it sounds more like you two have a commuter
relationship than a long distance one. When my husband and I were
separated for a year while I finished college (and before we were
married), we were 500 miles apart, so a weekly visit was not really
possible. We had less frequent but longer visits, and that seemed to
work well for us. Plus we knew the long distance was a fixed time.
It sounds to me that it's more than the commute that is causing you
trouble. If you're feeling ambivalent, it might be a good idea to take
a little time off. Or take it the other way, and set aside a chunk of
time together--a week or two somewhere. In either (or both) situation,
you might discover more what you want with each other and from your
relationship Here now
There might be another way of thinking about this impasse. Did you by
any chance unilaterally decide to limit your Friday visits? It may be
that she wanted to be included in the decision-making process and is
angry about that. Maybe if you talk about the difficult commute and its
associated problems, you could come up with some other solutions
together. Here are some
ideas: you visit her for one whole weekend, she visits you for the next
whole weekend; she does the Friday commute sometimes; or you meet her
in some third city and do something different.
I'm sure the two of you could come up with your own list of ideas that
would be worth trying.
It would seem reasonable for you each to take turns - you go to Pacifica
every other week for whatever time seems reasonable and she goes to the
East Bay the alternate weekends. Seems strange that you both have to do
all that driving each weekend. You might want to ask yourself how long
you would be willing to do this while deciding whether this person is
the special one for you. I did it for 5 years and it became clear that
neither he nor I was willing to move so I ended it. Would have been
better not to wait so long....
5 years was too long
So, you both go back and forth to each other's places every weekend? Why
don't you go to her house one weekend and she comes to yours the next?
Maybe a neighbor can watch the dog. It makes it more interesting and fun
when a couple can be more fluid, spontaneous, and flexible, in my
opinion... Maybe you can find a place to meet on a Saturday morning
that's in between and outside and go for a walk or spend the day at the
beach and then spend Saturday night with each other and forget Friday
night altogether! Suggest new things to try and if she's not open to
them then I would move on. Who wants to get stuck in a rut after only 3
all for trying new stuff!
Wow. I feel for you. In fact, I posted a similar message to this board
about 3 years ago and got no responses!
But here I am, 3 years later, in a happy, commuting marriage.
Here's the first thing: You have to love each other very, very much.
Because it is DIFFICULT, and it will remain difficult.
My husband lives about 100 miles east of here, when he's not in Berkeley
-- he commutes twice a week to be with his kids. I get up there much
less frequently -- we aim for once a month. There are structural
reasons for the imbalance: 1) I have a much more time-intensive custody
arrangement than he does, and my child is younger; 2) He has to be in
Silicon Valley a couple of times/week anyway; 3) He actually likes the
Bay Area better. Nevertheless, the imbalance itself can be a source of
You say that you ''rarely get to go outside of our houses to do any fun
activities'' but I'm not sure why the commute precludes that. Just too
tired after the drive? We definitely make a point of getting out,
because it can be tempting to just ''nest''
when we get our one night alone per week. But we both feel it's
important to get out. If you could make a point of getting out, maybe
you could learn to appreciate her ''nature zone'' better, and she,
likewise, can learn what it is you love about the East Bay urban scene.
Only you can decide whether the relationship is worth the commute to you
-- but it sounds like she's decided that it's worth it to her, so I can
see why she's hurt by your move to limit visits at her house. I think
you have to know, to have faith, that she is THE ONE for you, for the
rest of your life, and that this is an investment that will pay off in
happiness in your old age. From that faith, you will then need to make
the decision that you can do this commute with joy in your heart, and
anticipation at seeing, after a long week, your lover.
Tune your radio to NPR, begin each trip with the intent to practice
keep your cell phone charged, and commit your heart to love.
Very best wishes to you --
I read the title of your post with sympathy, as I've been in many long
distance relationships and I know how difficult they can be. However, I
was expecting the distance to at least involve crossing state lines, so
when I saw that the distance was a one hour commute, I chuckled. If you
don't feel the relationship is worth a one hour drive, once a week, then
I think it's pretty clear that you're not committed to making it work.
I have had similar issues and relationships over the years. I am now in
the same position, entrenched in the East Bay, with part time care of my
young children. My ex wants me closer to him for ease of child
transferral. My ''about to be ex''
boyfriend is not willing to travel to Berkeley to see me if I move there
from Walnut Creek where he is long established. As my sister advised me,
if you aren't excited about the commute, that person out there is not
special enough. Cut loose sooner rather than later. It is kinder and she
seems to be giving you the cut loose signal through her angry response.
There was recently a question about
commuting. I have the opposite question. My husband and I are
considering a permanent short-distance commute. The kids and I
would live about an hour away and that would be our family
home. My husband would come to Berkeley three days/two nights a
week (probably leaving Tuesday morning and getting back Thursday
night) for his job and be with us the rest of the time.
We would do this because we want to live in a smaller, mellower
town where houses are more affordable and it is easier to raise
kids. We have friends in this town and family nearby (though we
don't expect our family to be of any help). My husband loves
Berkeley and loves his job and has tenure so will be working
here until he retires. After 6 years I still hate Berkeley and
my husband agrees that I've given it enough time and we need to
do something else. This was the compromise we came up with.
One more piece to the compromise: He currently goes away for 4-6
weeks each year (in 1 week long chunks) so he can really dig
into his work. Having a place here will replace the need for
Has anyone out there done this? Is it sustainable? Is it hard
on the kids? The mom? The dad? The marriage? Any tips for
making it easier?
Please see my post today under ''Temp. long-distance commute with 3 1/2 Y.O.'' Yes
you can make this work, and it could even improve not only your situation but his.
Being an academic is very flexible and often telecommuting increases productivity.
And coming home to a family that is happier makes it win-win for everyone. (And if
you get a hybrid car you can even save on tolls and gas expenses. :-) It is
sustainable assuming that everyone's needs are met and no other option clearly
I haven't personally done this but I know someone who has been doing it for over a
year. He is gone during the week and home on the weekend. There are issues with it,
but it is working pretty well. Since your husband would be home more and the distance
you'll be from him is closer than my friend's situation, I think the issues they have
wouldn't apply to you.
Sounds like a good compromise for your situation.
Hi, I don't have experience with this, but wanted to say it sounds like you've thought
it through really well. Anything will work if you've thought it through and if you
and your husband are in agreement about the details. Perhaps also discuss his level
of involvement with the children (ie giving you a break) when he comes home Fridays.
Another option: I dislike Berkeley also and couldn't live there. We live in Alameda
and I love it. It truly feels like a small community and it is a great, great place
to raise kids. Perhaps you want to check it out before moving further away.
this page was last updated: Jun 16, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network