Plan of Distraction 

Dear Lou,
I am 21 years old and so is my boyfriend. We went together senior year in high school, broke up for a year and got back together March of 2003. We’ve been living together since and have a house together. He has a trip planned to France and London and Germany with his aunt and I’m not going. He will be gone for two months. He doesn’t leave until May. But already I am worried for some reason. I have no reason whatsoever to think he would cheat on me. Two months is a very long time. I just don’t want to worry about something happening to us. How do I deal with this when he leaves. And not be so worried while he is gone. I’ve already planned on buying him a lot of calling cards before he goes. Help me, please!


Dear Anonymous,
(What’s with everybody forgetting to make up a cute name like “Worried Widower,” or “Spankin’ it in Speedway”? Don’t you people know how this works? C’mon, gimme the queso!)

Anyway, if you’re worried about “something happening,” it’s not about this trip. You’re probably right in thinking that stepping out for some Euro-strange with Auntie in tow is not going to happen. So, if you’re this anxious, it’s either because there’s some instability already in this relationship, or you’re just plain freaked-out over the distance and duration of this upcoming trip. Past breakup aside, you’ve provided little insight as to what the instability might be, so I’m going to go on the information I have and guess your problem is the latter. Fretting about him being far away and absent for a few months is completely natural. I cried like a baby when my husband left for his first overseas business trip, and that was only for a week. So, know that a certain degree of anxiety is okay. In fact, and here’s some kinda crappy news, it’s sorta unavoidable. You’ll miss him, you’ll feel lonely and disconnected, and maybe even a bit insecure without your man at your side. The important thing for you to focus on is not eliminating those feelings, but keeping them in perspective. Remind yourself that you’ve been together for a while, and it just isn’t rational to think this trip is somehow going to jeopardize that (provided, again, that there isn’t already some sort of problem).

Next, move on to the practical, day-to-day actions you can take to ease the worry and loneliness. Get the calling cards by all means, but do more. Plan for nights alone with a good book or favorite movie, or a bubble bath and a bottle of Champagne. You’ve got the house, the bathroom, and the remote all to yourself, indulge! Make a list of things you want to get done around the house, or things you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the time. Host slumber parties. Go out with your friends. See your family. Whatever. Staying busy is the best thing. I realize this sounds trite and well, it is, but not entirely. See, while you’re occupying your mind with all this other activity, you’re also giving yourself time to adjust to his absence, to get even a little comfortable with it. After a few weeks of having to fake being okay with this, it will actually start to become true. Finally, remember that he’ll be heading off on what sounds like a wonderful trip. If you try to muster a little excitement on his behalf, you’ll probably find that to be genuine too, and that’s a positive feeling to focus on. Another silver lining is that with his leaving comes the anticipation of his return. Plan something special for that day, and enjoy the bittersweet ache of waiting for it to arrive. Finally, and ultimately, trust not only your boyfriend, but the commitment you both have made to each other. It’ll be all right.

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Lisa "Lou" Welch

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