illusory emotions

Reader S. T. L. asks:

I am super stressed out about a huge upcoming test, and therefore somewhat vulnerable emotionally. I’m talking to this chick in Europe and I really like her, and I’m actually thinking about buying her a ticket to come out here. I cant imagine she’s using me — it’s not like everyone in Europe is dying to visit the great desert southwest. So how do I: A. keep from having unrealistic expectations, and B. maintain some kind of distance because it’s a pretty illusory relationship?

Dear S.T.L,:

I have to clear the air a bit and say I think you’re wrong. Plenty of Europeans would love to come to the great desert southwest. A free trip to America is a free trip to America! So yes, she may be using you. But let’s not jump to conclusions here. I mean, we hardly know the girl. Which is exactly what you should keep in mind.

It sounds like you’re having a fun little overseas romantic tryst. Nothing wrong with that. It’s, well, romantic, frankly. You understand it’s probably not going to result in anything serious, which would be my first caution to you, so there’s not much sense in advising you that way.

I think what’s happening to you is a classic case of head vs. heart. Your heart is saying “let’s go” but your head is saying “no”. (Name the 90’s pop tune!) You’ve admitted you’re a bit compromised right now because you’re under stress. But that may just be an excuse, too. The fact is, you like someone. And it’s out of your control. That’s pretty stressful in and of itself. Furthermore, she’s out of the country. There’s an even more stressful factor.

But it may also be your saving grace.

I say don’t buy her tickets to come see you. Let her buy her own tickets to come see you. If you want to go see her and she invites you to go see her, do so. Buying her a ticket to come see you, while romantic and very generous, is basically setting yourself up for disappointment. Besides, you don’t seem to think the great desert southwest is a very fun destination. Going to visit her seems much more practical and interesting.

In terms of keeping distance, you’ve already got physical distance. That one’s solved.

To keep from having unrealistic expectations… well, that’s kind of impossible with a long-distance relationship. You’re going to develop ideas about someone that are based in your own head rather than reality. That’s just how it goes. If you’ve actually met before, you may have something on which to base your expectations, but in the end, you’re going to have unrealistic expectations.

I would definitely recommend waiting until after you take your big test to make any expensive decisions. If she wants to come visit you, she can do so on her own steam. You can invite her, but don’t offer to pay for the trip. Your head is right in knowing that you’re looking for comfort from stress. She just seems like a good idea because she’s far away. Enjoy the good idea for what it is, rather than investing your very delicate reality in it right now.

And good luck on your test!


2 Responses to “illusory emotions”

  1. July 14, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    As someone who’s been in a somewhat less intense version of this situation, believe me what I say that the long-distance-romance-with-a-girl-you’ve-never-met is definitely a bit of a genie in a bottle: you have to rub it the right way. 😉

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