In the last six months I’ve had quite a bit of opportunity to test the notion that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I moved to San Francisco from the east coast last November which put 3,000 miles between me and my family & friends. I’m here with my boyfriend who spends about 50% of the time traveling abroad for work. For 6 straight months now I’ve been in a constant state of missing someone, usually multiple someones. How has the absence affected my heart? It’s definitely made me realize my fondness for the ones I love. Not that I didn’t realize it before, but it has now sort of come full circle and to the surface. That said, I wouldn’t say that my answer to the question ‘does absence really make the heart grow fonder?’ is an absolute YES without any contingencies. There is also another saying that goes ‘out of sight, out of mind’. I do believe that the transition from one state to the other is simply a matter of time. What I have ultimately determined is that absence does make the heart grow fonder- for a time.
So how absent can one be while still maintaining an active & involved presence in someone’s life? Well I don’t think there is a specific time frame for everyone, but from my experience I think however long the absence, you should be able to remain connected and in a flow to where things can continue smoothly & pick back up where they left off. It shouldn’t feel like starting over each time. Absence is a good thing when it’s not the dominant thing. That’s what I’ve come to believe. Whenever my boyfriend leaves for a business trip (which could last anywhere from 1-4 weeks), I spend the first several days really missing him and thinking about the overall scope of our relationship. When he is here I’m definitely more caught up in the day to day stuff and our routine that I’ve come to appreciate the different way I think about our relationship and him when he is gone. Missing him is good for me. And I’ve discovered my threshold as to how long I can happily carry on while he is away before I start to feel disconnected and abandoned, and where his absence begins to hurt more than help.
I think one of the main reasons that absence makes the heart grow fonder in romance is that in healthy relationships we are attracted to our partner’s ability to have a full life with or without us. The overly romanticized notion that one “needs” another person (as in “I can’t survive a single day without you”) is actually reflective of co-dependency rather than mature love, and therefore is not appealing to a mature individual who values autonomy and independence. Creating space and time apart in relationships-especially when it is welcome & initiated on both sides-reinforces the independent nature of both people and therefore aids in keeping things fresh and exciting. Additionally, I think absence allows for the survival of a bit of mystery which also contributes to the relationship in a positive way. It’s good if you don’t know what your partner is doing every second of every day, and vice-versa.
If my partner did not travel, I would still be mindful that we have enough time apart by planning outings with my girlfriends and maybe even an occasional weekend getaway without him. I believe that having a chance to miss each other is important. Avoiding taking each other for granted can be hard, but it is crucial. I think absence helps keep the gratitude alive and kicking. Reuniting is always exciting & special. For me, being apart from time to time gives me the room to really think about what I value about my relationship in a different way- dwelling on what it is I’m longing for reminds me of what it is that I have. I’ve come to value absence for what it can bring about, but it certainly can never outdo the joys & benefits of sharing time and space with those I love. In the end, I agree with Benjamin Franklin who said, “Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.”
Well that’s my take on the whole thing!
Be you and enjoy it.