Love, Entertainment And News

"Like Crazy:" Why Long-Distance Relationships Don't Work

Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin in Like Crazy

There are a few rules I absolutely know to be true in relationships. One, if a guy cheated with you, he'll cheat on you. Two, one person in the relationship is always more committed than the other. And three, long-distance relationships don't work.

The hardest realization has probably been the last one. In September 2005, I moved to New York right out of college, leaving my boyfriend of three years behind. By the time he visited in October, we'd forgotten our rhythm as a couple. By November, I started seeing someone else. We officially broke up in December. 

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Years later, I began a romance with a backpacking filmmaker who visited Manhattan briefly. We called and IMed and emailed furiously, counting the days until he settled here for good. He came back for New Year's, bringing a lot of baggage — physical and emotional — that I hadn't realized he had. We rang 2009 in with a bust and never really spoke again. Now my most long-distance relationships span Manhattan to Brooklyn.

So yeah. I went into Like Crazy not bitter, not bitter at all.

In the movie, Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) attend college together in L.A. One day, Anna leaves a love note on Jacob's car windshield. He calls her and they go out for bashful conversation. Anna shares her whiskey and poetry. Jacob takes it all in as they listen to Paul Simon. They fall in skinny-jeaned love, the kind just begging to be captured via Instagram.

Maybe it was my cynicism or poor attention span, but I couldn't tell how long Jacob and Anna had dated before graduation. But they did, in a carefree, dreamy way that you may have heard about once in a Deathcab for Cutie song. Anna's adorable and perfect... and British, so of course her student visa expires. 

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The day before Anna's trip back to the U.K., the couple spends the night in a hotel. They're quiet and missing each other already. Something very big is about to come between them, and they don't want to be ready for it. The next day, Anna decides not to go back. Jacob doesn't argue.

Eventually she does go home, though. Then, when Anna tries to visit L.A. as a tourist, she's sent back by immigration. (Visas aren't a joke, kids!) And that's when things get painful. The two young lovers are forced to start their post-college lives on their own. The filmmaker spared us a montage of emails and tears, but we see missed calls and text messages. Anna and Jacob settle into jobs and their own groups of friends at home, but they never fall out of love. Or at least not out of love with what they had when they were actually together.

When Jacob visits Anna in London, he tells her that he feels like he's on vacation, not a part of her life. The two begrudgingly talk about seeing other people. Anna later decides they have two options: waiting out her immigration ban or speeding things along by getting married. Uh, no pressure. They never consider breaking up.

I couldn't decide if my skepticism of this romance was wise or just wizened. Relationships are hard enough to maintain when they're local. How well can you really know someone if you see them so irregularly and only through the rose-colored, blurry glasses of memory? If I had written this movie, I would have titled it Like That's Gonna Work, Guys. But maybe I'm just jaded? Watch Like Crazy in theaters now to find out what Jacob and Anna decide to do.

Do long stretches of time apart in a relationship that's mostly long-distance count as growth or stasis? How long could you wait, if you were certain that the right person was on the other side of world from you?