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伴侣两地分居能长久维持关系的原因

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The surprisingly strong relationships of commuter couples
伴侣两地分居能长久维持关系的原因

In some ways, it’s stranger for Brynne Gilmore and David Cichon to be in the same airspace than apart. Even while living in Dublin, Ireland, where they met six years ago as graduate students, their research trips frequently took them out of the country.

对于吉尔摩(Brynne Gilmore)和齐雄(David Cichon)来说,分离比相聚更为平常。6年前,两人在爱尔兰都柏林读研究生时相遇,但即使是常住都柏林的那段日子,两人也常常因为要出国做研究而分离。

The Canadian-German couple still view Dublin as their home base, although since leaving they’ve lived in several other countries. Cichon, a labour researcher focusing on living wages for garment workers, is now in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, though he’s preparing to move back to Berlin. Gilmore, a research fellow in global health, splits her time between Nairobi and Marsabit in Kenya. Both are in their early 30s.

这对夫妇分别来自加拿大和德国,两人离开都柏林后曾旅居多国,但直到现在仍将都柏林视为“老家”。齐雄是一位劳工研究员,主要研究服装工人的最低生活工资,目前在柬埔寨金边工作,不过他已经准备搬回到柏林。吉尔摩研究全球卫生健康状况,在肯尼亚的内罗毕和马萨比特两地工作。两人都30多岁。

They see themselves as building a foundation for the future, which makes the sacrifices worthwhile for now. “Why we’re apart so much, and why we’re OK being apart so much, is really trying to build our careers and establish what we can, while we can,” says Gilmore. It helps that they both love their work and find each other’s careers meaningful. And being in the same position of having jobs that require lots of time spent abroad means that there’s little chance for resentment to creep in.

他们都认为自己是在为未来打拼,所以现在的牺牲是值得的。吉尔摩说:“我们之所以总是分离,并且能够坚持下去,是因为我们想要在有能力的时候尽力发展事业。”两人都热爱自己的工作,并且认为对方的事业也十分重要。同时,长期出差意味着不满和怨恨情绪无容身之地。

At the same time, they prioritise the relationship and are prepared to make changes in the future if the distance threatens that. This was important even as students, when they’d budget for flight tickets to see each other at least every three months. Though a major expense, “it was always the key item we’d save for”, Cichon remembers.

同时两人都把感情放在第一位,并准备一旦距离威胁到了感情,都愿意做出改变。在还是学生的时候,这一点他们就很看重,当时他们最多三个月就要存钱买机票去看对方。尽管这是一笔很大的开销,“但我们总会为了这件事省吃俭用”,齐雄回忆道。

This doesn’t mean that it’s all roses and romcoms, of course. Some time zone differences are particularly challenging, and navigating the distance is tiring. Gilmore also has to field assumptions that her partner is the one making the major sacrifice and unduly affected by long-distance monogamy.

当然,吉尔摩和齐雄的关系也不总是那么浪漫有趣。长途飞行和倒时差也很折磨人。吉尔摩还不得不面对这样的假设——她的伴侣做出了更多牺牲,并且还要承受异地单身生活所带来的影响。

But some of the benefits are clear. Not only are they investing in their careers, but they say the distance concentrates their quality time when they’re together. “When we are together, we’re super together,” Gilmore says.

但这种关系明显的好处是。双方都可以全身心投入于自己的事业,并且远距离恋爱使他们更珍惜在一起的宝贵时光。吉尔摩说:“当我们在一起时,两人都心无旁骛。”

30出头的吉尔摩和齐雄分别来自加拿大和德国,这对情侣总是因为工作而分隔两地

High education, long distance

更高更远


It’s hard to know if relationships like this one are on the rise. But seven percent of Canadian couples aged 20 and up, including 31% of 20–24-year-olds, are in a ‘living apart together’ relationship. Census data also show that nearly 4 million Americans and 785,000 people in England and Wales are living apart from their spouses. But it’s unclear how much of this is for work-related reasons, rather than factors like relationship trouble or health.

我们很难得知这种远距离关系是不是越来越常见,但在20岁以上的加拿大夫妇中,有7%处于“分隔两地”状态,其中年龄在20岁至24岁之间的人,“分隔两地”的比例更高达31%。人口普查数据显示,有近400万美国人和78.5万英国和威尔士人和伴侣分隔两地。但目前尚不清楚有多少是因为工作的原因,而不是其他原因,比如感情不和、健康问题等。

“In terms of well-educated professionals specifically living apart due to their careers, that’s actually impossible to measure with any demographic instruments that currently exist,” explains Danielle Lindemann, a sociologist at Lehigh University in the US. “Nobody can really say with certainty that this lifestyle is more prevalent than it has been in the past, but everybody who studies this topic agrees that it probably is.” There is some evidence to suggest long distance marriages are on the rise, in the US at least.

美国利哈伊大学(Lehigh University)的社会学家林德曼(Danielle Lindemann)解释说:“现有的人口统计无法统计出有多少受过良好教育的专业人士,因为工作原因分居两地。无法确切地说这种生活方式比以前更普遍,但研究这个领域的人都同意这一点。有证据表明,至少在美国,异地婚姻呈上升趋势。”

Others have suggested that long-distance dating is on the rise partly because of the popularity of dating apps and social media. But there’s a particular shortage of data on same-sex couples, who have a smaller dating pool and thus may have to make even more location compromises for relationships.

有些人认为远距离伴侣关系之所以越来越普遍,部分原因是社交媒体和约会软件的兴起。但同性伴侣的数据比较缺乏,他们可选择的对象更少,所以不得不为了感情在地点上有所妥协。

Research on PhD students in the US suggests that these kinds of dual-career couples are likely to choose to live apart, rather than to break up or to take a job that isn’t their first choice. In fact, being highly educated can actually constrain choices.

美国一项针对博士生的研究表明,高学历的双职工夫妇相比起分居或接受一份不太满意的工作,更有可能选择分居。事实上,高学历可能会限制选择。

The central paradox of Lindemann’s recent book, Commuter Spouses: New Families in a Changing World, is that investing a lot of time and effort on education and skills means that the things you can do with all that training are awfully limited. An example Lindemann likes to give is: “If you’re a professor who studies 18th Century Russian tea cups, you go live where the one Russian teacup job is.” The increasing specialisation of the job market means that highly educated people have to travel further for niche work. At the same time, Lindemann points to a kind of “extreme expressive individualism” that in some cultures means that people’s sense of self is highly entwined with their work.

林德曼在其新书《通勤配偶:变化世界中的新家庭》(Commuter Spouses: New Families in a Changing World)中提到这样一种悖论——在教育和技能上投入大量的时间和精力意味着,你能用到这些技能所做的事情非常有限。林德曼喜欢举以下这个例子:“假设你是一位专门研究18世纪俄罗斯茶杯的教授,那么你就必须去能提供这种工作的地方生活”。就业市场专业化程度越来越高,意味着受过高等教育的人,必须去更远的地方才能找到称心的工作。与此同时,林德曼还提到了一种“极端表现型个人主义”,在某种文化中,人们的自我意识与工作紧密相关。

What makes it work

成功的秘诀是什么?


Of course, choosing to live apart because of niche work is linked to privilege. Those who make the same decision based on financial necessity experience greater stress than those who leave based on career goals, points out Chei Billedo, a communications researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. This could negatively affect relationship maintenance, such as not being able to afford visits home or plan for eventual reunification.

当然,并不是所有人都是为了一份称心的工作而分居。荷兰鹿特丹伊拉斯谟大学(Erasmus University Rotterdam)和阿姆斯特丹自由大学(Vrije University)的传播学研究员毕勒多(Chei Billedo)指出,那些出于经济原因而不得不分离的人,相比为了追寻职业理想而分居的人承受的压力更大,因为这会对关系的稳定产生负面影响,比如无力负担探亲或是一家人定居的费用。

Certain circumstances are more extreme. Domestic workers from the Philippines, where Billedo is from, are in some places allowed neither their own phones nor the time to make phone calls. But Billedo says that for couples unaffected by labour exploitation or acute financial stress, relationship dissolution rates are about the same for long-distance romantic relationships and geographically close ones.

有些情况还会更为极端,有些家政服务人员有时候连打电话的时间都没有,但来自菲律宾的毕勒多说,对于不受劳动力剥削或严重经济压力影响的夫妻来说,分隔两地的关系和一般伴侣的分手几率是一样的。

Those in long-distance relationships actually “perceive their relationship to be more stable”, explains Billedo. And certain aspects that might be demonised in geographically proximate relationships can particularly contribute to maintaining long-distance ones. Take jealousy, which Billedo has found can be constructive in long-distance relationships - as long as it’s reactive jealousy, which responds to an actual relationship threat, rather than suspicious jealousy, which is unfounded.

毕勒多解释说:“事实上,分隔两地的伴侣会认为自己的情感更加稳定。某些因为离得近而可能被妖魔化的事情,反而有助于维持远距离恋爱。比如说嫉妒,”毕勒多发现嫉妒其实有利于远距离伴侣关系,但必须是切切实实感受到威胁而产生的反应性嫉妒,而不是毫无根据的猜疑。

Similarly, while intrusive surveillance is obviously a problem for any relationship, certain kinds of light social-media stalking are especially useful across a distance. Billedo’s research on Facebook, together with Peter Kerkhof and Catrin Finkenauer, suggests that “feedback from our social network does matter when it comes to relationship satisfaction”. So forging a social-media community over long distance can help others see the relationship as valid, in the absence of a face-to-face friend group performing the same function. This social validation affects the couple’s own perceptions.

同样地,不管是何种恋爱方式,监视对方都是一个让人讨厌的事情,但是轻度的社交媒体跟踪却对远距离恋爱有利。毕勒多针对脸书的研究表明“来自社交网络的反馈对于关系满意度十分重要”。因此,当没有朋友可以面对面交谈时,跨越距离的社交媒体软件就能够发挥重要的作用,巩固恋人之间的关系。这种社会的认可也会影响夫妻双方的看法。

Certain personality characteristics also help. Cichon and Gilmore describe each other as adaptable, able to make friends in new places and OK with alone time. These are exactly the kinds of traits that Lindemman’s work shows are common among commuter couples  together with self-reliance, financial security and (a biggie) not having children.

某些性格特征也有助于维持远距离恋爱。齐雄和吉尔摩都认为对方适应能力很强,可以在新环境交到朋友,也可以舒服地与自己独处。这也是林德曼在书中所提到的“远距离伴侣共有的特点”,除此之外还包括自力更生、经济保障和没有孩子。

In fact, parenthood was the single biggest factor affecting how her heterosexual respondents viewed their relationships. Though women in these distance relationships often mentioned feeling freer from gendered expectations about their household contributions, parenthood made the relationships substantially less equal in terms of who shouldered the majority of shared responsibilities. Lindemann, who previously lived apart from her husband, wouldn’t do it again now that they have a child.

事实上,异性恋者在为人父母后会改变看法。异地恋中的女性经常会说,自己不用满足外界对于女性的期望,但为人父母后这种关系的平等程度就大大降低了,比如说,谁来承担大部分的共同责任。林德曼之前与丈夫两地分居,现在有了孩子就不会再选择异地分居了。

Takeaways for long-distance relationships

有什么建议?


These experiences suggest a few commonalities of successful long-distance relationships. Communication is an oft-repeated one. Methods of compensating for the distance, whether that’s strategic Facebooking or frequent check-ins over WhatsApp, are important as well. Reducing gendered disparities – likely to be smaller in same-sex relationships – is clearly helpful.

从这些经验中可以总结出远距离伴侣关系成功的共性:经常反复的沟通。用一些方法弥补距离所造成的隔阂,比如说用脸书或者WhatsApp“汇报行踪”。除此之外,减少性别差异也十分有用,同性关系中的性别差异可能会小些。

It’s also useful to calibrate expectations, rather than comparing the relationship to some geographically close ideal and feeling frustrated that it falls short. This aligns with research suggesting that while distance or absence doesn’t automatically harm relationships, it’s the nature of the relationship and the individuals in it that predict relationship quality.

还应该对这段关系有正确的期望值,而不是与其他没有分隔两地的伴侣关系进行比较,因为这种比较只会让人觉得有挫败感。研究结果一致认为,距离和另一半的缺席并不会破坏情侣之间的关系,真正影响感情质量的是这段关系的性质和参与者本身。

Lindemann also suggests that the adaptability common in commuter relationships might need to extend to the way we think about work. Her hope is that “the culture of education might change, that we might be able to professionalise people to see how the skills that we’re imparting to them… are applicable beyond these narrow job categories”.

林德曼还建议,我们应该将感情中的适应性运用到工作上。她希望“有关教育文化能够有所改变,让我们能够更专业化,将接受的教育运用于更广阔的范围里。”

Given the uncertainty around what work will look like in the future, this is useful advice in general, not just for those likely to partner up across vast distances.

未来的工作是有不确定性的,所以以上建议对普遍情况都有帮助,而不仅仅适用于那些相隔千里的伴侣。
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