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Joe Stone Is On It: Learning To Cope with a Long Distance Relationship

By Will Stroude

This column first appeared in Attitude Issue 268, April 2016. 

If ghosting refers to the practise of dumping someone by ignoring all their texts and calls, what’s the word for when the person you are in a relationship with moves countries? I ask because – faced with years of my myriad neurosis, unparalleled ability to relate every subject back to the Spice Girls and flat-out refusal to ever leave the house for more than three hours at a time – my boyfriend has finally done the sensible thing, and emigrated.

I know. Awkward.

Full disclosure: he’s only moved to Paris, which isn’t exactly Australia (or God forbid, Dubai), but still. Sympathy please. Obviously the best thing about this new arrangement is that I get to channel Victoria Beckham circa 2004 – minus the trucker caps – when David relocated to Madrid (I’m choosing to ignore how that turned out). The worst thing is a spiteful minority of people assuming that his new job is an elaborate smokescreen I’ve concocted to disguise the fact that I’ve been dumped.

The other day I wore tracksuit bottoms into work – which, by the way, I think is a totally legitimate lifestyle choice in 2016 – only to be asked by a colleague (who for the purposes of this column we shall call Helen, because that’s her name, and because she deserves to be publicly shamed) ‘Have you given up because your man left?’. The nerve of her! He hasn’t ‘left’. Just moved abroad without inviting me. There is a difference you know.

Other observations about being long distance: having a wank on Skype is super awkward, even if you’ve already slept with that person twenty gazillion times. As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of narrating sex acts, but it feels a bit weird strumming away in silence three hundred miles apart. So far, the only way that I’ve gotten around this without resorting to anything unseemly is by having a general chit-chat about my day until we both finish (romantic). I’ll let you know how I get on with that.

If I was going to be all Oprah about it, I guess I could use this as an opportunity to try and broaden my, admittedly narrow, horizons. No doubt a more proactive person would use all the time freed up by not giving having regular sex/arguing in Ikea and get a new hobby like, I don’t know, racquetball, or catfishing exes on Grindr. In truth, I have attended a few social functions that I may otherwise have avoided, and found them to be universally awful – especially without the social buffer of my boyfriend, who can be relied upon to say something polite when I can’t be bothered. There’s a lesson in that, and that lesson is, stay inside your comfort zone.

The plus side is that, freed from the tyranny of having to stay-in-step with his viewing habits, my capacity to binge-watch Netflix has gone stratospheric. As in, I’ve just polished off all six seasons of The L Word in the time it would have taken him to watch half an episode of Making A Murderer (we have to pause every time he finds something stressful). Obviously I only watched it to appease my lesbian friends who have been squawking for years that it is landmark television (they were lying).

I should probably end here by saying something sentimental about how absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it appears that I’ve run out of words. To be continued.

You can check out Joe Stone’s latest column in the new issue of Attitude, available to download now from, in shops, and to order from


Also in Attitude’s October issue, alongside all your usual news, reviews, fitness & travel:

  • In a theatre special, we meet the young out and proud stars of the National Youth Theatre as the iconic drama group celebrates its 60th anniversary.
  • Former Game of Thrones star Gethin Anthony talks playing gay in Westeros and his new role as infamous – and sexually ambiguous – criminal Charles Manson.
  • Fear the Walking Dead‘s Colman Domingo tells us all about life playing one of the hit zombie series’ most electrifying gay characters.
  • We catch up with fabulous pop females AlunaGeorge and Rebecca Ferguson as they prepare to release new music.
  • Eurovision winner Jamala she reflects on life for Ukraine’s LGBT+ community as she looks ahead to next year’s competition.
  • Syrian refugee and LGBT+ activist Subhi Nahas shares his uplifting story of strength and strife in the fact of war and oppression.
  • As Black History Month gets underway, we examine the new generation of black LGBT+ role models inspiring today’s young people.
  • Iconic ’80s star and friend of Boy George Marilyn shares the lessons learnt from a life well-lived.
  • We chat to French actor Geoffrey Couët, one of the two stars of new romantic gay drama film Theo & Hugo.
  • Male model Oliver Cheshire talks us through his favourite trends for Autumn/Winter 2016.
  • We catch up with RuPaul’s Drag Race All Star Alyssa Edwards (and attempt to finally find out her secret) in new monthly feature ‘Big in a Wig’.

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