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伴侶兩地分居能長久維持關系的原因

The surprisingly strong relationships of commuter couples
伴侶兩地分居能長久維持關系的原因

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.

對于吉爾摩(Brynne Gilmore)和齊雄(David Cichon)來說,分離比相聚更為平常。6年前,兩人在愛爾蘭都柏林讀研究生時相遇,但即使是常住都柏林的那段日子,兩人也常常因為要出國做研究而分離。

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.

這對夫婦分別來自加拿大和德國,兩人離開都柏林后曾旅居多國,但直到現在仍將都柏林視為“老家”。齊雄是一位勞工研究員,主要研究服裝工人的最低生活工資,目前在柬埔寨金邊工作,不過他已經準備搬回到柏林。吉爾摩研究全球衛生健康狀況,在肯尼亞的內羅畢和馬薩比特兩地工作。兩人都30多歲。

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.

他們都認為自己是在為未來打拼,所以現在的犧牲是值得的。吉爾摩說:“我們之所以總是分離,并且能夠堅持下去,是因為我們想要在有能力的時候盡力發展事業。”兩人都熱愛自己的工作,并且認為對方的事業也十分重要。同時,長期出差意味著不滿和怨恨情緒無容身之地。

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.

同時兩人都把感情放在第一位,并準備一旦距離威脅到了感情,都愿意做出改變。在還是學生的時候,這一點他們就很看重,當時他們最多三個月就要存錢買機票去看對方。盡管這是一筆很大的開銷,“但我們總會為了這件事省吃儉用”,齊雄回憶道。

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.

當然,吉爾摩和齊雄的關系也不總是那么浪漫有趣。長途飛行和倒時差也很折磨人。吉爾摩還不得不面對這樣的假設——她的伴侶做出了更多犧牲,并且還要承受異地單身生活所帶來的影響。

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.

但這種關系明顯的好處是。雙方都可以全身心投入于自己的事業,并且遠距離戀愛使他們更珍惜在一起的寶貴時光。吉爾摩說:“當我們在一起時,兩人都心無旁騖。”

30出頭的吉爾摩和齊雄分別來自加拿大和德國,這對情侶總是因為工作而分隔兩地

High education, long distance

更高更遠


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.

我們很難得知這種遠距離關系是不是越來越常見,但在20歲以上的加拿大夫婦中,有7%處于“分隔兩地”狀態,其中年齡在20歲至24歲之間的人,“分隔兩地”的比例更高達31%。人口普查數據顯示,有近400萬美國人和78.5萬英國和威爾士人和伴侶分隔兩地。但目前尚不清楚有多少是因為工作的原因,而不是其他原因,比如感情不和、健康問題等。

“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.

美國利哈伊大學(Lehigh University)的社會學家林德曼(Danielle Lindemann)解釋說:“現有的人口統計無法統計出有多少受過良好教育的專業人士,因為工作原因分居兩地。無法確切地說這種生活方式比以前更普遍,但研究這個領域的人都同意這一點。有證據表明,至少在美國,異地婚姻呈上升趨勢。”

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.

有些人認為遠距離伴侶關系之所以越來越普遍,部分原因是社交媒體和約會軟件的興起。但同性伴侶的數據比較缺乏,他們可選擇的對象更少,所以不得不為了感情在地點上有所妥協。

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.

美國一項針對博士生的研究表明,高學歷的雙職工夫婦相比起分居或接受一份不太滿意的工作,更有可能選擇分居。事實上,高學歷可能會限制選擇。

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.

林德曼在其新書《通勤配偶:變化世界中的新家庭》(Commuter Spouses: New Families in a Changing World)中提到這樣一種悖論——在教育和技能上投入大量的時間和精力意味著,你能用到這些技能所做的事情非常有限。林德曼喜歡舉以下這個例子:“假設你是一位專門研究18世紀俄羅斯茶杯的教授,那么你就必須去能提供這種工作的地方生活”。就業市場專業化程度越來越高,意味著受過高等教育的人,必須去更遠的地方才能找到稱心的工作。與此同時,林德曼還提到了一種“極端表現型個人主義”,在某種文化中,人們的自我意識與工作緊密相關。

What makes it work

成功的秘訣是什么?


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.

當然,并不是所有人都是為了一份稱心的工作而分居。荷蘭鹿特丹伊拉斯謨大學(Erasmus University Rotterdam)和阿姆斯特丹自由大學(Vrije University)的傳播學研究員畢勒多(Chei Billedo)指出,那些出于經濟原因而不得不分離的人,相比為了追尋職業理想而分居的人承受的壓力更大,因為這會對關系的穩定產生負面影響,比如無力負擔探親或是一家人定居的費用。

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.

有些情況還會更為極端,有些家政服務人員有時候連打電話的時間都沒有,但來自菲律賓的畢勒多說,對于不受勞動力剝削或嚴重經濟壓力影響的夫妻來說,分隔兩地的關系和一般伴侶的分手幾率是一樣的。

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.

畢勒多解釋說:“事實上,分隔兩地的伴侶會認為自己的情感更加穩定。某些因為離得近而可能被妖魔化的事情,反而有助于維持遠距離戀愛。比如說嫉妒,”畢勒多發現嫉妒其實有利于遠距離伴侶關系,但必須是切切實實感受到威脅而產生的反應性嫉妒,而不是毫無根據的猜疑。

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.

同樣地,不管是何種戀愛方式,監視對方都是一個讓人討厭的事情,但是輕度的社交媒體跟蹤卻對遠距離戀愛有利。畢勒多針對臉書的研究表明“來自社交網絡的反饋對于關系滿意度十分重要”。因此,當沒有朋友可以面對面交談時,跨越距離的社交媒體軟件就能夠發揮重要的作用,鞏固戀人之間的關系。這種社會的認可也會影響夫妻雙方的看法。

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維持遠距離戀愛。齊雄和吉爾摩都認為對方適應能力很強,可以在新環境交到朋友,也可以舒服地與自己獨處。這也是林德曼在書中所提到的“遠距離伴侶共有的特點”,除此之外還包括自力更生、經濟保障和沒有孩子。

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.

事實上,異性戀者在為人父母后會改變看法。異地戀中的女性經常會說,自己不用滿足外界對于女性的期望,但為人父母后這種關系的平等程度就大大降低了,比如說,誰來承擔大部分的共同責任。林德曼之前與丈夫兩地分居,現在有了孩子就不會再選擇異地分居了。

Takeaways for long-distance relationships

有什么建議?


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.

從這些經驗中可以總結出遠距離伴侶關系成功的共性:經常反復的溝通。用一些方法彌補距離所造成的隔閡,比如說用臉書或者WhatsApp“匯報行蹤”。除此之外,減少性別差異也十分有用,同性關系中的性別差異可能會小些。

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.

還應該對這段關系有正確的期望值,而不是與其他沒有分隔兩地的伴侶關系進行比較,因為這種比較只會讓人覺得有挫敗感。研究結果一致認為,距離和另一半的缺席并不會破壞情侶之間的關系,真正影響感情質量的是這段關系的性質和參與者本身。

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”.

林德曼還建議,我們應該將感情中的適應性運用到工作上。她希望“有關教育文化能夠有所改變,讓我們能夠更專業化,將接受的教育運用于更廣闊的范圍里。”

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.

未來的工作是有不確定性的,所以以上建議對普遍情況都有幫助,而不僅僅適用于那些相隔千里的伴侶。
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