Courting Disaster

What Dating a Spy Taught Me About Long-Distance Relationships

Courting Disaster is Jackalope Ranch's weekly column of dating horror stories, observations, how-tos, and more by Katie Johnson. Names of ex-boyfriends, past hookups, and bad blind dates have been changed to protect the guilty.

I've dated all types of men: butchers, bakers, candlestick makers.

Okay fine, I've technically dated no one in those professions, but I have covered quite a few of the careers in between. Depending on the guy and his job (or sometimes lack thereof) there can be relationship pros and cons.

Dating a musician means heartfelt serenades and horny groupies ready to snag your place. Dating a chef means free food and free added weight gain. Dating an accountant can mean great income and not-so-great conversation.

When I dated a spy, the situation was no different. It had its ups and downs, but toward the end of the relationship the latter greatly outnumbered the former.

See also: My First Kiss Was with a Porn Star

Here are some reactions I get when telling people that I dated a spy:

"A spy? That's bullshit."

It's true. Trust me, I was skeptical too after having so many men throwing phony careers in my faces. But this guy was legit.

"Were there guns all over the place?"

He didn't have one. At least not one that I knew of. He did use his bullet proof vest as a wearable beer coozie though.

"Should you be telling me this?"

Probably not.

The first time we met was at a bar. I was a bit tipsy, so when he gave me some vague answer as to what he did for a living, I didn't think to push the subject. By our first date, he came right out and said it, showed me his credentials, and I'll admit I was impressed.

My family however was not. My mom, who had met her fair share of liars, was convinced that he had second identity (technically true) and possibly a secret family. It didn't help matters that he would have to disappear for days or weeks at a time -- often without warning. I would be heading out to lunch to meet him and I'd get a call letting me know that he was leaving the state.

In truth, this is probably why we lasted as long as we did, almost two years. His constantly being out on assignment prolonged our getting to know each other.

People say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think all that really means is the heart needs time to forget how big of a dick the person you are or were dating is. Forget that he would get so drunk he'd be throwing up at farmer's markets. Forget that he got you a used teapot for Christmas or the Kama Sutra for your birthday. Forget that his list of priorities went as follows:

1. Chase the bad guys 2. Get drunk with the good guys 3. Pass out in the bed of the pissed off girlfriend.

Dating a spy was a lot like a long-distance relationship. We had to take a lot on trust. There were things we couldn't talk about. There were times we couldn't talk face-to-face. For some people that void is where things fall apart. For us, it was the only thing held us together. In fact, the day he stopped taking so many out-of-town assignments and tried to settle in with me, is the day it really began to end.

I'd like to say that long-distance relationships don't work. But the fact is, long-distance relationships just don't work for me. From my experience, they prolong the inevitable: a breakup that should have come sooner or a stable relationship that I'd be tempted to find sooner with someone else.

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Katie Johnson
Contact: Katie Johnson