My Long Distance Backup Plan

There are an estimated 7 million long distance couples in America-14 million people with their own lives in their own cities, but with partners living a flight (or drive or train ride) away. It's a great setup for commitment phobes, workaholics, and

In my early 20s, after taking a cool job in New York, I started dating a guy in Annapolis, and though I had never spent more than a week at a time with him, I dreamed of absconding to his split level ranch on a grassy, tree lined acre. Why not? I'd always considered my life in the city to be a kind of prison sentence: I would get my career established and be out in five years, three on good behavior. And while I considered myself an independent woman, a part of me wanted the boyfriend to spring me early, the two of us raising a family there among the boats and the trees and those colorful colonial row houses. He had a home! With a yard! I had a bad roommate situation and work.

And with little local personal life-no one to rush home to, no one to feel guilty about neglecting, and no desire to expose myself to the temptations of city nightlife-I threw myself into the job, working each night until 9 or 10. Then I started to get great assignments simply because I was around, and I started to, as one review said, "exceed expectations in all categories."

So when, two years in, the boyfriend started talking about marriage, I passed it up and took a promotion instead. I didn't really notice it happening, but I'd fallen in love with another-my work-and I decided to commit. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but we've eased into a good routine, and we're still going strong. We celebrated 10 years in September.