Essay Sample on the Impact of Geographical and Emotional Distance in Relationships

Published: 2023-01-06
Essay Sample on the Impact of Geographical and Emotional Distance in Relationships
Type of paper:  Literature review
Categories:  Relationship Human behavior Emotional intelligence
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 708 words
6 min read

Individualization and globalization brought about by various social changes have had a huge impact on people's intimate and emotional lives. The effect of geographical mobility on relationships has been debated over the years. According to psychology, geographical closeness generally leads to emotional closeness (Ben-Zeev). Other psychologists argue that some kind of distance is needed for relationships to flourish (Ben-Zeev). While geographical distance refers to the physical distance between people, emotional distance refers to the emotional bond between partners. Some of the causes of emotional distance include stress, a cycle of criticism, loss of feelings, among others. To further understand geographical and emotional distance and their effects on relationships, this paper will discuss My Very Dear Wife by Sullivan Ballou and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernst Hemingway.

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My Very Dear Wife shows that love and feelings can exist regardless of geographical distance. It was the last letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou to his wife. He was a Major in the Rhode Island Infantry. He wrote this letter as the forces prepared to move into Virginia in the summer of 1961. The letter expressed his deep concern that he could fall on the battlefield. His fears came true as he was killed one week later on the plains of Manassas. Other than being the last letter written by a gallant soldier to his young wife, this letter demonstrates that a partner can retain intimate feelings regardless of geographical distance. Lying several miles away from home and with the possibility of death getting closer by the minute, Ballou declares, "Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence can break" (National Park Service). The letter also shows the huge role that memories play in maintaining strong feelings in a relationship even during geographical separation. Ballou states, "The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them so long" (National Park Service). It is the love for his wife and children that gives him the hope that he might return unharmed.

While My Very Dear Wife presents a couple whose love seems to flourish, Hills Like White Elephants present the story of a strained relationship regardless of the physical closeness. It is a classic example of the impact of emotional distance on a relationship. Though the writer is highly vague in his work, giving no names to the characters and leaving the reader to determine what the couple is talking about, the strain in the relationship is evident. Though the man tells the woman that he loves her, the fact that he is doing so while drinking beer waters down the seriousness of his statement. The fact that the woman is drinking alcohol while pregnant shows how little the couple cares about their unborn baby. A discussion on abortion ensues, and it is clear that the man wants the woman to terminate the pregnancy. The woman says, "But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you'll like it?" (Hemingway 40). This shows that the woman wants to keep the baby and also implies that she believes that their relationship cannot be salvaged. Therefore, despite being on vacation in Spain, the emotional distance between them is tearing them apart.

This discussion shows that while a relationship can withstand geographical distance, emotional distance is much more disastrous. Though Ballou's letter offers a one-sided view, it presents the story of a love that is flourishing regardless of the physical distance and the danger of death. On the other hand, Hemingway's story shows how emotional distance can tear a relationship apart regardless of the physical closeness.

Works Cited

Ben-Zeev, Aaron. "How Much Distance Can Your Relationship Tolerate?" 24 March 2015. 14 May 2019. <>.

Hemingway, Ernest. "Hills like white elephants." Men without women (1927): 39-44.

National Park Service. "Manassas National Battlefield Park "My Very Dear Wife" - The Last Letter of Major Sullivan Ballou." n.d. National Park Service. 14 May 2019. <>.

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