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Absent boyfriends

My boyfriend has been away on tour. It’s not a long tour. In fact he’ll be back for keeps next weekend. Until his next tour that is. I miss him a bit. Not too much mind. But a bit. I’m keeping busy.

This isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time a tour has come up for us, but I’ll confess — every time he auditions for a really long stint away the bad little girlfriend sitting on my shoulder secretly hopes he doesn’t get it. Naughty, unsupportive little shoulder girlfriend!

Acting is definitely a tricky profession in which to cultivate a nice healthy relationship (mine’s nice, if a little unhealthy, thanks for asking.) I remember having a blazing row with a chap at university who categorically stated, with cavalier disdain, that being a professional actor and having a long term relationship were irreconcilable. At the time, filled with romantic optimism, I threw his words back at him and flounced off convinced that he was a loveless cynic. Having been an actor now for what feels longer than the two and a half years it actually is… I still think he’s wrong (the loveless cynic!)

But his argument may have had a couple of valid points.

It’s things like these blasted tours. Tours which give you the opportunity to see the world whilst you work! Tours which pay you nice money! Tours which will make you grow as a performer and a person! Tours which last a very long time.

Now, missing someone doesn’t cause the breakdown of a relationship. Yes, it’s hard, missing the little details of each other’s day to day lives. But It’s when you don’t miss each other that the real problems begin, I think. People can grow apart. An astute Geordie once said, “absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, absence makes the heart a little bit… slaggy.” Well, I suspect that very much depends on the strength of the relationship you’re absent from, but distance definitely exacerbates problems that are already there. Cracks become cavernous rifts when you’re trying to communicate via text message. A semi colon and a closing parenthesis just isn’t as good as a real smiley face and a hug.

But beyond growing apart, people can grow towards other people. In a tightknit cast where you spend every day with your fellow actors doing something you’re passionate about you’re bound to bond and build intense relationships. And sometimes you have to kiss people and stuff. Pretending you’re in love with someone else whilst having been apart from your real-life love for months on end is definitely an odd one… for every actor is aware of the site-specific phenomenon that seems to occur at least once in every production. That oh so passionate and oh so important, but oh so short-lived ‘showmance’. A showmance is defined by its ending: as soon as the curtain falls on the last night you forget why you liked each other in the first place and realise the person actually has the personality of a hairbrush. The showmance is not real. It is bred out of claustrophobia and a need to connect with character. Be wary young graduates. Be wary.

If our other halves took us onto Jeremy Kyle and asked us those lie detector questions about whether or not we’d kissed people and whatnot we’d all have to answer ‘yes’. Yes, I kissed Claudio. I kissed Cassio. And that guy in that short film too. Honestly, it didn’t mean anything. But to any normal sane people, and by that I mean people who have not chosen acting as their given profession, these things are not permissible. An actor’s partner has to merrily pack them off for months at a time with the knowledge that they will legitimately be kissing someone else every night.

So are two actors together better? They will understand the nature of the beast and will probably be likely to accept that Juliet might have to pounce on Romeo before the lark cries. That, or the pitfalls will be doubled… I… Oh dear.

Well, for inspiration I look to Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter, two jobbing actors happily married for almost thirty years. Lovely. And my conclusion: you’ve got to trust each other. And talk to each other. And be prepared to get on a bus to the other end of the country to show someone that they matter to you every once in a while.

Anyway, these are the things buzzing round my head at the moment. I hasten to add I am in a very happy, loving relationship with implicit trust and one day as soon as he’s got lots of money, I trust the chap will make an honest woman of me. Being an actor, I suspect that is a very long time away.

NB: I have become aware that I reference Jeremy Kyle with alarming frequency. I find this as disconcerting as you do.

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