What confuses me is when people are in a long distance relationship just for the sake of being in one or without a clear end goal i.e. what country or city will we both end up in, because it can't be a long distance relationship forever right?
Now I've been in a couple of long distance relationships (LDR) but my last one, which led to my marriage, was the longest at nearly two years. Sounds crazy right? I've heard of people that have been in an LDR for five years. Have no clue how they were able to do it because I couldn't. The thing is, you never really plan to do long distance, well I didn't. You just can't help who you happen to fall in love with and where they are situated in the world.
Mine began when I saw my now husband back in 2014 after two years on a trip to Nigeria. It was still very platonic and we had no intentions of getting into a relationship... until I got back to the UK. We started talking more, feelings got stronger and we decided to start a relationship. So here we were, him based in Nigeria and me based in London, in love. But the thing is, since I moved back to the UK from Nigeria in 2012, I always knew that it was temporary and I would eventually move back to Nigeria so that enabled my decision to enter an LDR as I knew that at some point we would be together and the distance was temporary. There were several key points that helped me during my LDR:
Having A Clear Goal
This should be a mandatory conversation that takes place even before you start the relationship; Where is this heading? Is there a goal? Not necessarily ending up in marriage but with every other important aspect of your life, if it serves no purpose or has no plan, it's less likely to succeed right? Is one person going to move to be with the other? Are you going to move to a new country together? Having this sort of conversation can avoid a lot of confusion and conflict in the future i.e. if she lives in Canada, he lives in Dubai and both know they can never live outside of their current countries, then having this conversation can save a lot of time and future heartbreak. They say love conquers all but let's be real, if the love was that strong, one of you would compromise and agree to move to be with the other. So if you can't do it, talk about it and move on. In the mean time, have a clear plan of how often you will make trips to visit each other until you can be together permanently.
Probably the most important factor. You're not in the same country and a billion things could run through your mind when you can't get hold of your partner on the phone or when he goes out with his boys. Plus you'll always have those people, that claim to have your best interests at heart, constantly in your ear telling you to be 'careful'. At the end of the day, you know your partner more than any of them do and you're the one in the relationship, not them, so pay no mind to the naysayers. If you are having any trust issues, which is very likely since you're so far apart, discuss it with your partner, not outsiders. Communication is key in an LDR. Which leads me to my next point.
Communication, Communication, Communication!
So many self-help sites and relationship guides will tell you not to over compensate not seeing each other with phone conversations or messages but I say why not? I don't mean spending your whole day and night talking to your partner as you wouldn't do that if you were together and if you are like me and have 'only child syndrome', you like your space. But definitely make more of an effort than you would if it wasn't long distance. This is a great chance for your friendship to develop without being distracted by the physical. I laugh whenever I think of how much international call credit we used to burn before we started using Facetime and Skype. Then when he had to increase his already high data package to keep up with our level of conversation. It helped us to grow us a couple. We learnt so much about each other just through talking and listening extensively. Even during our pre-marriage counselling session, our counsellor was surprised at how much we already knew about how much we knew about each other and how much we had discussed regarding our future. And finally...
I really used our time apart to develop myself as a person. When else would I get this much time to myself without my partner? Without sounding selfish, I enjoyed my time alone, probably knowing that it was only temporary. I turned hobbies into skills, turned dreams into plans and actions, strengthened relationships with friends and family, and fulfilled a little bucket list of mine too. Can't tell you everything that was on the list of course, but one thing was to start going out to places by myself more often instead of waiting for others i.e. going to the cinema alone.
Everyone has their own ways of dealing with long distance relationships and these are the things that helped me get through mine. It wasn't an easy journey at all and there were times where I may have felt alone, but I never felt the need to quit. No matter how different our methods of dealing with it may be, they should all work together to have a clear goal so that both parties know where they are heading and what they are doing, particularly if it's more than just a casual relationship.
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