Saying goodbye to long distance relationships: How we survived and in-between stories

This photo was taken before the graduation ceremony of Kenneth Daniel. A memory from Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand.

Personal note:
What you are about to read is based on my personal experience and does not necessarily reflect all long distance relationships. However, there might be something in my story that you can relate with and I hope you get to learn something by reading this.
Regards,
J

In all stories, there’s a beginning and an end and both could be special in their own right. However, it’s what happens in between that gives both of them beauty and meaning.

Before going through a long distance relationship

Expectations. We have both anticipated the arrangement of our relationship once he gets to fly to another country for his graduate studies while I fly to another city for mine. And since numbered days could really make every day too important to waste, I find it important that both of you agree to spend together every chance you get.

numbered days make every day too important to waste

Spending time together. I also find it helpful that you get to spend your togetherness with your family around to strengthen mutual ties. Most of our days were spent with our families and friends; cooking and eating, watching movies, going to places, and sharing stories.

Preparations. But no one could really be so prepared for something they’ve never even experienced before. However, it is helpful if both of you lay out how you are to establish your communication despite the distance. Communication tool availability varies per country so it spares you the hard-feelings of being unable to talk with the person you love if you already have ideas on what tool to use. We get to experiment from time to time what tool to use and all of them served their purpose.

How a long distance relationship feels like

Too close but yet so far. Thanks for all the available communication tools and we get to connect with all our loved ones all over the world. It really fills the gap distance makes but I find that it only gives us the illusion of closeness. I know he is with me but nowhere here at the same time.

A friend in the head. With all those messages and calls you get to spend together, things you get to talk about, and ideas shared, it will make you feel as if that person is with you (while you’re constantly on your devices at lunch with a friend). But the moment you set your eyes off your screens, you get to feel that that person was only in your head (even if the conversation between you is real) .

Experiencing new things alone. Maybe you’re so used to spending time together and with the distance, it kind of feels lonely to experience new things alone especially when you find them memorable and even more so when shared. Experiencing new things alone is not really a bad thing because it allows you to grow and learn more of yourself. But I have to admit that even when you are surrounded by people, you can still feel alone when the one you really wanted to be with the most is not with you.

Creating different (and separate) worlds. Being in a long distance relationship means there’s a notable duration of time of separation. And we cannot really deny the fact that since you’re living in separate places (maybe different time zones too) and get to spend your time with different people, each of you will begin to develop social circles that the other is not a part of. Being out of each other’s circle often times elicit unwanted emotions that may create strains in the relationship. I made an illustration below:

Then. Spending time together allows you to grow a common social circle.
Now. In a long distance relationship, you begin to have a social circle the other is not a part of.

How to survive a long distance relationship

Constant communication. This is a common advice but yes, you should not dismiss it. It’s not that hard to make time for the one you love! Constantly communicating one another no matter how mundane your day is surely helps you feel involved with each other’s lives. Constant here doesn’t mean every second of the day (you’ll never finish anything if you do so). Constant means that there will never be a day (if it can be helped) where you don’t find time to talk and know how each other’s day went. Always make time for each other.

Involve the other. As I have illustrated earlier how distance lets you create separate worlds, involving the other fills the gap. This means you get to introduce your world to the other as you would if you’re sharing a movie you’ve just watched: you get to share the characters and the story. Never miss an action. Not only will it make the other comfortable about it, it will also make the other feel a sense of belonging.

Be honest about how you feel. There are just moments in your relationship where you disagree with or feel bad at something (that might have been caused by the other or something else entirely). So as not to exasperate the brewing unrest between you, you must learn to articulate what you feel; acknowledge them by using words. By doing so, you will allow the other understand you better especially when there are no actions to read anymore (unlike when you could be physically together). You might find this link helpful in identifying and naming your emotions.

Communicate with love. Even if you find it difficult (especially when your emotions are clouding your judgement), choose to communicate with love. This could be in a form of kind language and toned down voice during a heated argument. It will take some practice especially if you’re not used to it. In our situation, we decided to be accountable with one another by calling out the other when love seems to leave our language.

Adapt to the situation. What used to work out when you’re physically together may not work out in a long distance relationship setup. That is why you should learn to devise new ways of how to make your relationship work. Adapting to the situation should not be made as an excuse for allowing yourselves to grow apart from each other.

Always let the Lord be at the center of your relationship. Rooting your relationship in the Lord and in God’s Word allows you to stand firm in spite of all the things that might shaken your relationship. God’s Word is full of wisdom on how to make human relationships last. We decided to do daily devotionals together and grow in the Word of God. Technology allowed us to do so despite of the distance and this is what we used for our devotional plans. Truly, we are better off than we were before. God continually grows us as individuals and nurtures our relationship as well.


Together again

It was quite a reunion, I admit. The moment our eyes met with unsaid words like we’ll never do this long distance relationship again, we knew we survived it (and doing all the things I wrote here really helped us through). Going through a long distance relationship was quite an experience where both of us learned a lot about ourselves and each other. I also learned why people in relationships last long and it is because they choose to stay no matter how tempting it is to just end it when things between them start to crash and burn. Working out a relationship takes a lot of effort making letting go a much easier thing to do. And for me, the effort is worthwhile when it is fueled by love – something that keeps you together if you choose to keep love between you two no matter what.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NCV

Wrap Up

No one said that being in a long distance relationship is easy. But remembering these things may help you get through it:

  • Always make time for each other. You can never say you’re too busy to do so. It’s always a choice.
  • Involve one another. Never make the other feel left out.
  • Articulate what you feel. Acknowledging emotions do wonders and it allows the both of you to better understand each other and identify where each of you are coming from.
  • Be kind with your words. Because words are all you have given the distance between you.
  • Learn to adapt. Always choose one another and never make room for growing apart if you want your relationship to last any longer.
  • Put God in the center of your relationship. Choose to grow in the Lord together and your relationship will be strengthened.

PS:
My boyfriend and I now say goodbye to long distance relationship. Never again.


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