This has been something that is close and dear to my heart. I will like to use this space to share personal experience and hopefully, dispense some insights and helpful advises for anyone who is going through a similar journey.
Trust me when I say this, I have been there and I know how it all feels. And it was not an entire bed of roses.
I was in a long distance relationship (LDR) with my then-boyfriend-now-husband for few years, as I was living in Singapore and he, in Sydney. It was a gruelling back and forth of travelling 8 hours SG-SYD and SYD-SG. If I can calculate and do the maths on all of our flights and travel expenses, it could have easily been a deposit for a house but I digress. And if you think that was not sucky enough, we were also living apart for 4 months after our wedding purely because I did not want to move to Australia, just yet.
I know first hand, all the worries, all the fears and all the gut heart-wrenching moments of being in a LDR. I understand how lonely it is all the freaking time. Birthdays, valentines, anniversaries, Christmases might all be spend and celebrated alone. And do not get me started about nights, nights are the worst because all you can wish for is to probably have a warm body close but all you really have are negativities in your head and sometimes even tears on your face. Here we go again, another night of loneliness. LOL.
Truth is, you will always be constantly pining and hoping that the distance was not in the equation and that you get to meet each other ever so often like most couples do, but alas. You might also be secretly jealous of all the canoodling couples and you just feel like shouting to no one in particular “Hey, I have a boyfriend!!!!!!!! He just doesn’t live here. It’s a long distance, guyssssss!!!!!!!!!!
I was the first amongst my group of friends and family and still is, the only person to be involved in a LDR. I can be traditional for most things in my life but there are many other things that I am not very conventional, being in a LDR is one of them. Marrying a foreigner is next.
No one could understand how distressing it is at times and some even question as to whether the relationship is real, because out of sight is out of mind?. Most were ambivalent and were being bah-humbug about my LDR and queried me whether I should be bothered with all the troubles, hassles and if it is really worth it? Some others wittily challenged me into thinking that it is so easy to be susceptible to cheating because of the distance and to which I always always said, “Cheating is cheating, it knows no distance because even people staying under one roof can cheat”. True story: I even have a friend who asked me if I should be fearful because there might be a suspicion that my partner is an ISIS member, because he comes from Middle East and he grows a beard sometimes? Tsk tsk tsk, your master degree ought to be thrown into the rubbish bin, you shallow person you.
So here is a fantastic pointer for LDR, do not listen to the naysayers. There will be heaps of random people who will come and go with their half-baked advices and 2-cents-opinions but ultimately, you have to be strong and you have to know deep down that if they have nothing concrete and useful to bring to the table, treat them all like white noise.
My continuum relationship has *fingers crossed* hopefully been a huge answer to all those questions and doubts. It is not easy BUT it is doable. LDR can be a monumental blessing in disguise and in my case, is a happy ending.
So how you may ask, did I overcome the entire kerfuffle of long distance hardship and above and beyond everything else, how to sustain the relationship? Read on:
No. 1 – JUST FREAKING DO IT
Yes you read it right, just do it.
Take the plunge, go for gold because the time is now.
What are you really waiting for? For a sign from the high above?
Or for that prince charming in your local neighbourhood to come sweep you up? If that’s what you really want, you do you boo. But if you really hand on heart, do want to pursue love in a LDR, just start now.
If you feel it in the depth of your guts that something awesome is going to come out of this whole ordeal at the end of it, I say stick to your guns and ride it out. After all honey, it is not going to storm forever, the sun will eventually arise.
You will thank yourself years later for listening and heeding your gut feeling, and hey if all fails, you get to pat yourself and you tell your brave soul, you have done everything that you possibly can in your might and you have given your best. Leave it all up to fate to do its job. But before that, you have to try and you have to try hard.
No: 2 – SHARE EVERYTHING
I take it that once you have decided to be committed in a LDR with your partner, that you are 101% head over heels with that lucky someone.
Good on ya.
While I understand that in a relationship, there should be some degree of privacy, in a LDR, you cannot afford to be personal and private. What do I mean by this? Normal couples can meet up at the end of the day or over the weekends and catch up on lost times, but in a LDR, you simply cannot. What you can do though, is share everything from the moment you wake up to the time you sleep.
I know I know this is hard work (nobody say it is going to be easy, friends) and most men like my husband are not too crazy about the idea of taking and sharing selfies daily and giving an update of date/time/venue but you know what, I did it and he did it. We shared a lot.
Sharing is extremely crucial in a LDR because you want to avoid thoughts of doubts, you want no negativity to creep up on you because this can easily happen with distance.
Where is my bf tonight, who is he hanging out with, he said he will be home and he is not picking up my calls? –You do not need this rubbish.
Also, sharing is an amazing way to make your partner feel included. I don’t know about you but I love to be included even by means of details. My husband is a pretty friendly guy, that plus the combination of his social culture, is always spending time outside with friends. One of the many things I loved and truly appreciated in our LDR was that he face-timed me almost every single night and sometimes couple of times a day, and especially so when he is out and about, all his friends will expect no less that a face-time call is going to happen whenever he hangs out with them. In this way, I know what he is up, I get to chat with his friends and then I can go to sleep with a smile on my face, satiated with the fact that he did not forget me today.
I am more of a wordy person so our days in an LDR is a bunch of my texts to him on just about anything. Sometimes, I will tell him about my plans on the weekend, what I dreamed yesterday, what I did with my family and friends, what I shopped for and the list goes on and on. I can text him non stop.
You just have to make time and put in the effort even when the going gets tough, even when the day is effed up busy or even if you are annoyed at someone in your life, you just have to invest some time to share and update your partner.
Also, I totally understand about time difference, while ours back then was a mere 2-3 hours difference, I completely sympathise some of you who has that 12 hours time difference. Just make it work and all the power to you!!
From time to time, me and my husband will send letters and care packages as a sweet gesture to each other. If you are students in a LDR and budget is tight, stick to the traditional snail mail and postcards or send a lengthy lovey-dovey email. Like I say, its all about efforts and the sky is the limit on this.
You have no idea how many text messages, video calls and funny memes I shared with my husband over the years. On hindsight, when I was applying for spouse partner visa here in Australia, I have bundles and bundles of communication proof, it is beyond ridiculous.
On an extra point of sharing everything on communication, I urge everyone in a LDR to be very careful of how you communicate over text as most of the times, the point of the message in written communication can easily be misconstrued.
True story: There was a time long long time ago, I replied to my husband “whatever” in a text message, and I have completely meant that to be a bimbo-flip-my-hair kind of “whatever”, but he who is not a particularly over sensitive fella, took it to be the rude version of a “whatever”, and long story short, it did not go down very well.
So when in doubt or if you have a problem brewing, withhold the discussion and find a suitable time to call your partner up to have a proper face to face video call. Seeing each other’s faces is better at times like that.
No: 3 – KEEP YOURSELF BUSY
And by busy, I do not mean “busy”.
Girls and guys, there is no better way to see the days go by other than having your own activities. Don’t sit at home all day long and moan about not being with each other, it will not solve the situation and it will make you go crazy, so don’t do that.
What you can do is to go out and have a freaking life, you are not dying so why not enjoy yourself? Responsibly of course.
If you have a hobby or a recreational activity, don’t drop it and keep at it.
My husband has always been and will forever be a busy bumble bee, his days and nights are pretty much about work-so that really keep him busy round the clock. Most of my Singapore peeps knew I did a lot of yoga back in the days and I really appreciated having something I could do after work, which could take my mind off. For me also, I hung out a lot with my mother and friends over the weekends. I now, appreciated those weekends of hanging out and catching up because now that I have moved far far away, I can no longer do that.
Another tip will be to pick up a part time job on the weekends (I didn’t do this because I am clearly lazy) but having a little extra income on the side is very beneficial when you are making plans to meet or to eventually bridge the gap.
No: 4 – PLAN SMALL GOALS TOGETHER
Being in a LDR with no end in sight can be a little taxing and the future might seem so so bleak, that I understand. After all, you do not want to just be dating someone who is not there.. forever.
So, do plan short term goals to just to keep the excitement up.
If you are like me and my husband who are both working adults, plan to fly and visit each other. We are also lucky that we are only 8 hours flights away, as compared to other couples who can be pretty much at two different ends of the world.
Every time we get to see each other, it is top-of-the-world liberating. It reminds me of how solid our relationship is, it gives a fresh meaning to holding on to this LDR and it also gives a solid determination to why I am trying hard in this LDR. And pssst girls, though I know this is not much of a consolation, the “sparks” (code name for: s*x) when you rekindled in a long distance relationship.. is phenomenal. Just putting it out there. *winks*
Whatever it is, there must be at least a small goal to meet up for the both of you to look forward to it. Keep it exciting!
And finally guys, no: 5 – Bridge the bloody gap.
Decide early on to bridge the gap as an end goal.
I know it may not be an accessible decision for all, some of you might be away for long studies or military or work commitments but the decision has to be made. That crucial conversation of “what is going to happen to us?” have to be pondered on, it is not to be thrown in the air kind of situation. You do not want to be dating someone “invisible” forever till you turn gray, so know early on exactly where you guys are standing in the relationship. Will it be a LDR for 3 years and you come home situation or will it be a LDR for 5 years till I get my PHD and then we move to a new city to start a new life together kind of situation? Be ballsy, be brave and have that talk way early on before the get-go and in doing so, protect yourself and your heart from getting hurt down the line.
For me personally, the decision has always been to do a LDR for as long as we can stretch till we get married and then eventually I will move to Sydney to join him, predominantly because my office desk job was more mobile. My husband has moved abroad, created his life and his business for over 15 years and it will only be selfish and inconsiderate of me to make him have to fold it all up and move to me. Compromise, guys and try to be nice when making life decisions.
And now, I am going to sound like your grandmother saying this but here are a few salient points to take home:
Trust the entire process and trust your partner of course. LDR will not work if there is no faith, trust and efforts. At every juncture of the way, do not resort to negativity and remember to go back to the essence of why you are doing what you are doing. If it is for love, then be entirely in love with the process. Have faith and do it with sincerity and entirety of your heart. If you are 100% sincere and positive, the outlook of your whole relationship is going to be more at ease.
I know this is lame and it is also downright cliche, but just do it for love. Believe in it and believe in yourself. You got this!
On the next entry, I will continue with part II and write on some helpful tips and pointers of what one should do AFTER the decision has been made to take that prodigious leap of faith in finally bridging the gap. (ie: what you should do when moving countries to join your love one)
Will write more. Hang on to your grandma panties, everyone!!!