Ever been down and out and you needed to let out to your significant other? You make the phone call and you couldn’t reach him/her. Several things could be responsible: poor connection, network problem, he is busy at work, she is indisposed, or they are just simply unavailable.
It happens in all relationships. It’s more frustrating in Long Distance Relationships and could be devastating too.
What makes a relationship romantic? The moments you share together, the smiles, the long stare into each other’s eyes, the laughter, the hugs, the date nights, the movie nights, holding hands, taking walks, etc. The list goes on.
LDR robs you of all that. It denies you of the little funny things that tickle you about your partner. It takes the romance out of it and what you have left in your hands could best be described as friendship. When you are miles apart with the one you love, the relationship is more akin to friendship than a romantic one.
You have to deal with the fact that they will hang out with other friends in your absence. That her not being in the same time zone with you could also mean your feelings would not be in the same time zone. You have to deal with the fact that you can’t make a dash to where they are on impulse to sort out issues. You have to deal with unfavourable time differences – your bedtime may be when they are gussying up for work.
If any relationship requires work, commitment and sacrifice, with all the periodic fights, mood swings and comic bathos, LDR requires all that raised to the power of ten, not forgetting to add affection, patience, understanding, care, high-level effort, unequivocal devotion, unwavering trust and rock-solid maturity. Being several miles apart is emotionally stressful and energy-draining. You need stamina, you need dogged faith. So I dare say, LDR is not for babies.
Have you placed a phone call to the one you love and the network service keeps playing games with your heart? He is finding difficulty hearing you. She is having a hard time making a complete sentence without the connection breaking.
Or you call having had one of the most stressful days and all you could hear at the other end is the laughter and merriment in the background. You could tell he is having a swell time, without you. His animated voice immediately irritates you for no just cause. What right does he have to be laughing and playing when you’ve just had the most demanding day ever?! How dare him make merry without me?! Unpardonable offence!
Or you call needing encouraging words and she sounds so off and passive, probably because she is also needing a shoulder at that moment to lean on. Ever seen two needy people trying to have a normal cordial conversation? It’s pretty rusty!
Or you reach out desperately wanting to share a very exciting hot gist and he goes, ‘Dear, I’m a bit busy right now, please let me call you back.’ And your balloon just fizzes out, all the effervescence disappears. Because you know too well that the call may not be returned. And if eventually it is returned, you may no longer be in that eager phase again.
Or you reach out and she is just drowsy and you could feel the tiredness in her voice. You really want to talk but she is coming in and out of the convo because she is sleepy. What do you know, perhaps she left home 5am and came back 11pm. She only managed to make herself some tea for dinner. She had just done that and was pulling the covers over her head when your call came in and you were in high spirits.
Or you are in the middle of that all-important phone conversation and you have gotten to a point that requires a response from the other side after your lengthy brief, and they suddenly go quiet on you. And you are like, ‘Hello? Are you there?’ ‘Why are you quiet?’ ‘Am I boring you?’ ‘So, for all I’ve said so far, you don’t have anything to say?’ ‘Why are you not answering me?’ ‘Are you listening to me at all, or you’re doing something else?’ And like that, just like that, a pleasant gist time, a cordial phone conversation, goes south and everything becomes distasteful and the evening turns sour.
It’s the weight of LDR.
It’s nerve-racking when the little time you have to communicate is spent fighting or quarrelling. At the same time, if he is your significant other, you feel it’s important you let him know if anything is bothering you. And you know if you let it slide it could grow to become a bigger issue. So you’re caught between I don’t want to bother him and I don’t want it to be a bother later on.
How many times have you ended a phone call on a sad note and you are wondering, ‘What did I do wrong? What did I say?’ ‘I only asked a question, I just wanted to know’ ‘But I was listening, It was only a cough.’ Because with LDR, a simple cough at a wrong time is potent enough to cause glitches. No matter how much precious minutes you spend trying to defend the innocence of your cough, it does not change the fact that your partner could go to bed investigating the cough. And this investigation could last for days and the two of you will not say Hello to each other for those days while the investigation is going on.
Sometimes the fact that you may not always get to see the expressions on their faces as you talk is painful. You are left with your mind or imagination to believe she smiles when the gist requires smiling and he is sad when the conversation demands pity. So sometimes you find yourself accusing them of not responding appropriately because you are ‘smart’ enough to tell the expression on their faces just by hearing their voices. Grrrrrrrrrrhhhhh. It’s the burden of LDR.
That explains why you ask immediately they pick the call, ‘what are you doing?’ ‘where are you?’ ‘are you sitting down?’ ‘who is there with you?’ ‘what are you eating?’ ‘whose voice did I just hear?’ Because creating the mood and atmosphere they are in, in your imagination, is important to you. It will inform you to decide if the moment is right for any important message or the gist you want to share.
Relationship is work, LDR is more work. Relationships require effort, LDR requires even more effort. And it is so not for babies. It is not! It is for two mature people who have grown well enough to explore the values and gains of having to live miles apart (temporarily). It is important they have taken roots in before any situation demands the inevitable distance created between them. So it is also not healthy for newly started relationships. If you just started and LDR happens on you, it’s risky. Because if your presence hasn’t made any real impact, your absence won’t make any real difference.
And no, absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder in LDR, it makes the heart tread through the valley of the shadow of death. If you are married, absence means lonely nights and pillow clutching. If you’re single, it means you asking yourself time and time again if it’s worth it. ‘Shouldn’t I leave whatever I’m doing here and relocate? Is it really worth it? Is it worth all the traveling expenses, late night calls and data usage? Is it worth all the fights and quarrels?’ No, absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder in LDR. It makes the heart weigh options and consider alternatives. It makes the heart go through conflicting emotions.
So does LDR work? Of course it does! But you must first settle it within yourself, LDR is not for babies. If you’ve done that, then these tips would help.
- You are the one who would make it work. YOU make it work. You make the effort.
It must be mutual, though.
- Plan regular visits.
- Consider it a phase in your relationship that will pass.
- Cut down on your expectations. He/she won’t always be there, deal with it and grow up.
- Decide how long you would be apart, put a timeline to it and look forward to the date.
- Update each other on your schedules. It will prevent disappointments.
- Video-call a lot. Skype.
- Daily communication (not necessarily daily phone calls) should be a priority. Text messages, IMs, emails, telephone calls, or video chatting, etc. Take advantage of the advancement in technology and social media. The platforms are there, Facebook, BBM, Whatsapp, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Share photos, share videos, send voice messages, do all that you can and communicate.
- Routine is cool but spontaneity could be fun. Even if you have your schedules, like you chat or call at a particular time in the evening, make allowances to be spontaneous sometimes. Just make sure your LD partner is on the same page with you.
- If you call several times and there is no response, no need to fret, you’re not being ignored. They will call back when they are able. Unless of course you have sown a similar seed, you may just be reaping the fruits.
- When (not if) you have misunderstanding, it is not the end of the world. When nails grow long, we cut nails, not fingers. Give yourselves benefits of the doubt and let go. Let the long distance make you more forgiving.
- LDR calls for trust. If you sign up to do LDR, then be ready to give unreserved trust. Throw your silly insinuations away, bury all the jealousies and believe the best. You signed up for it, remember?
- When they come downloading all the details about how their day went, snap out of whatever ‘not-this-time-mood’ you are in and just listen! Take a deep breath, get in the groove with them and listen. It is your cross, carry it.
I’m sure you don’t want another person to carry it for you. Because if you dare allow another soul carry it consistently, I guarantee you that is your relationship going down the drain.
Do a quick self-talk, prepare yourself, and get in the groove and LISTEN!
- Fuel your common hobby. It could be as simple as a soap you both watch together or a passion you both share.
- Understand the LD will take its toll on you two, be willing to provide support for each other when the other is in the zone. Encouraging words will suffice.
- Enjoy the ‘me-time’ the long distance affords you. No need feeling guilty about your hanging out with other friends. Don’t waste too much energy dwelling on the fact that you aren’t together (we already established it’s temporary), use the time to build yourself up and develop personal interests.
- Shower each other with compliments as often as possible. What’s taken for granted will eventually be taken away. Ogle your own.
- Finally, decide when this ‘separation’ will end. Because it must have an expiry date.
LDR may be tough but love sure does conquer all. The thought of you being together again is always something to look forward to. And as long as you both make the effort to make it work, one day you would look back and relish the beauty and the memories the distance gave you.
All the best.