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Long distance never works.
Constantly and unjustifiably sneered at, many will tell you or complain to you that long distance relationships never work out. So if for some good reason, you find that you and your partner need to spend some time apart, you’re subconsciously halfway down the road to giving up.
But every relationship is different. And we forgetting that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
The two big issues. One, living and thriving so far apart means that there’s a tangible gap in the affection you experience. Two, differences in time zones mean that you won’t see each other often enough. No physical contact—touch, smell, taste—and lack of communication are ingredients for wearing a relationship down—no matter how much you love him or her.
Let’s look at it positively; loving over distance could be healthier for any relationship.
When you get to see your partner daily, chances are that you begin to take him or her for granted, due to that ease of accessibility. But when finding time to communicate with each other—over Skype or whatnot—becomes a challenge, every moment talking to each other is precious. You cherish that simple “Hi,” your partner’s smile; you’ll pay more attention too when listening to each other.
When you only have that much time to spend screen-to-screen with your partner in a day or even a week, you curate what you need to say. You’ll prioritise the things you want to talk about and suddenly, the petty squabbles and trivial day-to-day struggles in the life of a Singaporean are not that great as conversational topics. Which takes us to the next point.
Being in close and constant proximity breeds dependence—there’s always someone to run to. Had a bad day at work? Got yelled at by your boss? Having trouble with the folks? Friend issues? Your partner is only a Whatsapp rant away. Or there’s always that dinner after work every other day that helps you de-stress.
Your partner gradually becomes your emotional punching bag, there to take the hit whenever you’ve had a bad day. Your burdens, complaints and grouses are the dead weight you carry to your dinner dates and the third wheel that you take to the bed you share with your partner. But what’s the wrong in this, when your partner is to be there for you in sickness and in health, happiness and sorrow?
Well, a healthy relationship is one in which you carry your own burden, not unload it on another over and over again (and then get angry when that person doesn’t want to respond to your “feelings”). It’s taxing and tiring (and boring) for the partner who bears the brunt of it. There’s a huge difference between talking about how you feel and ranting about work, your boss and your wayward cousin.
Then you’ll start to find that there’s room for you in that relationship. You’re forced to set aside time for personal development and finding better things to do with your time than pining after your other half (in this case, your better half).
For a start, that could be making new friends and meeting old pals, picking up a new hobby and learning something that’s out of your comfort zone, perhaps hitting the gym or and setting new goals for yourself.
What a long distance relationship does is that it puts you to work. And it’s hard work. Not only are you working on keeping that emotional connection alive across miles and miles, you’re also working on becoming a better person for yourself.
You can also test your relationship (for those who dare). It’s not a test you’ll want or need but if it’s necessary then make the best of it. If you’ve both done your best to keep communications tight and you find that your partner still strays, he or she doesn’t value the relationship enough. Without trust and faith, it’s time to move on. Sure, it’s a tough and heartbreaking call, but you’ll be better off after. And if you’ve already built up that independence, you’ll actually be more ok than you’d think.
At the end of the day, you’ll hear plenty of horror stories about long distance relationships but those aren’t your stories.
Long distance never works is a lie. The truth is you just need to decide how hard you want to work at it. Your partner too.