So one of my readers (Hi Esy!) asks me to comment on long distance relationships. I am biased. So I turn to my brother Patrick Wanyoike from the University of Iowa. This is what he has to say.
To all my people in HILDAR (Humans In Long Distance Affairs and Relationships)
He opened up the letter with a mixture of anticipation and dread. He had been waiting for this letter for months. His future was literally in his hands. It was good news, great news. But great news didn’t bring with them the sadness that he felt. He didn’t know whether to jump up and down with joy or fall over crying in sadness. He put the letter aside and dialed.
She sat across to him; she could tell he was worried. His voice over the phone sounded vexed. He handed her the letter. She read it and shouted in joy! He had his scholarship to Harvard, a dream come true. Now he could finally live up to his great potential. It finally hit her; he would be 7180.5 miles away, approximately 11,555.89459 km away. She knew this, thanks to Google. She had prayed for, and against it for quite a few months. Her emotions were mixed, should she smile or cry? Why did he have something smart to say? What would that mean for her? For the relationship? Was he breaking up with her?
The months came and went. That night as they took him to the airport, she slowly wept on his shoulder. It was a gloomy night, one of those cold nights in late July. “How befitting,” she thought. Life was so unfair. “Why did he fly out at night? Couldn’t he do it on sunny day?” But even a sunny day would not alleviate the gloom she felt. They exchanged sad goodbyes and he smiled at her and promised to come back to her, someday. They kissed, and she watched him disappear through the airport doors and out of her life. The emails, texts , calls, tweets, pokes, video calls came in a flood as soon as he got there, but as time went by, they slowed down to a trickle and soon it was an occasional post on her wall on holidays and her birthday. His relationship status changed from “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated” to “single” and back again to “in a relationship with (not her name)”. It was over. Who was to blame?
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Maybe it hasn’t happened to you but it happened to someone you know. It happened to me. Long distance relationships are harder than marriages, in my opinion at least. You have two people who want to be together but are physically apart. Hence, a good number of long distance relationships fail, some say over 95%. That means 5% actually survive the distance and make the relationship work. How? Read on….
Relationships are hard work. Add distance to the whole mix and you got yourself a quandary. So how exactly do you work through this? How do you keep the romance alive while being miles away from your loved one? First and foremost, like with every relationship, you both have to agree to make it work. You have to be in sync. The success of any relationship, long distance or otherwise, depends largely on the effort both partners are willing to put in for keeping their love alive. To me, making a long distance relationship work is much like baking a cake. You have to mix the ingredients just right, bake at the right temperature and for just the right amount of time. Mess one of these up and you have a cake yes, but not a very good one. The ingredients to a successful long distance relationship are trust, patience, communication, visits, positivity and an end goal.
Most relationships have an issue with trust. A long distance relationship calls for lots and lots of trust. Both of you need to raise your trust level to all-time highs. You are no longer there to check on who calls him or her. Being miles away from each other is a real test of trust. You have to realize that you are no longer there to police their lives and if you have jealousy issues then probably your relationship won’t survive the distance. Trust comes hand in hand with patience as you might have to wait, a few months or a few years (depending on the distance) before you see your loved one.
Long distance relationships are truly for super people, they have super trust and super patience. Now super communication is needed. Communication has to be constant and more frequent. It has to be part of your daily schedules, which you stick to without fail. It means taking advantage of every form of communication possible. From Facebook to Twitter, Oovoo to Skype, emails, calls, texts. Constant contact ensures that you keep abreast of each other’s ups and downs. It’s the only way that you can help your partner through the hard times and share in each other successes. Without communication, you might as well be strangers whose only connection is a relationship status on Facebook.
People are highly critical of long distance relationships. One popular saying is that, “Fimbo ya mbali haiui nyoka,” But the need to kill a snake, will only arise if you let a snake come into the relationship. A positive mind set ensures that you keep the snakes out and change that saying to “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Take this chance to be more romantic, write a love letter, and send flowers. Let your creative juices flow and come up with ways on how you can keep the love burning. Sending small romantic gifts from time to time are also great ways to impress your partner in a long distance relationship. It is also better to add a personal touch to whatever you decide to send. Undoubtedly, every time your partner sees your gift, he or she will be reminded of you and your love for her/him. For this reason, it is better to select gift items that you can both relate to in terms of each other. If you share common interest in movies or music, creating and sending a collection of your beloved’s favorite numbers often becomes a good option. While spending time away from you, your partner would definitely love to hear your voice time and again. Making some voice recording and sending it as a gift is also a good option in a long distance relationship.
As your relationship progresses it is important to ensure that you do see each other every so often. You need to plan your visits as physical interaction is an integral part of any relationship. With time every long distance relationship comes to an end. It is better to plan the ending rather than have to live with one that fate brings along. Thus it is vital to set an end goal for your relationship. Will one person move? Will you meet halfway? Where are you headed with your relationship? You cannot keep going on with no goals in mind and allowing circumstance to dictate what happens. Take control and make things happen as long distance relationships are not meant to be perpetual.
This is just a rough guide to making a long distance relationship happen and I owe thanks to Liz, Helen and Shiku for their input. For those in long distance relationships, kudos! We could all learn something from you. And here is a little something to make life a little easier. A list of 90 things you can do with your long distance partner.