Maintaining Long Distance Relationships: From East Africa to Southeast Asia
Those women who have dedicated their lives to the love of travel know that usually there is no time or place for romantic love. All of our thoughts, energies, dreams and ambitions are entirely absorbed and devoted in a pre-existing, all-consuming love: the love of buying plane tickets, planning adventures, chasing after the unknown, and most of all, being transient.
Based on past experiences, the grievances of long distance relationships (henceforth called an LDR) and the joyous freedom of solitary life, my initial stance is all in favor of being single. For as long as you can. Not having to consider anyone but yourself in your future plans, or lack there of, is magic, a pristine stage of life that shouldn’t be taken for granted. But what am I to do? I’m a woman, and I’m in love.
Not only am I in love, I just so happen to be in love with a man whose life path has taken him to East Africa indefinitely, whereas mine has taken me to Southeast Asia temporarily, and who knows where after. How in the world could this ever work, you might ask? Well, I don’t quite know. I’m figuring it out a little every day.
There are hundreds of pieces of advice circulating about how to make an LDR work, and while some have great ideas, the best counselor to listen to is your heart. As cheesy as this sounds, every person, every couple, and every situation is different, so another person’s insights might not be particularly suited to you. The only thing that women universally need to be aware of when attempting an LDR is whether you are *mostly* happy or not. Mostly is important, because no matter what, you are going to get frustrated, your beau will let you down at some point, and there will be miscommunications and disagreements. This is what happens in every relationship, but sometimes it may be more challenging to overcome these quandaries from a distance, requiring you both to be extra patient, extra understanding, and extra flexible. And hopefully getting in to the habit of portraying all of these extras will lead to a more respectful and peaceful coexistence when the time comes to finally be together.
Know that it’s normal to at times be sad, annoyed, angry, and to miss him. Know that it’s even normal to feel doubt about how it’s all going to work out in the end. No one can predict the future and in a sense, every relationship you enter is taking a gamble on that person. The one thing you should never doubt, however, is how you feel about your significant other right now. You should be totally convinced that this person is being a positive and encouraging
presence. If you find yourself thinking that the effort of communicating and building a relationship from a distance is too tough and not worth it, you may want to reconsider your decision to stay together.
Also, if you find that the majority of your conversations, via email, Skype, letter, text, phone, FaceTime, Viber, WhatsApp, or the million other avenues of communication, conclude with you feeling jilted, lonely, confused about his intentions or feelings, in tears, or dissatisfied in any way – GET OUT! LDRs are tough, scary, and require a lot of work. They inherently take a toll on your emotions. That’s to be expected. But you need to be aware of the point when the happiness your relationship creates is outweighed by the emptiness you feel in the pit of your stomach when you know something isn’t right.
Avoid that empty feeling at all costs. It’s crushing and overpowering. It has the ability to ruin your day or even ruin your experiences abroad. Talking to your loved one, despite how much you miss him or her, should leave you feeling filled up with enough confidence and hope to get you through until the next time you talk or see each other.
Be aware of your own thoughts and feelings, but also make a substantial effort to understand the trials and predicaments your lover might be feeling as well. And if you can’t imagine them, ask. Verbal or written communication is key in LDRs because, well, it’s all you have at a distance. Basing your thoughts and actions off inferences and assumptions about what the other person is thinking and feeling is a recipe for a misconstrued disaster. There are question marks splattered over every relationship–the trouble is differentiating between which answers should be known, and which should be allowed to fall into place naturally.
Even the must cut-throat solitary female traveler can appreciate having someone to share in her stories, memories, and experiences. No one should ever give up part of herself or her dreams for someone else, so if you can find someone that lets you run but still wants to be a part of your adventure, even at a distance, you might be on to something good.