When I said “see you later” to my companion, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” became my mantra. I was headed off to graduate school in England, and though my program was 9 months, I was convinced that FaceTime dates, calls, post cards and text messages would help keep the fire alive. I was wrong.
We underestimate how much spending face to face time with those we care about matters. In order to cultivate a healthy relationship, it’s important that both people communicate what their needs or wants are. The key word here being “communicate”. Communication proved to be a challenge, as my partner and I indirectly debated if frequency of communication or quality of communication was most important. He didn’t need to or desire to hear from me every day, whilst I loved to hear the bass of his voice on the other end of the phone regularly. I misread his desire to focus on the quality of our communication as a lack of desire to talk to me and began to wonder if he even truly cared about me. Consequently, I internalized what I perceived to be apathy and called things off.
I realised how much I truly cared about him when I walked away. I did not want my angst to make him unhappy or create more tension in our already dissolving communication. I realised that long distance relationships are challenging as conflict mediation becomes more difficult. Also, not being able to experience life with the person you care about does not make things easier.
Recently, I took a quiz to determine what my love language is and to no surprise, I got “quality time”. Because of the lack of time I was able to spend with my partner, I craved attention and affection through phone calls and text messages, but nothing really sufficed. I felt unsatisfied and even though my partner made attempts to comprise, I felt unfulfilled, because in my eyes, it wasn’t enough.
In short, long distance relationships are demanding. However, if you are willing to listen and respond to your partner’s needs and communicate your own, you just may be able to keep the fire alive.
Do you think you could maintain a long distance relationship? If so, what are some ways you would cope with the distance?
-Guest writer Connie Papaya