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“I can’t do this!”
It wasn’t shouted, it was a definite thought slowly sliding into my consciousness.
It was the statement of someone who wasn’t looking to be convinced otherwise. The statement was heavy with tiredness and frustration and at the hinges you could see pain, through her eyes and in the statement. I was just a friend but at that moment i wished I could be more, like a pain-reaper. Take it all away.
Last week, a friend broke up with her fiancé. They had been dating for a year before the guy came to propose and the wedding was set to take place later this year.
Being in a LDR, this break-up shook me to my core. I know that every relationship is unique but this had hit too close to home. She is my friend, she is/was in a LDR, they loved each other enough to be engaged and now they are barely keeping together.
My friend has been acting really great since she decided when her relationship was done. Probably better than I would have but I imagine she has been affected by the cancellation of the wedding and the really tough period she is going through. And so I started to wonder, ‘is there really any winning at this LDR thing?’
I am not close to finding the answer as my own LDR has no end date yet but from reading a lot and trying out some of the suggestions below I would say yes, you can win!
1. Remember who YOU are
Just because you are seeing someone and your situation is special (distance) doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. Remember who YOU are spiritually, professionally, emotionally and physically. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses will help you become a better person that your SO will enjoy being with.
2. Vocalize your feelings
He/she cannot see your body cues! She/he cannot read your mind and heart!
You have to learn to vocalize your emotions and thoughts more clearly. If you are like me and you feel intensely and frequently, learn to write down your feelings read them back to yourself and shift through that stuff. I’m still practicing this as sometimes I fail and clump up with my feelings instead of just talking them out. But keeping at it is part of winning in the long run.
An extra advantage to this is that you’ll have the confidence to speak up at work, the courage to go through with your good decisions and the wisdom to see through any stupid choices that may be veiled by adrenaline or just influence.
3. Live in the present
You know how you turn down an offer to do some fun activity with your friends BECAUSE your significance other is not present? Well, STOP IT! I think it’s cute to do it but it steals from who you are and can be.
Do you think life stops at their part of the world just because you denied yourself some fun social time? No! Where you are right now makes your current circumstance. It may not be the best so, if you can -change it. Otherwise do the best with what you have. Find a way to enjoy what you have without feeling guilty. You owe it to your grandchildren in stories about your growing up/old.
Trust. Such a fragile word with so many consonants; you are apart from each other. You may have chosen to remain that way. But you never really chose who to fall in love with. And if you love someone, then you will trust them.
Someone asked me, “Aren’t you afraid that he may be with someone else?” I thought this was funny because even in my worst moments of insecurity, this has not crossed my mind. He hasn’t given me any reason to doubt him. And I’m not looking for one. But then, I always trust too much.
Seriously though, if you don’t learn to trust, then you’re losing, not just in the relationship but in life too. How do you take risks if you don’t trust things will be ok? How do you even live with yourself if you can’t trust?
5. See the bigger picture
“Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?” is a question employers will ask on a job interview. Why is this question important? Because if you have no goals to work towards then you are wasting both the company’s time and your time and the air you are breathing… you get the picture. The same thing goes for an LDR.
This is not to say you should work out all details just yet, but when you both have the same picture, you will work towards it and you will be able to pull through the bad days together.
Now, the details may be fuzzy, and you may not actually get to the bigger picture but the journey towards that goal will make you a better person (even though a little cynical for a while if things go wrong). This is because, if you can commit to something that is still ‘up-in-the-air’ then imagine how hard you can work for a promotion at work or business idea or a trip to the other side of the world. The bigger picture shows you how far you can go for something you really desire. It also shows you what your threshold of ‘deal breakers’ is ; and illuminates the darker parts of you that drag you into pessimism.
Of course, I’ve only been in my international LDR for 1.3yrs, but I think these tips can be applied to any romantic relationship you are in.
Always remember the sound of your own laughter.
Do not be caught off-guard just because you haven’t laughed in so long that you have forgotten how to. With this, no matter the out-come of your LDR, you will have won at being a better person to yourself and the people your presence blesses.
Sorting out feeling and emotions through writing is not only therapeutic but you blow off so much chaff! And with a clearer head you can focus on what’s really important. Performance poet, and avocado lover from East africa. @WanjikuMwaurah