There are two conflicting sayings when it comes to long distance relationships. One is that absence makes the heart grow fonder. The other one says “out of sight, out of mind.” So, which is it?
I’ve been in a somewhat long-distance relationship (I say somewhat because my significant other is in the same country as I am, but one of us needs to hop on a plane if we want to see the other person) for about two years now, and I can tell you that it’s a bit of both.
People go into long-distance relationships (which we will refer to as an LDR from now on) for all sorts of reasons: to let their boyfriend or girlfriend pursue further studies or to fulfill a lifelong dream abroad, so that a husband or wife can provide better for the family, and so on. Sometimes, it evolves into something deeper and the couple ends up stronger together after weathering many months or years apart. And sometimes, it just doesn’t.
If you are a Filipina or a Filipino who’s wondering if what you have with say, an Australian expat who’s about to fly back home is worth pursuing, then keep reading to find out if the rewards for successful LDR’s far outweigh the risks for you:
Pro: You get more freedom and independence than the average person in a conventional relationship.
Dating or being in a relationship with another person requires you to spend an inordinate amount of time with them, more so if your special someone happens to be clingy. Now, it can feel nice at first, but it inevitably gets exhausting, especially if it’s not in your nature to constantly hover around your boyfriend or girlfriend.
There might be times when you will just want to zone out to an episode of Game of Thrones alone, but good luck telling that to a partner who would sulk over being “neglected.”
If you value your individuality and solo leisure time yet still long for the occasional phone call or text message from someone thinking of you, then LDR’s are just what the doctor ordered. Because of the physical distance, you are completely absolved from having to be around your SO all the time. This means you have more opportunities to take a solitary, leisurely walk, buy a pair of stilettos or a new console game that your bf/gf would balk at, and most importantly, pursue your own dreams and ambitions without worrying about someone waiting up for you at home.
Yet you will never be truly lonely knowing that someone out there would love to hear about how your day went, and that s/he is but a Viber or Skype call away.
Con: You will be on your own most of the time, and missing your better half can hurt like nothing else.
So, there’s Skype, Facetime, and Viber, and you can theoretically speak face to face to your favorite person anytime (this wristband can even let you fall asleep to the sound of your SO’s heartbeat). Still, there’s no substitute for seeing the actual person before your eyes, feeling their warmth, and basking in the unique scent of their skin, is there?
When you’ve had a bad day and all you want to do is collapse into tears in your partner’s arms, no amount of emoticons, video feeds, voicemails, or vibrating wristbands can make up for missing that part of you that was left behind in another country, or continent. It will hurt; you will feel as though an invisible hand has your insides in a death grip, and you will cry yourself to sleep more often than you will care to admit.
But, oh, my dear, trust me when I say that it will pass.
Pro: You develop awesome communication skills.
There are just some things that are hard to say over a text message or in a chat room, or even over the phone. And in the absence of nonverbal cues (e.g., gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice if you’re not speaking directly to each other, etc.), the things that are left unsaid can sometimes lead to petty misunderstandings and quarrels, so you learn how to communicate more effectively. Fast.
As an added bonus, you also become really adept at computing the time differences between countries. After all, it’s an absolute must for anyone who’s ever accidentally woken up their boyfriend or girlfriend at 3 in the morning just to talk about another Youtube cat video.
Con: Trust issues can be a given.
Last time I checked, there are more than 6 billion people on this planet, and a good number of them will be attractive, available, and in the same area, classroom, or workplace as your special someone. Just about everyone who’s ever dated thinks about who their partner might be with at the moment and what they might be up to, but LDR’s complicate things because you can’t exactly march over there to confirm or deny your suspicions.
Your inner green-eyed monster can also go full-on Hulk if and when a photo or a conversation of your SO with another guy or girl pops up on your Facebook feed (never mind if the said guy or girl looks like the wrong end of a cow, or if the conversation was about something as boring as following up the report from Accounting).
Absence can definitely be a fertile ground for doubt, so you and your partner will need to set some ground rules if you want to push through with an LDR. Some couples opt for open relationships, while loads more choose to stay monogamous. Discuss your respective concerns and expectations in person and come up with an arrangement that is favorable to both of you before you decide on taking the next step. That way, your LDR (should you opt for it) is off to a good start before your sweetheart boards that plane.
And unless you have good reasons not to, always, always trust in your partner.
Pro: You two will never run out of things to talk about.
Too much familiarity can breed contempt and boredom. What will you two talk about when you do and see everything together?
On the flipside, a relationship between two people on two separate journeys or destinations will always be interesting. Both of you will meet people or experience things that you can’t wait to tell the other other person about, and it ought to keep a lively, stimulating conversation going on many occasions.
Plus, not seeing your SO all the time can lend a slight air of mystery to your relationship, and a bit of mystery is always sexy.
Con: Growing apart is a possibility.
Things can go south when you’ve both spent so much time apart. By that, I don’t necessarily mean being physically apart, but emotionally so. Infidelity is the most obvious threat to an LDR (or any relationship, perhaps), but growing apart can be far more insidious because it happens so gradually and is often the root cause of many affairs on the side.
If you two are no longer on the same page, you may find that your online chats or calls get less and less meaningful or increasingly impersonal, or you may even be fighting a lot less frequently, not because you two are at peace but because one or both of you just isn’t as passionate about the other or each other anymore.
There’s really no way to tell if, when, and how the two of you will grow apart, at least not at the onset. But you two should guard against it all the same. Make it a point to not to let too much time pass between your conversations no matter how busy you get, and try not to be distracted with other matters when the two of you are actually talking. Laugh together, cry together, do whatever it takes to keep that spark alive.
Con: LDR’s can be expensive. They also take a lot of effort to maintain.
I see my boyfriend every two months, once a month if the seat sales offer a good rate to his or my side of the country. It’s not just about the money too. Both of us have certain responsibilities in our respective areas, so proper scheduling is a must if we want things to run as smoothly as they should during our temporary absences.
It probably gets a lot harder and costlier for people trying to conduct relationships across two different countries. The cheapest round trip airline ticket I could find online to Sydney from Manila is at Php 37,990 (AUD 1,107) as of this writing, and that doesn’t include visa application fees, pocket money, and lodgings. Both of you will also probably have to save up your vacation leaves so you can spend quality time in each other’s home countries without worrying if you will still have a job to come home to.
Cliché as it sounds, though, you barely notice all that once the right person comes swinging out of the gate, which brings us to…..
Pro: Each reunion will feel like the honeymoon stage.
The beauty of LDR’s is that each reunion will always feel like the first time you laid eyes on each other and realized that you were both in love. Seeing your significant other smile in person and having them in your arms after x number of months or years will make the doves fly out into the sky and have violins playing in the background (in your head, anyway), and then, all the stress, heartache, and doubts of the past months or years end up melting away too.
While the time you spend together will always seem too short, too rushed, or just plain insufficient, quality time with your long lost darling will also be all the more sweeter because of it.