Is it good or bad?
Avoidable or inevitable?
There are different dimensions to distant relationships
Some never set out to be in distant relationships, but situations and circumstances forced the choice on them. However, there are others who made the choice, probably for many reasons. Some of which I am hoping we could explore.
It is true that, most people wouldn’t want to have a distant relationship, but it happens and then life has to go on.
A distant relationship is that in which partners live apart and away from each other in different towns, cities or even country. This could occur both in marriage and courtship. It is mostly unplanned. Could be due to work, schooling, finance, accommodation issues, visa issues and so many other unforeseen circumstances. There is another type of distant relationship that most people are not taking cognizance of which is, when a couple live close, yet it is difficult for them to have the right level of opportunity to spend quality time together so much that they have to rely on alternative means like social media, phone calls, chats, SMSs etc. Two people in a relationship can be in Nigeria and still have a distant relationship because the needs like physical interaction and quality time together is either minimal or totally inexistent.
Distant relationship may not be the healthiest or easiest but it can be successful. Like every relationships that requires hard work and commitment, distant relationships demands harder work and unflinching commitment. Indeed, it requires a double dose of everything a relationship requires to make it work.
As a matter of fact, promising relationships have been destroyed due to distance not well managed.
I will share an experience of someone who was engaged to be married when the guy decided to travelled abroad in search of greener pastures. The lady supported him with prayers and even took a loan from her office to assist him for the journey with the hope that he would start sending money for the repayment once he settled down. Close relatives advised that that they both tie the nuptial knot or do the traditional wedding before he left, but the guy declined. His reason was that he would be coming in less than 2 years. At first, the calls were coming as expected until it started dropping without tangible reasons then it finally stopped. All these happened within the two years he promised. The lady was faced with paying the debt incurred for his traveling until one day when he sent her a mail advising her to move on with her life as he already had a wife overseas.
We are all familiar with similar cases mentioned above. Distance relationships have been the major causes of *death* of some promising relationships that could have survived if there was no barrier of location or distance.
The rate of heartbreaks and hurt, infidelity, adultery (unfaithfulness) and some crime rates were also on the increase for same reason: *distance*. Distant relationship is not only applicable to those who were outside the shores of the country, there are romantic relationships, families who have been separated by distance as close as Lagos / Abeokuta /Ibadan and as far as North/East (within Nigeria) taking Lagos as a base.
Mostly as a result of job transfer or job related reasons which most of the time boils down to ‘finances’
I will like us to identify some of the challenges that could be faced as a result of ‘Distant Relationships’ the list is inexhaustible, but these are the few that readily comes to mind:
Communication is the blood of any form of relationship and the success of any relationship is largely dependent on the level and quality of its communication. However, with distant relationship, effective communication becomes a nightmare. Distant relationship is often faced with many other issues that could have been avoided or reduced to the barest but for the barrier posed by lack of effective communication that eventually hinders growth of a healthy relationship, except it is strategically worked on. Hence, the cost of communication is too extreme both for intending or married couples.
Cost of Data is unfriendly to the purse, long hours on phone which may not be convenient for both parties (especially where time zone is not the same), the struggle and endless effort of trying to make your partner understand the exact thing you are saying without misunderstanding, slow rate in decision making, and the list is on and on…
- Growing Apart
Growing apart is also one of the challenges to wrestle with in a distant relationship. This affects those in courtship and married couples (especially). Either of the married couples who is not with the children would miss the important part of their children’s developmental stage (depending on the age of the child/ children, at the time of departure).
As humans progression is a constant factor common to all. Being in a distant relationship denies either party this inexplicable part which is irreversible. We are bound to miss such moments that can never be recovered. This can be very painful most of the time.
- Financial Challenges
Distant relationship increases your financial responsibilities in terms of accommodation, acquisition of household items, cost of transportation, the cost of living, etc.
- Emotional Famine
Sexual emotions will not find correct and legal place for expression. What kind of romance can be done via email and by phone? In fact, often times this is what gives room for infidelity. The list is definitely more than the few mentioned above. Being in distant relationship makes it almost impossible to fully comprehend the facial expressions of your partner. There are no forms of physical touch such as hugs, pat or a feel that says all will be well. Despite the great relief provided by technology via social media or apps, it has not been able to solve the issue of physical contact with loved ones.
All relationships have one thing in common and that is ‘challenges’. With distant relationships, the challenges faced is often more compounded compared with a ‘close relationship’ simply because of the gap between the couple in terms of distance which invariably makes it difficult for conflicts to be resolved easily as it could have been in a close relationship or when couples live together.
Other most common challenges of a distant relationship are feelings of loneliness, anxiety, fear, uncertainty that could arise because of the distance. Although, these feelings are often not far-fetched even in a ‘close relationships’, but are more prominent or felt in a relationship where couples are separated geographically.
As the saying goes ‘every Mallam with his own kettle’. There are other challenges that are unique to couples because of individual peculiarities. But either unique or common challenges, there is hope for a distant relationship to survive and also for couples in distant relationships to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship if they chose to be committed to the relationship.
- Psychological reactions
The emotional effect that distance relationship has on the individual is reflected in the psychological state of such a person. Often times, it is the psychological effect that takes his toll last and most difficult to identify in most cases hence very hard to overcome.
Combating the feeling of loneliness is a lone battle. More so for someone who cannot fly into the arms of one’s beloved whenever one wants. Loneliness is a common problem that plagues most long distance relationships, at some point or other. The absence of your significant other and an awareness of the long time span that has to elapse until you get to see them in person, can make the feeling a rather overwhelming one to bear.
Depression can set in for individuals in a long distance relationship when the pangs of loneliness begin to eat away at the essence of their mental health. A conspicuous lack of fulfillment (emotional or otherwise) and a discernible discrepancy between the image in their head and the reality of their situation can cause the long distance lover to be depressed. The long-term effects of depression can be harmful to the health of the individual partner and that of the relationship.
Unlike depression and loneliness, anxiety is an emotion that cannot be dealt with alone. There is an element of exclusivity about this emotion that makes the issues raised as a result of anxiety levels difficult to tackle.
Getting insecure about a partner’s interactions with members of the opposite sex is natural. Failure to deal effectively with the anxiety may create jealousy which may ultimately lead to an excessively obsessive behavior that may cause immense emotional damage to both parties as well as the relationship.
Uncertainty is a common element of most long distance relationships. It has been found out that being uncertain of the relationship’s likely outcome/possible future puts excessive strain on the relationship. This uncertainty about the relationship’s direction and the absence of a set of mutually-agreed upon goals can cause the relationship to be ripped apart. Being committed to a romantic relationship with no end in sight can only create an unhealthy environment, fatal to the participants’ mental health as
I’d like to advise that people who are involved in long distance relationships should leverage on technology. In a long distance relationship, partners can rely on technology by staying updated on their activities through social media, FaceTime, Google Hangout or Skype, Snap Chat-ting, etc.
So, for those in courtship or marriage relationship but your partner is far away. You need to:
- Develop a true sense of understanding of the uniqueness of your relationship either as tossed to you by life or by your decision or that of your partner or both!
- Exercise a great level of patience than the usual. You just enrolled into a special school of patience, where your level of patience will be tried in a greater dimension.
- Engage in effective communication. Though, it may be more expensive but you cannot afford not to invest in any means that will make your communication easier, constant and more accessible. It is a price you have to pay. There is a higher tendency for miscommunication because either partner may misinterpret the other, but strive to explain and be patient with each other. Often times, the sense of separation by distance have the tendency to take its toll on either or both partner thereby causing tension or other feelings not spoken. You should also ensure you keep a regular flow of communication either by phone calls, IMO, Skype or any other form of communication tools. This will help you stay closely. Ask questions to avoid misunderstanding and be sensitive to each other. If either partner has had a long day, the probability that he/she may be worked up around hence be considerate of each other.
- Stay committed to your vows or agreement with your partner. It may be challenging but ‘commitment is a prove of test of a true love’. Commitment is what makes you stand out from others. It is what makes you say NO when tempted, it is what makes you deny yourself of some seemingly pleasure because it may take you down the rail. Never make a vow you never intend to keep from the onset. When you make a vow with the intention to keep it at the initial stage, you are already on the path to fulfilling your vows that to me is what commitment is.
- Frequent visit where necessary
- Avoid making major decisions that may be discussed physically when you eventually see especially where those decisions are not time bound or urgent. This is to create an avenue where you can see the facial expressions of your partner, gesture and the likes which forms a greater part of communication.
- Keep things that reminds you and also notify other relationships around you that you are committed to your partner. i.e, pictures, you should use your partner’s picture as your display pictures for your phones often, you can share your feelings about your partner publicly once in a while. I am aware that some people are very private and as such wants their private life as private too, but in a long distance relationship, you should not hide your partner from other relationships.
- You must determine your limit with the opposite sex! In a distant relationship, the tendency to be jealous is higher which could brood suspicion. Hence, you should strive to make your partner feel secure while dealing with the opposite gender as much as it lies within your power. You must respect your partner’s view in dealing or relating with opposite gender. Where your partner becomes so uncomfortable about your relationship with opposite/ same gender, you must give it a deep thought, explain clearly and most importantly, always pick rate and consider your partner over any other person(s).
- Transparency is the key word. The strain that the miles or oceans had created between you and your partner is boundless. The least you could do is to be as open as a book. Don’t make the relationship tougher than it already is by not being transparent. Infidelity, unfaithfulness and the likes thrives under secrecy!
- Stay connected! Say things that will keep you connected, do things that will keep you more knitted despite the distance. Take a surprise visit where you can afford or make the sacrifice, do recordings for your partner, go over board to do special things. In relationship, moments counts. I understand more now than before that ‘ Love is doing’. If you love your partner, you must ‘Do’ things that shows that you are indeed in love with the person.
In conclusion, the power to make your relationship successful is not in the distance that exist by location but the distance created in the heart. If your heart is close to your partner, no distance is far enough to erect a barrier between two closed hearts.