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21 lessons from being in a long-distance relationship (which people thought wouldn’t work out)

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So I’ve been in a long-distance relationship (LDR) for a couple of years now. We mostly only get to see each other once a month. And I’ve never been more in love.

I get the usual questions from friends all the time.

“Isn’t it hard?”

“How do you know you can trust her?”

“What if she sees another guy behind your back?”

And the worst among the bullshit: “There’s no way it’s going to work out. Especially not for someone like you.”

Pfft.

I get that a lot of people would think a long-distance relationship is hard. I felt it at first even. But it’s honestly not as scary as you think. It’s just playing the game called life. I even kind of understood that people wanted to judge me for the asshole, player, lady-killer, heartbreaker or whatever the fuck I was labelled, but I didn’t let any of that nonsense faze me.

If anything, I consider myself extremely lucky that I can easily fly over to be with her. With budget flights, it’s only a couple of hundred dollars at most. And she’s like only two hours away. I really don’t know how it’d be like if I’m with somebody who’s living in Europe or some shit and flights are ridiculously expensive.

So check it. Lots of relationship and life lessons here.

21 Lessons from a Long-Distance Relationship

1) Ignorance is part of trust. Accept that

Let’s start with the pseudo-deep topic of trust.

If you ask me, a lot of people have a deep misunderstanding of what trust is. They think it’s some magical, omnipresent aspect of a relationship where you tell yourself you trust him or her and you leave it as that. That can have adverse effects on yourself if you know deep down you can’t or do not want to trust your partner. To make it worse, most play along because it’s supposedly the right thing to do as others tell them it is so.

So how do I tackle questions like, “You aren’t there with her. How do you know she’s not fooling around?” ?

Simple. I trust her and I accept the fact that I can’t be with her 24/7. I accept that I can’t be in the know all the time. This is how it should be in all relationships, long-distance or not.

There is absolutely no way you can watch your partner’s every move. If you think you can, then you’re going to give yourself a ton of unnecessary stress. Plus that’s a strong indication of your own insecurities and that you need to get a life.

So, my answer to the above question is always, “Even if she was here, she can have a lunch time quickie at work in the handicap bathroom without me knowing.” So I trust. I don’t go nuts thinking I’m not thinking enough. That’s that.

2) People will judge, but that their’s problem, not yours

Be it the collective doubt people have on long-distance relationships or that… people are just assholes, I think that at the end of the day, how you deal with a long-distance relationship is how you deal with any relationship.

There’s really no reason why you should back down from going into a relationship with somebody you’re attracted to just because others think it’s an unpopular idea.

For whatever reason you want to be with somebody, you ought to always do it out of your own will. Not others.

3) Modern apps today are a god send

Thanks to apps like Whatsapp, Line, Viber and Tango, communicating with my girlfriend is completely free. We do it everyday and it’s smooth as silk.

Whoever thinks that technology is the devil and that we should go back to nature or whatever is a liar and full of shit.

4) There’re cultural difference and that’s pretty amazing

This was when I traveled to her home town, like in the countryside of Thailand to meet her parents. I was blown away with the scenery there and the way people lived.

The thought of distance may be pretty daunting in an LDR, but if you focus on loving each other and accepting where you guys are from, it can be an amazing form of unity. You’ll learn a lot and expand your horizons.

5)  Don’t book an evening or night flight home

There’s honestly nothing worse than the feeling of anticipation of your parting and saying good bye. What more, there’s probably nothing left to do on that last day because you’ve done enough.

It’s so surreal to think during the day, “What’s the point of today? I’ve to leave.” Yet, this begs to be thought all day. It’s like using your tongue to keep touching your ulcer.

So personally, I’d recommend booking a flight in the first few hours of the morning. That way, you can just wake up, go home and be done with the pain of saying bye as soon as possible.

6) You suddenly realize why selfies are important

I don’t FaceTime my girlfriend every hour of the day, so I do the next best thing which is to send her photos of what I’m doing when we message.

That is how I annoy my friends and make them take selfies with me, which are the only ones I ever take in my life.

7) It is always hard to say goodbye, but that’s what makes a relationship real 

Alas, up to this day, after over two years and nearly twenty trips to both Singapore and Bangkok airports, I still feel the pain of saying bye to her. It’s just pretty hard to let go of someone you know you won’t be able to hug at night.

Yes, I’d admit that’s hard and it feels less-than-stellar.

But the way I see it, it’s what makes my relationship, my life and me real. The pain makes everything real and meaningful.

Perhaps you won’t agree with me, but pain and the shitty things in your life are what gives your life meaning.

Everytime I feel the pain of parting, I know that deep down in my heart our love is real and not just a constructed form of a relationship where I systematically tell myself to be happy, when I know I’m not.

I don’t really know how to explain this, so let me just say it straight: I’d much rather feel the pain of missing her than be in a relationship of basic comfort where we just stay home, watch movies and not do anything exciting.

So, the pain is how I know everything will always go up.

8) Quarrels still happen

They do. No details needed. All relationships have their differences. Yet, a long-distance relationship is also very much the same as a normal one.

9) You just want to be happy, and you should

But after all the squabbles and bullshit, you just want to be happy, because saying bye at the airport is hard.

When emotions from longing are amplified, it always makes you realize how petty and small your everyday problems with each other are.

10) Meeting each other is always exciting. 

Needless to say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And you will cherish your time together.

That being said, I think travelling as a couple is pretty awesome. All couples ought to travel together abroad at least once. I may have traveled over to Thailand ample times already, but I always look forward to it.

11) Quarreling when travelling together is the worst

That being said, when shit hits the fan in your limited time together elsewhere, it is extremely cumbersome and draining. Couples who’ve fought overseas would know.

12) I love my space

One of the main reasons why I’m so happy in this LDR is that it has given me the freedom to do anything I want whenever I am alone.

Sure, saying bye at the airport is hard, but I usually recover after a night’s sleep back in my own room. Then I’m back to writing, reading, Bboying and playing video games without permission from anybody.

I wrote about the importance of couples having space in my drunken rant and I strongly believe in it. All couples, young or old, need their space apart. This is how a relationship survives with love.

13) Just sign up for budget airline newsletters and you can get flights for cheap

I don’t know where you are, but this is one easy task that can save you a lot of money.

Cheap flights don’t necessarily have to come in the form of a flash sale which disappears in an hour. This one has promos every week here.

14) Some people have an extremely stupid excuse for infidelity

Infidelity is, unfortunately becoming a norm today. The excuses to fuck around piles up all the time.

Obviously, I’ve never cheated on my girlfriend, but that has not stopped friends, especially the guys from thinking that I have every reason to.

“She’s not here right bro?” Go figure.

15) You need to put in the effort to learn a new language

Unfortunately, my Thai still sucks. That’s because I didn’t put in the effort to learn and communicate with my girlfriend in Thai.

So yeah, traveling back and forth often and talking to her everyday doesn’t automatically mean you can assimilate a new language effortlessly.

16) You’ll go beyond a tourist’s point of view and that’s awesome

I view Thailand in a whole new light now as I immerse myself in the culture, meet people and see how religion affects their lifestyle. You can read all about it here.

Learning new things, especially of another country’s way of life is always good. That’s how you open your mind.

17) Just get a SIM card so you can stop bloody worrying about WIFI

Unfortunately, not everywhere has WIFI, although the many shops in Bangkok offer it for free if you simply ask for the password politely.

Don’t even bother worrying about WIFI. Just get a SIM card.

18) People don’t view your partner as your partner. They view them according to their perspective only

In other words, they view them according to what stereotype they know of the foreigner.

I’ve no idea how many times people have asked me, “Are you still with your Thai girl?” and I’d reply, “She’s not my Thai girl. She’s my girlfriend.”

There’s a whole line of reasoning behind that stereotype here, but I won’t go into that now. At the end of the day, it is very true that people would always view the foreigner, especially in a relationship in largely misunderstood ways.

It can be pretty depressing, but as mentioned, it’s their problem, not yours.

19) It gets a lot better

I used to cry at the airport when we have to say bye because I was just sad and I knew I was going to miss her. The pain was insane. But it’s a lot better now.

Many people think LDRs are always hard, but they forget, like most things, it gets better.

The trick is to simply put in the effort in your relationship and not being so afraid about everything in life.

20) A long distance relationship can work out if you want it to. Don’t say it can’t

It can. If you want to, it can.

Just do what it takes. Plan your budget wisely. Take leave from work. Communicate everyday. Don’t fuck around and think you can get away with it. Have some trust.

It’s how much you want it.

21) It’s not ever good bye, it’s “See you later.”

Plot twist. Not once was it ever a goodbye for both of us.

It’s always “See you later.”

That was what she told me the very first time I had to leave Thailand as a guy who decided to turn into a boyfriend.

And that was how I fell in love.

Do you want more honest-as-fuck stories like this?

14 comments

  1. felice - October 22, 2014 4:44 pm

    Always well-thought out, sensitive, timely and well-written.

    I totally agree with this article!
    Peace,
    felice

    Reply
    • alden - October 23, 2014 6:48 am

      Thanks Felice!

      Reply
  2. Ronnie Moehrke - October 22, 2014 4:57 pm

    Lovely Alden…thank you

    Reply
    • alden - October 23, 2014 6:48 am

      No prob.

      Reply
  3. Siouxsie - October 22, 2014 10:48 pm

    Good article Aldan. In addition to that, I would emphasize how important it is to really make an effort in an LDR. It’s so easy merely to say “I love you” online or on the phone, but showing it is much more important, harder to do and requires just a little imagination and a bit of effort.
    I was in an LDR with a guy in Alabama [I’m on the south coast of the UK] and, despite his all-too-early pledges of undying love and the desire to marry me, it was all verbal and he made no actual effort at all.
    On our first Christmas as a couple, knowing that he yearned to visit the UK, I went to great lengths putting together an “A little Piece of England” kit for him comprising jokey items like trivia books about being English/visiting Britain; UK recipe books; UK flag Christmas baubles; UK sweets/biscuits [candy/cookies]. I wrote a poem explaining each item and why I’d bought it. I thoroughly enjoyed putting it all together; it didn’t cost a fortune and it was very personal and came from the heart. I also sent other lovely, carefully chosen gifts for him; his 2 kids; his 2 cats AND his ex mother-in-law who was joining him for Christmas Dinner. I packed everything super-carefully into a massive box and the courier charge alone was over 50GBP!
    I set up a weblink between his family home and my parents’, so that we could share our Christmas.
    On Christmas Day, I was sooooo excited to watch them all open their gifts but my family were upset that he really couldn’t be bothered to communicate much. I introduced my parents to him and he just about managed to wave and say a laid back “hi” then went about his Christmas, leaving us all watching and a bit lost, embarrassed and bemused.
    My Mother was really upset when she realised that we were watching him open his gifts, but I had received nothing at all from him: not even a card! [He sent that a couple of weeks later and didn’t even bother to put a kiss on it!!!].
    That’s just one example of many, but the ‘moral’ of this is that effort in a long distance relationship is vital. I would often send silly, inexpensive little gifts to surprise him and remind him he was special to me. Only once did I get a ‘surprise’ gift out of the blue in return and that made me so very happy.
    Don’t get me wrong – it’s not about money and expenditure – it’s about effort. That first Christmas, if he had found a few minutes one evening to write me a personal, touching poem, I would have been elated. It doesn’t take much really – just a little imagination and some effort.

    Reply
    • alden - October 23, 2014 6:48 am

      That’s sweet of you, but honestly it sounds like he didn’t care at all. I don’t think he really wanted to be in the relationship from the get go.

      Sorry to be blunt, but that was the guy in me speaking. And a lot of guys are assholes. Who knows what the hell he was doing behind your back all along.

      Reply
  4. Michael Sosnowski - October 25, 2014 9:57 am

    I give you props for doing a long distance relationship. I don’t know if I’d be able to do it and at the same time I am sure it does feel good to have all that space while knowing you are still in a relationship. The technology of today definitely makes LDR’s easier to maintain than ever before. It is true that people tend to view a person’s partner who is foreigner different than they would if they were the same nationality and/or race. It is different in their minds, so they approach the situation in a different way.

    It is the little consistent things you do in a relationship that matter over the long run. Keep up the great work with maintaining communication with her.

    Letting you know too that there are some changes at Personal Growth 4 Life. I am no longer writing under the pen name of Sebastian Aiden Daniels.

    Reply
    • alden - October 27, 2014 7:33 am

      Cool dude thanks!

      Oh yeah for sure. It’s not as hard as one may think though. Just gotta go at it and try to be happy. Way too many couples worry about the unknown future that usually never comes to pass.

      Reply
  5. edelia - November 13, 2014 3:10 am

    very inspiring article!!

    well, i hope all guy outside there can have same thought as you, Alden. hahaha.. i just want to praise you are amazing and one of hard-to-find-man! when alot other guy is just bullshit and cheap talk. your gf just so lucky can meet you. hope everything going well until you both married and can living together forever without any distance separate anymore 🙂

    Reply
    • alden - November 13, 2014 9:28 am

      Thank you Edelia. It will happen 🙂

      Reply
  6. Alex Comai - November 20, 2014 2:51 am

    This is really helpful, I’m a junior in high school and my girlfriend and I are pretty serious (planning on sticking together for and past college). I dreaded the day when we would head our separate ways to our respective schools, but reading this article really eases my nerves. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • alden - November 20, 2014 7:33 am

      Hmm sure. But you guys are still young. So take it easy. Whole life is still ahead of ya.

      Reply
  7. Wayne - October 11, 2015 8:52 am

    I’ve recently gotten into a LDR with a thai girl (for the past 2 weeks), and I believe I’m in the same situation as you (assuming you’re from Singapore). Decided to go online to see what others write about LDR with a Thai girlfriend. Read many negative posts before I came across your website. Just wanted you to know that this post really made me feel better, and it motivates me to go on further. Much thanks.

    Reply
  8. Kiara - October 11, 2015 9:12 am

    Thank you so so much for this, my Fiance is back in the US, and every night it gets harder to cope (for us), cause we will both be missing each other a lot, & just wishing the time will pass faster till he gets here.

    This really helps a lot. Cheers to what you said! ‘It’s not ever good bye, it’s “See you later.”’

    Reply

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