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Sunday, 15 July 2007

Long, long, long distance love affair

Contributor: Titchie Carandang-Tiongson, New York University, US

In the beginning, you both will claim eternal devotion, promising to keep in touch (via email, webcam, chat, text, phone, snail mail), and forever keep your love alive. Several scenarios develop. The person left behind gets the raw part of the deal – she/he stays in the home country, plodding along with the same old routine while the person leaving has a wonderful adventure ahead. Or the person who leaves misses family and friends, hates the freaky cold winters and is counting the days until his/her next trip home while the person left behind enjoys the sudden freedom of an unofficial swinging single. Both parties may become too busy to keep in touch (despite different types of free or affordable access to communication). Or both hurdle the imagined and the real obstacles to true love and live happily ever after. Being a romantic, I prefer the last scenario. Unfortunately, this has not been the case as I witnessed many a breakup among friends who courageously decided to go forward with a long distance relationship.

Long distance or not, maintaining a relationship is a challenge. Figuring out if you should stay together or not defies the most complicated formulas where you have to consider the maturity of parties involved, stage of the relationship, personality types, expectations, and unforeseen variables (the third party, staying longer than originally anticipated, etc). Many people advise communication is the most important key to a relationship. Thanks to modern technology, we have access to all types of communication but that’s not the point. You and your partner could talk everyday but still be on different levels. Girl A is talking about the parties she’s been to while Boy B is thinking about his paper on the hermeneutics of suspicion. Boy A might be complaining about city traffic while Girl B is discovering the joys of public transportation. Still it might be better to be talking than not talk at all. Sometimes it’s a challenge for the person abroad to write, with all the (new) things going on—school, work, errands, social commitments—but if one really wanted to keep in touch, one can always, and will, make time to do so.

Simply put, it’s really up to you and your partner to decide to stay together, and want to stay together. It’s a struggle but it’s worth it. I should know. I married my long-distance love.

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