Singaporebrides | Relationships

June 2020

3 Lessons I’ve Learnt About Love From A Long-Distance Relationship

Long-distance relationships are notoriously challenging for many couples. SingaporeBrides writer Natalie shares three lessons about love that she learnt from her own long-distance relationship that have made it worthwhile.

Even with the commencement of Phase Two of Circuit Breaker in Singapore, couples who are yet to be married don’t seem to be getting much reprieve. While I may not be an expert in relationships, I do have a little experience in long-distance dating, and I have learnt some important lessons about relationships from living it. And, in my opinion, it is these lessons that make long-distance relationships (LDR) more bearable.

I got into my current relationship knowing fully that I was going to leave in a month for further studies in the UK for three years. When I mentioned this to friends and family around me at that time, their initial response was always an “Oh dear” or an “Are you sure?”. Truth be told, I was not 100% confident that this would work out, especially since we only had one month together before I had to leave. But a few months into my overseas stint, I knew that it would all turn out fine. And hey, we’re still together after all these years!

Those first few months of LDR had taught me things about relationships and love that I’m sure I wouldn’t have learnt if we had seen each other every day. It proved that, though an LDR can get challenging at times, it is really not as bad as everyone thinks it to be. And so, I share these simple three lessons with you as someone who have spent more of my relationship away from my partner than we are together, and hopefully we can find some comfort while we journey through an “LDR” now in this COVID-19 season.

Soh Fia and Joshua’s Charming Wedding at Furama Riverfront and CHIJMES Hall by Colossal Weddings

1. Growing separately as individuals will help you grow together as a couple.

What struck me very early on when I’d first arrived overseas was how both my significant other and I were able to grow individually during that time. Growth and personal development are important to us individually and the LDR we began simply gave us the space and time to do just that. It allowed me to focus on transitioning into my new life and home in the UK, to immerse fully into university life and my studies, and to also explore new interests and hobbies that I’d always wanted to do. We were both able to grow ourselves yet also grow together at the same time.

That’s the beauty of an LDR – that on the one hand, I was able to enjoy being a couple and do all the cute, romantic things couples do, and on the other, I had my personal space and freedom to grow. Being only 19 when we first started dating, I still had a lot of personal growing to do. I could go trips with my friends and develop interests. Being attached physically at such a young age would not have given me that kind of experiences because I know I’d probably be caught up with spending as much time as I can with him.

If you’re apart from your loved one during this COVID-19 season, take time to grow yourself and to explore new things you otherwise might not be able to do, such as crafts, or cooking, or even learn a new technical skill. Since we aren’t able to do much about the situation, we can only choose to make the most out of it.

Sarah and Jonathan’s Ethereal Ceremony in the Tirtha Uluwatu Wedding Chapel by AndroidsinBoots

2. Inconvenience and sacrifices are part of any relationship.

Having spent most of our relationship away from each other (four years out of the five we’ve been together), I’ve come to learn the hard way the sacrifices and inconveniences a relationship needs. While I have to admit that it’s often my significant other who ends up giving in to my sometimes petty and irrational requests, there are some days that I’ve also had to go out of the way to make the relationship work. With time differences (UK, US, and the Middle East timezones), there are things that we would need to say no to, just to have our weekly video calls. Whether it is saying no to movie nights with house mates, or going home early from a fun night out, or even walking all the way to the town centre to mail a letter or parcel, these inconveniences and mini sacrifices go a long way.

No relationship is easy. The lovey-dovey feelings may not always be there and the romantic gestures may lessen over time, but it’s how willing we are to sacrifice and be intentional with each other that shows our love and commitment to the relationship. As the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap. That’s why love is always a choice to make daily – we choose to love and hang on to this relationship. We choose to keep it going even though there are inconveniences and discomfort.

Make plans, like scheduled calls, or movie nights. Even when you’re tired after a long day of work, setting intentional time aside to spend time together makes all the difference. Send your loved one his or her favourite meal as a surprise treat once in a while. Remember to ask about each other’s day and be there for them if they’re facing difficulties.

Jasmine and Wei Xian’s Enchanting Victorian Garden Wedding at Hotel Fort Canning by Kadek Artayasa from Diktat Photography

3. It’s the small and everyday things that matter the most, not always the big.

How a romantic relationship differs from other relationships in our lives is, I feel, how intimate and vulnerable you will get with the other person. A romantic relationship is all about sharing big, celebratory moments of triumphs, as well as the very mundane and menial everyday tasks. If anything at all, it’s the latter that builds an intimate relationship.

Being in an LDR certainly does not help with intimacy. Our relationship was very different from all my other couple friends, so they couldn’t relate. We had to be creative in the way we communicated, and that may look absolutely silly at times. I downloaded the Snapchat app when it was first created just to send my partner photos and videos of what I was cooking at home every day, or of the scenery whenever I visited a new place. We had to make it a point to share with each other how our days were because on most days, the only time we had for each other was an hour before my school starts or an hour before bed time.

These small actions brought us closer together and helped us to journey on over the years despite being miles apart. While we weren’t able to celebrate bigger milestones like birthdays and Valentine’s Day together, we were able to make up for these in the everyday moments.

COVID-19 brought both of us back to the same country, and selfishly, I’m thankful we are closer to each other and healthy. Although we were not able to meet, the little things we could do together now, such as working while on a video chat together, the little weekly traditions we create, and the little acts of love along the way, reminds me that I’ve got someone supporting me through these challenging and trying times.

After these four years of LDR, I can certainly attest to the fact that LDRs require a whole lot of work. However, I have learnt along the way that I would not have been able to see how precious relationships are if not for my situation. LDR pushed me to challenge the way I think about love and growing as a person first.

To anyone who is now in an LDR, as well as to anyone who is forced into this LDR of sorts, know that you’re not alone. Your partner-in-crime, your best friend, and your biggest supporter is just on the other side of the video call supporting you through this time. Long-distance relationships can have happy endings and it will be okay.

Credits: Feature image from Linette and Joshua’s Autumn-Inspired Bohemian Wedding at Hotel Fort Canning by AndroidsinBoots

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3 Lessons I’ve Learnt About Love From A Long-Distance Relationship