Image: Andrew Storey

Mending broken plates

Wow – what a few months I’ve had! My dad died at the end of January and I’ve had to deal with so much stuff, being an only child and all. It certainly put my relationship with Sara under huge pressure, as I was dealing with my feelings of loss as well as having to stay functioning to sort out the estate. It was all quite surreal and the limitations of having a partner in a different country made things extremely difficult. My way of coping was to shut down my feelings and cut myself off, just getting on with life on a day-to-day, almost minute-to-minute, basis.

Whilst this worked for me, suffice it to say it had dire consequences for our relationship and, in short, we disintegrated. This highlights a key issue for long-distance relationships: sharing the day-to-day stuff as best you can, but if it’s all bad news it can end up being very depressing. Communication takes on a new level of significance, as often it is without the visual dimension and no physical contact so it is very different.

Adapting to these limitations can be very challenging and, if nothing else, you soon discover how committed you really are. But the good news is we are now back together, after the ‘blip’, and are looking forward to building a life together, taking the learning with us: namely, the need to be there for each other however bad it gets, giving each other time to talk and most of all finding ways of showing we care, despite the distance and the challenges it poses.

I will never forget how I felt when I saw Sara after we’d ‘split up’ and how my heart felt such intense pain and joy, almost simultaneously. I also learned the importance of making time and space for each other, as without that shared experience, the closeness can drift away very quickly. When someone isn’t geographically part of your daily life, it requires a different approach to make the relationship work, and yet you still have the same needs as you would have were you sharing a physical space.

I guess what I’m saying is that this will be the main area I’ll be exploring as things evolve in this new phase of our relationship.

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