I am not an advocate of Long Distance Relationships (LDR). Personally, I would advise that no intended for long –term relationship begins as LDR. As much as possible, the early period should be one in which physical distance is not an impediment. However, I understand that life happens and circumstances change. Some of these circumstances are planned. Others, just happen. Out of the blues.
As the plane took off that day in January, the tears finally spilled as I thought of my family members. And the KnighT. I was going to miss this guy. Sore.
It was the beginning of the new year and we had barely spent time together in the days before I had to leave. My mind went back to the string of weekend dates we had last year; Debby making me up, being my stylist and photographer before ushering me out to whatever restaurant we were to meet at that day. I remembered the night we walked a long distance under the rain after one of the dates. As he held my hand, guiding me between speeding cars with blaring horns and rain filled potholes, he sang to me. After taking a bike with me to ensure I got home safe, he went back to his place, the rain still falling. What of the one time I challenged him to a ?50m dash and he left me begging to be allowed to win? Who would get me groceries and bags of fruits? Who would I wink to in church when the Pastor mentions something we both relate to? More importantly, when would we see again?
But, it has been four months of being apart and not only are we going steady, our relationship is thriving. We keep loving and finding ways to show and affirm our love for each other. We have decided to look through the five love languages and discuss how this LDR phase of our relationship has been.
Words of affirmation: this is something both of us are like absolutely good at. It comes naturally to us. From the short one-liners to the ‘read more’ paragraphs on Whatsapp, we never run out of words with which to uplift each other. For waking up, words of affirmation. For eating, words of affirmation. For completing projects, presentations at work, helping out people, when doubts arise in terms of skills and capabilities, words of affirmation. With the LDR phase, we have had to do even more. In fact, it is the ‘cheapest, easiest and most convenient’ love language we could speak. We do it to remind each other of our worth as individuals and as a couple. To continually support each other’s progress. To keep our spirits alive. From the Covid infection to some other medical challenge when I got here, the KnighT has always, with his words, shown how much he cares, understands me and prays for my health to be made perfect. These words have no timetable or structure. They vary in structure. Most times, they are written. Sometimes, they are spoken… like the “rubber baby bumpers” good morning video I once got.
Quality time: this has been a tad difficult, thanks to the time zone difference in this phase. 6am Nigerian time is 12am here. Normally, I should be asleep. Most times, while I am just getting my day started at 6am or still snuggling in bed, he is deep at work. What has been helpful is how both of us, by choice and thanks to work and study obligations, don’t sleep early. In addition to that, we have been deliberate about finding times that sync enough for us to spend time together without jeopardizing anything for anyone. MEu’Vie KnighT on Sundays using Netflix and Scener, Charades on Fridays, SDPs on Wednesdays, countless video calls, multiple times in a day, etc. But, while we encourage each other to do these things consistently, it does not always pan out as we would want. There are times I end up sleeping his whole day away. By the time I wake up ‘properly’, he is getting ready to sleep. LDR has taught us to understand better that the other person may not be ‘around’ when we need them to be around. We are realizing more than before that the other person nodding off/yawning/sleeping is not because of lack of interest nor is it a crime. Sometimes, I am content with watching him sleep. (Yes, that happens in real life too). But, there is that consciousness of the need to be mindful. After service on Sundays, what is on my mind is how soon I can be back in my room so we can get started on our movie(s). I try to make sure school stuff is cleared on time so that I can spend quality time with my KnighT.
Acts of service: in a way, it seems the sacrifices and compromises we are both making are in this category of love language. In Nigeria, we used to go pick up stuff for each other from the park, he helped loosen my hair, we both made comfort meals for each other in times of sickness, we helped each other charge our gadgets, etc. The KnighT has done more for me in this LDR in terms of acts of service. I had some uncompleted things before I traveled, he helped with that. He reminds me of my to-dos and follows up on deadlines. We both ensure we are carrying along the other person in our daily activities. Sending pictures and videos. We have this thing of brainstorming on ideas for travel, future plans, etc. I am the secretary in the relationship, so, I write and keep records of steps, requirements, plans and budgets. We probably don’t see these things as big deals but as I type this, I realize that even carrying out google searches on a topic of importance to him, is an act of service.
Gifts: I miss this so much. Anyone who knows us knows we both go all out with gifts. And this even extends to our friends. Special occasions and ‘ordinary’ days have us exchanging gifts. I mean, this is a Guy who got me airtime when for the first time, I carried out a vaginal delivery on my own during my Obstetrics and Gynecology housejob posting. LDR has altered this. We seem to have paused it for different reasons and shifted to monetary gifts. I think we both are looking forward to being able to watch the other person unbox/unwrap the gifts, try them on/test them, blush/smile/squeal (that’s mostly me) and then talk about how we would revenge. More than anything, I think we are both just holding out on things that can be obtained when we are in the same space.
Touch: I am a hugger oh! I love getting and giving hugs. And I seriously miss having this with the KnighT. I miss putting my head on his shoulders. There is a way he touches my cheek and smiles when we are on dates or just talking. What of the kisses? What of being able to hold hands when we go on walks or meet in church? He likes playing with my hair. I like fake pinching and biting him, jumping on his back, playing with his fingers and tracing the veins on his hands and forearms. There is just a lot LDR has stopped. When we have video calls, I sometimes want to reach into my phone and be able to hold on to him. When I see couples here being all touchy-feely, I hug myself tighter and wish that this distance between our worlds collapses immediately. And when ‘weather for two’ comes up, I remind myself to go get a teddy bear. Or two.
While some love languages have suffered, others have thrived. All of them have had to be modified one way or another. It is in times like this (LDR) that we are reminded that all love languages are very important. And while it is important to identify which one your partner speaks more, one must be willing to invest in others too. Especially when circumstances change.
It has not been easy.
But, this Man… is worth it.
And this relationship… is that valuable.
How each of us has survived this is what we are trying to share. It is a novel experience and we are in no way experts at this. This is just a teaser.
Coming up tomorrow on this same blog space is the second part of the LDR discussion. Here’s a preview of what the KnighT has for us…
“To think, from where I sit and type this, there are items, articles, I have left in situ since her last visit… the yam tuber that’s sprouted, floor to window; the strawberry jam in my refrigerator I’ve left untouched, expiry date be damned; the ketchup jar we used to eat her exquisite fried potato chips with… a thousand souvenirs of nostalgia…”
We plan on a sequel that involves us answering some questions we would be coming up with. In addition, we would like to answer some of your questions too. So, feel free to send in your questions (for one of us directly or both of us) through the comment section or via email (email@example.com), along with other comments.
See you tomorrow for the main dish!