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Long-Distance Relationships in My Life

Paul has had a very interesting life. He has traveled extensively and lived in the United States, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Long Distance Relationships

The author and his wife are in the foreground.

The author and his wife are in the foreground.

Long-distance relationships have seemed to be the norm in my life. For various reasons, I have preferred to find girlfriends as pen pals and court marriage partners through long-distance relationships.

My first relationship over the miles was with a high school girl in Minnesota in 1961 when I was 17.

Finally, I had long-distance relationships of various degrees with my two ex-wives. All is described in this article.

A Long-Distance Pen Pal Relationship

I was always introverted, shy, and timid as a boy. This was especially the case in my dealings with girls.

After moving out to the farm when I was nine, I had just about no social relationships with girls. Although a few girls liked me in junior and senior high, I never had any dates or girlfriends. This was due to my situation living on a farm.

I helped mom and dad every day before school in the barn of our dairy farm. Not showering every morning, my clothes and body smelled like cows. This was one reason for not having many friends.

A second reason was not having a driver's license or car to go into town on dates.

During summer vacation in 1961 between my junior and senior years in high school, I decided to find girlfriends as penpals. My parents had subscribed to Hoard's Dairyman and in that weekly publication, there was a pen pal section.

After introducing myself in a submitted ad, I answered the ads of a few high school girls looking for penpals. A short while later, one of the penpals I found was a girl from Clearbrook, Minnesota, who would be entering her junior year in high school.

Betty and I hit it off immediately because we had similar interests. She was thinking about becoming a nurse and I had wanted to be a doctor.

Betty and I continued writing to each other after I went away to college in the fall of 1962. In an attached letter dated February 2, 1963, you can see how ecstatic Betty was about being invited to Saint Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, to take a nursing school pre-admission test.

Although I was negligent in writing to Betty after entering the Navy in 1967, she always got my military address from mom.

While I was stationed in Taiwan in 1969, Betty had already graduated from nursing school and was engaged to a soldier fighting in Vietnam. You can imagine how concerned she was about her fiancee's safety. I tried comforting Betty the best I could.

After I left the Navy in 1971, Betty and her husband settled in a northern suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In her last letter to me, Betty had invited me to her home to meet her husband and young daughter. It was a great joy to finally meet a pen pal friend with whom I had had a ten-year-long relationship.

Letter from my penpal Betty J in Minnesota.

Letter from my penpal Betty J in Minnesota.

A Long-Distance Relationship with My First Ex-Wife

In May 1971, I was in Taipei, Taiwan, and had just broken up with my Taiwanese girlfriend. Susan didn't want to marry me and I was heartbroken. There was no reason for me to stay in Taiwan.

On the day that I made a reservation to return to the United States, I met Mona in the evening in a nightclub in Taipei. Mona told me to forget about Susan and enjoy my remaining week in Taiwan.

After dating Mona a few times, I still couldn't take my mind off of Susan. Although I had no feelings for Mona at that time, I gave her my address and said Mona could write to me in the States if she desired.

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Two weeks after returning to Wisconsin to live with my parents, I was surprised to receive a letter from Mona. Enclosed in the letter were two pictures of her.

I answered Mona's letter and we began to correspond regularly. Since there was no Internet with social media and video calls in 1971, it was exciting every time to receive Mona's letters.

By the end of 1971, we talked about future marriage. I was getting ready to go back to the University of Wisconsin to study Chinese Language and Literature in February 1972. I promised Mona, however, that I would go to Taiwan to be with her in May 1973.

Between February 1972 and May 1973, Mona and I corresponded with each other at least once a month and exchanged gifts once.

In May 1972, I bought an article of clothing and had a classmate take it to Mona in Taipei. My classmate was going to study Chinese in Taiwan during the summer of 1972.

During that same summer, Mona sent me a package with Chinese records and a cassette recording of her voice and that of her mother. I thought it was a perfect gift.

Our two-year long-distance relationship was able to last because I committed to returning to Taiwan in May 1973 to get married.

The day that I reunited with Mona was one of the happiest days of my life.

Photo is with my first wife, Mona, two sons, and younger sister, Pat.  Picture taken in 1986.

Photo is with my first wife, Mona, two sons, and younger sister, Pat. Picture taken in 1986.

A Long-Distance Relationship with My Second Ex-Wife

The long-distance relationship with my second ex-wife was most exciting. That's because we were only 110 miles apart and could often be together.

Around Christmas 1992, I met Danielle through a lonely hearts ad in the World Journal Chinese newspaper. I had recently divorced my first wife and was living in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Danielle was living in the northeastern part of Philadelphia. Only 120 miles separated us via Interstate Highway 95.

After our first meeting in January 1993, it was love at first sight. Within a short time, Danielle and I agreed to get married after she settled her affairs in Philadelphia. Danielle was employed as a nanny with a Jewish family and also owned a single rowhouse apartment in Philadelphia.

For the next three years 1993-1995, we maintained our relationship initially through letters but most of the time through phone calls and driving back and forth to be with each other.

I would usually drive up to Philadelphia on a Saturday night and spend a day with Danielle. Danielle would normally drive down to the Baltimore area on her day off during the week.

While in Philadelphia, we would often go to social activities at Danielle's Chinatown church and eat at a restaurant operated by her Chinese friend in the northeastern section. Sometimes we would go shopping.

When Danielle came down to see me, we always had activities planned. For example, we visited the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. in 1994. In 1993, we attended a Hakka Association picnic in the D.C. area and also made a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

We also made some long trips that I won't forget. During the last week of June 1993, we drove out to Wisconsin to see my parents and siblings. Later on in the year, we visited New York City and then drove up to Niagra Falls.

It was exciting whenever we got together. This made 1993-1995 one of the happiest times of my life.

Our long-distance relationship ended as 1996 began. Danielle finally quit her job as a nanny and was able to sell her Philadelphia property. She moved into my Maryland home and quickly found employment.

Picture taken at my youngest sister's wedding in Nov. 2002.  The woman in the red standing next to the author, Danielle, was my second wife.

Picture taken at my youngest sister's wedding in Nov. 2002. The woman in the red standing next to the author, Danielle, was my second wife.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 11, 2020:

Yes, Pamela, writing is a good way to get to know each other. I am very happy you think this article is interesting.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 11, 2020:

Hi, Devika! Yes, long-distance relationships don't work out for everyone because they can be so hard to maintain. I'm happy you liked my article.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 11, 2020:

Thanks for sharing the long-distance relationship between you and your husband. It is especially hard when you are so many miles apart.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 11, 2020:

I am very happy you liked this article, Umesh, Before it gets too late, there are many other memories I want to publish.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 11, 2020:

Yes, they can work but are very challenging. Thanks for commenting, John.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 11, 2020:

This article is interesting as you shared your past life. Things do not always work out as we think or hope. Long distance relationships can be good however. Writing is a good way to get to know each other.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 11, 2020:

Hi Paul you shared great memories and experiences about long distant relationships. It doesn't work out for everyone

Liza from USA on March 11, 2020:

My husband and I had a long-distance relationship before we got married in 2014. Before that event, we had known each other since 2008 through work. We have had ups and downs as the distance gave us a tension. It wasn't easy. He was in the US, and I was in Malaysia. Slowly, we have managed to conquer the issue, and we were so happy to be together now. Thanks for sharing yours.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 11, 2020:

Well narrated. You have preserved your memories well and put up them in black and white so nicely.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on March 11, 2020:

Thank you for sharing Paul. You proved that long distance relationships can work.

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