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Long Distance Relationships - A Man's Perspective


It’s 6:30am, and the dreaded hour has come. She must rise up fast, or she will miss the 8 o’clock bus. Any attempts you subtly made to change her mind have failed.

You don’t want to insist too much, or you'll be branded a self-centered, inconsiderate brat, who can't appreciate the importance of her new job across the country.

As she packs her last pair of pants, you watch quietly, wondering whether she needs some assistance. Your heart is heavy with feelings you can't explain. For some reason, the clock is ticking faster than usual. You decide to go to the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea, to warm her up before she confronts the morning chills. But before you're even done heating the water, she calls from the bedroom. “Honey its almost time... ” you abandon the kitchen and rush to help assemble the bags into the car trunk.

As you drive to the bus station, you re-affirm each other’s feelings and promise to always stay in touch. Your eyes are almost teary as she gets onto the bus, but you re-assure yourself that all will be well.

It has been five weeks since she left. Your cell phone has been a companion you can’t live without. Phone calls, texts and mail flowing endlessly.

But today something is different. You sent a good morning text, three hours later no response. You try calling only to catch the voice mail. You are a brave man so you decide to wait. May be she is occupied with some stuff. You try to find something to occupy your mind, to kill time. But you take a peek at the phone every 15 minutes, in case a message popped up without catching your alert ear. But nothing seems to be showing up. You miss her so much that it hurts.

It’s now the second day, and she has not been answering her phone. There is this unbearable heavy feeling in your chest. A terrible feeling of uncertainty sadness, emptiness and disbelief. It’s too heavy on your mind, you can’t even think straight “What is she up to,” you ask yourself silently. “Does she miss me even a little bit? is she sick? Is she seeing someone else?” You have sent mail explaining that you are worried, but all in vain.

Finally you give up and sit gazing out of the window, like she'll walk through it the next minute. You are hopeful that the phone will ring. Despite all the people around you, you are feeling so lonely it is driving you crazy.

The phone eventually rings. You rush to receive it with excitement, only to find your boss calling from work to remind you about the assignment you failed to hand in on time. You are now so angry, you want to smash the phone. But you know it cost you a fortune. You answer the phone and try to speak as calmly as possible, but it’s so hard, that your boss at the other end of the line can feel you struggling.

As you get used to the idea that she is unable to talk to you for whatever reason, and may be unable to call you back for a few more hours, (or days), you start noticing that new babe at the reception who has been eyeing you over the past few days, but you are too drained to make a move.

When your sweetheart eventually calls you back, she has an explanation for the long silence. Whether you should believe her reasons or not, is a story for another day.

The point today is this: regardless of how long you have been together with your partner you will experience some, all, or more than the feelings expressed in this story. Different people will handle the situation differently, depending on their life experiences.

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Why men fail at long distance relationships

Long distance relationships can be very challenging and difficult to sustain especially for men. In fact, research shows that about 55% of all such relationships are likely to fail.

If you're a man and have been in a long distance relationship before, you possibly have an idea of what am talking about. If you haven’t, or if you're completely new to it, just keep reading.

You have finally found the woman of your dreams. The person your heart desires, the one who makes your world spin. You have been moving out together for a few months and your relationship is growing stronger by the day.

Then one day the inevitable happens. One of you has to move to another city or country (or planet, for those like me who believe in life away from the sweet earth). It could be for many different reasons. May be she has landed a scholarship at the world’s biggest college, or you have found that irresistible dream job with an eight figure salary.

Whatever the reason for saying the painful goodbyes, the outcome is never pleasant, and men are affected by the distance as much as women.

Although there're many reasons for the failure, the biggest issue for men is the physical separation caused by the distance, which limits intimacy and efficient communication.

Men are normally less verbally expressive when it comes to their feelings. They are more inclined to act, rather than speak out about how they feel. The modes of communication available in a long distance relationship therefore make it harder for men to express their feelings especially as time goes by. The lack of physical presence limits non-verbal expression of love, which is the man's main strength in the relationship. This can cause a lot of frustration for both partners, because the man will be less verbal over time, and thus come off as less interested.

Then there is the issue of communication, which cuts across. Research shows that 60% of the people we communicate with take as much importance in what we say, as our facial expression and body language when we speak. Yet phone calls and texts do not allow perception of body language. It is therefore common for messages to be miss interpreted when they are sent via modes that do not allow physical expressions. This can jeopardize an otherwise successful story.

The other reason is lack of physical intimacy. When love is communicated through texts, mail and phone calls most of the time, the relationship is deprived of the thrill and benefits of intimacy and physical company. Because men are more physical in their expression of love, they are likely to run out of ideas over long periods of time away from their partner, which can cause boredom in the relationship.

Long distance relationships are no easy task, but with a little trust, understanding and patience from both partners, they can be fulfilling.

Before I met my girlfriend, I had decided to relieve myself from all the stress that comes with relationships. I had successfully convinced myself to take a break from dating (since my previous relationship was a disappointment) and concentrate on growing myself into a better man socially and financially.

Olivia however swept me off my feet, and made me forget all the promises I had made to myself (not that am a man without principles or anything of the sort. It’s just that she is a very special woman). Before I knew it, I was head over heels for her, because she made me feel things I had desired for a very long time.

The only constraint was that she was in school, while I was working in a town over 300 kilometers from the capital, where she was studying. This was my first serious long distance relationship. The experience was new and overwhelming, but we made it work one way or another. So can you.

An important step is to embrace those feelings, accept the challenge and try hard to make it work. There is no harm in seeking support from someone more experienced.

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© 2014 Ian Batanda

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