The Girl Whisperer
as published by the Sunday Guardian
Long Distance Loving
We all know someone who has a relationship with another who's resident in North America, in Great Britain, in Eastern or Western Europe. “Where’s your fiancé”, you ask. “Ah, he’s abroad. We’ll be getting married soon” is the answer, or “We’re married, he’ll be home after he’s worked awhile”.
The reality of the economics of Africa has forced a large part of the middle class of this continent, abroad, in search of meaningful existence. In almost every family, there is a son or daughter away, sometimes up to three or even four, building new lives, setting up new homesteads, sending aid to the home front to make those left behind live more comfortable lives.
However, sometimes, relocation forces some to leave loved ones behind in the search for new frontiers. Married and unmarried partners often separate for many years, developing, maturing, away from each other because of the peculiarity of the economic situation. Others, believing home is best, develop relationships with potential mates back home, some whom they have never met, the relationship developing via e-mail and telephone conversations.
The point to ponder now- Can long distance relationships work? Can someone who lives six thousand miles away maintain a healthy relationship with a partner whom he or she rarely sees? I once had a neighbour whose husband lived continents away. For two years, she only spoke to him through the phone. I wondered about many things concerning that relationship. What happened when the man had the need to be physically intimate, when he wanted to spend time with another? Would memories of a mate thousands of miles away keep him on the “straight and narrow” path or would he seek intimacy at the hands of someone closer?
What happened in moments when he felt like sharing his joys, his achievements or his pain? Whom would he turn to at those times and wouldn’t whomsoever he shared these with, hold a bigger claim to his heart and his emotions than his partner back home?
There is a myth that women are not as susceptible to the need to be physical as men are, that women can stand long periods of separation from their men and not seek solace in the arms of others. I will be honest; there is very little difference between men and women in this regard. A man who is of the opinion that his mate can spend two or three years away from him and not fall into the hands of another, lives in wonderland and is probably dating Alice.
The things that can damage a relationship are not only things that have to do with intimacy.
The emotional growth or independence of one person in the absence of the other can be damaging as well. As a partner moves from one milestone to another, he or she begins to feel that there is nothing in common with the absent partner. When there is a reunion, if ever, there is a chasm that is sometimes too wide to bridge, a gulf between the partners that might be the beginning of negative things.
The dangers are a reality that few accept to face in their relationships, denial being the way many people cope with what is termed a necessary evil. However, the chances are high, that long-distance partners will wander, either in their hearts or in their bodies far from each other.
Partners should do their best to minimise separations except they are willing to risk wandering hearts and minds.
Some will say the Whisperer is not being realistic, and that the need to survive overrides minor things like separation for a couple of years. Maybe. The flip side is that if the relationship you are in, really matters to you and if you believe, you have found the love of your life, it would be wiser to shorten the period of separation between you and this person to an absolute minimum.