I am no relationship expert, far from one really if you look at my recent track record: I loved a mentally abusive man, pushed away someone who did nothing but treat me kindly and gave me all the attention in the world, and now I’m seeing someone that is beyond intelligent, kind, mentally sound (thank goodness), and adventurous, yet often I can still be apprehensive. How is that some days everything can seem how it should be, yet I still find myself comparing the present to the past? Why does human nature have to be so tormenting in this way? When is good finally good enough? Questions like these come up in conversation with not only my friends, but with random strangers who reach out to me hoping I can offer examples of my personal experiences.
Recently, meaning the past 8 months or so, I’ve been receiving many emails from young girls inquiring about things ranging from long distance dating to dealing with a painful breakup. Although I’m finally in a happy place in my life now, for some time I was finding it difficult to always respond to these ladies, because one I don’t think I have any authority on the topic and two I was selfish and didn’t want to reopen any wounds I had recently sewn together. But now that I feel myself again I can’t help but want to write an open letter, to any ladies or men for that matter out there who are looking for a friendly reminder that love, although difficult, is beautiful and loss, although painful, can provide learning experiences.
Without further ado, to those who have inquired and to any others who care:
One of the common themes of the questions I received were in regards to long distance relationships. Some people wondered if they are worth it and if so how to manage them. My advice to you, if you feel that you can’t imagine passing up an experience and chance to get to know someone simply because you don’t live twenty minutes from one another then give it a shot. There is nothing more thrilling than being separated for any period of time and being reunited. You will learn to love airports. You’ll probably also start to hate them every time you have to say goodbye to one another, but just know that at the end of the day they’re just a flight away. In many ways long distance relationships allow for even better communication as a couple, because you’re forced to talk more since you can’t be physically next to one another. Send handwritten love letters. Mail packages filled with your significant other’s favorite candies and knick-knacks. Rejoice in the fact that someone is thinking of you while you’re thinking of him or her.
If you are nervous about infidelity and think you can’t trust someone then I would say avoid the situation. Although nothing may happen it will damage your relationship all the same, because half of your conversations will turn into interrogation sessions over Skype and you’ll be the one losing by sounding like the crazy person when really you may have every right to be suspicious. The long distance relationship I once thought was a real-life fairytale ended up to be a complete nightmare that I’m still trying to escape, but that wouldn’t stop me from trying a relationship like that again – it’s not the distance, it’s the person you’re involved with.
And for those of you who are suffering from heartache, I am so sorry. If only it were as easy to fall out of love as it is to fall into it. The best advice I have been able to recommend for others, and that I’ve tried to follow myself, is to distract yourself. For me I picked up playing tennis again. I watched every old movie I had wanted to see but never got around to. I spent time with my family and closest friends. I tried new things (skydiving was incredible, but obviously not for everyone). I learned to enjoy being alone and independent again. I always had joy knowing I didn’t have to rely on another person for my happiness and finding that part of me again has brought so much more peace and self-love into my life.
At the end of the day though it isn’t always up to us – it’s up to time. If you really feel like your earth has been shattered don’t expect that feeling to go away within a week or a month or even a few months. It has taken me just under a year to recover and recognize I’m much better off how I am now. But, be prepared to have lingering thoughts when you finally do start to see someone new.
My last bit of advice to you, from all the advice I’ve been given, is to try and avoid the bitterness that is comparing someone new to someone old. Whether the prior relationship ended on mutual, as-friendly-as-possible terms, or if it was a tumultuous, soul-crushing split, all comparing will do is leave you in a flat-lining relationship. It is inevitably going to happen, but you can work hard to make a conscious decision to accept that people are different and if you chose them there must be something redeeming in them even if it’s not what you’re used to.
Before I get even more sentimental and start quoting things from Gone With the Wind (my go to Romance movie), I hope that this answers some of your questions and provides a little insight as to how I’ve managed to navigate the game of love and loss in this life I’m living. I sure hope those of you who may or may not be struggling find some solace in your lives soon, too.