Thomas and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last week… curry and wine on the balcony… just us… spending time together. But it got me thinking about my past relationships and how it is even possible that I ended up with someone who lived so far away when I long ago swore off long distance relationships!
Long distance relationship no. 1 – the next suburb is just too far away
My first long distance relationship was at the tender age of 17, with a guy who lived… in the next suburb. But given we’d met randomly while on holiday in New Zealand, didn’t attend the same school, and didn’t actually have very much in common… well for two young people with no drivers licence… it may as well have been long distance. I can count the times we actually saw each other in our brief two months of dating on one hand! And despite the fact that he was a lovely young man, when he rang me to break it off, I politely declined his offer of friendship, and left it at that.
Long distance relationship no. 2 – 3 ½ hours in the car is doable
The second one was much more serious – I was in my late 20s dating a guy who lived 3 ½ hours away in a country town. Despite the distance and all the challenges that come with that, it didn’t seem overly difficult. One of us made the drive every other weekend and it meant I got to split my time between the city and the country and enjoy the best of both worlds. But when it came to crunch time, both of us were reluctant to commit to moving permanently. I made long lists of pros and cons, thought deep and hard and asked just about everyone I knew for their opinion. Probably the best advice I got was from a girl who’d moved to Australia from Ireland to marry who basically said: “Well, if you’re questioning it instead of just doing it…” I stubbornly ignored this advice for months, before finally, reluctantly, admitting to myself that it was time to let go.
After that relationship ended I resolutely told myself that never again would I do long distance. It wasn’t worth the additional challenges that emerged when two different people from different locations came together. Though in the back of my mind, I absolutely knew that I would. For the right person, in a heartbeat, I would risk it all, no hesitation.
Long distance relationship no. 3 – 14,000km, a new culture and language… let’s give it a go!
And then I met Thomas. To be honest, when Thomas and I waved goodbye to each other after that first fateful night partying in Porto, I never expected to see him again. But it only took a few days together in Austria soon after to make us realise we wanted to try and make it work. The long distance thing was not an option because the distance was just too far. And since I was unemployed, I figured I didn’t have that much to lose. If things didn’t work out, all I’d done is extended my travels and experienced a different culture. Leaving with a broken heart after a month or two was better than not putting my heart out there in the first place.
It didn’t take us long to figure out we were highly compatible – put two people who don’t know each other well into a one bedroom apartment and you are forced to iron out the kinks pretty quickly, or cut and run. And for once in my life I just didn’t question it. It wasn’t that I experienced a gut feeling, a sign or anything that would indicate that he was definitely the one for me, it was just that there was no longer a question.
Which leads me to… why this one, out of all my relationships? Why did this one work? I think it’s a mix of three factors:
- Timing (physical): We were physically in the same place at the same time. And we were physically available – eg. Not in other relationships.
- Timing (emotional): After years of resisting the small loss of independence that comes from being in a relationship, I was finally ready to let someone look after me – we were both in the right frame of mind and we were both emotionally available.
- Connection: and this is obviously very important – we liked each other… a lot. There was physical attraction as well as shared values, hobbies, etc.
So no wonder it’s so damn hard for people to find boyfriends/girlfriends! All three factors need to be aligned (and probably more) at the same time, for both people. And no wonder people spend so much time in relationships that aren’t right, trying to work it all out – there’s a much higher chance you meet the wrong person than the right! But I’m glad I didn’t give up. Because no matter what age you are when it happens, it’s definitely worth waiting for.