Round Table Discussions; The Ladies Tell It All

This week at the round table discussion we talk to Ten ladies about their experiences in long distance relationships. From United Kingdom to West Africa, Britain to Sudan, they discuss the ups and downs, how they handle conflicts when they arise, how they cope and make their relationships survive the distance.
Enjoy the discussion.

Lets Meet the Ladies

Tanya: 28yrs, Lawyer (Kampala, Uganda)

Tiff: 27 yrs, Student (United Kingdom)

Minah: 25 yrs, Portal writer and Journalist (Nairobi, Kenya)

Martha: 24yrs, Lawyer (Nairobi, Kenya)

Grace: 24yrs, PR Officer (Nairobi, Kenya)

Diana: 24 yrs, Stylist, Uganda

Nelisa: 24yrs, Communications Director, Kenya

Esther: 24yrs, Marketing Research assistant (Nairobi, Kenya)

Irynne: 23yrs, Management Trainee, (Nairobi, Kenya)

Janericka: 22 yrs, Student (Kisumu, Kenya)

1. How long have you been (or were you in) in a long distance relationship?

Tanya: 3 months, but we had been dating for 5 years.

Tiff: 4 months

Minah: 2 years

Martha: Four years

Grace: A little over 3 years now

Diana: 2 years

Nelisa: 3 years

Esther: 7 months

Irynne: 2 months

Janericka: A little over a month

2. How far are you (or were you) from your significant other?

Tanya: I was in Europe, he was in Kampala.

Tiff: I’m not sure – about 3 hours by train

Minah: My significant other is in West Africa (Republic of Niger), way across the continent.

Martha: A millions of miles away in Europe

Grace: He lives in Eldoret, I live in Nairobi. That’s about 400 KM apart.

Diana: Approx. 2021 KM away, we are three countries apart.

Nelisa: He is in Sudan

Esther: 14 hours away, his in Australia

Irynne: My sweetheart is an ocean away in the land down under in Australia! Miles n miles away (insert sad face)

Janericka: He’s in UK

3. Were you prepared to deal with this level of commitment and what fears did you have?

Tanya: Initially yes, we both thought we were. The fears were the usual ones, desertion, deceit, infidelity. But infidelity was the most prominent one.

Tiff: I wasn’t really keen on the idea of dating long distance because it limits the amount of time you have to get to know each other but my boyfriend convinced me that we’d make it work (when he asked me out)

Minah: I was prepared to deal with the commitment that comes with the distance. I dated my boyfriend for about a year before he left, and so I full well knew that we had to build a strong foundation before he left. I knew what I was getting myself into and I was ready to face the demands of a long distance relationship.
My greatest fear was that we would grow apart because of the absence of physical presence but so far, we are still as close as ever. I also had a fear of whether I would adapt to his culture or even survive in his country if we get married! Lol.

Martha: Yes I was prepared. The fear was I didn’t think I could really keep up with the challenges involved but with time I learnt to embrace and deal with every challenge that came my way.

Grace: I was not prepared at all. In fact, the fact that I was in a LDR sunk in after about 4months later, because when he met, he was on leave for about a month, so we spent a lot of time together that month. It wasn’t until his leave was over and he went back to Eldoret that it occurred to me that I was dating someone who lived far away. But by that time, it was too late, since I already really liked him and felt like having a LDR was something I was willing to explore.

Diana: No, I wasn’t. Worrying that as soon as he left he would forget about us

Nelisa: I wasnt prepared for the LDR but with time i learnt to deal with it. I feared that he would find someone else to replace me and that he would be unfaithful.

Esther: It never crossed my mind. I have friends who did long distance relationships but I never thought that one day I would be one of them. I had fears that it would not work out and that maybe I wouldn’t handle the distance.

Irynne: I found out he was leaving last year, 5 months before, so I was psychologically ready for it. I miss him terribly though! My greatest fear was us growing apart, him developing new interests and forgetting about our interests together and vice versa but that has not happened so am resting easy

Janericka: Yes I was prepared but I feared what would happen when it came to our physical intimacy.

4. What are some things you considered or questions you asked your significant other before you got into the long distance relationship? E.g. expectations and boundaries to prevent future misunderstandings.

Tanya: We promised to be faithful to each other for the 10 months that I would be away. Unfortunately it didn’t work, he cheated and I called it quits as soon as I found out. In retrospect, we should have parted before I left to avoid the heartache.

Tiff: How often we would realistically be able to see each other (and we agreed he’d be doing most of the travelling because I’m a student and can’t afford to travel often); we were not to date anyone else and we would be extra patient in taking time to learn and understand each other’s habits since we spent little time together and talk about everything to death to make sure we understood each other’s views (even if we didn’t agree with them)

Minah: We both asked questions…. Like are you serious about a future commitment? How do you intend to communicate, for how long will you be gone before you come back…etc. we had to establish a high level of trust, so that if anything came up, either of us would be free to broach the subject and we would talk about it. This helps us solve misunderstandings and conflicts. Once the level of trust is up, then boundaries are easy to set and some things are obvious. Like no flirting …etc

Martha: We discussed whether he’s serious about the relationship, how often he was going to visit me and how often he would communicate. Thank God for chat rooms because we chat like every day at least we keep in touch

Diana: He wasn’t supposed to be away for that long so we had never really discussed LDR. But sometime back we agreed not to waste each other’s time. i.e if either of us meets somebody else we would move on.

Nelisa: We promised that we would be absolutely honest with each other, we discussed communication and how often and visits and after how long.

Esther: He was point blank about him being in the relationship for the long haul. When you get the right person the sense of commitment just gets into you and you know the right thing that you are supposed to do when your partner is not around. E.g. being faithful.

Irynne: Before he even knew he would leave, we knew that what we were in this for the long run so this was definitely temporary separation for us. We are committed to each other and therefore keeping boundaries is something that we continue to do as we focus on the bigger picture!

Janericka: I wondered if it was worth it, long distance relationships are usually a bad idea in my opinion, but somehow I have found myself in one.

5. Separation sometimes can feel like torture, how do you cope with the distance and hold your interest levels in each other despite this distance?

Tanya: It was torture. There were lots of phone calls, email, IM’s but unfortunately it didn’t help with the infidelity.

Tiff: Sometimes it feels unbearable and I consider breaking up with him because it’s extremely difficult and often feels lonelier than being single but we talk everyday so it’s bearable most of the time. The fact that he’s so patient and sure of our relationship makes it easier to be patient.

Minah: You are right in saying that separation can be torture! Constant communication is the keep; always keep in touch and if you feel that the other is too quiet, don’t jump to conclusions, feel free to ask what is happening. We always have a lot to talk about and we are not afraid to air our different views, we reaffirm our love to each other constantly, we pray together and for each other, we chat, email, call, Skype, whatever it takes to keep us a float!

Martha: I know he prays for me and I do the same, plus if am stressed he’s the first person to know. We have this thing that we shouldn’t keep any secrets from each other .For now am satisfied with where have reached and there’s no turning back.

Grace: We talk a lot, we also tell each other when the loneliness starts checking in. Sometimes an emergency visit may be required!

Diana: Keeping in touch on all levels helps plus having the right attitude. If u get into a LDR but all the while thinking that LDR’s never work, it’s bound to fail. The way I see it, somebody’s persona doesn’t change because of distance. Appreciating that keeps the interest levels in place….for a while (lol)

Nelisa: Most importantly is the trust i have in him, I trust that he will honor and treasure our relationship. Secondly I put my relationship in the hands of God and as we work together as a couple, we pray that God keeps protecting our love and helping us to nurture it.

Esther: At first it was hard because we started dating when he was out of the country. There are times you want your partner near for the obvious reasons like company, but we made sure that constant communication was what would make this work. So involving each other in our day to day activities makes us feel closer at least it covers the loneliness part.

Irynne: Separation from my sweetie and best friend is tricky! There are times I tell him to just get on a plane and come back!! But it’s not that easy. So to deal with it, we talk every single day! Since he left we have been in constant communication, through calls, texts, facebook e.t.c We update each other on everything that’s going in our lives. Am still in touch with his boys and family and that helps because it helps me know I still belong despite the distance!

Janericka: We talk at least once every week

6. Do you schedule communication or visits and how often?

Tanya: There was no scheduled communication since I was just three hours ahead of him. (Time zone)

Tiff: We talk everyday and visit about once every 2 weeks.

Minah: We don’t schedule communication, anytime is communication time. That is unless there is a possibility that one of us will not be available for some time (e.g. I may have gone to a place without network or am in a meeting etc). We chat every day. Visits are hard for us, (it involves 1000 USD to make a trip) we make do with what we have for now.

Martha: Yeah we do schedule but he does most of the travelling. In future I’ll be travelling when my schedule is less busy.

Grace: We talk at least 5 times a day on the phone! (Zain makes it possible) But we make sure we see each other at least once a month. Sometimes it’s hard and we may not see each other for months due to conflicting work schedules and such things. Usually we agree, who’s visiting who. I end up going more often because it’s easier for me and we spend more quality time together rather than when he has to come to Nairobi.

Diana: Yes we communicate, visits have been scheduled but I couldn’t make it due to work commitment. We talk around 4times a week.

Nelisa: We communicate daily on chat, text each other everyday, talk on phone 3times a week and schedule visits after every 1 and half months.

Irynne: We don’t schedule communication, he’s seven hours ahead of me but we can talk whenever we want to. As for visits, it’s only been two months! He should be coming back next year but you never know with love, so for now, am just going with the flow!

Janericka: Yes. His first visit will be in January

7. What kinds of problems come with long distance relationships?

Tanya: Infidelity, mistrust, poor communication and deceit.

Tiff: I miss him all the time and all the time you spend together never feels like enough. You have to find patience (or learn it) so that you don’t start complaining about how infrequently you see each other, it takes much longer to learn to read the other person’s body language and facial expressions because you spend so little time together, you have to trust the person absolutely (because you have no idea what their life is like when they’re not with you(apart from what they tell you)

Minah: Problems, I would call them challenges instead. For us, since we come from totally different cultures, adaptation to some things is difficult. Plus I have to learn his language (He speaks French most of the time, and so does his family, I totally don’t! lol) Some of the things that we would like to do are impossible. Such as going out for a movie, picnics, just chilling out together, hugging and playing. May I add that trust is NOT an issue with us.

Martha: Don’t even remind me, the loneliness is just too much. Worrying that he will get tired of the distance, the jealous ex-factor, malicious stories from unknown people which have no basis. But now am less worried.

Grace: Well, the first obvious problem is the lack of physical closeness/intimacy. When you’re in love with someone, you want to be able to hold them, kiss them, even small things like seeing their facial expressions or having a conversation at the end of a long day is something you really miss. Also, shared experiences which help couples bond are greatly reduced.

Diana: Insecurity, this leads to mistrust and a whole heap of other things. I think that is the biggest one.

Nelisa: Insecurities and the lack of trust, trying not to overcrowd each others space in the name of communication.

Esther: Being in sync with your partner sometimes can be a task, maybe he’s working while you aren’t so one may want to talk but the other doesn’t not because they don’t care but maybe because the timing is wrong for one partner. So if maybe you send a text and it’s not replied to soon one can feel bad, but eventually you understand and learn to handle such situations.

Irynne: Personally I haven’t experienced any problems. I have only experienced the normal missing and wanting him close. Recently I went through a dark time after losing my grandfather and I really wished he could be here but he was there for me despite the distance. Not having him here is the biggest challenge for me but we are coping well. I know it sounds unreal but we established a solid foundation long before he left so I know that he knows and I know that this is a done deal. (Insert smiley face) It’s only a matter of time!

Janericka: It tests your trust in your spouse and also your own personal patience. Many times I’ve thought of calling it quits.

8. How do you handle conflicts when they arise?

Tanya: I just let it go at the time. Sometimes the stress isn’t worth it.

Tiff: Luckily my significant other, unlike most guys, likes to talk about something until he’s satisfied with the answer. Also, we live in the UK and phone contracts usually offer a lot of minutes so we can have long conversations over the phone often.

Minah: Conflicts are a good thing; they strengthen a relationship because you get to know each other’s responses to certain issues. Three main factors that we agreed on as we solve conflict:
1). Remember that I love you
2). I will always treat you with respect (that means I will be fair in my view, no shouting, name calling etc)
3) Sometimes we will have to agree to disagree. With this in mind, if there is a potential conflict, we chat about it… if one party is annoyed, we give each other time to cool off first and then talk about it. Communication, communication, communication is key factor in solving conflict.

Martha: We deal with them at that moment, we don’t postpone lest the conflicts worsens. To be honest I can’t sleep when something is tugging at my heart not unless I deal with it at that point that’s the only way I can move on….as for him he asks question point blank and he doesn’t sugar coat it I guess this helps solving conflicted.

Grace: We talk about them. That’s one thing that we agreed on when we started dating, that we were both mature & were not going to play manipulative games. We would resolve problems when they came up and find resolutions.

Diana: Talk through them and we try to remain realistic through it.

Nelisa: We talk it out. I’ve learnt to apologise if am on the wrong, to change my attitudes on some things and to accomodate my partners shortcomings.

Esther: We fight like any other couple, my boyfriend hates fights so he lets me cool off first then we talk about the matter at hand and come up with a solution.

Irynne: We talk it out!!!!Is there another way? We haven’t had a major conflict since he left but I’m sure we would stay up on the phone till we resolved it. We decided never to go to bed angry! Life’s too short man! It’s bad enough that he’s far and fighting would only make it worse so the sooner we sort it out the better!

Janericka: Argue them out.

9. How do you make your relationship survive?

Tanya: To make a long distance relationship survive, you have to keep your promises to each other. It is hard, but it is possible.

Tiff: Lots of talking, patience and trust (and we like each other a lot) in some ways, having so little time together means we make the most of the time we do have and it’s awesome.

Minah: Really, that is a hard question. God is a large part of our relationship; we strive to put Him first. He sustains it. In the mean time we don’t take it for granted that it will work out, we do our part; talk constantly, text etc. plus we trust each other and love each other deeply.

Martha: By staying in touch, we try everything to be connected. We send each other cards, and basically keep the communication lines open.

Grace: The first thing is that we pray love, then commitment. We love each other deeply and strive to put the other first. We are also committed to making it work and we both know that we’re in it for the long haul. It’s not just a short term adventure.

Diana: Trust in God; I can’t be too sure its surviving but I can’t be hang up on it either because at the end of the day what will be, will be. So I live each day as it comes, do my part and leave the rest to God.

Nelisa: Four words; God, Trust, Understanding and Friendship

Esther: I remind myself everyday that my man loves me and I love him too and that am in this relationship because I chose to be in it, so I’m giving it my best shot

Irynne: We talk all the time about all things! It also helps that we know what we want in the future, and that’s to be together(soon)so we are both focused on that and working towards it!

Janericka: Actually I’m not entirely sure it’ll survive, as I said before, I’m highly skeptical of long distance relationships.

10. What advice can you give anyone getting into a long distance relationship?

Tanya: I would never advise anyone to have a long distance relationship. It is just way too much torture. One person is bound to slip, even if they don’t mean to.

Tiff: Don’t get into a LDR unless you trust the person’s character and integrity completely and you have some way to communicate as often as possible and don’t sweat the small stuff, make every minute you have together count.

Minah: Advice?? Pray for extra grace, be patient, don’t get yourself into it if you are not willing to pay the price (loneliness, doubt, fear trust etc), don’t nag, be clear in your communication of what you expect from each other and have fun while you are at it!

Martha: As for me is that you must really really love that person and be honest and clear of what you want and what you expect from the other person.

Grace: The one advice I would give to anyone getting into a relationship not just a LDR is, be honest with yourself. Is whatever arrangement available going to work for you? Are you willing to stick to it and love that person? If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, then the rest follows. Be committed and don’t play games. If it won’t work, it won’t work and that’s OK too.

Diana: I’d say you can’t say you won’t give it a try simply because it didn’t work out for someone else. It’s not easy-no doubt, but with the right mind-set, it can work.

Nelisa: I would advice couples to focus on the stars and not the bars. Most times in LDR’s couples focus on the complications and hence dont give 100% to the relationship but like any other relationship, give it your best!

Esther: Long distance relationships are hard but manageable don’t get into one when you don’t know what you want from the relationship.

Irynne: My advice to anyone who is about to be in a LDR is;
First know if the relationship has a future. Do you see yourself together forever or is it just something for now? It will be less heartache if its long term and you are both committed because things will just naturally fall into place.
Secondly, don’t listen to people and what they think about LDR’s. Everyone has their own experiences and you must walk your path!
Thirdly, keep in constant communication. Talk! Talk! Talk! About anything and everything, all the time!!
I cannot stress this enough, TALK!
Fourth and lastly, enjoy the break! Use this time to discover more about yourself and do your thing! Build yourself and ultimately you will be building your relationship.

Janericka: No advice but one thing I’ve learnt is that one needs to be absolutely in sync with their partner and full commitment from both parties is necessary.

Have any thoughts or comments about long distance relationships, leave us a comment.

Previous Round Table Discussions;
Your Girlfriend, Her Girlfriends& Your Relationship
Of Men, Attraction & Women’s Body Image

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