Navigating Love Beyond Borders

Vector illustration of two lovers separated by distance. Image source - freepik.
Vector illustration of two lovers separated by distance. Image source - freepik.

Communication, patience, symbiosis. 

Everyone loves Love. And rightfully so, because true love is warm, affectionate, and transcends time or space. Like winning the lottery, you can find your expression of love within arm's length or not. However, what happens when the subject of your love decides to move far away from your reach. Read further to know the story of Oba and Sherlene.

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Send US dollars from Canada to over 100 countries at the best rates

Oba lives in the United Kingdom. Sherlene lives in the States. And they are both in love. 

It wasn’t always this way. At first, they both lived in Lagos Nigeria, juggling an insurance executive and management consultancy role in Lekki. Like most lovers- their days were spent with each other: loving, fighting, winning, and more importantly, living together. For four years life wasn’t perfect but they had each other, until life took a twist on their love.

You have moved from being lovers within arm's reach to lovers loving at a distance. How do you stay happy, and what are the secrets to your happiness?

The short answer is communication, patience, and symbiosis. The longer answer is that the most important thing is not to think of a happy relationship as a goal or some arbitrary thing you need to achieve. You are with someone because they fulfill some kind of emotional need, and you can't bear the thought of going through life without them and are ready to commit to another human. Life isn't always easy and your days aren't always filled with happiness, so I don't know why you'd expect your relationship to be perfect. One thing that should always be present is the love and sense of satisfaction with the relationship.  

A relationship is in constant flux of evolution and growth, so you must go through it constantly being attuned to the relationship as an organism and your partner as a separate entity, continually being aware of when, what, and where needs are tending.

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Your response is deep and detailed. And seems like you were prepared for a long-distance relationship. So what was your reaction when your partner told you they were moving across the world?

When that happened, we had been together for almost four years, so the relationship was pretty solid at that point and we knew each other pretty well. Some people may think that this would have made it harder, but it is the opposite. When you are with someone long enough, you become a unit: their wins are your wins, their goals are your goals, and everything you do is in service of the unit. They got an incredible opportunity in the States, and the thought of them not following that dream was unfathomable to me. It's not forever, and the times it gets difficult for me to be away from them, I remind myself that this temporary discomfort is in service to our relationship. That what will come from this will be beneficial to us.

I am sure you will agree that knowing something is beneficial in the future doesn’t exempt it from hurting in the present. How did you overcome the challenges peculiar to a long-distance relationship, particularly intimacy and loneliness?

Honestly, this hasn’t been linear. Typically, we aren't very...affectionate people in the traditional sense. We like physical touch and cuddling but don't really subscribe to PDA in public or even among our friends. Also, we aren’t always verbally affectionate. So it is safe to insinuate that our love language at some point was expressed in proximity, physical touch, and quality time. As you rightly said, losing that has been challenging but we try to make do with speaking on the phone every day. A lot of video calls too; honestly, it's not something that can be fully mitigated, we just have to tough it out.

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Referencing daily communication via video calls, text messages, etc. Do you think over-communication is a thing?

I would say there isn't anything like overcommunication, rather, a danger of not listening to your partner. Beyond just speaking, good communication entails good listening. We've had issues that caused a rift for days. When we revisited it, we realised that one person had communicated what they needed and what should be done, but the other person didn't listen and use that information, so the problem deepened. 

It's one thing to have a voice at the end of the phone saying "Yes, I understand, I get it" when you express a problem with the relationship or distance or anything. And it's a whole other thing to actually listen and take actionable steps to make sure your partner feels heard.

Beyond constant communication, what other love rituals help to nurture the spark in your relationship?

We aren't very sentimental people, but I'd say the only thing we do is make a point of starting and ending each day together, be it by text, audio call, or video call. This way we are present in each other's lives at almost every point in time. In the future perhaps, we hope to visit each other often and spend some time together. 

Many people have different misconceptions about long-distance relationships and the concept of it. What are some of those conceptions you find ridiculous or rather interesting?

It's really strange when people, especially anyone older than 25, assume that a long-distance relationship automatically equals an open relationship. To think a monogamous relationship can't be sustained without constant and regular sex is just weird to me. Like, did you not get laid in your youth? Do you not crave any deeper meaning in human connection? Or do you not want a partner to go through this shitshow of life with? 

I believe if you are lucky enough to find that person, then sex is not something that should break that bond. Plus, if you are in an open relationship in a long-distance relationship, you'd probably be one in a close-distance relationship. Simply put if you would cheat in a long-distance relationship, you'd probably cheat in a regular one as well. This is my controversial take. Everyone is entitled to theirs.

Would you say there are benefits to being in a long-distance relationship?

Maybe if you liked your space, took longer to form intimate bonds with people, or were asexual or demisexual, it might be ideal for you. Also, another upside could be that it serves as a strong indicator to the viability of your relationship. If you really want to settle down and cut through the mire that is the current dating pool, a long-distance relationship will test the relationship and help you discover insights with your partner before making any serious moves.

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Lastly, if you have the opportunity, will you still be in a long-distance relationship again?


This is interesting. I don't think people actively choose these situations, or maybe they do. I don’t know. But I think you can't choose who you fall in love with, or where they will always live. You can only choose what you do with that love, and as I said earlier, going into a relationship means you have found someone who you can't live without. 

So, if I said I couldn't do long distance with my partner, would that really be love?

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