The day Ali popped the question was our 10th anniversary, Dec. 4th, 2015. Ten years of permanent long distance relationship, only interrupted by shorther or longer stays at his places in Venezuela and Barcelona and my places in Hannover, Karlsruhe and Berlin.
10 years! Whenever I tell people how long we have been together their jaws drop open, especially when they hear that all this time was spent in LDR. Why the hell would you do that?
Well, Ali and I met when we were faily young. We became a couple when I was only 16 years old, years away from finishing school, Ali, 21 at the time, still in university. I cannot remember if we have ever really talked about it in specific, but we must have – as we have always talked about pretty much everything (which by the way has sure been one key factor to why we are still together): But in my mind it was always pretty clear that we both should not let this relationship come between us and our education and dreams. After school it would have been much easier for us if I had started an apprenticeship. I would have earned a little money, gained experience on the job and a foothold in some company while after 3 years max I would have been trained and set for a permanent full-time position. That would have been the easy way.
But I did not want to look back years later regretting my decision. A decision I would have made for a relationship that by that time might not even exist anymore. I know many people in LDR are head over heels, and I sure was as well at some point, but when it came to life-changing decisions I have always been a stone-cold realist (maybe another reason why our relationship is so bold). Some people might think it’s egoistic not to step back for your relationship. I don’t think so, I call it survival. I have never been a risk-taker. So whatever decisions I have made in my life, they were always played on the safe side. It’s also healthy self-reference not to forget your own life, your own dreams, your hobbies, your friends, your family. Don’t give up what you cherish in your life apart from your relationship. I always knew that our relationship would benefit if I was at ease and peace with myself because I would channel this balance into it. In the end a relationship consists of two individuals with individual needs and personalities that need to be taken care of.
And Ali never pushed me. On the contrary he always backed me when it came to pursuing my dreams. He was happy when I was happy. Selflessness -another key factor to the survival of LDRs.
So after school (almost 5 years had passed) I studied public relations – a career very close to my dream job journalist/author but better paid ;) and afterwards did my M.A. in communication management. Not taking any unnecessary breaks, not going abroad, gaining job experience with suited internships and student jobs on the side but still performing above average *shoulder pat*. It wasn’t easy, it was exhausting and at times I felt like I knew nothing of this “student life” involving fun and parties that everyone talked about. This was my compromise, my sacrifice for our relationship: Getting done as soon as possible. Because if I got my way I should at least not waste any time. And still my university career took 5 years until I finally graduated last summer. And that is how easily 10 years sum up. The love for each other has maybe cooled down a little in terms of “settled” as it happens with every long-term relationship but it has become deeper and deeper. In fact, when I look at the two of us it reminds me of those old couples you somtimes see on the street, still holding hands. Isnt that what many people’s relationsip goals are?
And in a way all the decisions I have made have created a solid basis for our life together. I am finally full-time employed with a permanent contract, not earning very much but well enough to support us both. Not being able to do that was always my biggest fear but I have fought it with all I had. We are getting married on Sep 30th, 2016 and although I look back on the past 10 years with a warm feeling in my belly I cannot wait to call this LDR past.
Funnily this post was supposed to describe the day of our engagement. I guess, I’ll postpone that for another time ;-)
TLDR – Don’t forget about yourself in a LDR. Your self-confidence will bring balance to your relationship and make passing time much easier.