It’s the phone call you dread, the email you don’t want to open.
“Honey, there’s this job, this mission, this unexpected and unavoidable development. Can we do this for a little bit longer?”
Often when you are in a long distance relationship, there is an end in sight: a contract to finish, a deployment to complete, a goal to meet.
But sometimes that end moves a little further out of reach. What do you do when you realize you won’t be reunited as soon as you thought?
Is it worth it?
You probably already ask yourself this question every time you say goodbye for what feels like the millionth time, or you have to attend yet another social function alone.
In my case, a long distance period that was supposed to last for a year and a half was prolonged by a year. Twice. Over the course of those three and a half years, I had to assess whether the cons (loneliness, expensive travel, constantly delayed gratification, a relentless sense of longing) outweighed the joy I felt every time we were together. Was I willing to pay that price on the strength of our hopes for the future?
You may find that the distance has become more than you can handle, and it’s time to say goodbye.
If you make this decision, it is better to let your partner know this clearly, and as soon as possible, so that you can both make a clean break.
It’s important to talk through the options with your partner as soon as the possibility arises.
Never simply make a decision assuming that your partner is okay with a little more long distance. Discuss things with them before you commit.
You need to learn what they think and feel about this new possibility and how the distance between you is affecting them. They deserve the right to express their thoughts and feelings before it’s a done deal.
Even if you seemingly have no choice in the situation, make sure you talk things over thoroughly. You don’t want to end up resenting each other, and not talking in detail at these sorts of crossroads is one way to feed resentment.
It’s always desirable to have an end in sight for your long distance separation, however it may not be possible to select a definite end date when you are subject to the whims of employment and circumstance.
So set up some sort of action plan for the medium term.
For example, you may not be able to move to the same place as planned, but can you arrange a visit? You may not know what opportunities will come up in the future, but can you agree on a time to next reassess your situations together?
If you decide to stay in the relationship, don’t sit around for too long feeling sorry for yourself or waiting for things to change.
You have to focus on your own needs in your own home.
Do well at work, spend time with your friends, try some new activities. Refocus on all the other things in your life.
I started writing and embraced life in a new city when I couldn’t be with my sweetheart. When we were reunited, I was better at writing and better for having written during our time apart.
Hopefully, you will be together some day, but because you have to live your life apart from your partner for now, live it well.
What is your advice for surviving shifting goal-posts in a long distance relationship?
Shannon Young (Hong Kong)
Blog: A Kindle in Hong Kong
Book: Year Of Fire Dragons: An American Woman’s Story of Coming Of Age In HongKong