Q&A with Steffani Taylor

Guest General advice about LDRs

Later this week, Steffani will be bringing us a two-part post on 10 Things You Can’t Underestimate When It Comes To Long Distance Relationships. In the meantime, here is a bit more about her own story…

How did you meet your partner?

Years ago at youth camp. The summer before my senior year of college, I moved to Florida for an internship. The church I worked for sent me to a Christian youth camp to be a counselor. My partner also happened to be a counselor at the same camp. Though the details are a little fuzzy after so many years, I still vividly remember the first time he introduced himself to me, and that by the end of the week, he had asked for my number.

SteffaniTaylorWhat is your current situation?

(Sigh) Still doing the long-distance thing. My partner and I have known each other for eight years, dating only about 9 months of that. What began as a long-distance friendship gradually turned into a deeper relationship over the years, and by January of 2012 we were officially dating. For several months, we “dated” via the internet, then broke up, and eventually took a long hiatus from communication. I in particular needed time to nurse that wound.

We reconnected in March of this year, and officially began dating again in May. We met up briefly in the States, giving us just enough time to rekindle our romance before I returned to my work with an NGO in Liberia, while he went on to complete a business internship in Myanmar. A long distance relationship continues to be a reality for our near future, although my partner has plans to chase me down and join me in Liberia next year.

What’s been one “benefit” of being in a long distance relationship?

We are both richly blessed with community. We each have meaningful friendships all over the world, different people we’ve met through our own travels who speak into our lives as individuals. This is healthy, and perhaps not something we would have cultivated if we had been in the same place. Plus, between the two of us, we’re pretty much guaranteed a free place to stay almost anywhere we travel.

What are some things you’ve found most difficult about being in a long distance relationship?

Technology blips, erratic connections, awkward lulls in conversation, and the big one, not being able to hug him when I feel like it (or when I need one). Though distance is our ‘normal’ (feels like we’ve been doing this forever already), we’ve reached a point where we need to be together in the same place. Though this is a forecast, trying to find meaningful jobs on the same continent, not to mention the same country, time zone, or even city, will definitely prove challenging.

Tell us about a romantic or happy moment in your relationship.

Recent romantic moment was earlier this summer my boyfriend visited Japan, where I lived last year. I would have given anything to be there with him, showing him around, explaining all the astounding tidbits of Japanese culture that I experienced. He visited a park in Tokyo, stood under a huge metal-heart sculpture, extended one arm out to the side, and had someone snap a picture.

He later tagged me next to him in that photo and declared his love for me on the internet! He knew how much it would mean to me if I were there with him. Well, he definitely gave me the next best thing! And I just have to add that the “happy moment” are actually many happy moments, when I receive an email, message, or call from my boyfriend, he still gives me goosebumps and butterflies.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself from being in a long distance relationship?

It’s easy to receive mixed messages about what we “deserve” in a relationship. As a Christian woman especially, people and culture have been telling me for years what kind of relationship I deserve, or what kind of man I need. That message, sometimes leaves me feeling entitled to more attention, affection or affirmation. Though I know my boyfriend loves me, I just set myself up for disappointment if I wait on him to make me feel loved all the time.

Maybe that feeling is important in brand new relationships, but in a longer-term relationship, I’ve learned it’s more about how you care for each other through the messiness of life, and whether or not you choose to stick it out with this person another day. I’m finding myself wanting to choose him over and over again, and as I do, those feelings of “what about me” just fade away.

Do you have any words of advice for other people in long distance relationships?

Hang in there. It’s not easy, but if you’re with someone who’s committing to a long-distance relationship with you in the first place, then there’s potential. Stay invested, and don’t let distance be the reason you pull away. Talk, or write, candidly. Ask purposeful questions. You have a unique chance to get to know someone through words and conversation, something that often gets lost in mix of typical western dating where you may be spending lots of time doing activities together, but not really communicating. Oh, and prayer doesn’t hurt.

Steffani L. Taylor (Monrovia, Liberia)
Blog: Now & Then     Contact:   Facebook

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