Relationships are challenging!
Long distance relationships, separated by time zones and other life impetus, are incredibly challenging.
Not to say they are impossible, because they’re not. There are many examples of where they work, and thrive. They are some of the most romantic times.
But, you need a lot of optimistic energy, elevated levels of trust, and regular, genuine communication to give them a chance to work.
You have to put in the effort. It’s too easy to give up too soon. Patience.
The Fundamentals of Long Distance Relationships
You see this word everywhere: “communication”.
It’s not just essential in relationships, it’s probably the most important thing in the history of society. Humans need to communicate with each other more, and better.
Both of you have to be prepared to communicate regularly, and be sensitive to the other person’s preferences and personality.
Scheduling, and sticking to, a weekly video chat could be helpful. Stay regular.
Daily “hellos” and “good nights”, in scattered messages. Keep up a rapport.
This is where trust and openness is really going to make a difference.
There should be respect and kindness in all communications, and the known sensitivity that this is difficult for both of you.
When is your next date?
A next meeting point or general timeline is useful. You’ll both know how long the wait will be.
1 month? Easy. 3 months? Becomes more challenging, but time still passes quickly enough by knowing.
Even if it’s vague to start, but you’re both actively working and planning at it, will assure both sides that it’s realistically going to happen.
Be open and honest about all feelings.
It’s common to have doubts. Just don’t list a bunch of doubts and give up there, without even talking to the other person. Often, their voice alone, can help soothe the insecurities. Everything can be worked through.
Most importantly.. keep busy. Focus on your life, improving your own health, building your projects, and becoming an improved, wiser soul, by next you meet. Days will pass quicker.
Long Distance Relationships Can Feel Like a Break Up
You’re together day in, day out. Exploring the most exciting and beautiful places of the world, overcoming any challenges together. Communication is regular, deeper in so many ways. Romance ascends a new level.
You’re bonding closer and closer, and feelings drift towards continuing well into the future. You’re essentially the best friends in the world.
Suddenly, all of that disappears.
One or both of you have to be somewhere else, and you separate.
Time difference, distance, not knowing when you’ll next meet, distraction and reasonable temptation everywhere, and getting busy with your separate next phases of life, are all legitimate challenges.
Communication really dips off, and time zones make it more difficult to get in a routine.
That void you feel is similar to a break up – when the other person is out of your life.
Tip – if it’s feeling like a break up, please schedule a voice call with your partner! Remember to Communicate.
In fact, my recent experience felt like a break up, because, in the end, it was.
My Dream Relationship
I recently enjoyed the three best months of my life. We spent three months exploring South Korea together, while she was an exchange student in Seoul.
Nobody else will ever understand exactly what we went through, but we did so many things. An unbelievable amount of things. I am still processing infinite memories, and cannot believe how many differently vibrant ones there are. Every single day was fun and exciting – nearly 90 days. Every one.
From the absolutely whirlwind first weekend meeting outside Gangnam station and exploring a few areas, visits to two major National Parks across the country, some very exciting and spiritual nights exploring, ending Monday night where I didn’t have a guesthouse and we challenged ourselves to sleep on the streets. 🙂
After a few days school/work break, we enjoyed the two craziest, deepest and most connecting weeks of my life – on Jeju Island South Korea. Filled with magic, camping on glorious beaches, meeting incredible souls, crashing big parties, and discovering Korean food and culture along the way.
After the most prolific night near a Buddhist temple embedded in a volcanic mountain, we held each other on the rocks of our secluded oceanside camp spot. In a big gust of ocean wind, I told her I loved her. We talked about quitting work and school, and living a simple life together on Jeju.
The whole Jeju visit was so magical, poetic and reaffirming, it bonded us together forever in this lifetime.
The breathtaking return from Jeju, including overtaking a ferry’s karaoke room, being put in a hotel and bought dinner by that family, many cheap chicken/pizza/karaoke/soju missions, camping on several more beaches in Tongyeong and Busan. This was the first 2-3 weeks of our time together!
After Jeju, we still had 10 weeks together, mostly in Seoul. She would study from her university during the week, while I checked out different parts of the city and worked from there.
Weekends we’d come together – sometimes 4-5 day hang out sessions – and explore a new part of the country. We explored pretty much the whole country – including a couple of jaunts closer to the North Korean border. We woke up in all sorts of places – beaches, exhibition centres, a traditional Korean home, dozens of guesthouses, even a fancy, free 3-star hotel!
Lots of long bus rides, some train rides, a plane. Everything was fun.
If we ever met up during the week, it would be an exciting night – a brisk, long walk, finding the best food specials, and undoubted endless intellectual and spiritual conversations.
As the three months rolled by, we had a few challenges and some sad moments, but were closer than ever by the end.
I’ve never had such a connection with anybody. She was my best friend and lover. Everything was absolutely perfect. I would have grown old with her and was prepared to give everything for her.
Soul mates forming.
And then, it vanishes.
Long Distance Breakups are Extraordinarily Lonely
In my case, after our teary goodbye at Hongik station in Seoul, I headed to South East Asia for a couple of months, and she returned home to family in Hungary. The agreement was we would stay true to each other, keep in touch, and prepare to meet within the next 2-3 months in Berlin or Copenhagen.
That was a very busy time for her, as was her return to her place in Copenhagen, and while she was distracted with family and friends, I was on my own to process everything.
I was really starting to get in a positive groove and a powerful creative state. So overjoyed at what I had brought in to my life, ready to make the most of my wait. I checked in to a quiet retreat near Chiang Mai.
Unfortunately, all my positive mojo was shattered the next night when the property owner shamelessly intoxicated me and tried to have his way with me. It spoiled my vibe so much, yet another stain on a tough year. And I was back to the beginning again, alone and bitter, no one to share.
I didn’t take it well at times, and the dwindling communication exacerbated that. For weeks I was left to wonder what was going on, and had a growing feeling, particularly through my own needy actions and one ill-advised email, that the end might be coming.
The Fears and Doubts Were Realised
Sure enough, it did. After she hinted over an angst-riddled, sleepless weekend, on Monday the call came, and it was done.
She’d had such a hectic past 6 months, with people around her in her life all the time, she needed time to herself, and space for reflection.
No need for me to visit. Felt like I’d never see her again.
At the end of the day, I am many years older than her, she has 2-3 years of school remaining, and she reasons I “need stability now”. It was hard. It makes sense. We said our goodbyes.
A very painful week, for us both, followed. Slow days.
On the Thursday, I sent my final message to her, before blocking her on Messenger. This helps a lot, not waiting around for the other person to message, or know they’re online but are ignoring you for some reason.
They’re getting on with their life! They have friends and longtime activities around. When you’re the one traveling on the road, unexpectedly on your own path again, it’s going to feel so alone.
First of all, your plans have radically changed. You’re not heading to see them any more. Now what?
What are you going to do? Where are you going to go?
This is an understated useful exercise in that it forces you to remember your own path, and think about places and things to visit and do. Plus, you have to move on with *your* life. Now you can go almost anywhere.
The short term connections you meet on the road are not quite the same. Though they can be inspirational people that become friends. You often get a passing opinion of somebody who only knows the situation from your brief, biased current interpretation of it.
Pick up the phone and call a friend. Messaging will not cut it any more. Hear the voice of somebody who has known and loved you for years, and that anchor will give you strength and hope.
My dear old friend Evren called me the morning after the break up, and was incredibly uplifting and inspiring. He gave me hope. Reminded to put my focus and passion into myself, into my art. The rest will come.
Through this, you will see why phoning your next significant other once in a while is so important for a healthy long term relationship. A phone call, not usually my favourite thing, but in these instances they can really be useful. Hear it, feel it.
Focus on Improving Health
After recent experiences and sound advice from others, I challenge you to focus on health during a break up.
It’s common to start binge drinking, chain smoking and indulging in all sorts of vice to distract you.
Inevitably, each of these only leads to further depression when they wear off, particularly when you have to wake up to whatever behavior or actions come about as a result.
After my first few break ups, I drank a lot, I developed cigarette habits, and I was lost in a void for a long time – usually up to a year after each break up. Even though I might enter a more positive phase for a while, it would eat away at and affect me for a while to come.
Drinking, smoking and frequenting nightlife delayed me being honest with myself and taking the steps I needed to genuinely heal.
After my previous long term relationship break up – a lovely 3 year union with a nightclub manager in Melbourne – I chose the opposite tact.
Instead, I detoxed, which happened to be over the month of July.
It was still difficult, but there were so many positives that I wouldn’t do it any other way again.
First off, when your body is craving necessities like food, nutrients and whatever stimulants you enjoy, your body and mind are distracted by those pertinent, reptilian human requirements like starvation. It takes the emphasis off heartbreak a little. You know you’re healing in a lot of ways.
The other observation, was that I could visit bars and clubs – I had a DJ residency on Chapel Street in Melbourne during this time – and my clear headspace enabled excellent conversations. Not drunken or depressed ones.
I met switched on, smart women, and one even became a short term relationship for a while. I had to end it due to a combination of travels and not wanting to commit again for a while. In reality, she was my rebound, while I was still grieving for my recent loss. We’re still friends.
During this break up, I started with a water detox. Nothing but water – including fruit juice squeezed over water and ice – for over 24 hours – though 72 hours would be a lot more effective. Look up water detoxes – they can be very effective for regenerating cells, relieving over-taxed organs, and refreshing oneself.
Healthy works in a lot of ways – including your own mental challenge to head in that direction.
Remove Reminders and Distractions
The most painful artifacts will be their belongings, their gifts or letters to you, and their memories.
You can’t do much about the latter, but by putting them out of mind, you’ll cut down on so many triggers.
If there’s a folder or picture on your desktop with them, hide it. Remove their names, colours, photos, from day to day areas and spaces.
If you have to, temporarily block them from your Facebook feed and Messenger. You don’t need to see they’re heading to any events without you, or new photos with other people in them. Stop stalking their activities. Don’t look back at old messages.
Of course, there is a time while the breakup is fresh, that these reflective actions are part of the healing process.
When in yourself you are ready to make the next step to move on, remove reminders and distractions of them. Put them away, and be good to avoid them.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Remember that this isn’t forever. This is pain to deal with right now.
Give them and yourself space. You’ll be able to contact them again one day.
Distance Actually Helps
It might feel worse at first, with nothing you can do about the distance between you. Literally and figuratively. You can’t easily drop by their home or work to discuss things or try to change their mind.
As time starts to move on, the distance is a blessing. It helps keep them out of sight, out of mind. There’s nothing you can do about it.
You can focus on your current environment and travels, as difficult as that can be. I know from experience – I traveled around various tropical paradises in South East Asia, but was mostly consumed by heartbreak and sadness.
As each day unfolds, the journey becomes a little easier. Just expect some hiccups along the way.
Rebounds are common – pretty much the next person you hook up with or start seeing, is your rebound. Sometimes it’s an ex.
They are, unfortunately, a temporary bridge in this phase of your life, that can delay healing if you rush into it.
Some people think the best way to relieve themselves is to “get back on the horse”- by sleeping with somebody else as soon as possible.
Maybe this can be effective in the wake of a bad relationship, needing to turn the page – but ill-advised for a dream one.
This can cause even further distressing and complicated emotions. When it’s over, the absence of no longer having your love beside you in an intimate setting, can rattle your psyche for a while.
The other person is with you for one specific, moderately selfish need. After it wears off, it feels horrible. There can be a lot of guilt associated, too.
Don’t give any hints or clues to your former partner that you’re seeing people or have slept with anybody. Be really gentle. Keep that anonymous through the space and be mindful of feelings and fears during a separation.
I no longer go out of my way to meet or sleep with anybody. I focus on improving myself and my own energy, and live my life until the next wonderful encounter arises. Let women make the move – doubles as consent.
Note to anybody reading this who is thinking of taking advantage of a recently single friend while they are suffering – don’t be a predator. Leave them respectfully in their space to figure out things themselves. It’s going to cause pain and bad karma for everybody.
For me, my recent love was a very dear and special experience to me. My next intimate encounter will have to be special as well.
At this point, I still am only attracted to one single person in the whole world. That’s going to take some time to come down from.
Crying is Important
You can hold it in as much as you like. When you can’t hide it anymore, find somewhere quiet, alone and peaceful, and cry your heart out. Go for your life.
It’s going to hurt. Crying is a natural response that helps release the emotions of sadness. It’s therapeutic. It relaxes.
It really feels like whatever you had, MEANT something. You should find happiness, pride and gratitude in that alone.
I’ve tried to ponder this perspective – even if you are still together, those amazing times are in the past. You can never get them back. Break up or not, they are gone anyway.
And, in case you’re no longer able to plan future adventures, you can lie down, close your eyes, breathe, and repeat full experiences through your mind. Relive each and any of them in full – any time you like.
One of the few – but most powerful – positives out of the sad wake of ended relationships is emotional and creative inspiration. The songs you’re writing – mean more, have more feeling. You can lose yourself in writing and opening up. The dreams of life suddenly open up and mean anything new can and might happen.
The other, is that, you are clearing space in your life that will be filled again when the time is right.
That time might not be until you heal, so cry out every last tear, pour your emotions into your art and other creations, immerse yourself in nature away from society, and keep working at it.
Time will start to speed up ever so slightly again. Waking up each day becomes a micro fragment easier, day after day. Really try to observe that. Each day, the sting comes, sometimes at different times, but that sting loses its strength a little bit.
Tears will come for a while, often unexpectedly.
Look Forward to a Beautiful Future and Keep Dreaming
You just enjoyed one of the most incredible experiences of your life. No matter what, together or not, these memories are in the past.
Sure, maybe you will be able to rekindle something, after the sting departs for both of you – if it’s truly special, and meant to be, it will be, irrespective of challenges or other people’s opinions. It will take time, maybe years. You need to move past it for now.
You had this beautiful experience – you’re opening space for the next special experience to find you.
What were your dreams before you met this person? What are your new dreams now?
Surely there is something you really want to do, somewhere you want to go, or something new, inspired, to try.
Make plans to do something you’ve always wanted, and something to look ahead to.
Make sure you take time out in nature to think about you. No phones, technology, etc.
Another Sea Change
Just as my relationship itself was an unexpected love story in the book I’m writing, the split was an equal surprise. I wanted the book to end before I met her at the airport, but now I’m not sure what life is bringing me.
I soon have some work to do in India. That will be a crazy two months, while I dream of the romance and art of Europe.
The main motivation I have right now to make everything better is to save everything I can for a van to live and work from in Europe this summer.
The van life has been a dream for a while, and it now makes a lot of practical sense, considering the expense of rents in Europe.
What sort of people do I want to be meeting? Adventurous, conscious, intellectual, kind-hearted, positive and fun! Ultimately, somebody to travel and share the world with.
I think a van is going to help match me up with these qualities. A musician would be a real bonus. I think we could accomplish some really cool, fun things.
We could even drive to southern Africa before winter hits Europe..! As always, I ponder lots of possibilities.
I’m blessed that I live a very unusual, unique, free life. I am open to so many ideas and opportunities.
I’m told a lot that I am different. Somebody will want to be with me, and believe in me.
This gives me a lot of hope.
If you’re happy and excited in your own life, that’s the most important thing. What others are doing or feeling is not so important any more, when you are truly lost in your own life and art.
Go for a walk, right now.
Good luck with your long distance break up
I am so sorry you are hurting. Know that pain is temporary. Each day is a tiny, tiny step closer to the next time you will find joy, love and happiness again.
Focus on your health, and plan out some pretty cool stuff in your life to look forward to.
You’ll get there, and will forever love and appreciate the coming, exhilarating new stories of your life.
Dream on, and keep believing.
And, if it’s you, if you feel this same numbness that I do, that it’s all a blur. I miss you.
[Heading for walk now, National Park tomorrow]