Living away from one’s home country, I’ve heard a bunch of stories from fellow Filipinos, from family problems, to fellow kababayans who spend a lot of time gossiping about their co-workers. But one type of story that always catches my attention is that whenever an acquaintance mentions that he or she is involved in a long-distance relationship.

Rare? I doubt. I know some people who are currently continuing their relationships with people they left in the Philippines. I know some friends who used to keep the same type of relationship, only to end it later on. Some older people here who learn some of the teenage immigrants’ status will quickly shrug it off, claiming that “such relationships won’t work” and “you can always find someone here in the city.” There are questions that arise though: Is it really true that long-distance relationships (LDRs) don’t work? Should we believe what the elderly say and dismiss the idea of maintaining a romantic relationship with a person that are thousand miles away from us?

Perhaps, both opinions are correct, but it depends on how the individuals involved will handle their situation. I have been in this kind of relationship before, and while I treat long-distance relationship as not that different from having your romantic partner easily within reach, there are some aspects of it that are really hard to deal with, particularly the fact that you don’t get to see or talk to each other as often as you want to. Sure, you promised to each other that you’re going to talk to each other every day, but with the adjustments that the other party has to do upon arriving to the new country, this would be very difficult. I’ve encountered people who are scolded by their girl or boy friends back home because they cannot send them text messages everyday, which, for me, is a bit too much.

Personally, I think that long-distance relationships are not for those people who are insecure, narrow-minded, immature and possessive. If you think that a day without a text means that the other party is just having a time of his/her life, then take that as a sign that you’re not suitable for this whole thing. Moving overseas, whether it is a temporary or a permanent thing, entails a lot of hard work-–fixing legal papers, looking for a place to work and a place to stay, adjusting one’s body clock, among other things. If you are used to seeing each other 24/7, then you have to make a huge adjustment. You have to give way. To put it simply, kailangang makibagay ka.

Long-distance relationships demand a lot of time and effort, but I think that this is not the reason for one (or both) parties to be too demanding to the point of damaging the relationship. Maintaining romantic ties with a person away from you means you have to understand each other more, compromise on your changing situations and discuss the things that you are experiencing. I cannot enumerate the things that a couple must do, because order and method varies from person to person. But to summarize it, do something to make the relationship simple and easy to handle. It’s not a piece of cake, but if the couple is up to it, then it will surely work.

So, are the oldies correct when they say that LDRs don’t work? Perhaps they are right when presented with the applicable examples, but I don’t think hearing these discouraging words will eventually discourage people to continue whatever relationship they have. Instead, look at it from a different perspective. If you think they’re wrong, then prove it.

Of course, some LDRs do not work–my experience as an example. Again, these kinds of stories and experiences shouldn’t be a way to weaken a couple’s spirit. It didn’t work for me–but it might work for you, we’ll never know. Again, we are talking about individuals here–people who have different views and perspectives and ways to handle situations.

Probably the best way to look at these kinds of negative experiences is to challenge them. If you think you’re up to this kind of straining and more demanding relationship, and if you really love the person you’re in relationship with despite of the distance, then prepare to work harder in order to maintain it. If you think it won’t work, then it won’t really work. Whether you’re ready to go the distance or not is up to you and your partner. But if the relationship worked despite of the difficulties, expect that the fruits of labor would be definitely be sweeter.

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Angela has been writing for since its inception. She finished her Psychology degree at the University of Manitoba and is currently completing her graduate school entrance requirements in Japanese...

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