Contributed by Tey Empeno
For the five years I’ve been in a long distance relationship, I can pretty much say it wasn’t easy at all. I firmly support the idea that every couple is different and we cannot just judge anyone who cannot be of the same preferences as ours. As for me, one thing is for sure. Every relationship should demand respect. I know the word demand seems like it comes from quite a negative tone in my claim. Especially when it comes to relationships. Some people will probably say that it shouldn’t be demanded rather instantly given. I used the word demand for the simplest reason. That’s how it worked and still works for us. I love the idea that both of us instilled in each other that respect is the key point to a successful relationship. I would never had survived our relationship if it wasn’t for that. You have to make your partner feel from the very start that it should be the basic principle you want to establish. Make him/her feel that you are worthy of his/her respect because that’s very different from assuming or expecting that it will be given without prior demands. Besides, not all people are the same and sensitive. Not everyone has the same idea of loving.
We’ve been together for almost seven years and I can say we’ve really been through a lot. On the second year of our relationship, we started this thing called LDR and wasn’t entirely pleased to be in such situation. Who would be anyway? We were very young by that time. We were at our peak. In love and wouldn’t want to entertain the idea of any kind of separation. But then, I was 21 and he was 23. It was these ages when we entered and explored the first step to adulthood. Finding a suitable and rewarding career for the both of us. I was a flight attendant and he was a flight mechanic. I was ambitious and he was too. Perhaps, our ambitions made it bearable to face the prelude of the challenging months and years to come. It was the top reason why we did it in the first place. And respecting each other’s ambition and personal goals was the key. Because, RESPECT OFFERS SUPPORT. Love understands. It is when you make space for your partner’s growth and personal desires. It is when you are willing to get out of your way and give your partner the right to decide on his/her own.
Our first year was full of willful longings and requests. 24/7 video calls, texts and hasty decisions/urges to come over despite the distance, financial and time constraints. I was never tired because I was happy. Every moment counted even if it was just for a day. I remember the time when I came from a 10 hour duty from Hongkong turnaround in Cebu. I had one day off and landed at four in the morning. I flew a plane from Cebu to Manila, rode an airport taxi to the terminal, rode a bus from the terminal to Pampanga, rode a jeepney from the terminal to Balibago then rode a tricycle to reach his home. It was crazy and believe me I will not mind riding a boat if I needed to. We splurged into mindless efforts and did not even feel it nor regret it because LOVE KNOWS NO COUNTING. You do crazy things because you’re happy and willing. To our surprise, time really flew so fast. For two years, it became possible. And from there, we knew, we can overcome whatever comes our way tomorrow or the day after.
After two years, it didn’t stop there. In fact, we became more career-driven at this point. Mainly because we were already making plans for our future and the pressure was there. This is very important when you’re in this kind of relationship. You make future plans for yourself but make sure you make plans for the both of you as well. As for us, we always had in mind our goal to be together in the future and that makes it doable. Your relationship needs direction. This is the rule of the game. It was both a personal and mutual drive again but this was the point when I can say we emerged to a more mature relationship. The choices, the plans and the decisions. One of my biggest dreams was to work for an international airline and it happened. Until now, I could never forget how my partner reacted when I was accepted in my dream airline. He was confused, happy and sad. I saw it with my very own eyes as soon as I broke the news that I got offered the contract. He was astonished and speechless but I knew he was also hurting. Again, the ordeal of long distance taking its confrontation in front of him, of us. I was ecstatic but honestly, scared and sad at the same time. This was one of the most challenging moments of our lives. Can we still do this? We asked sincerely. Then we took a step and had courage. For RESPECT GIVES YOU COURAGE. Courage to do and outbrave things for the one you love. Courage to sacrifice for each other’s happiness. And courage to take responsibility even in the most difficult times.
On the first year of my career with this middle eastern airline, my partner also had his most awaited job opportunity coming his way. I was in Abu Dhabi and he was eventually accepted in Singapore. We were both so proud of each other’s accomplishments thus making our situation less harder to take in. By this time, we were more deliberate. We did not make it a habit to call each other from time to time anymore rather call each other at our most convenient times. Sometimes, a five minute call was enough. Sometimes, leaving the video call open, not necessarily interacting and doing our own things worked. It was a much more different approach than what we were used to. It always depended on different considerations we had to put in mind and that included our schedules, time difference and personal time. This was the time, I’d say, we invested so much respect and trust with each other and this was the time that we both enjoyed our independence on a lot of things. May it be leisurely, emotionally and the like. We grew on our own but also grew together even if there was a physical distance between us. And for me, that’s the idea of a healthy growth. We grew but did not outgrow each other. We were both in the process of exploring ourselves and our lives on our own ways. We gave each other the full trust we both deserved not because we were obliged to but because we were willing to trust. Because RESPECT IS WHEN YOU STILL GIVE EACH OTHER THE INDIVIDUALITY THAT EACH OF YOU NEEDS. It is even if you’re considering your relationship being on top of your life game, you’re out there letting each other explore the world on your own, grow independently and enjoy the time being.
It was not rainbows and butterflies all the time. It tested our faith and our love. We questioned our relationship a couple of times and there were times that we wanted to give up. We got tired and a bit worn out. Most importantly, we wanted physical love. We were clamoring for the usual demands of a relationship because we felt alone at some point. But one thing that helped us made it through was again, respect. It all boils down to respect. It was not only me or him in this relationship. It was us and we both took the decision to be in this situation. When I cried, he listened. When he complained, I adjusted. When he cannot come to me, I came to him. When I could not give in, he gave in. When he cannot provide, I provided. Because RESPECT MAKES YOU SELFLESS. It is when you choose to love even when you’re in the verge of self compromise. It is when you put your pride down just to put his/her’s up. It is when you do things out of love.
Now, we’re still here facing and embracing the long distance relationship we both “unintentionally” chose to have because these situations came to us. It’s been seven years of being together and what I learned from our five year long distance love was never to say it’s impossible even if it seems like it. Have no little but a lot of faith. Life is short, do the things you want but never do something that you would blame your relationship for in the end. For love knows no effort and distance. Love doesn’t restrict nor blame. Love is love. You do things out of love and passion not out of obligation. You do it out of respect. And respect is the key to take control over this kind of relationship. RESPECT makes it possible.