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Ask Shan Tell'emJET Love

Love Advice: Going the Distance

Dear Shan Tell’em,

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. He was recently deployed, and will be gone for a year. When he was here we saw each other often, so the adjustment is kinda tough. I fear the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality will make us grow apart. I am also afraid of the connection not being the same or even if it evolves, dwindling away. We have different perspectives. He views relationships as “just being.” Like “if it was meant to be, it will happen.” I feel like we need to work to keep it going. So with those different perspectives and about 900 miles of separation, what would you do?

Signed,

Going the Distance

Dear Going the Distance,

Long-distance relationships are often viewed as this tough monster to avoid. People make up tons of reasons not to engage in one, the most popular one being, I know myself. I NEED to see my mate when I want to at all times. The truth is that millions of people have successful long distance relationships that often lead to A) someone moving to the same city as their mate B) both parties continuing to make the relationship work or C) breaking up. Either way, the first two options are enough to prove that they can and do work.

While it’s true that physical closeness allows for deeper connections, it isn’t always feasible. The heart does not say, “I’m only going to fall for people who live 30 miles away.” When you make declarations like, “I NEED to see my mate at all times,” it limits the possibility of finding and keeping love in different ways. Plus it’s inaccurate. You can’t see your significant other when you’re at work or when they are at work or when they’re out with their friends. You can’t see your significant other after hospital hours when they are in the hospital. No, the examples I just named are not the same in terms of distance and length of time that often comes with a long distance relationship, but the fact that you have to wait is. My point is that it takes more than physical presence to foster real connections. Do not allow proximity to determine that.

How do you maintain the connection while away? By simply changing your perception of your relationship. Your love for one another has not changed, only your circumstances have. Remember why you decided to get together, and remain focused on the fact that your connection is still there regardless of being 900 miles away from each other. When you can, use technology to its fullest ability to do things that you would normally do if in the same city. If you work out together, set up that video cam and still work out together. If you watch movies together, do the same thing. No, it isn’t the same as being together, but it’s what you have for the moment.

With that being said, do take note of any changes in your relationship. When you talk, are the conversations the same? Does his or her attention lie elsewhere more often than not? While long distance relationships can work, sometimes they reveal a bond that was created more so out of proximity and convenience than through true authentic interest. More than anything, this will be a test of your relationship. Hopefully, you both pass.

Good luck and I wish you the best.

Your turn: Got a question for Shan Tell’em? Email us at digitalpitches@ebony.com or simply comment in the section below! And don’t forget to join us on Twitter every Wednesday at 3PM CST for a live discussion on love and relationships. Keep up with the conversation via the #AskShanTellem hashtag. 

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Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY.com and JETmag.com.  She’s also a radio personality, and cultural critic. Her debut book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self” is available now at Amazon.com.