Absence makes the heart grow fonder - but when you are in a long-distance relationship, physical separation can also lead to emotional disconnection and eventually grow into frustration.
Many couples have eventually given up on their long-distance relationship, but others have weathered the storm and found their happy ending. Here are their stories.
Dima Andari-Girgin and Emre Girgin
Occupied with her job and too tired to socialize and go out, Dima Andari decided to sign up for two different online dating platforms. It was here that she first “met” Emre - and she was intrigued by his profile.
“He didn’t seem as desperate as the others,” Dima recalled. “His answers were funny, witty and polite.”
The fact that Emre lived in Istanbul, Turkey was not an obstacle - at least, in the beginning. Dima wasn’t looking for a serious relationship, but simply enjoyed chatting with him.
“But after six months of intense daily chats and phone calls, I had to travel abroad for work and decided to stop by in Istanbul on my way back home,” she said. “ I had a knee injury at that time. So our first meeting was at the airport, me being pushed in a wheelchair with a huge backpack on my lap and a cane on top of it. It wasn’t really picture perfect. I played this scene in my head so many times before and none came close to the reality. I was very nervous. But it was beautiful.”
After spending time with Emre, Dima quickly knew that he was the man she wanted to marry. Nevertheless, she had to come back to Indonesia first, and the two had to steer a long-distance relationship.
“The hardest thing was missing the important events, not being there for something important,” Dima explained. “He had a music gig, and I wanted to see him perform but couldn’t. I used to organize cultural events and really wanted him to attend. But we had to settle for photos instead.”
During that time, Dima said it was most important to discuss their activities, work or leisure in order to stay connected - talking was the key. It wasn’t always easy, and Dima admitted that sometimes, she thought about giving up.
“But whenever that happened, we always tried to put the cards on the table - our feelings, our thoughts and our doubts. Those problems were usually resolved quite quickly.”
Dima and Emre got married in June 2016 and now live together in Turkey. Sometimes, Dima still can’t believe how quickly her life has changed - for the better.
“I have zero regrets. Sometimes I think this is all too good to be true. Of course it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. But marriage is team work, right? We’ve got each other’s back.”
Hapsari Sulistyorini and Russell Sahusilawane
Russell was first introduced to Hapsari, or Ayie, through a mutual friend. They quickly fell in love with each other, but after only a few months of dating, they already had to part ways again as they both planned to study abroad. Albeit being in the same country, the Netherlands, they lived in different cities - Leiden and Arnhem - and could only see each other on the weekend, if at all, as train tickets were rather expensive at the time.
After one year, Ayie eventually returned to Jakarta while Russell moved to Berlin to continue his studies - oceans apart, weekends spent together were not a possibility anymore.
“Back then, it wasn’t as easy as it is now to communicate,” Ayie said. “Phone calls were expensive, so we had to resort to chatting via Yahoo Messenger and write emails. But even though it was hard, I was always supportive of Russell’s decision to continue his education. I knew he was the right one for me, so I was ready to fight for this relationship.”
Russell stayed in Berlin for more than two years, and during that time, the couple didn’t have the chance to meet at all. Not communicating directly or in person can also lead to misunderstandings and wrong perceptions.
“But whenever I felt down or had doubts, Ayie was very reassuring and always managed to lift my spirits,” Russell recalled.
When they finally reunited in Jakarta, they were both extremely happy, but Russell admitted that suddenly being around each other again on a daily basis took some getting used to.
“In the first week, I often didn’t know how to behave around Ayie. I guess I was used to being on my own, so I needed to change my mindset again,” he explained. However, they soon found their rhythm again - and Russell then proposed to Ayie. The couple was married in September 2006 and now have two beautiful daughters aged ten and six.
Looking back at the years they had to spend apart, they both feel that in the end, being separated helped to establish a strong foundation for their relationship.
“We have been married almost twelve years now, of course we sometimes argue and fight,” Russell said. “But I know we can work through everything. No argument, no fight, will ever break our foundation.”
Dina and Martin
It was a shared passion for music that first brought Dina and Martin together. They connected over Tastebuds, a website for music enthusiasts. After a couple of weeks of talking and chatting, Martin asked Dina on a date, and they eventually met in person at Manchester Piccadilly train station.
“On our first date, we got stuck on the Ferris wheel”, Dina recalled. “It just suddenly stopped for a few minutes when we were on the top, and below, we could see people running around trying to fix it. It was a bit scary, but unforgettable!”
The couple began dating, but soon had to part ways. While Martin remained in Manchester, Dina returned to Indonesia.
“The 6-7 hour time difference made it really hard to find a good time to talk as we were both busy working,” Dina said. “But we always managed to text each other in between our activities. We also established a weekly ‘date night’, which was basically us watching movies or TV shows together while having a video call on Skype and ordering takeaway. We sometimes surprised each other by buying the other’s favourite food and getting it delivered to their house.”
Indeed, when asked what kind of advice they’d give others embarking on a long-distance relationship, Martin was quick to respond, “Do not expect Skype to always work and get a decent Internet connection”, while Diana added that “trust is the most important thing.”
However, being apart has also helped them to grow individually.
“We realised that being together doesn’t mean we have to be together physically all the time,” Dina explained. After a long and weary process, she was finally able to obtain a visa for the UK, and their long-distance relationship is now ancient history: they were married last year and now live in Manchester. “The visa process was incredibly time consuming, stress-inducing and expensive. I am glad we can now put this behind us and start our life together.”
Text by Katrin Figge & Assyariefah, R.A. This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine February 2018 issue “Season of Love”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.