Dear Ayana Iman: I just started a long distance relationship with a guy I really like.
I honestly can say I do love him and I see him in my future. We keep God first in our relationship and we've made plans for the future. Our connection is really strong and different from both of our past relationships. I live in Virginia and he lives in Atlanta. Any advice on how I can keep faith in this relationship and how we can grow between now and the time we'll be able to see each other?
Hey girl! Relationships aren't linear. There is no dating rule that states when your version of happy starts, you must court and commit all within the same location. The last thing you want to do is to associate fear with distance. I know that distance can be tough, but this could be the romantic breakthrough you were looking for. Taking the focus off of the physical allows you to build and strengthen your mental and spiritual connection without complicating it.
Intimacy is the key to ensuring a healthy relationship.
It will provide a deeper sense of meaning for you both, which it already seems to be doing. With that, communication is also very necessary. Create an atmosphere of transparency and authenticity by empowering each other through goal sharing, prayer, and acknowledging your own personal needs. This will help you establish rules of engagement and manage expectations. Do sweat the details; sharing surface details of your day isn't enough, go deep to further connection. Continue to live your best life and allow him to do the same to combat obsessive communication and neediness.
The goal here, ultimately, is to have two happy whole people come together in harmony. Cherish the present by enjoying this moment, you deserve it.
Dear Ayana Iman: My life is a mess right now and I hate it. I feel like I'm trying hard and I have goals and expectations but my partner doesn't seem driven. When I bring it up, I get lip service and tears. I just don't know how to proceed.
This impasse in your relationship is in need of some serious work. You are well within your rights to have these concerns, also, to question the compatibility between you two.
My motto: with great resistance, try a new approach.
Before you make any drastic decisions, let's acknowledge that the unhappiness stems from your expectations of your partner to the overall health of this relationship. I know you love this person, if you didn't, there would be no attempt to find a resolution.
The reaction from your partner makes it clear they are uneasy with the situation and become defensive to avoid pushing the issue further. This shows some underlying issues they may be facing that have nothing to do with you. I know it can be hard, but approach them with empathy, e.g. understanding what a person is feeling and why their actions made sense to them. Having empathy can open up lines of communication where there was none. Express your concern by owning how you feel, like "When you do not listen, I feel ignored," which can help you avoid accusatory language against your partner. Try not to ask these questions when you're upset or there's tension. Find a time to speak when there's no distraction from outside parties. Some questions that may be helpful can include:
- What are your expectations for our relationship?
- What are your overall goals and do you feel supported in accomplishing them?
- What does a healthy relationship look like to you?
- Do you feel like our relationship can use a refresher?
Ultimately, the choice is yours to stay or go. If you continue to feel like this relationship is not serving you even after the attempts made to create peace, let go.
Everything has a purpose and a season.
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