My first, and only, long-distance relationship was with a guy about 9,000 miles away. Literally on the other side of the Earth.
Introduced via a friend, he messaged me online, and we hit it off straight away. I’d used online dating before and found it so hard to make a connection, but this time it was just so easy. The conversation flowed non-stop. He was intelligent and hilariously funny. We had similar interests and goals in life.
Since we were both from traditional Pakistani families, we discussed from the get-go that this relationship could, potentially, lead to marriage. The first messages soon led to daily phone calls and Skype sessions. I was on a never-ending high. He was perfect. He was “The One”.
Looking back, I fell too hard too quickly.
Within three months of our first messages, we had planned our baby names, our honeymoon destination, and our Bucket List. And we hadn’t even met IRL.
He knew all the right words to say:
“This is it, I’m in it for the long haul.”
“I definitely see a commitment and a future in this.”
“I can’t wait to wake up next to you in the morning.”
“I can’t wait to hold you in my arms.”
It brings tears to my eyes when I remember the messages he sent. I really thought we had a future together.
After a few months, the effects of a long-distance relationship (and the time difference) were beginning to wear on us. The conversation started to wane. I was smitten and still willing to put in the effort, but it felt as though he was pulling away. The romantic and reassuring words he used to send all the time were less frequent. The honeymoon period was over, and we still hadn’t even met.
I would question the relationship, only to be reined back in with lines such as, “I haven’t stopped thinking about you all day.” It’s so easy to accept the words you want to hear, but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Something I would only realize further down the line.
It took five months for him to finally book his ticket to come to see me. The fire in my heart reignited. How romantic! This man was flying all the way across the world to come and see me for a few days.
I couldn’t wait to finally meet him. Hold him.
As soon as he stepped off the plane it became clear that meeting him wasn’t going to play out like my fantasies.
The time I spent with him in person was not what I expected at all. He was so quiet and didn’t start any conversation. At first, I explained it away as jet lag, but in the four days we spent together we didn’t have any real conversations. I continuously put an effort in, but I didn’t get anything back.
The boy who had once told me that he couldn’t wait to hold me in his arms was barely touching me.
This boy who once expressed his feelings so romantically online now failed to give me any answers when I asked him questions about our future.
When he returned home, I felt insecure and deflated. He wasn’t what I had expected. I confronted him, asking him why he would say all those words to me if he was never going to carry them through. He said he was a very reserved person. He had hoped he could come into this relationship in a different way, but it hadn’t turned out to be that simple.
I felt betrayed.
If only he had told me this prior to us meeting.
I felt like I had seen his true colors, and he was not the guy that first messaged me online. The reality is, he was a closed book.
The warning signs were always there of course.
In the first few months of the relationship it was sexually charged and it was flirty. But as it got closer to the reality of meeting, he became disinterested. At the time I did wonder why he showed such a distinct lack of interest, but it makes sense now; that was the real him. He wasn’t the overtly confident, sexual guy he’d made himself out to be.
He admitted he wasn’t as emotionally invested as he used to be and that he had a fear of commitment. That was the final straw. I ended it.
I want to be with someone who can’t wait to see me again. Someone who tells me how much they enjoyed spending time with me and how miss me like hell when we’re apart. I want to be with someone who is emotionally supportive and who can’t stop touching me.
And that wasn’t him.
Long distance relationships can work when both people are willing to put in the time and effort. I didn’t realize that he wasn’t until I’d already become emotionally invested.
I built up the illusions of a perfect future and relationship in my mind, which were shattered when I was confronted with the reality that he wasn’t the person he said he was online.
I will not be doing long distance again. I want to physically spend time with someone as much as possible, so I can get to know their real-life personality – not who they are behind a keyboard.