My boyfriend and I decided living in two different states should not be a hindrance to dating each other. Then, I moved to South America. Although FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp have definitely made navigating love and mileage easier, they don’t accommodate for some of the most basic essentials of a relationship. This whole long-distance love was new territory for both my beau and I, so I decided to look to a couple who knows a thing or two about building with someone in a different time zone.
Natasha (not me!) is an educator/Ed.D. student/life coach/magical black woman who started her own business called Nothing into Something: Date Gifting, which focuses on rebuilding or maintaining the spark in relationships. She also provides life coaching through her second business and side-side hustle Grow With Me, LLC. Her beau, Brian, is a talented attorney tackling the educational advancement of students in undergraduate studies at a top HBCU. He has goals of founding an academy with a focus on teaching inner-city youth to become technological innovators. He also wants to open an educational legal center for men of color to proactively teach them the law of the land. Natasha and Brian first met at a conference for Gates Millennium Scholars — this is the definition of a powerful, committed black couple. And they live 500 miles apart.
I’m going to give you the raw, real rap on long-distance relationships based on my personal experiences and my conversations with Natasha and Brian. Check for future posts about the hardest parts of long-distance love and creative date ideas.
You must know yourself before you jump in
“I knew I had to be ready for the type of person I could be with long term. I had to go through that process of growing up.” – Brian
“If you know what you want and this person is what you want, go for it. You will find a way. Distance is a circumstance.” – Natasha
In our conversation, we quickly came to the point that for long distance (or for any relationship really), we must know ourselves and know what we want. Brian shared that most men have to develop and live through certain experiences before they are mature enough to commit to a serious relationship. The truth is, we all do.
I desperately needed that time in college and for a few years after to understand what makes me happy. I needed to handle bills, choose my own Netflix shows and figure out how to party responsibly to learn “how to adult.” Brian spoke about his process of shedding those personas and the “armor of masculinity” that blocked him from showing Natasha his true self. This is even more difficult for young black men who don’t have a plethora of widely-known role models that demonstrate how to live as a man with priorities other than money and women — although some are working on this.
YOU MUST Be real
No matter what, a healthy relationship depends on two healthy people. Spending time to work on myself later helped me identify and communicate what I wanted from myself and my significant other. It helped me understand the quality of person I was dating without destructing the relationship using silly tests and games to assuage my insecurities. Developing myself also gave me the strength to know that I could not be with someone who wouldn’t let me move out of the country for the sake of the relationship.
Part of knowing yourself includes being very real with yourself and your partner. I had serious doubts that a long distance relationship could work. I was afraid we would drift apart before we even got started and too much space meant too much freedom and wandering eyes. Natasha asked me one question: “What is driving the insecurity that makes you nervous about the distance?” She said I needed to admit my fear and talk to my partner about it — such a simple solution to fixing what seemed like a monumental problem. Yet at the root of it is being honest enough with myself to not shy away from self-imposed roadblocks. It also forces me to be vulnerable with my partner and let him help (a novel concept).
With long distance, there’s no room for inconsistency or the back-and-forth. When we know what we want, there is less for our significant other to guess about us. We must make a commitment to ourselves and our partners that we will continue to grow, learn and mature.
If you are in the Atlanta area, check out Natasha’s Date Gifting and Grow With Me life-coaching services.
Many thanks to Natasha and Brian for contributing to this piece with their time and honesty.
Check out part two and part three of this series.
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