The most exciting relationship I have ever had was not only the most toxic, but also the shortest. It was good when it lasted, all two months and three weeks. I can remember exactly how long we were together because we started dating on the day the 2010 World Cup in South Africa started. I was a naive, curious village boy and she was an older, independent, accomplished woman. The seven-year age difference should have bothered her - if it did, she never once showed it.
It was a well-kept secret. We met covertly at her place after my classes in the cloak of darkness. Around her, I felt proud and my ego was over the roof, as any young man would feel about being in the bed of an older woman. But I was also reserved and somewhat intimidated by her. I felt like she pushed me around too much. She was a possessive woman with a bad temper. She would buy my friends alcohol in exchange for information about who I was hanging out with, or who I was texting.
One month into our 'situationship', she got transferred to a different county for work. The weeks that followed were filled with extreme highs and lows in the relationship. The distance amplified the insecurities on both sides. She felt like I was messing around with other girls and I felt that she was being disrespectful. What we had eventually died a natural death. I vowed never to get involved in a long-distance relationship ever again. We didn't speak to each other for almost five years. She only called to wish me a quick recovery after a fatal accident rendered me paralyzed from my chest down.
After the accident, I had no desire to love or be loved. The one time I took a leap of faith and tried to date again, I was left heart broken and shattered. I was dumped because the woman I was with realized that my disability was something she would have to deal with for the rest of her life. She panicked and bolted. Driven by pain and regret, I told myself that this love thing was not meant for me.
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A few years ago, I noticed the prettiest girl in the world on Instagram. She'd like and comment on my pictures so I messaged her out of curiosity, not really expecting anything more than small talk. She had the best banter ever. I am a naturally good listener so we were a perfect match, in that one way at least. What followed was us texting all day and night like it was our sworn duty.
As it is with every new person I meet on the internet, I subtly let them know I am on a wheelchair and educate them on what this means. It is always better to share this information earlier on in the relationship just to get it out of the way and to establish whether there is going to be longevity.
She said that she was okay with me being on a wheelchair and even went ahead to say that she liked me. Because I was insecure at the thought of getting hurt again, I opposed the idea of dating for a while but after a few months of getting to know this remarkable woman, I had to seal the deal. Being with her meant more to me than my insecurities. It felt wrong to ask her to heal a heart she hadn't broken in the first place.
Soon after we got official, she had to leave for the States after she'd been offered a once in a lifetime opportunity. I encouraged her to go, knowing very well that I had vowed to never be in a long-distance relationship again. The US is what, 15 hours away? How much further than that can you go?
Within the first few months, I consciously started disconnecting from her because I thought I knew what lay in the near future: a heartbreak, for me. In my mind, my pretty girlfriend was miles away in the land of the free. I thought that it would only be a matter of time before she realized that the disabled village boy had nothing on the Americans we see on Tiktok. I figured the earlier I jumped ship, the better. That was selfish and I am lucky that I still have her in my life.
When you back out of something because you are scared, you leave the other person hanging on for two. Which is made harder by all the distance.
Communication is the remedy to all things. Talking about things and expressing them in an unselfish way is how people in long-distance relationships ought to handle their business. I learnt this fact after a long talk with a friend who was in such a relationship. "If it’s not broken, why are you throwing it away? "
Being disabled affects how I digest most things. I hate that it does, but it does, and it should, because it is an important part of my life. A long-distance relationship doesn't spell doom to all relationships. If you find yourself doubting your union, look within yourself and interrogate the fears you might have. Identify where they started and find healthy ways of overcoming them. Use my story as reference.
Do you think communication is the key to long-distance relationships? Is someone going to cheat eventually?