FEB • 14 - 20 • 2014
Long distance love Do long distance relationships work? Alycia Lim explores how couples cope with being apart
Image: Creative Commons/ Blankqo (www.flickr.com/ photos/blankqo) Being physically apart didn't stop Wai Keen and Lizzy from getting married in 2012
MOST couples celebrate Valentine's Day with a romantic date, sometimes accompanied by the added gesture of flowers or chocolates. But what about couples who live apart? Is love alone strong enough to keep two people together, despite the physical separation of distance? Some may think long distance relationships (LDR) are not healthy, or even feasible, but Wai Keen, 29, and his wife Lizzy, 28, are living testimony that LDRs can work. The couple have been in an LDR since they began courtship. "We met in person in 2008 through friends, and after that, we began writing emails to each other, like pen pals," says Wai Keen.
When they first started dating, Lizzy was based in Kuala Lumpur, and Wai Keen in Melbourne, Australia. However, in 2010, Lizzy moved to Singapore and a year later, Wai Keen moved to Kuala Lumpur. "Both of us moved for career reasons," says Wai Keen. The inconvenience of being in different countries didn't stop them from making one major decision in their life, it seems, as the couple married in 2012. "If you like what you have and have what you like, why not?" says Wai Keen. Likewise, Julian, 28, and his fiancé Beverly, 29, took a similar leap of faith when they decided to get engaged last year.
Image: Creative Commons/ Dvortygirl (www.flickr.com/photos/dvortygirl) The key to a healthy LDR is to enjoy the time you spend by yourself and with each other
Currently, Julian lives in Singapore, and Beverly in Hong Kong. Asked if it’s tough managing a LDR, he says, “Of course it’s tough sometimes, but when we do meet, we cherish each and every moment we have together.” The young lovebirds, who will get hitched at the end of this year say that they try to make their meetings extra special by celebrating their anniversary or Valentine's Day. Julian says, “I brought Beverly out last year for a really extravagant dinner in
Image: www.cityweekend.com.cn Making each meet special keeps a long distance relationship healthy
Hong Kong, which lost over HK$7,000 (RM3,000). That was by far the most expensive dinner I’ve had, but it was worth it.” He also recalls celebrating their first Valentine's Day at a different restaurant, where he paid about RM1,300. “We had a really good time, but I don’t think I would have done it if we were not in an LDR,” he says. The rationale is, because they don’t see each other all the time, dates are limited and more effort is put in to make each meeting extra special. On the other hand, Wai Keen and his wife make time for each other by going on trips from time to time. He willingly admits he isn’t one for huge bouquets or extravagant celebrations. "I'm a chronic procrastinator so I don't put myself in a position where I do anything particularly grand or romantic... because I know I will fail at it!" he says. Instead, Wai Keen falls back on simple, everyday gestures such as being there as a pillar of support for his other half. "I think the key to a healthy relationship is to enjoy the time you spend by yourself and with each other, and always to support each other,
even when the other makes mistakes." But just like any situation, there are downsides to being apart. “Sometimes you get those 'wish you were here' moments when you experience something awesome, and don’t get to experience it together,” he says. While Wai Keen and Julian have different styles of managing their relationships, they both agree that an LDR can only work if there is an end point in mind. Julian and Beverly are still working out the logistics, but have decided to make living under one roof after marriage a priority. “We don’t know where we will live yet, but after we get married in Hong Kong, one of us will have to move.” That sentiment is echoed when Wai Keen says, “Marriage commits us to transition to living together, and although we’ve managed well with a long distance relationship, we're almost there! Lizzy will be coming back to Kuala Lumpur in about a month." For couples like these, perhaps every chance to meet is Valentine's Day. The writer has also been in an LDR for 3 years and is still going strong.