Ok, officially I have been dating and then courting MI for a year, 4 months and 8 days. Don’t ask me hours or minute- I don’t know. It has not been easy because he is in Lagos and I am in Abuja and we are not Dangote’s children neither do we have a private jet that can move us from place to place at will.Oh! Were you thinking MI, the rap artist? Oh no, MI for me means “My Intended”. lol!

It is not easy to maintain a long distance relationship, trust me. A friend I know lives in Gwagwalada, Abuja and her boyfriend lives in town yet they complain that it is a long distance relationship (long distance is relative). Well, if they were me, they for don die since na. A long distance relationship will test your character and not everyone can do it. People have asked me over time how we did it, do it and are doing it. Thinking about it, I decided to look at my relationship and ask MI what he thought on how our relationship has thrived albeit long distance. These are some tips for how we maintained our relationship:
1.       Make your Decision and stick to it!
You need to decide that you’re in the relationship for the long haul with this person regardless of location and distance. It is important you decide that because when you get tired of the relationship because you are not seeing each other frequently, then don’t transfer the aggression on your partner. You have no one else to blame but yourself. So talk about it and decide. Before I agreed to date MI, he had been visiting for four months prior to my acceptance. I knew it was going to take a lot of trust, sacrifice and faith so I didn’t just plunge into it because I was tired of being alone. I knew it would be difficult at times
2.       See each other at least once a month
This is important. If you live within a short travelling distance, then try to make the sacrifice most especially the man. MI visited every month, sometimes twice a month. It wasn’t easy; many times he didn’t have enough money so he would take a night bus on Friday to see me and take a night bus on Saturday to return.  You can imagine- it’s not always you get a break off work so this was an incredible sacrifice. Hence, I had to also sacrifice as well. I think he did most of the visiting until my office sent me on official duties in December last year. Oh, actually, he did fly me to Lagos so we could celebrate my birthday and I wanted to meet his family in Lagos. It is worth it to see yourselves and spend time together. Know his or her friends and family.
If you’re dating a person in a far place like he or she’s outside the country and you can’t visit as often as you would like, then I suggest you guys talk about it and exploit what technology has to offer which brings me to my next point.

3.       Exploit Social Media/Technology

So you can’t see yourselves physically as often as you would want to. There’s Skype and all sorts of modern day technological whatnots to help strengthen your relationship so invest in a good internet service provider and make the sacrifice. MI and I tried Skype but it didn’t work for us- I don’t even remember my Skype password (and I am lazy to make an effort so…*shrugs). Beyond that, there’s the phone. It may be expensive but it is an investment to call regularly. When MI and I became close friends and began to progress towards courting, we talked perhaps 15 hours in a day; of course it was telling on our jobs and lifestyle( sleepy most times) so we had to adjust. So we talk regularly and send text messages. We send blackberry messages (in fact, he made me pay more attention to my  bb but I still have issues because I may not respond to a bb message for a day and a half- The Lord is helping). We email and send e-cards. So we exploit social media as well. You just have to make the effort to make it work.
4.       Communicate, Communicate, And Communicate!
I cannot emphasize this enough! It is important you do so. Often times, when you can’t see a person face to face, you tend to misinterpret what they say because it is just the voice you hear and the words- you miss out on how the eyes light up or grow dim; you miss out on how his lips broadens in a smile at something you said. Therefore, communicate. Make the effort. He or she cannot see you so let your emotions come through in your voice.  People who know me know I’m good at this so MI never has any doubt about how I feel- whether I am happy or sad. Don’t just hang up when you’re angry; be civil and tell him/her that you need to talk later when you are in a calmer mod but don’t use it as an excuse to avoid conflict. Face it and handle it- it makes you stronger. I know a couple in my class who broke up because they didn’t communicate well. There’s more to communication than words. Your expression and actions matter. And don’t forget to listen, really listen to the words, moods, silence, everything about your partner. When you see each other, express yourselves so nothing limits your relationship.
5.   Keep it Exciting
Your relationship can tend to get boring when you don’t see regularly. What do you do in between the times you guys cannot see? Keep it exciting! I tend to be very goofy sometimes so I compose rap lyrics or songs and send it to him on a whim to make him laugh. He isn’t so much like that but he sends the most adorable voice notes when I least expect it. MI tries by getting me stuff when I least expect it; they may not be my size but the more he tries, the more he gets me a perfect fit and I am grateful for it. I came to Lagos one time and surprised him by appearing at their house; it was night but I sent his cousin to get him for me and boy was he pleased! Play games, challenge yourselves as well. You can’t be boring at all! For our one year “anniversary”, he sent me a leather bound bible when I least expected it and many times he may get lunch right there in his office because I ordered it. You can make your presence felt even if you are not there. So whatever you do, keep it alive. It shows you are willing to make the effort because the person is special to you.
6. Be consistent
This is important. Change is the only constant thing but some things should be in place. I always tell whoever I date not to start something with me when they know they cannot finish it or continue. Of course I need to give place to reason (for instance, we cannot constantly talk into the night everyday) but some things are standard. Sometimes, MI tells me, babe you used to do this o and if it’s an act I know means a lot to him, I will return to do it because we speak different love languages. Don’t call on Monday and text on Saturday- no, that’s not how it is done. One thing that has remained consistent for me with him is that he calls me every morning before he gets to work, when he gets to work, when he’s about to leave for home and when he gets home. So I always know where he is most times. So be consistent. God is consistent in his love for us, that’s why we can trust him. Consistency makes you not to loose touch.
7. Be Open
When I asked MI his thoughts on how to maintain a long distance relationship, he said “Be Open”. You have got to be open. You cannot afford to pretend because that’s not what you’ll be when you get married. No, you have to be open. If you don’t like something, say it so the other person knows. If you have fears and doubts, say it. Many times, MI and I had major issues because one of us was not being open enough or was open without regard for the other person’s feelings. It has not been a smooth journey with me and MI but I realised my manner of approach in being open got him defensive so I had to tone down a bit on being vocal so it doesn’t border on rudeness. I am open about everything o; I don’t want to endure marriage or have a man stifle my destiny so I am open on life, values(important), money, sex, life. Be open and when you are truth flows more easily.

8.  Guard yourself

Long distance relationships can be dangerous because when you see the person, you just want to eat them up- I mean practically devour them so you have to be careful. You are not married until you’re married so your bodies don’t belong to each other sef. For a while now, I and MI stopped the kissing thing( I will not lie- this one is hard but we are working it and succeeding- when he proposed we didn’t even try ourselves. lol). I don’t even trust myself so why try myself and start feeling guilty, losing communication with God and peace of mind? Be careful the messages you send and the kind of things you say to each other. A man may be sold out to God but he is still moved by what he sees and would pounce on you if you offered a tiny morsel of revealing flesh! Don’t even ask your partner, “so what are you wearing?” Duh! If I say rags will you give me a money to buy clothes? So we don’t push things because…let me stop here.  Let me tell you what helped us.
9. Pray, Pray, Pray
When you have a spiritual bond with someone, especially someone you are meant to be with, the devil is afraid. I tell you. You have to be careful though because they are some bonds that are more than physical and you don’t want to be intimate spiritually with someone you are not sure of because you are not yet ONE even though you are in unity. I may not pray about everything with MI but even with the distance, we pray over certain issues together. MI is my prayer partner and the prayer of agreement works wonders. We fast the first three days of every month and we have been doing this longer than our relationship sef. We have gone on 40 day fasts several times. When you pray sincerely together, God sees your heart and helps you. God does because he knows you are weak and easily tempted. When you try to be faithful to God, you can be faithful to any man or woman because your first priority is God. Pray for each other- you don’t know the temptations or trials you are averting with prayer. trust me, even now we are still praying.

10. Be Accountable
 You must have someone you are accountable to. I am a strong believer in that. You shouldn’t spill your stuff to everyone but you need to have someone to hold you accountable. I have friends I am accountable to and are accountable to me. It makes you stronger. When MI is messing up and I really need input from someone, I tell a mentor of his who is very trustworthy. He is also a spiritual mentor as well and I know he’ll just tell MI something and everything is alright. We have a couple in my church we talk to about most things and who give us advice up to tips on planning a wedding. I dated someone who I did not know his best friend, I did not know his mother, no one from his end knew me and he wanted our relationship kept secret for reasons best known to him but I could not survive it especially when I was being emotionally abused. When I told the person he looked up to that we were dating, even that person advised me to run! You need to have a balance though because you should not just involve third parties in your matters. You should be accountable to yourself and to others to.
Above all, the one person you can report a person to is God because he can show you where you went wrong or change the person’s heart. Be accountable to God.
These are a few ways to maintain a long distance relationship. I have not even begun to exhaust this subject matter but it can help you as well. I am open to hearing how you have managed to maintain yours whether it’s long distance or short distance.
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