Mind The Gap…Long Distance Relationships

Soul mates are not here solely to fulfill your rom-com fantasies. Most are here as teachers. And to help you see where you have given your power away or where you are not being authentic.

Maryam Hasnaa

After spending some time with my bestie, instead of crying on the journey back to South Africa, I used some of that time to write down some thoughts I had swirling around on long distance relationships.

My human and I have been together for 2 years now. There is no other human who is as magical as he is. He is the sweetest part of my life and I love him deeply. The only thing that I would change about our relationship is the fact that we live in different countries. The love of my life lives in the United Kingdom, and I live in South Africa. We see each other every two or so months and while it is hard…harder than hard, there’s no one else for me but him! The past two weeks with my fiancé were nothing short of magical (I promise it’s the last time I use this word…) it was better than I could have imagined.

I’ve had to look at pictures and videos stored on my phone to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream. I can’t explain the pain in my heart that seems to only disappear when I am with him. Each time we part it feels as though the band aid over my heart is ripped off and the days that follow require me to fully immerse myself in busy activity to prevent an extraordinary amount of moping…and maybe some crying!

Growing up in church I recall a group of women I encountered in my twenties who had a prayer group with their sole focus being to find a husband. While I appreciated and understood why they formed the group, I knew that for me the focus needed to be internal. In fact a lot of the time in my relationship with the most magical man ever, I find that I often have to search inwardly before looking to him for anything. I wanted God to change me and I firmly believed that when I was ready, the man for me would be too. The most important thing to do when single is to work on yourself. The work doesn’t end when you get in a relationship. I want to be the best partner for my darling fiancé and we’re all our best when we’re content and at home in our skin.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have hiccups, I like to think I’m perfect but I’m not. However we’ve learnt and are still learning to communicate with each other in better ways for the other person to understand. I am absolutely besotted with this man and that I believe is the key to making a long distance relationship work…matching as often as you can is also key 😂

Don’t look at the negatives 🎞 they will eventually develop to discontent and dissatisfaction in your relationship. Believe that you are with the best person for you, that is true for anything in life. If you believe that you’ve got it good, you’re less likely to nitpick and find things to be unhappy about.

My love, you have been the best gift God has thus far given me. You have taught me so much about myself that I didn’t know. You light a fire in me that gives me the courage to pursue my passions and stand in my truth and convictions on unashamed and courageously, you have managed to pour water and quell the wildfires of insecurity and immaturity. There is no one I love more than you. I will always fight for us and never against you. I will always protect your reputation and your character. I fall in love with you more and more each day. The fact that I get to do life with you is a gift I will always be grateful for.

Yummy!!!

Let’s Stay Together: 5 Tips on Loving the One You’re With

A couple of years ago while living in the UK, I was in a relationship with a sweet BUT just not right for me, man. He would say yes to everything I wanted, and I wanted to wear the pants. After a while it got tiring being the one who called the shots, what I wanted was a partner who was my equal. DISCLAIMER: We were both young and terribly emotionally immature, I had a very warped expectation of what a relationship should look like. Eventually that relationship ended and I carried on with my life very happily, perhaps too happily as a single woman for my mom’s liking. So accustomed to singleness did I become that I had already planned how I’d have children on my own, very much like J.Lo in ‘The Back-Up Plan’.

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I’d been single for 5 years when my paths crossed with the boy, (insert drool emoji here!) In their post engagement interview, Prince Harry said that he knew Meghan was the one due to the fact that he fell in love with her so quickly. While the cynics may roll their eyes at that, because it happened to me when I started speaking to the boy, I can honestly say that it’s true when people say you just know when you’ve met the person you intend to spend forever with. A lady that I follow on Twitter posted on how she viewed her marriage as a contract (in some aspects all marriages are I suppose.) She also stated that she did not marry her husband for love and that regardless of who her husband ended up being, she would have learnt to love him. I’m 50/50 with that comment, largely due to the fact that no matter how many times I told myself that I should try to make it work with my ex, I just couldn’t convince myself to love him truly, deeply and unconditionally.

Love, true unconditional love I should say, is a magic formula that shows such as ‘Married at First Sight’ (MAFS) have been unable to replicate. In fact, I think MAFS is the perfect example of what it looks like when a relationship is void of love and chemistry. Relationships like those while very exciting in the beginning soon hit a wall due to the lack of affinity that the people involved have for each other. I don’t believe that loving someone guarantees a relationship will work, you’ve gotta put in the grunt work and be as kind, compassionate, caring and loving as you want your partner to be. The 80/20 rule is absolute trash to live by on a daily basis as it means that one partner will always be picking up the slack. Yes, there are moments when we lean a little bit more on our partner BUT that should not be the norm. Not only can that be exhausting for the partner who constantly fills the 80% role, but it is also unhealthy and is not sustainable. In November it’ll be 2 years with the boy although it does feel like we’ve been together forever, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. The secret to us still being together, (and in the future staying married) isn’t in occasionally wearing matching t-shirts, but in the tips listed below!

  • Be as honest as possible and don’t mince your words. The boy and I are never nasty to each other, in fact we’re still a touch awkward when it comes to calling out the other person on jerky/stressed/silly/etc. behaviour. Truth delivered to better and encourage your partner to grow is different to truth delivered to cut and belittle. To illustrate this, I have a little story, which I am hoping S will not mind that I have shared. The last six months have been incredibly stressful for me, personal issues coupled with not having a car, and the ridiculous amount of money being spent on transport, turned me into a bit of a grump. Add to that having not been able to train for a just under two months and you have the perfect recipe for one short-tempered, unhappy and borderline unpleasant girlfriend. One evening I was telling S how upset I was and imagine my surprise when he told me that lately all I’d been doing was talking about all the things that were going wrong in my life and not really focussing on any steps that I could take to change what is in my hand to influence. If the boy thought that would make me feel better, he was dead wrong! It upset me further and if I was the cussing kind, the boy would’ve gotten it. Once I had cooled down and looked at things with a clarity of mind, I realised that the boy was right. I was looking at all the things that were going wrong and dumping it all on him, which meant that our conversations where always tinged with the stress coloured brush that I felt was following me everywhere. The next day I told the boy of the things that I could control and what I’d be doing differently. Instantly the sun shone again on our relationship and I learnt the valuable art of listening to your partner even when those words of honesty seem too brutally honest.
  • Your partner is not your therapist. I veer on the side of caution with this point, and sometimes under-communicate because I never want to overwhelm the boy with the stress that could potentially come from whatever I am dealing with. I am grateful that I have a partner who is so good at reading when I am not okay. I struggle with admitting that I am not okay and I am working hard at reeling myself back in, and being at peace with myself. It is important to not get complacent and stop studying yourself. The more at peace you are with yourself, the more at peace you will be with other people. Don’t neglect the inner work that you should be doing to be whole/ok on your own.
  • Love yourself first. This is probably the most important one and one that I believe is often overlooked. Thankfully with things such as the body positivity movement, we’re all learning to be kinder to ourselves and not looking for completion or filling of whatever hole we’re dealing with, elsewhere. I’ve had countless conversations with the boy on health challenges I want to do, hairstyles I want to try, skincare products I want to try etc. Each time he is always incredibly supportive and tells me that I don’t need to change anything (aww). To which I’m sure I’ve replied more than once, ‘I know, but I want to.’ I think it’s important to be happy with who you are as a person, learn to cultivate happiness from within and as much as possible, refrain from treating your partner as a clown who is only there to make/keep you happy. Happiness is an inside job!
  • Listen, listen and listen again! This is the hardest especially when you’ve already decided (in your head), what your partner meant when he said whatever silly thing that men are very prone to saying. I try to remind myself that listening to understand and not listening to respond, pays much more dividends into our relationship piggy bank. I don’t have much else to add to this tip because I’m still learning haha!
  • Choose your partner on a daily basis. A couple of months (or maybe earlier in our relationship), S and I spoke about marriage, kids, a farm where I’d be able to keep pet pigs and neither of us flinched at the thought of forever with one person. I think there’s a real magic in having found the person that I am so sure of. There isn’t anything that could make me run…now I’m not talking about being silly and ignoring red flags because trust me if any toxic traits were exhibited in our relationship, I would RUN FOR THE HILLS. There aren’t any red flags, and while I look forward to calling him my husband and baby daddy in the future, I also know that until we cross that threshold, I am 110% committed to this man. Commitment is a word forgotten in today’s ‘try before you buy’, generation. I have zero interest in trying anyone else and feel rather pleased with myself for having been found by the person who I will be entertaining (for countless years) with very bad impressions of him and Southern American accents. It doesn’t get any better than that!

If you have any winning relationship tips, share in the comments!

Everything, Everything

I’ve been itching to write this post from the minute I left Cape Town. If ever there was a time I wish time machines were real, this trip is it! There isn’t a single moment of this trip that wasn’t perfect and filled with so many beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

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This trip was the first to the Mother City that didn’t involve work. Previously I worked as the product and brand trainer for Lush SA, and my trips to the Cape involved lovely store visits but sadly very minimal beach time. So when my SO* and I planned this holiday about 3 months in advance, to say I was excited is a massive understatement. There isn’t much that can rival uninterrupted time with my heart’s best friend. I will gladly follow this man anywhere and luckily for me, he asked me to follow him to Cape Town. My dreamy man got there two days before I did which gave him time to do a little bit of exploring on his own, although I think he had heaps more fun when I got there.

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For accommodation, high up on my list of priorities was cleanliness. This was my/our first time using AirBnb and I was nervous as to whether what was advertised would be what was given to us.  The first apartment we stayed in was clean but bare in terms of how it had been decorated. We had to leave after a series of unfortunate, and maybe just unlucky incidents. The remainder of our stay was spent at a quirky studio at Holyrood, a bubblegum pink building that was built in 1939. I wish I had taken more pictures of the building but I was too busy staring at the boy. One thing that did make the boyfie and I chuckle was the description on the AirBnb page;Loved by travelers from United Kingdom · 100% of guests from United Kingdom who stayed here recently gave this home a 5-star rating.’ And as luck would have it, the boy (who is from the UK,) really loved it. 

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The apartment though quaint, quirky and with a few questionable paintings which we temporarily took down, was clean, cosy, and had ridiculously beautiful views of Table Mountain. The view (and the company,) made it worth it. It was also positioned not too far away from Long Street which is famous for its restaurants and cafés. Across the street was the Company Garden’s which again just added to the magic of this holiday.

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I am a simple girl; give me food, love, water and I’m okay. During this holiday, the boy gave me all of this and more. Being together is probably what has made Cape Town our favorite city. We did a lot of eating and while we had both planned to do some running while on holiday, only one of us managed a 4k run…SPOILER ALERT!!! It wasn’t him. The lack of exercise aside, this was thee most perfect holiday I have ever had and I’d gladly do it again. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m going to be a soppy, corny mess for the rest of my life because I’ve truly found the one that makes my heart happiest. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t wake up feeling like I’d won the jackpot…#blessed! I’ve never laughed as much as I did on this trip, smiled wholeheartedly and have been so relaxed. I don’t take it for granted that I’ve found the mirror image of my soul. He’s perfect for me in every single way.

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The boy and I had a great time in Cape Town getting to know each other and yes, as I mentioned before, a lot of eating! As much as we tried to keep our choice of restaurants varied, we kept going back to one place: Stacked Diner. This place is in my opinion Cape Town’s best kept secret. I’m giving myself full credit for having discovered it but I’m almost certain that it was the boy who found it. He has a knack for finding gems 😉 The only thing I was interested in was that they serve breakfast all day, what could be better than that?

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The first time we went, the boy ordered waffles with maple syrup and bananas, along with French toast. I ordered their buttermilk flapjacks with bananas and caramel sauce. Nine times out of ten, I much preferred what the boy had ordered. In fact, throughout this trip, everything that he ordered was way better than mine…except for the night that he had loads of garlic on his pizza. We went back to Stacked not once, not twice but three times. We definitely would have gone back if we had more time.

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The saddest part of this trip was of course the end of it. SO lives in the UK and to go from seeing him everyday to not being able to hold his hand sucks. The reason why long distance relationships are hard is because you’re so far away from the person your heart enjoys and loves best. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be so happy to have found the person I’m going to spend forever with, yet in the interim not being able to physically be with him is painful. The Uber ride to the airport was painful and while there’s the knowing that this isn’t the last time you’ll see each other, there’s also the pain of separation that taints that moment. I spent a good chunk of my time before flying back to Jo’burg crying like a baby. A couple of days later, I’m still not getting much sleep and I miss him terribly.

I sent this to the boy because I was bored…

Aside from Jesus (that’s an obvious one right,) there isn’t another soul that knows me as well as the boy does. He is the kindest, most funniest and caring person I have ever known. I intended to write this post about my trip to Cape Town but I honestly can’t help myself from gushing about this human who seems to have been so perfectly made for me. The bonus is that he is also ridiculously good looking, I could stare at him all day…does that sound creepy? After my sister passed away I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again. My sister was my best friend and the thought of doing life without her is still a painful thought. My SO did the best he could do to lift my spirits and even when I was snappy, unreasonable, PMS-ey, he was always understanding. As much as I felt my faith in God dwindling, somehow by having this yummy man in my life, I feel a wholeness being restored in my soul. A peace and calm that I haven’t felt in a long time. A peace and calm I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel again.

And then he sent this in return, I love this man so much!

There are so many songs that make me think of him but lately there’s one by Lianne La Havas that has been on repeat every single day.

I love you so much baby, your eyes hold everything.

*SO = significant other