Welcome to Ask Donté, FLARE’s new monthly advice column where Toronto-based dancer, artist, positivity ambassador and all-around joy, Donté Colley answers your burning questions. Each month, Donté offers up advice, sometimes with the help of experts, about your most pressing relationship, work, friendship and general life Qs. Have one? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or slide into Donté’s Instagram DMs at @donte.colley.
“What do you do if you love someone and want to be with them, but distance is in the way?” —Nina, Manila, Philippines
Hey! We are always going to face obstacles along our journeys, especially with people we love. Relationships are challenging. This is especially true of long distance relationships; not being able to see the person you love whenever you want to is hard, but the distance makes you appreciate each other so much more when you do come into contact.
Communication is key, especially when dealing with LDRs. We live in an age where we are so accessible to one another through social media, texting, email, etc. This can be a good and a bad thing. It’s great to stay in touch, be informed, and fuel your brain with new ideas. However, too much accessibility can be destructive. We are so connected right now on social media. We’ve adapted to this new lifestyle of being constantly in the loop with each other, but this can cause us to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. You don’t have to be productive all the time, but this can be challenging when your friends and loved ones are sharing what they’re up to at all hours of the day. Focus on you and don’t worry about what others are doing. We all move at our own pace; know that you don’t have to leave isolation with a ton of new skills under your belt if that’s not what you want.
This is why I think it’s so important to give each other time and space. You don’t need to be in contact 24/7. My advice is to make the best out of this time by exploring new interests that you may never have had the chance to before. I’ve started taking courses on lynda.com. I have wanted to learn how to 3D animate and also create 2D cartoon versions of myself. So I’ve turned to Adobe Character Animator and Blender courses to learn basic foundational tools to help me get started and explore. It’s helping me learn new ways of elevating my skill set and my business. You may discover a new passion that you never had even thought of before. You don’t need to become an expert, just explore new interests!
Sometimes feeling a sense of togetherness doesn’t mean talking at all—honestly, my FaceTime calls lately pretty much consist of sitting in silence with my friends. We’re all doing our own thing but there’s something about having company—when you want it—that is so satisfying! We chat, watch funny memes, play Mario Kart on our phones, bounce ideas off one another. But being alright in your own space equips you to face any challenges in life outside of that space. We’re not always going to have someone behind us to fall back on. You have to be your own support first, walk in your power and never compromise who you are. Always remember that. This time of social and physical distancing is going to test all our relationships, romantic, platonic, professional and familial, for the better, and will make the human interactions so much more vibrant and impactful when we can interact closely once again.
When you are interacting with your loved ones, remember that tensions are high and forgiveness is key. We are human and it’s OK to make mistakes; this is the time where you can “pick yourself up and try again, try again.” *Aaliyah voice*
Aside from the strain that distance is putting on all relationships right now, if you are feeling disconnected or a little lost in general, please know you are not alone. This is a time none of us prepared for and you can’t beat yourself up over stumbling when navigating the unknown.
Don’t give up on yourself or your relationships, and remember that loving someone from afar isn’t the worst thing. Focus on the love, not the distance. And keep your eyes and ears open to kindness.
I believe in you. Trust your process. Trust that this challenging time will end. You are such an important person bound to continue doing, and experiencing, amazing things.
- Talk about stuff *other* than the pandemic with your partner. “Share your feelings about going through all of this. Also, think about and plan for your future together beyond the pandemic.”
- But don’t only talk about how much you miss each other. “Stay calm, optimistic and talk about things together other than the distance that separates you, and how you wish you could be together. Over-expressions like that inflame feelings of longing and sadness.”
- Know that it’s normal to lose your patience. “Exercise great patience and great forgiveness! We will all be a bit snippier with each other at this time. It’s important to check in with one another, acknowledge it, apologize when necessary, and express plenty of love and affection around it.”
- Be gentle with yourself. “Normalize the feeling [of loneliness] and know that it’s neither shameful nor uncommon. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Self-compassion is important always, and particularly now.”
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