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SWK739

Long Distance Relationship Struggles

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Before reading, I want to put into perspective some of the things that go on in my head. I have chronic, severe depression, bipolar, anxiety disorders, and ADHD. I have a multitude of cognitive disorders: Filtering, Polarized Thinking, Overgeneralization, Jumping to Conclusions, Catastrophizing, Personalization, Blaming (of self), Shoulds (of self; for example, I should have [x] reaction with [y] emotion to [z] stimuli and if I don't something is horribly wrong.) and Emotional Reasoning ('I'm anxious, something is wrong.' 'I'm worrying, it must have some truth to it.') I am always overthinking everything, overanalyzing every little detail about my life.

 

I have been consulting friends – including my lover – about what’s been going on in my head lately. One friend is a ‘no BS’ practical and realistic type of person who won’t tell you what you want to hear unless it’s true. One is a logical but supportive type. My sister and my other friend are the full supportive type. My lover is practical, but loving. They all have come to the conclusion that I’ve just been getting wrapped up in my own head with worrying myself to death. So many perspectives can’t be wrong, right? That and a lot of what was happening was lining up with my distortions, or so it seemed at least.

 

I’ve been in a long distance relationship for two and a half years now. He lives in Mexico, I live in Wisconsin. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we’ve even had some painful stuff to work through, but no matter what happened, we always worked through it together. Our communication is amazing; we don’t really hold back when things are bothering us and such. We’re compatible to the same level: Our hobbies are the same, our methods of gameplay match in video games, heck without voice chat and just playing we’ve been capable of some seriously great stuff regardless in co-op games. Our compatibility has been so high that we and others call us ‘soul twins.’ The only real “downside” is that we haven’t been able to really voice or video chat – traumatic experiences make his family EXTREMELY uncomfortable with hearing him speak English, and he himself finds it incredibly uncomfortable to voice or video chat with anyone, so the past two and a half years have been mostly text. We have shared voice clips and pictures however, he even bought a teddy bear for valentine’s day to give me when we finally meet proper (and writing this tidbit makes me feel a little warm and smile). He and I are both in college, and not exactly the greatest on financial status, so visiting is a little tough still. He has been with me through everything though, he knows exactly what’s going on with this and still wants to be with me regardless.

 

The past couple weeks though, I started getting weird questions in my head. Thinking about him face to face made me smile, but I didn’t feel anything intense as a result. It did calm me down in times of anxiety during this, however. I got the questions of ‘Am I in love?’ ‘Am I happy?’ ‘Do we have a future?’ normal things I’m sure, and I ended up getting very positive responses and results out of myself from them. But I still kept having these weird feelings of anxiety, though we still had our fun together, our mutual desires of intimacy and enjoyment of hobbies, etc. Whenever I’d have a moment of discomfort, or a thought related to it, it’d come swarming back to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There were days here and there where it was almost like I had an epiphany, and I felt really really happy and I felt all the warmth I could have wanted in response to these questions, heck I even felt true peace which I haven’t in a long time. But then they all came back again. And then it all crashed one day when the question came about ‘Do I want this?’ and because of my weird state of things, I could not give a proper answer.

 

The last two or three days I became so wracked with stress that I couldn’t function properly. No eating, no sleeping, no bathing, no cleaning, nothing. I was shaking so bad with tremors that it was more like very mild convulsions. I hurt so, so bad, and I could not answer any of my questions anymore.  Thinking about our memories together, the games we share together, the hobbies, etc. actually hurt. I really thought I was going to have to let him go. The morning after the very first episode of this, I actually managed to pull myself into positive thinking: I was happy again, I enjoyed talking with him, planning hobbies, I was smiling and laughing, I was confident, everything was okay again. But then it all crashed again when I thought of how I wasn’t actively seeking to do any of our hobbies with him at the time. It wsa the most horrifyingly painful experience I’d ever have, but my friends all continued to tell me I’m simply worrying myself to death. I know better than to make decisions related to such heavy and important things during an emotional state, so I wasn’t about to. I felt hopeless though, almost.

 

Yesterday, the day after, my friends repeatedly assured me that it’s all just in my head, so I decided, all right. I’ll just try to take it easy. I felt like I was someone who just underwent some massive medical procedure and was just in recovery. I was afraid to think or do anything for fear of triggering myself into another frenzied state of worry. But I started getting better, little by little. My head was swirling with the questions still, but I wasn’t going to address them just yet, and give myself time to heal a wound I’d given myself. There was a time where he said ‘I do love you so much, it’s all going to be all right’ and I got a little upset, and I didn’t know how to respond. All I said was ‘I hope so.’ He knows exactly what’s going on with this. I continued to start feeling better though, and I noticed there were little things here and there, subtle, that my mind was trying to do: I’d get the unprovoked thought ‘I love you’ without any real stimuli, for example. I’d started talking with him regularly without being distressed. I kept wondering ‘if I am really feeling better why am I not seeking his affection and love and comfort actively and fully again?’ but that’s an unrealistic expectation considering things. So I worked with that. As the day kept going, I found myself enjoying talking with him again, we shared affections willingly and I didn’t feel I was forcing myself to do so. I still had those questions though, and I couldn’t really answer them properly. I did end up starting to seek things though, little by little, and I found myself WANTING to tell her I love her, even if I didn’t have an intense physical sensation behind it to drive it. I started wanting to call him ‘babe’ again, and our pet names, and stuff. All of my support circle told me that it’s okay to not have physical sensations behind things, so I’ve just been rolling with it. But, the questions were still haunting me, so I did a little research online, and I ended up finding a post here on this very site that spoke of how people have experienced this same exact thing. A lot of people did in that one thread alone. On a more face to face basis of course, but I feel like that it could still apply even in my situation. I started feeling calmer, things started making more sense, though I was still a little uncertain. He ended up making me smile with some things here and there before we went to bed, and I’d felt more comfortable and comforted.I was able to go to bed and sleep properly.

 

This morning, I look back on this all and while I still feel a tiny bit anxious and wary, it all does seem kind’ve silly. I can let thoughts like ‘I love you’ ‘Things will be okay’ ‘I will be okay’ ‘We will be okay’ ‘We have a future’ ‘I am in love’ flow with no real resistance otherwise, and I tell myself that it’s okay that I don’t have a very specific physical sensation to roll with it. I found myself thinking of enjoying our hobbies together again even though I am not specifically seeking it right now; I look forward to catching E3 with him, and thinking of our history and our hobbies and all of that doesn’t hurt anymore. I get the ‘what if’ of ‘What if I don’t seek them and him actively?’ but that’s silly of course. He just came online amidst typing this very moment, and I immediately wanted to greet him, and we’re already talking of E3 and a little bit of how I’m feeling and I’m doing so with no hesitation whatsoever. I feel some tremors still regardless, mostly because of those questions, faded as they are, floating about in the back of my head. I want to say ‘yes’ to all of them, along with reiterating that depression really can make this kind of thing happen, especially in a long distance relationship.

 

Even so, though, I feel like rambling about it… and perhaps see unbiased opinions on the matter.

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I forgot to mention that I really do believe that if I can get these little questions and needs for validation and proof via physical sensation and shet out of my head, that things will be absolutely perfect and we can go back to being normal and living our life together as it was meant to be. I'm just not sure how to get through that. I do plan to call my therapist tomorrow and see if I can move my appointment up earlier. This guy has been the most amazing thing in my life, he's inspired me to improve on so many levels personal and otherwise, he's done so much for me, and even when I tell him that I questioned my love for him he's right here with me. There is no love more pure and true than that, and I never want to have my dumb head make me let that go.

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Dear SWK739,

You requested opinions about your situation, so here is mine, offered to you with compassion and sympathy but straight talk.  Your mental conditions that you described are complex, and your relationship situation is complex. So responses and opinions will be complex.  I'll try to first state simply, and then provide the more complex explanation.

Point #1: You are not in an emotionally healthy situation re: the Wisconsin-Mexico relationship

Point #2: You are having mixed reactions emotionally and physically because you're beginning to realize, perhaps subconsciously, that this is not an emotionally healthy situation for you

Point #3: We need to clarify the meaning of words like "relationship" and "lover" by describing them more fully, as I believe you don't have an accurate view of the situation that you are in.

Point #4: It's possible to find a lot of comfort, acceptance, warmth, affection via communicating with someone whom you're never met in person, and it may fill some emotional need in you.  You may even feel that you love that person, but it's only based on a partial experience of that person's totality.  A complete and emotionally healthy love requires interaction in person.

I'm guessing that overall you probably want what many people want: a person you see in-person on a regular basis who you love, and he loves you back.  The traditional way this plays out is often: meet in person, spend time together, fall in love, continue to spend lots of time together, perhaps live together, perhaps get married, perhaps have children.

People who have not found a boyfriend / girlfriend / partner / lover in their real world via school, work, activities, neighbors, parties, socializing, friends-of-friends, etc. sometimes then go online to try and find such a person.  But here is the IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE: finding someone online is just meant to be an introduction, an initial interaction, an initial get-to-know-you.  The intent is that you only communicate online enough to confirm that the person you met is safe, and you have enough in common and enough attraction to take the next step to MEET IN PERSON.  Although there is no timeline, generally one would only communicate online for a few weeks or a few months, and then meet in person to see if a healthy personal loving relationship might be possible.

Usually it's best to only communicate online with people who live close enough that you can meet in person.  Some people with the financial resources have met someone online who lives far away, but they take the next step of travelling to meet that person to see if they click in real life.  An online relationship can then turn into an in-person healthy relationship.

Communicating online with someone for two and a half years is not a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, not a life partner relationship.  He is not your lover.  He is a valued person whom you communicate with online.

Hanging on to a two and half year online-only situation is preventing you from meeting a compatible person in real life.  Go out and start meeting people in real life.  Start now!

Let's go back to the word "relationship" and "lover".  The word "relationship" only means that two people are connected in some way, it does not mean that they are soul-mates, it does not mean they are in love, it does not even mean that they are close in any way!  Think of it in a question form that you could ask someone else if you didn't know the answer: "Heather, what is your relationship with Daniel?" The answer could be "Oh, Daniel is my neighbor" or "Daniel is my lover" or "Daniel is my tax attorney" or "Daniel is my cousin" or "Daniel is my husband" or "Daniel is my co-worker" or "Daniel is my sister's boyfriend".

So, if I ask you "SWK739, what is your relationship with Mexico guy?" the answer should NOT be "Oh, Mexico guy is my lover."  That's not true! Your answer could be "Oh, Mexico guy is a valued friend that I met online" or "Mexico guy is an acquaintance online whom I enjoy very much.  He makes me happy because we have so much in common" or "Mexico guy is someone I met online who might possibly become my life partner in real life.  I'm going to make arrangements to meet him soon in a safe place to see if we hit it off.

 

 

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Things aren't exactly the most stable, yeah. 

 

If I were to answer your question, I would say that he is someone I met online who might possibly become my life partner in real life. I want to make arrangements with him and do plan to do so, and I say this without hesitation, even after reading everything you've said. Both of us want to do this, and have wanted to for awhile; it'll just take some time to be able to do so. 

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Hey, good morning SWK739!!  You and I are communicating online, now we have a relationship!! LOL kindly!!

Tell me more about why you are not able to meet him in person soon?  You're a student, you said.  Do you have a job that earns money, or some savings?  Do you have a family member or friend who would enjoy vacationing with you in Mexico?  Or could you and your family pay to have Mexico guy fly to Wisconsin.

You're young, so you feel like you have lots of time.  You don't! Days, months, years fly by.  I'm not kidding, I know because I'm an old lady LOL 

Write back, I'm very interested in your situation, because I love the idea of finding true love, but I hate the idea of living a fantasy that never comes true!

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I don't have a wage, no; I survive off of SSI at the moment, in college trying to set up a future for myself and hopefully, for the two of us. My only family proper is my sister and my mother, and they don't have the time or resources to be able to afford taking me down there or bring him up here. I'm not that young either, though, and I know that I don't have all the time in the world.

 

He himself is in a similar situation; finances aren't that great, family couldn't help at all. 

 

I get a sense of condescension from you however. 

Edited by SWK739

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Oh, no, I'm not feeling condescending toward you at all, so I'm very sorry that my words sounded that way!  Attempting to be humorous, sorry!

I'm very sympathetic to your situation.

I'm divorced and I'd love to have a new life partner and loving relationship, but like you, it hasn't happened for me yet.

I'm truly interested in what you're planning to do.  What are you studying in school?  When will you finish?  How long do you perceive that it might take until meeting face-to-face happens?

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I'm in a dual degree for Information Technology, for Network Specialist and Technical Support Specialist. The idea is to graduate december of 2017, after that, hopefully finding a stable job.

 

Edit: When I do graduate, I'll have two Associates and at least one or two Certificates all at once.

 

As for how long do I know it will take? I honestly can't say. It's hazy because of all of the factors at play, but we definitely do want to meet, that much is certain. Like really badly. Your questions though do make me think on this, and I'm talking with him as well on his side of these questions, a first step to actually planning, at least a little bit.

 

Edit 2: As we've discussed, at the very least we can see  tt happening within the next couple years at max. Realistically, I have to finish college and find a job, and he wants to finish college and find a stable income, and then we can go from there. So we're getting a timeline set now. I know as the other poster said that most shouldn't take  that long, but not every long distance relationship allows for quick meets, especially when financial things are at play and all of that.

Edited by SWK739

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Well, your college major is very strong and sets you up for a potentially high salary, even for your first job.  So that is one very legitimate reason to be hopeful.

I'm very concerned about the lack of video and voice contact between you.

I'll try to be optimistic and take the best possible view, that (up until now) he's had legitimate reasons for no video and no voice conversation.

But, I'm going to be realistic and remind you of all the people on the Internet who may not be intentional scammers, but who have many unacceptable or unpalatable personality characteristics or disorders, mental disorders, intellectual limitations, social limitations, physical disabilities or limitations, financial limitations, addictions, opinions and attitudes, etc. etc. etc.  Again, you have a partial perception of Mexico Guy, you don't yet have a complete and accurate perception of his totality.

I would suggest that, in addition to questioning him about future meetings in person, which apparently would not take place until sometime after December 2017, that you and he do whatever it takes pretty much immediately to establish video communications and voice conversation.  

There are so many ways to do this!!  I'm most familiar with Skype, but I'll bet there are lots of other free videoconferencing apps available.

What computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones does he have in his home?  Is he ever at home alone?

What computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones does he have at his school?

Which of these same items can he use from a friend's house, or a public location such as a local library, an Internet cafe, etc.  Also, you would be surprised how many "web cams" there are all around the world, places where people can stand and be seen online by their friends and family.

 

 

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Nah yeah he has some severely legitimate reasons; traumatic ones, as in a situation where he followed through a relationship with it and it turned out to be incredibly abusive towards him to the point of almost dying, kind of thing.

 

But yeah I know about those kinds of things, I suffer from a lot of shet as well haha. That said! He did say that he will establish the more personal connections of voice and video and such in time; I mean I can't blame him after what's happened, and friends of his (in real life that I have chatted with) have confirmed everything. We would use Skype though yeah, we use that to message when I'm out and about via my phone as it is. 

 

We established a timescale proper - It might take 2-3 years for him to graduate, and 5 years was considered a very feasible point. If I can get a stable job after 2017 and work up the money, it is entirely possible that I can get him to visit me, the only issue is that his family is incredibly protective of him and him leaving for the states again before finishing college is something extremely uncomfortable for them. At the moment he does live with his family while he's in college, and his mother has actually confiscated all of his papers and stuff.

 

As for technology at his home! He has a computer, but he doesn't have a microphone or a webcam or anything. That's how we communicate most of the time. He does have time he gets home alone, but the lack of a mic and stuff doesn't help. For stuff at his school - unfortunately, the internet at his college is absolute poop. Major major poop, half the time he tries to get in contact with me via some methods and he just can't. He doesn't have a smartphone or anything like that (too expensive at the moment) so we can't really use that, he did get a very basic phone that we use to text each other when he's out and about on his own, but texting is all it's capable of. It's one of those 'put money on it for minutes' types of phones.

 

There is a cafe he used to go to sometimes in the past, it cost some money, but it had reliable internet and such. he can't really afford to go to that anymore though; when he did, he had a job with his family before he started going back to school full time, so his income is limited to whatever his family will let him have for the moment. They do help him though, it's not like they leave him to dry.

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Thanks for the additional info, SWK.

Sometimes adversity and trouble comes to us, and we have no choice except to make the best of it (a friend or family member becomes sick, a spouse develops an emotional problem, a son or daughter gets into trouble at school, etc).

Sometimes we inadvertently stumble upon OPTIONAL adversity or trouble, and we make a CHOICE to become involved (we stop to help a person with car trouble, we reach out to help an elderly neighbor).

You have inadvertently stumbled into an online situation totally filled with adversity and trouble, you've made a choice (so far) to bring that adversity and trouble into your life and take it on as your own problem.  All the warning signs of a good or bad outcome are not looking good: he has a history of emotional trauma, he has a protective family who is not likely to support his relationship with you, it will take years before you can meet in-person with no guarantee that you will be compatible with each other in person.

You deserve the best in life, the onus is on HIM to prove that he is the best, he is the hero, he is the good guy you deserve.  How old is he?  Tell him that you need a prince, a hero who is smart enough and strong enough to figure out the simplest of problems: do what it takes to find a frickin' computer with a frickin' camera and a frickin' microphone so he can talk to you properly!!  Tell him to prove to you that he is worth waiting for, that he is worth all this trouble!

Just from your messages alone, I can tell that you are a good person, a kind person.  You're motivated and ambitious.  You're loving and caring.  Your working towards a college degree proves that you are an "I can, and I will" type of person.

Are you sure that he can provide those same things to you?  Don't wait years to find out: find out right now!  Can he earn some money in a restaurant, or as a babysitter, or working in a store?  A computer camera and microphone are cheap to buy, and you can buy used ones.

To me, until now, Mexico Guy definitely does not seem like an "I can and I will" type of guy.  He is full of excuses and "I can't".

Wow, I hate to see nice people like you getting taken advantage of!!

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He's a year younger than me, and in my honest opinion? He's already proven that he's worth waiting for. He has seen every last tidbit of how bad my mind can get, he's done a lot of things that he wouldn't for other people, and he can and will continue to provide these things in real life as he does every day already. He's broken many personal barriers to become comfortable with me, people that have gotten upset because he chooses to spend time with me over them have been tossed aside, he has been willing and continues to be willing to do things that make him uncomfortable at times. There are a lot of details behind things he's done for me so far as it is, so yes, he's proven his worth and he's not taking advantage of me whatsoever. 

 

You're actually backwards; he is very much an 'I can and I will' kind of person, he has never backed down on his words to do something when he says he's gong to do it. I myself am not exactly motivated and ambitious, I am loving and caring however, but I have my issues of being an 'I can and I will' kind of person. I can't just push him into doing something that was caused by trauma, that's plain disrespectful. This is a man who, were I to curl up on the floor and sob my eyes out for no reason whatseover besides my mental distortions, will be there right with me throughout it all. He's already proven that he will be because he already has.

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Okay, it's very good to know that he has qualities that make him "worth the trouble".

I'm glad that you're planning to call your therapist tomorrow to move up your next appointment and talk this over with your therapist.

Is your therapist the type who mostly listens and makes you feel better by validating the feelings, beliefs and opinions that you already have, or does he/she challenge you to consider whether your current feelings, beliefs and opinions are actually in your own best interests?

For example, a competent therapist would tell you neither "You SHOULD wait for him" nor "You SHOULD NOT wait for him", but a competent therapist would ask questions such as "When you've considered the pros and cons of waiting for him or not waiting for him, what have you listed as the pros and cons for each possibility?" or "If you've already made a decision to wait for him, then what are the coping mechanisms that you and me need to develop to help you through a long period of waiting in an emotionally healthy way?"

I know that my earlier post above was a little strident and somewhat encouraging you to be pushy, but it's a valid point that I'd like to re-state in a more reasonable, calm and appropriate way: please work with Mexico Guy to acquire him a computer/camera/microphone so you two can communicate properly and effectively.  Both of you do whatever it takes to make that happen,  Perhaps you can afford to purchase something here in the U.S. and ship it to him. Check Best Buy or Amazon.com for an inexpensive tablet or laptop that has capability to Skype.

Along that same line, ask your therapist to offer some guidance or professional insight re: the advisability of you maintaining a text-only long distance relationship that has already been 2.5 years and could ultimately be 4 or 5 years.  What are the benefits or risks to your emotional health? How can you maximize the benefits and avoid the risks? What can you do to improve your mental and emotional health and strength a little bit every day as you wait for your future happiness?

Edited by Lynn1954

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I like what others have said here, especially what is " the advisability of you maintaining a text-only long distance relationship that has already been 2.5 years and could ultimately be 4 or 5 years.  What are the benefits or risks to your emotional health? How can you maximize the benefits and avoid the risks? What can you do to improve your mental and emotional health and strength a little bit every day as you wait for your future happiness?"

I think you deserve someone who is closer to you, and can communicate more effectively. Communication is the most important part of a healthy relationship. I encourage you to hold out for the right person, you are worth it! 

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Hello SWK, 

I don't mean to say I understand what you are going through but I think I do. Recently I just broke off a 3 relationship with a girl in Norway. I did not feel that our relationship was stable but well, you can read what happened to me here:
 



As a person who has been through a long distance relationship and (and who has lived with that person after meeting that person online) I say what you need is to go visit that person. I realize that perhaps your finances aren't great but in my experience, you need at least some sort of physical experience with that person no matter how good your relationships are. At the very least increase your frequency of talking through webcams or something. Because it's clear to me that you are hurting because of the text-only chats and the distance. 

For me, around 6 months into our relationship I went to visit her in Norway, that had also given her the confidence to visit me as well, and we started going back and forth. But I understand how much of a financial burden that can become, so at the very least I think you guys should keep communicating through webcam or something similar until you guys want to meet. 

Hope this helped a bit.

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