I am not sure how to introduce myself on this board, so rather than a 'hi' post, I thought I would contribute here with brief on the progress my partner and I have been making in building our relationship. I am a thirty seven year old professional in Australia who is currently two and a half years into a long distance relationship with a lovely, forty year old American. We met on a fan board for a band that we both like and were firm friends from the first ridiculous joke. As a general rule, I do not pursue relationships with people I meet online and he is such a good friend that I did not want to risk losing that by misreading his intentions. So even a year later when I was in the US and planning on attending various concerts with him, it was still only as a friend. From that trip though, we have been as inseparable as two people can be with 9000 miles in between and one Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (impulsive, hyperactive type). Things are slow, as I can only afford that type of trip once or twice a year, and he counts relationship growth face to face. He is right though, and somethings should not be rushed even while others speed past at break neck speed. ;P
Long distance, especially that far, is hard on everyone, but it is made just that little bit more difficult because his ADHD is untreated, and will probably stay untreated unless I can persuade him to up and move across the world where health care is something affordable. I knew he had ADHD, even before he told me. I recognise the symptoms pretty readily - in my former role I would work with university students who come to me for specialised assistance, especially those with ADHD and anxiety disorders. Still, he is one of the sweetest, funniest, and kindest people I know and one of the few who can keep up with me at full tilt (I do not have ADHD, but I loathe being static and have done things like completed a phd because I was bored). I am willing to work for this. Some stress points are relatively simple - I am not a fussy person when it comes to things like timeliness (in truth, I have to organise so much at work that I do not care to when at home), am pretty zen when it comes to chores and the state of a house (I share housed for 17 years with a wide variety of people and abilities to clean), believe in partnership but also in not living out of each others pockets, and have no interest in being anyone's parent, and zero interest in wealth for wealth's sake. I won't lie though, it is not easy for either of us - especially how we both respectively handle being apart and the terrible loneliness that comes with it: I want more contact, and he needs distraction. This means that once the initial period of excitement wore off, and he began to be more erratically in contact with me with long periods of silence between intense bursts of communication, I began to struggle. After a year though, I worked out what is normal and what I can handle. That he will vanish for a week or a week and a half before cycling back around to me in a burst rapid fire story telling. Then he will gently taper off contact after a few days of intense conversation, until he needs to cycle back again. As long as he doesn't escalate over two weeks (personal reasons for me), then we are fine. I am also now prepared for him vanishing into a ball of frenetic preparation anxiety when I am coming to visit, and then again into a puddle of utter exhaustion and mental regrouping when I have left (the stress of trying to keep his plans for what we should do together nearly kills him). And I know that when he has work, I really need to find something else to do because he has to use all his reserves to hold that together (and it is good for him). In turn, he makes sure to at least use social media to signal he is not dead even if he is not up to full conversation, he is more relaxed about me arriving, and is working on being able to talk to me no matter what state he is in. Although that is still easier when I am there in person.
As long as I can manage my own anxiety about abandonment (absolutely nothing to do with him) and find the trust that it is not deliberate, then it is okay. Some weeks I am better at it than others, and I can remember that he is in fact off telling everyone he meets about me, racking up adventures to regale me with. Other days, when work is wearing me thin or the distance is killing me, it is harder to convince myself that I am worthwhile and that he isn't deliberately ignoring me. It does not help that both of us are hopeless when it comes to communicating emotions (I know, and he knows but we don't say), but I have made extra effort to make sure he knows how I feel, even if it means writing a damn letter and sending it via snail mail. In his own way, he has also done the same although it is heart breaking to witness. I mostly can remember that I am the person he most consistently makes an effort to communicate with, and am determined to be far more secure in the knowledge of his affections. Certain friends remind me I am being an idiot and that all evidence points to this, and my best friend (who has ADHD) very kindly lends me her insight when I am at my bleakest. Most days I am optimistic that if we can survive this distance we will be in with a chance. From his previous relationships, I know that he is less absent than when he has to deal with a lack of physical connection, being unsure whether he is imagining me being fine with him at less than his best. He is painfully self aware and it takes a lot to get him to stop hiding. It is reciprocal - he will draw me out into conversation, and remind me to not be dismissive of experiences. Right when I least expect it, he will surprise me by calling when I am sick and being on the phone the entire time, or ring me to share a road trip without realising he is recreating those he travelled with me; or sit with me and let me have a small breakdown about my cat dying.
I returned last week from spending a month in the US, and as it is day eight of him vanishing to regroup with Netflix, with no cessation of absence in sight. This post serves both as an introduction, and a reminder to myself of where and who we are, and most importantly - to maintain hope. :)