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10 Tips to Get to ‘I Do’ in a Long-Distance Relationship
by Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe
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September 28, 2020

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10 Tips to Get to ‘I Do’ in a Long-Distance Relationship

ROXANNE 

It’s a little crazy to think we met five and a half years ago. What was meant to be an international work trip for Niko, became the start of a cross-continental long distance love story. 

We met at a popular nightclub on his second day in Cape Town, South Africa, and as easy as it may be to say ‘the rest is history’,’ it really wasn’t that simple. We went from meeting each other for a seaside lunch the next day, to being pretty engrossed with one another for the remainder of his two month stay. 

What was meant to be an international work trip, became the start of a cross-continental long distance love story. 

Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe (Photo courtesy of Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe)
Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe (Photo courtesy of Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe)

There was this tangible chemistry and a familiarity about being together, and, by the end of the first month he accompanied me to my Grandfather’s 70th Birthday Celebration, and I introduced him to my daughter. Some may say “that’s a bold move,” especially as a single Mom, right? But at the end of the day, I trusted my gut completely. 

The interaction between the two of them over those few weeks was a beautiful thing to witness. His genuine interest in her likes, dislikes, school activities, his overall attentiveness, as well as her willingness to engage and be on her best behaviour whenever he was around –– I saw it as a sign.

Then, it happened. Through social media, I realised there was another woman in his life back in the U.S. With that, I planned to end our whirlwind romance.

I planned to end our whirlwind romance.

That night, I brought my knowledge of the additional woman in his life to his attention. He explained his side of the story, and I could honestly tell that it deeply affected him. 

Still, I reserved my decision to pump the brakes, as difficult as that was. 

NIKOLAI 

I was at a crossroad. I had to decide whether to lie and cover it up, or just come clean. 

I decided to be transparent about the situation. As much as it may have looked like I was trying to enjoy some of this South African chocolate, it was so much more than that for me. Within a short period of time with Roxanne I developed a closeness and respect for her that I hadn’t experienced with any other woman. And if all else failed, I really wanted Roxanne to know the effect of her walking out of my life was going to have on me. 

Knowing that I was going to head back home and break a good woman’s heart made me feel sad, but the thought of not having the opportunity to further explore this relationship with Roxanne broke me. That’s when I knew this entanglement was different, and I was willing to do whatever it took to prove it. 

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ROXANNE 

To be clear, though it was very painful, I cut off all communication.  I did not want anyone who belonged to, or was in to, or “entangled with” someone else. He took it upon himself to make things right and to make me understand exactly what had happened.  His persistence got my attention, and I listened. I didn’t want to be the reason he ended things. So he took responsibility for his actions and that showed me that he was serious. Which is another reason why I trusted him.     

NIKOLAI 

The day came where we had to part ways and say goodbye at the airport with both of us doing our best to stay cool, calm, and collected at the security gate. We hugged and began to cry like babies, both admitting this was love and nothing less. We didn’t drag it out, we couldn’t, but trust us when we say, those last minutes were enough to make a promise. We were going to give it our best shot, whatever it took.

We were going to give it our best shot, whatever it took.

Relationships require work. They take loads of energy and effort to make them thrive, but trying to conquer long distance dating takes the individual and collective effort to another level. We don’t believe that we’re an anomaly. We’re just one story, proving that long distance relationships can work.  We understand the challenges and difficulties that come with embarking on such a journey whether there’s a child involved or not. 

Although there are many factors that contributed to us going the distance, we narrowed it down to 10 things we believe played a pivotal role in us saying “I Do.”

10 Necessities to Get to “I Do” in a Long-Distance Relationship

BLINDING TRUST AND BEING VULNERABLE 

Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe (Photo courtesy of Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe)
Courtesy of Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe

This is probably the most important building block, especially when growing in love from a distance. There are levels to this thing! Most people get to develop it in person, over an extended period of time. We had to have blind trust. You have to have confidence in the person to do what they say they’re going to do, to handle your emotions and heart with care, and hold you in high regard. You have to have trust in yourself, that you’re continuing to make the right decisions that benefit the relationship. Opening yourself up to being completely vulnerable is a scary feeling, more so if you’ve had negative experiences in the past. Jealousy and insecurities can easily show up in these circumstances, so if you aren’t actively holding yourself accountable and doing your best to reassure your partner when necessary, it can really dismantle everything you’re working towards.

FAITH IN A HIGHER POWER 

At countless points in this journey we gave our hopes, frustrations and plans to God, believing that He would make a way was our saving grace. When both partners believe in a higher power, it allows them to surrender things outside of their control, bring them closer together and experience God’s blessings in their lives.

There needs to be a strong “Why.”

VALUE

There needs to be a strong “Why.” Physical attraction and ‘they make me happy’ just isn’t going to cut it.  We both agree that we felt the desire and influence to want to be “our best selves” –– as individuals, as well as partners –– in the relationship. What value does this person add to your life to give you the willingness to take on such a daunting task? 

RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT 

Whether it’s for six months, or four years, like us, making sure that both partners are constantly working to grow the relationship and bond is key. Don’t forget to check in and spend time getting to know your partner. This is helpful in all relationships, but especially important when doing long distance. We began our relationship this way, so it was our only option and we used it to our advantage.

PRIORITIZING EACH OTHER AND MAKING TIME

Life happens, and even when you’re well intentioned, last minute obligations arise throwing your ‘talk time’ out the window. We set specific times to connect uninterrupted, which was as important as doing our daily activities.  And often we do our daily activities with each other on the line! Whether driving to auditions, grocery runs or even friend and family get-togethers, we make a habit of including one another in the simplest of tasks, simultaneously showing our loved ones the importance of this developing relationship.

ROUTINE AND CONSISTENCY 

Throughout our relationship we’ve dealt with a nine and 10 hour time difference. So we decided to be each other’s ‘alarms’ in a sense. We’d wake each other up everyday –– when possible. Video and phone calls, send voice notes and video messages when we wanted to check in, and essentially being the first and last conversation of the day. Remember, this form of interaction was all we had, so building a routine and doing it consistently became second nature. Remember, the time zone alone could be a major impediment in connection. So being intentional about this creates a rhythm that should work for both of you.

FUN

You have to genuinely enjoy the person you’re trying to build with, and it’s vitally important to take advantage of the time you’re able to see each other in person. Have as much fun as possible, even by planning online game, movie, or date nights! In addition to having fun with your partner, you have to make sure to have fun on your own as well. Don’t lose sight of the things that bring you joy. When we were in the thick of things, I (Nikolai) was naturally being a little pessimistic. Whenever we’d planned to see each other, I’d imagine this was going to be the trip where it was going to feel different. Then we’d have so much fun together just being in the same space, which further highlighted why our relationship was worth fighting for.

Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe (Photo courtesy of Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe)
Courtesy of Nikolai Rowe and Roxanne Kalie-Rowe

In addition to having fun with your partner, you have to make sure to have fun on your own as well.

INTIMACY 

Intimacy played a huge role in keeping the fire going. Not only did we exercise self-gratification to hold us over until we got to be together physically, but we made use of the technology we had access to for various forms of ‘sexy time’. Abstinence is inevitable. So stepping outside our comfort zones to send sexy videos and/or pictures was something to get used to. You may not always be in the mood to, but it was important to us. At the end of the day, you have to keep the flame burning, how you and your partner choose to do that has to work for y’all. 

We made use of the technology we had access to for various forms of ‘sexy time.’

BOUNDARIES 

Our boundaries were mostly tailored around going out with friends –– how long we planned to stay out for, or whether there’d be a lengthy drop in communication. Peace of mind and security is a vital element to any healthy relationship. One of the ways to fulfill this is by creating mutual boundaries that you and your partner agree to. It’s impossible to see their every move, especially in a long distance relationship. Setting these boundaries gives you both a level of security, peace, and understanding that you’re being respectful and on the same page.

PLAN OF ACTION 

We didn’t always know when we’d see each other in person. But we consciously worked towards saving money so that by the fifth month of being apart, one of us would make the trip out. Having something to look forward to is crucial, as it maintains enthusiasm. The end goal was for Roxanne to move to the US, so we stuck to that plan. It gives you a sense of perspective when you know who is eventually going to make the life-rearranging move, and there’s a time frame in which to do so. No relationship will endure the distance forever.

Have the same shared vision.

Long distance sucks y’all! That’s our honest opinion, but having the same shared vision for the life we wanted to create kept us working at it. Now we’re here, married and living in the same time zone for the past 21 months.  We did that!

Connect with us through our podcast Going The Distance With NikoRox, our YouTube channel ‘On The Go With NikoRox and our Instagram @Nikorox

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