If you’ve been following my blog, you would know that at one point in my short life, I was in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend. Fast forward a year later, and here we are – living together in a city, once foreign, that has become our home.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’d also know that I am extremely introverted. It takes me longer than the average person to warm up to someone, but once I am comfortable, I am a completely different person.
In all honesty, after that bout of long-distance, I wished nothing more than to close the gap between him and I. I guess I got my wish when we both decided to pursue different career paths in this city – him in the field of coaching and development, and me in the advertising industry.
As someone who deeply values time alone, it was a drastic shift – from doing everything on my own and for myself, to having to do things together; to take another person’s needs into consideration. Thankfully, Yang is a creature of compromise, so I’ve been the more difficult one in this relationship.
When I was working at an agency, it was difficult to make time for him. Weeknights were spent in the office, and weekends were spent hunching over my computer, working from home.
That all changed when I decided to take up a job at the organisation he is working in, but as a writer. Now, I had to face him 24/7. It didn’t help that we had similar skills, so that meant that we had to work in similar capacities. There was a huge overlap in roles. What little time I had alone at work to focus on building myself, had become a place for my relationship as well.
It was then that I truly understood why two people who are in a relationship are discouraged from working with each other. It was difficult not to bring work into our relationship, and carry our emotions from our relationship into the workplace. I had to constantly see him, and time together was very much devalued – and reduced to a working relationship, even at home. I could not even find the capacity to grow – and I felt like I was constantly being held back by a weight that was pulling me down.
I made the decision to back out of this toxic environment, and work on my career in a separate space. I feel much more liberated now, but it gave me a chance to reflect on my three short months having to be around Yang all day, every day. I’m not saying nothing good came out of it – but now, I truly understand the meaning of giving and receiving space as a couple. I used to think spending all my time with him would be the most ideal situation in my relationship – but I realised that it’s not about quantity, but quality.
Next month, I will be beginning a new journey at the advertising agency where I began my career – and I am absolutely thrilled that I was given the opportunity to start anew, thanks to my supportive boss (more on that later), but I digress.
The whole point of this post is to remind myself of the things I did throughout the three months we spent every waking (and sleeping) hour together, in an attempt to keep the relationship fresh and interesting; tips for the future I will need to pull out of my magician’s hat should I ever need it again someday. They’re quite likely all cliches, but sometimes, it’s the cliches we tend to overlook.
Relationships are give and take, even more so when you’re living with each other. Chores are split in between us, and bills – especially so. We’re like two complementary cogs in a machine – when he sweeps and mops the floor, I clean the bathroom. When I cook dinner, he washes up – all in auto mode. Once you get into the rhythm of things, it gets easier to draw the line. We also make sure to never let finances get in the way of our relationship, yet, if ever one of us needs the extra boost, the other person would be there to help. What helps as well is when we give in to each other’s cravings – for dessert, McDonald’s, and fried chicken… Okay, he gives in mostly to mine.
I’m not going to lie – dating becomes difficult when you spend all your time together. There is hardly any separation between time spent together, and quality time spent together. What we lacked in quality time, we made up for by having impromptu dates – be it catching a movie (one of our favourite past times!) or stopping by Fatty Crab at Taman Megah when all we wanted to have was a hawker meal at Ming Tien.
Talk it through
Admittedly, I did not do enough of this in times of trouble with Yang. Although it would have been a more effective way of problem-solving, I tend to keep to myself so I have time to collect my thoughts, before I jump into a conversation. Yang, however, prefers talking things through, which is not always easy for me. I soon learned that we each have different ways of coping with issues, but it is always important to deal with your emotions rather than have it manifest on the inside.
Never lose sight of why you fell in love
As harsh as it sounds, I would always have to remind myself of the things that made him special to me, and why this relationship means a great deal more than others that I’ve been in. It wasn’t difficult to see – but there were times I failed to realise it. From all his small gestures, like pouring me a glass of water before bed, to doing all the chores that I did not like – all I needed was to take a step back and take notice of everything. Mindfulness is key.
Make time for yourself
Although it was difficult, it was important that we spent time apart from each other. Whether it was me penning my thoughts down by the computer, or him at the gym, time alone always gives us the space we need to reflect on ourselves. It keeps us in check, so that we don’t lose sight of who we are, and what we want to be.
Now that I’m starting afresh at an old/new workplace, I am looking forward to a renewed relationship with my Yang – one that is centred not on the amount of time we spend together, but the quality of it. Wish us luck!