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  • Writer's pictureMaria Kestane

Love from afar ... 'It sucks'

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Valentine's Day is approaching. For those in long-distance relationships, while love might not be in the air, it doesn't mean all is lost for the romantic day.

From left Mina Ibrahim is proposing to his long-distance girlfriend, Maria Guirguis, in August 2022. His family drove from Windsor, Ont., to Burlington, Ont., and stayed for the weekend to be there for the special moment. Photo by Sherif Louis.

When Susana A. Arkarakas made the decision to give up on love following her divorce, the universe had other plans.

An aspect of those plans? More than 4,000 kilometres of distance between her and partner.

“We’ve known each other for many years but our lives went in different directions,” Arkarakas said. “He followed his passion and moved to LA as an actor.”

The two recently reconnected through mutual friends and have been talking every day since.

Arkarakas said they have been planning for their first Valentine’s Day since rekindling. She said her partner planned to fly to Toronto to see her, but at the last-minute, work will keep him in California until a couple of weeks after the day passes.

Until then, all the love celebrations for the two will be held virtually.

Whether it’s a rain-checked dinner or a virtual date-night, Valentine’s Day looks different for those celebrating from afar.

Folks in long-distance relationships are navigating the love-filled day as best as they can, considering roadblocks such as conflicting schedules or high travel prices.

Long-distance looks different for everybody. For some, it means requiring a plane ride to be able to see their partner.

For others, like Maria Guirguis, it’s having her fiancé live in the same province, but with a three-hour car ride that separates him from her.

Even though the distance is manageable, she said it still takes a toll on the relationship.

“Sometimes it feels like you’re putting a pause on your relationship until the next time you see each other," Guirguis said. “Long distance sucks.”

For their first Valentine’s Day last year, Guirguis and her fiancé, Mina, got the chance to spend it together in person.

This year is a different story.

“His work schedule is a mess and we don’t know when he’ll be able to come,” Guirguis said. “I don’t know when I’ll see him next.”

Even though the possibility of a virtual date presents itself, Guirguis said that life can get too hectic for even that sometimes.

For Tyler Nason and his partner, however, they’re using the opportunity of a virtual date as something to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

“We’ll probably order dinner and watch one of our favourite shows,” Nason said. “I’ll send him flowers and a little present.”

Although couples try to make the best of it, virtual dates come with their limitations.

Lidia Abu Saleh-Briek recalls virtual Valentine’s Days, when she and her now-husband were doing long-distance work for four years. Although they were still able to celebrate considering the circumstances, it just wasn’t the same.

“I remember feeling pretty bad FOMO on Valentine’s Day," Saleh-Briek said. "I would see people posting cute things and just feel kind of bummed that I can’t be near my boyfriend and properly celebrate.

“[Valentine’s Day] would definitely make long distance more difficult because besides FaceTiming and sending gifts, there wasn’t much else to do,” she said.

Being on the other side of long distance now, she points to the distance as something that made her relationship with her husband that much stronger.

For some, it doesn’t take the distance coming to an end to understand the benefits that come out of long-distance.

Guirguis said that not seeing her fiancé on a more frequent basis left her with no other choice but to have trust in their love.

“The level of honesty, communication, trust and commitment makes your relationship so much stronger in a much shorter time period than if you had the safety of seeing this person everyday,” she said.

For others like Nason, he said time apart makes the time they do have together that much better.

“We know it’s hard to be apart from one another, however it gives us more of an appreciation of our time when we are together,” he said.

Although Arkarakas thought it was the end for her journey of love, she’s sure that regardless of the situation she’s in, the distance has offered more good than anything else.

“We have learned so much about each other, more in this short time than we would have in a typical relationship," she said. “I have never made a deeper connection with anyone.”

Arkarakas said she’s ready for this new chapter in her life, and is open to receiving all that the universe has planned for her.

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