Dear Thelma: We keep fighting in our long-distance relationship


  • Family
  • Sunday, 24 Feb 2019

I have had a boyfriend for over a year now, but we have a long-distance relationship because he lives in the Philippines. We haven’t met but we do video calls often. 

We started dating quite soon, two months after knowing each other through an online game.

He seemed really sweet at first. This is my first relationship and I don’t know what to do or how to respond sometimes. But just after a month or two of dating, we had a small row.

Throughout our time together, I cried a lot, thinking that I have not done enough for him, or I shouldn’t have said what I said. We have had quite a lot of small fights and we always end up apologising to each other over and over and saying we love each other after that.

Sometimes when I touch on a sensitive topic (he’s quite hot-tempered like me), or when I say something back that he doesn’t like, he would get angry and ignore me the rest of the day. Like the naive girl that I am, I panic and weep, hoping he would accept my apologies.

I do try to understand his situation; he isn’t in a good financial state and he is often sad, but that’s the thing; he doesn’t explain or make me understand why he’s feeling that way. He would just brush it off and change the topic.

And now, I feel like all these apologies don’t even mean anything anymore. We keep fighting and then apologising. I get sleepless nights thinking how I should help him. But the truth is, I don’t know if I can handle another night of crying myself to sleep.

I want to mend our relationship but I don’t know how. I’m scared that if I leave him, he might hurt himself. He jokes about suicide sometimes, but I feel he might not just be joking about it.

Dear Cookie,

Relationships are never free of trouble, however, you haven’t even met yet and you are fighting and crying all the time. Sweetheart, this relationship is not for you. Move on.

As for this boy’s chatting about suicide, you are half a world away, so there’s not much you can do apart from telling him to go and find some help. If you are very worried, you might tell one of his friends there – if you know of any? A text is all it takes.

You say it’s your first relationship and so I’m going to give you some totally unsolicited advice. The pattern you describe with this particular experience is setting off a lot of alarm bells.

With this man, if you said something he didn’t like, he punished you by withdrawing affection. That’s abusive. Caring people discuss nicely.

And why are you apologising? Aren’t you allowed to have independent thoughts and opinions? What are you? A woman or a doormat?

Please, enrol yourself in some workshops that focus on self-esteem and confidence building. Top it up by reading up on how abusive relationships work, just so that you don’t fall into one later in your life.

Now, as for the next boyfriend, do avoid online relationships. When you talk online, you feel close but it’s too often a false feeling of communication because contact is limited. You have no idea what the people you talk to do when they step away from the computer.

I’m not saying online friendships aren’t rewarding. What I mean is that it’s not ideal when you’re looking for love. When it comes to picking a life partner, understanding his true self means you must see him interact with his friends and his family. And not just once, but over and over again. Otherwise, you just don’t see the whole person.

Also, by restricting yourself to video chat, you’re missing out on all the really good stuff that comes from face-to-face dating. Holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, and being together is truly magical. Nothing can replace it.

So, tell this boy it’s over and stop crying. Then go and learn about healthy and abusive relationships dynamics, date lots of people and I’m betting that you’ll soon meet The One.


Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor or e-mail star2.thelma@thestar.com.my. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.


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