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Love Stories: So Far, Yet So Good
After the loss of her husband, this author felt like the odds were stacked against the possibility of ever finding love again. But love found a way back to her, and endured across continents and an ocean.
Things were hard after I lost John, my first husband in March 2016. I knew I had to move on, but a part of me thought I would never again find what I had with him. Before he passed on, John made me promise I would find someone and have a family. As a widow in her mid-thirties, with a mixed religious background, my world offered limited options. But one thing was clear: I wanted love—not just companionship.
By early 2019, dating apps in India had left me exhausted. I decided to try international dating sites as a last resort. Matthew was one of the first profiles the site threw up as a strong match. I remember being drawn to his eyes first. They were patient, kind and full of understanding. I had just sent him a smiley, but he replied with a beautiful message, saying how he had liked the honesty and courage of my profile. Before we knew it, we were on a video call. At first, we would talk for hours, discovering how similar yet how different we were. With time the conversations only got better.
Even though we were only faces on a screen at that point, it took us just a month to realise we were meant to be. While I was mentally prepared for a long-distance relationship when I registered on the site, Matthew was hoping to find someone nearby, someone in the US, when he signed up. He hadn’t expected to find someone from halfway across the world. So, for him, this relationship was a huge leap. But I think what makes it work is the affirmation we get from being together. We’re happier around each other. We’re healthier, smarter and we make good choices. We also have all these inside jokes that make everyday life so much fun! Most importantly though, we just get each other.
We met in London for the first time, and our chemistry, it turned out, was just as strong in the real world as it was in the virtual one. That bond only grew stronger with time, and on 29 December 2019, we tied the knot. We knew my visa to the US would take time to process, so we had planned a quick, small wedding. No one knew anything about COVID-19 at that point, and when the coronavirus did actually send the world into lockdown, we told ourselves we’ll just have to wait a little longer.I didn’t know when I was going to see Matthew again. Without telecommunication, the distance would have been a lot harder to deal with, yes, but given the difference in our time zones, it was tough for us to make time for each other and manage our crazy schedules. My cheerfulness would give way to long bouts of being really upset. No matter how much you talk to someone virtually, there are days when you just want to be hugged or held. In our situation, we had to ensure we were always open with each other and expressing ourselves. But, sometimes all you need is silent togetherness. The emotional toll coupled with the day-to-day struggles of the ‘new normal’ affected my health. With friends and family all in different places, I had no support system.
Prolonged isolation quickly turned into loneliness. What makes long-distance relationships such a challenge is that most of what we share comes from what we say. If you’re having a bad day, you only have words to express yourself and the thing about words is, they can be easily misinterpreted. Ironically, the only way out of this is to keep talking, keep telling each other how you feel. That’s what Matthew and I always try to do. We do not let matters escalate. I often joke that we’re too old for that sort of thing—but it helps that he’s 45 and I am 38.
Over time, we have built a kind of schedule of intimacy. The first thing he does after waking up is give me a call. I call him before I go to bed. We still get dressed up and have date nights. His phone is always on, so even if I need him at some ridiculous hour, he is there to tell me things are going to be okay. The picture of our future is what always gives us hope. In December, when we met in Dubai, we said to each the same thing we do when apart—“We’ve got this!”