GEOGRAPHY – Going the Distance (The Champagne Hero)

A few weeks ago The Champagne Hero wrote about the Love & Lust Halloween Party from a boy’s perspective, alongside The Rebound Gal’s thoughts on the event.  Now he’s back over in Germany, and ready to post his first ever solo blog post!  And it’s a heartfelt one.

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx

So far I’ve been intrigued and entertained by all the blog posts by my fellow Experimental Daters.

I could easily bleat on about each and every one of the Experimental Dating topics, however I’ve chosen to address Geography first.  I know Miss Twenty-Nine and The Rock Chick have both written about the topic, but I hope I have a different and unique take on this topic.

The Past 

I’ve been stationed in Germany with the military for almost two and a half years.

Despite the amazing times and opportunities this has presented me with, no doubt material for future posts, one recurring theme has been that of dating and in particular the intricacies and issues which being over here has raised.

When I first came to Germany I was in a relationship.  Although we’d been on and off at times, we had five years together stemming from University.  As a relationship that started during our formative years we had certainly grown close, and had a real bond with the very real prospect of a lifetime together raising its head more regularly towards the end of that fateful relationship.

The year at Sandhurst was hard enough and could easily be the topic of one blog alone. The relentless pace of life, weekends and other times away, change in attitudes instilled through the course, and at times the utter removal and lack of awareness of the world outside of the bubble we were living in meant that contact with friends and loved ones was at best hard to maintain.

Combined with the life changes my ex was going through herself –  being in the ‘real world’ for the first time after Uni – it meant that the bond we shared was strained, and stretched beyond anything it had endured before.

I can only applaud the girl for sticking through it with me, as looking back I know what hard work it must have been, even if I didn’t show her that at the time. With Commissioning fast approaching and looking forward to fulfilling promises of spending time together at weekends and being able to speak freely, it was something of a blow when the Army decided to change my posting from near London to the middle of Germany just two weeks prior to the Passing Out Parade.

Needless to say it took a lot of talking and frank, honest evaluation of where we were mentally to decide whether to give it a go and make it work over distance.

Arriving in Germany with the hard-earned support of my ex,  I received another blow on my very first day – I would be deploying to Afghanistan in three weeks time for a six month tour.   I had to get all my affairs in order, do the prerequisite training and fly out to the sand.

Obviously I had very different ideas about this as an opportunity for myself  compared to her impression that it would be impossible to  continue the relationship. Looking back now I have to hand it to her.  She stood by me and supported me when I was fulfilling my professional ambitions with little regard for how it may affect her.  We agreed to keep in touch with a view to carrying on when I got back.

Luckily for her I returned after only two short months, but by that time it was obvious that the damage was done. We limped on, unhappy and trying to live up to former glories, until we rather unceremoniously ended, with rumours of infidelity on her part, and accusations of selfishness on mine.

This is not the place to criticise this girl or go over old ground – don’t get me wrong we both at times acted with a lack of dignity and honesty that rather devalued the five years we spent together.

I’m big enough and ugly enough to have dealt with it and moved on but it is interesting that in the spirit of this blog I look back on this and am able to identify a few key points, which perhaps some of you guys can learn from, so as not to make the same mistakes I did.

1) Effort

Distance requires equal effort and understanding on both parts. Too often it was too easy to blame the distance for the call you didn’t make or the message you didn’t reply to.

2) Priorities

You have to be prepared to accept that due to the distance you may not always be a priority for the other person or them for you. If you are living in another country then you will be creating your own life, with your own circle of friends, lifestyle etc and without understanding that it makes things incredibly hard work.

3) Support

If you are embarking on the start of your career then your other half has to support and understand this. We all have to make life choices and if you are happy with them then you need to be with someone who supports that.

4) Admitting Defeat

Sometimes you have to admit defeat. It is too easy to cling on and tell each other that things will change, even if you don’t believe it but you just don’t want to be another relationship that is a victim of distance.

5) If You are Meant to Be …

…Then none of the points above will be relevant.

The Present

Since that relationship ended two years ago, I’ve been single and dating sporadically.

It’s thrown up other issues I hadn’t ever considered before they became prevalent.

For a start, being a foreigner in a country is a double-edged sword with regards to how you’re perceived. This may be of particular relevance to servicemen and women but I can speak from experience when I say that many people have preconceived notions about what it means to

a) be English, and

b) be in the Army. 

Countless times a relatively promising conversation with a new female acquaintance has swiftly fallen on its arse when she realised where I was from and what I do for a living. (My abysmal chat notwithstanding that is!)

I’ve certainly noticed that the way I’m received is entirely different when I’m abroad. Be it the self-deprecating and sarcastic British humour, the gallows humour and profanity of the military, the British attitudes towards manners, the energy, attitudes and enthusiasm of those who serve, or the very British/Military attitudes towards to all things such as drinking and what is deemed acceptable; I don’t really know for sure but it all makes a difference.

I mean for me on a night out, things such as naked bar, inappropriate jokes, sambuca haircuts, drinking from a shoe and a steady supply of champagne are relatively normal occurrences – all of which are more readily tolerated in the UK than, say, the Swedish town I lived in for a year.

But I digress.

The point I’m trying to make is that in my experience, who we are, our attitudes and behaviours, as well as what we do for a living, are interpreted entirely differently by different cultures and that has a direct impact in one’s ability to meet and date potential partners and fulfil all your needs.

For some of my soldiers, in a country where prostitution is legal and accepted as a norm this can be quickly rectified by something like 80 Euros.

So, where does leave someone like me? In a country where it’s harder to get along with locals for the reasons already discussed, and in a job that is notorious for ending relationships with infamous ‘Dear John’ letters, you could be forgiven for thinking it is a lost cause.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as I have recently discovered through the Plenty of Fish website. I’m sure you all know the sketch with that website, so I won’t bang on about its merits vs negative points.

It has, however, been something of an experience for me though, as even though I may strike up a decent rapport with someone there is always that awkward moment when I have to respond to the question of where I’m from and I answer honestly – Germany.

Even though it’s only the written word, I can usually tell when the interest level drops off, and no matter how good or bad my chat is, they are often disinterested based on that fact alone.

I must admit though, that I do find the whole things still very new and awkward; sending random messages to people you have never met.

The Future

That said, I am moving back to the UK in under a week now and I am meeting someone from POF when I am back which, based on our current communication, I am rather looking forward to.

Being able to meet someone at will, whether for a website or not, is something I am certainly looking forward to, as I know that distance has been a large contributor to my being single for a while.

So there we are, that is a run through of my past and present experience of geography as a factor in relationships and dating, with a little glimpse of the future.

The Champagne Hero

 

2 Comments on GEOGRAPHY – Going the Distance (The Champagne Hero)

  1. Having served in the forces (army) and married to someone in another arm of the forces (navy) I know the distance thing better than most. Throughout the ten years of our relationship we hardly spent any time living together, she was posted somewhere random or I’d get posted last minute or be on tour. I was actually posted within 1 hours drive of her for the first time in four years and was then told I had three days notice to pack for Canada to take up a staff position at BATUS in Alberta.

    No sooner had I completed that, I was then sent to Iraq for 7 months and on my return she was posted 5 hours away. It just kept happening again and again. In the end there was too much mistrust and resentment between us due to strain of being married and never seeing each other.

    We gave it a go, had a wonderful son but then her work forced her to move and I was reading law at uni. This was the final nail in the coffin and it all went downhill fast from there. This was not through infidelity, but because of the stresses and strain of being apart and not living as a family.

    Distance can work if you are willing to work at it, but in the end you have to be able to spend the time together required for a relationship to flourish. Without this time people grow apart and forget why they are with someone in the first place.

    My next dating venture or relationship will have to be with someone a lot closer to home.

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