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He’s in Scotland, She’s in the PH: How Do They Make It Work?

For James Duncan and Joann Darilay, it’s all about trust, constant communication, and shared goals.

There was a mutual attraction between James Duncan and Joann Darilay when they first met on Google+ in December 2015.  

“Her beautiful wee face caught my eye,” says James, 39, an artist and music producer in the security industry. (Read: Couple Shares What Makes a Relationship Simple and Easy

“Once I got to know Joann better, I sensed a lot of strength in her, in relation to her traveling for work. I really liked that she wasn’t afraid to go above and beyond to provide for the ones closest to her,” he adds.

“Apart from his handsome appearance, James’s spontaneity and straightforwardness fascinated me,” says Joann, 34, a private caregiver. 

“He’s funny and has a great sense of humor that gives me my daily dose of laughter and comedy. He knows how to cheer me up and I fell for that.”

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“A long-distance relationship makes a couple grow individually. Working through difficult times strengthens and improves a relationship.” (Photos courtesy of subjects)

James and Joann became a couple over a year and a half ago— but they have yet to meet in person. He is in his home country of Scotland, while she, who was working in Saudi Arabia when they met online, is based in Manila, Philippines.

Still, they manage to make their relationship work, despite the distance (10,833 km) and time difference (the Philippines is eight hours ahead of Scotland).

How do they do it? James and Joann give four tips for staying together even if you’re physically apart! (Read: Hey, We Can’t Help But Relate to These ‘Kwentong Jollibee’ Stories!)

Tip #1: Always Communicate and Stay Empathetic

“We make this relationship work by putting all our trust in each other,” says James. “Having regular, consistent chats while being open and empathetic is crucial. We enjoy using Messenger and we communicate every day, noon, and night.”

“I make sure to disclose my doubts and feelings to him,” Joann says. “I let him know how those things affect me without him getting offended because we promised to deal with things carefully.” (Read: Three My Pope-approved tips for better communication)

She adds, “Talking every morning, noon, and night also makes me feel less lonely. But when he’s busy, I keep myself busy too to avoid overthinking. I usually watch movies or Korean dramas. Sometimes I go out with my friends.”

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James in one of the “tropical shirts” sent by Joann. (Photos courtesy of subjects, (flags) Wikipedia, and (map) Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Tip #2: Be Absolutely Sure That This Is What You Want

It’s certainly not easy being apart from each other, but I guess life isn’t supposed to be easy,” says James. “I think being very positive and hopeful about our future helps a lot with all issues that may occur.”

Tip #3: Have a Shared Goal

For James and Joann, it helps that they share the same vision and goal. “We are sure that we will be fully together one day,” says James. “I’m also sure the determination and dedication we have shown each other will benefit our future together.”

Adds Joann, “We believe we are strong enough to close the distance and live the life we’ve always dreamed of.” (Read: 5 Tips to Keep Yourself Motivated and Focused on Your Goals)

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VIRTUAL BIRTHDAY PRESENTS. For their recent back-to-back birthdays, James greeted Joann online with a cake, candles, and song. Joann surprised James with a handmade card and two T-shirts. (Photos courtesy of subjects)

Tip #4: Place All Trust in Each Other

I don’t like anything about long-distance relationships,” says James. “The distance is the enemy. Once the enemy has been defeated, we both can live our lives the way we have been dreaming about for a long time.” (Read: 5 Heartfelt Prayers for Long Distance Relationships)

To this, Joann agrees. “A long-distance relationship is lonely. It requires a lot of strength and positivity because it can be lonesome most of the time. On the other hand, a long-distance relationship makes a couple grow individually. Working through difficult times strengthens and improves a relationship.”

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