Today we talk with Laura (23) and Thabo (25). A long-distance relationship couple who met over 2 years ago in South Africa. In this interview, we hear many wonderful stories from their adventures and learn some great tips along the way.
Hey Laura and Thabo. Thank you for joining us, please introduce yourselves and share the story how you met?
Hey guys, we first met in February 2016 when I travelled from Devon, U.K to Durban in South Africa for a volunteering trip. I was part of a team in a small village called Inchanga where we were based in a local school teaching. We all lived with local host families and that’s where I found Thabo.
I arrived on a Friday afternoon and he was stood waiting to take my bags in. I couldn’t make eye contact with him because I thought he was so gorgeous! Three days passed by of just exchanging shy smiles which is very unlike me as I’m the loudest and bubbly girl going. I knew something crazy was about to happen!
He finally approached me and simply said ‘when am I allowed to put a ring on your finger ?’. The rest is a whirlwind. We spent that three months in a secret relationship due to our very different cultures. He visited England, I went back to South Africa, he came back to England, I went back to South Africa – I think you get the drift!
We got to know one another’s families and experience two very different lives. It’s been incredible. In November 2016 he got down on one knee in the beautiful city of Bath, England. And we have just had the most beautiful wedding in Sunny South Africa – 13th January 2018.
I was lucky enough for friends and family to travel out there and even luckier to spend a further three months by my new husband’s side before coming on home to the U.K. Now it’s time for more saving until we head to Ireland together at the end of the year.
Our wedding video:
Congratulation on your wedding and thank you for sharing your LDR story. What was the attraction that first brought you together?
His gorgeous eyes grabbed my attention. But as we began to spend more time together it was our cultures that were fascinating. Thabo was so inspiring and headstrong. We could easily talk for hours on end. We both have a Christian faith and were able to share that with one another. And he made me laugh like crazy!
How often do you visit each other now?
As often as possible, usually every four months we will try to do between a month to two-month visit.
Can you share a memorable experience you’ve been through as a couple?
Bringing Thabo to England for the first time. He had never been out of Africa before. Everywhere we went he was mesmerised! We visited London for a long weekend and that was our first weekend of being together freely without facing racial abuse in the streets of S.A.
It was the most amazing feeling to walk down the street holding hands, kissing and just thinking ‘wow, we’re doing this, we’re going for it and we can’t wait to see what our future holds.’
What activities do you enjoy together?
We love days out in general. In South Africa, it’s to find a mountain and go exploring and climbing. We always enjoy a little bbq and picnic blanket. And when we get to the top we just thank God for getting us this far!
We love the beach, love finding cute coffee shops, going to church together, shopping (Thabo’s the one obsessed believe it or not!) and we LOVE dancing!!
What is the most romantic thing you have done, or your S.O has done for you?
I got home from work in England one evening to a very quiet house. He had put rose petals up the stairs with candles which led to our room and had written on our bed ‘my future wife’. There were fairy lights everywhere and a candlelit dinner waiting downstairs. He’s a romantic!
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from your LDR?
When I visited S.A in May 2017 Thabo told me we were going on an adventure. We hired a car and drove 8 hours to the country of Lesotho where some of his family were living. He told me to go in open eye’d. Not a problem!
We arrived at mud huts, no electric and no bathrooms! Only he would forget to mention this to me. But it was FANTASTIC! I settled in nicely to my new mud hut. No bed, but it was all apart of the fun and games. As the days went on I found myself going out at 6 a.m to collect firewood, riding around the mountains on horses (they don’t do cars), wee’ing in a bucket, wearing gorgeous African clothing, eating chicken feet and even having to wash out goats intestines!
It was wonderfully awful. I didn’t this travel detour when on my flight out to S.A but would go back tomorrow if I could!
Do you share a favourite movie or T.V show?
We love watching comedians. Trevor Noah is our favourite!
Which resources have helped your LDR?
We both have a countdown app on our phones. I always use the Skyscanner, Airbnb and booking.com apps also – In my spare time, I love to shop around and see the best prices and find cute Airbnb or pretty hotels. We use Whatsapp and FaceTime a million times a day!
We both have a daily bible verse so we share with each other – that’s our daily motivation to keep focused and patient. And I’m always looking at long distance couples on Instagram as it really helps on the hard days of being apart by knowing we aren’t the only ones doing this!
What do you value most about your relationship?
Laura – EVERYTHING. He’s taught me so much about relationships. He shows me his trust, great communication and value. Once you enter a long distance relationship you value one another in ways you didn’t know existed.
He makes endless amounts of effort to show his love daily! His positively is my motivator. Having him keep our situation is a positive light 24/7 when struggling with a long distance relationship is a breath of fresh air. He makes me laugh so much and finally, he always makes time for us.
Thabo – I love Laura’s patience. No matter how hard days can be when we haven’t seen each other for 4 months she always remains patient. I was first attracted to her huge kind heart. She can meet anyone and make them feel comfortable. She has done endless amounts for me and I’ll forever be grateful.
She’s hilarious also. I can trust her with my all and I love how she tells me everything – I can trust her with my all. I value everything she does.
Let’s talk LDR gifts – Have you received or sent any special ones?
Laura -When we were at our villa in South Africa in Jan this year I found a gorgeous necklace in a pretty box waiting for me on our bed. Thabo bought it ‘just because’.
Thabo – When I came to England, Laura had wrapped up 24 different presents for my birthday and hid them all over the house with clues where to find them. Very thoughtful.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
‘’When love is real, it finds a way’’
‘’Maybe it won’t work out. But maybe seeing if it does will be the best adventure’’
‘’Good things take time’’
What tips would you give to other LDR couples?
1: Patience – being in a long distance relationship is hard – as you all know. And some days are harder than others! It’s important to stay patient as your relationship is a process until you can be together permanently. You must walk the adventure together and patience will keep you sain.
2: Happiness – trying to stay positive together is important. It’s very easy to moan and complain at how long you’ve been apart, how long you have left etc but to make the days go quicker you need to keep each other laughing.
3: Communication – Talk as often as possible! We are lucky we have so many apps now. Thabo and I, take advantage of free whatsapp calling so we can be in contact constantly. Be open with one another even if it’s at 3am in the morning.
What lesson have you gained from living long distance?
We’ve learnt what it is to fall in love. At times it’s been easy to say ‘let’s pack it all in, we are too young for this, let’s find someone in our own countries’. We’ve faced a lot of negativities from family and friends along the way and that makes us more determined.
We’ve learnt to work alongside each other and listen to each other. It’s made us both grow up very quickly and become knowledgeable and mature.
Do you have nicknames for each other?
Babe is the most common. Thabo calls me Lou Lou – he thinks it sounds cuter than Laura! I cal Thabo – Thabs – don’t know why!
How did your friends and family react to your LDR?
We had a lot of backlash from the beginning. My parents thought I was crazy and some of his family have cut contact. It’s been extremely hard. His family wanted him to follow his culture and marry a black woman within his village.
We had to push through and we know there’s still a lot of doubt from both sides but it was great to see our families meet at our wedding. It’s been a strain at times but we’ve learnt to keep ourselves to ourselves with our relationship. One day we will prove it is all worth it.
What are your long-term plans?
We aim to move to Dublin, Ireland together at the end of the year. Immigration rules are near impossible to meet for the U.K and sadly S.A is very corrupt.
We also like the thought of beginning in a county neither of us has connections. Once we settled we aim to buy a house and eventually start a family. But first, we want to travel. I love travelling and have visited 19 countries and Thabo hasn’t travelled much which makes travelling shoot to the top of our list when we’re finally together.
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