Commercial lobster fisherman, Chris Dabney. Photo by Emily Ekbom
Feeling distressed and worried is a shared concern for all partners of commercial fishermen (PCFs). The longing is real. The disappointment is real. This type of relationship is not for the faint of heart.
I figured the best way to show you what partners of commercial fishermen go through is to post an email correspondence between a reader from Canada and myself (Hi, Lianna!).
In the email, Lianna expresses feelings that many PCFs have felt before. I respond with a few tips that may help the distance seem a little less so.
(And if you have any idea or tips that work for you, please enter in the comments below!)
Also, if you haven’t already signed up for the private Facebook group created just for women like us, please click on the image or pink link below. We’d love to have you!
Ready to enter the minds and hearts of a few PCFs? Ok, let’s dive in…
The Email – “I feel guilty…”
I’m so so happy I found your blog. I’m from Canada and I only started dating a commercial fisherman/diver at the end of July, knowing full well that he would be gone for 4 months (September – January).
We are infatuated with each other. We said we’d see how things work out between us and try the very best we can. When he can, he calls me on the satellite phone, and when he’s in port (if he has cell service), we are calling and texting non-stop.
He left for Northern British Columbia on August 29th. He’s been gone for 6 weeks now without any news of when he might come back for a visit before the end of the season.
This is the first time I’ve (been in a relationship like this), and I found myself a little heartbroken tonight when I found out he wouldn’t be back for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving). In my tone of voice, I was pretty disappointed. I said I was frustrated and sad he wouldn’t make it. Then, the satellite phone cut out.
I feel guilty that I acted this way because I knew going into this relationship that he would be busy making as much money as he could.
I was told that commercial fishing is up to mother nature (and the skipper), and he would really ONLY know at the last minute if he could make it down (and plane rides are expensive).
I’m still feeling upset. I’m looking for guidance on how to best use my time on the next phone call and how to manage my emotions while still being genuine.
Again, I’m so incredibly happy I found you and this blog, because I feel this is so different from so many other LDR’s (long-distance relationships).
Thanks in advance! -Lainna
The Response and Tips!
First of all, thank you for reading! I’m so glad you found me because I completely understand what you’re going through. It’s even harder when you have all the feels of a new relationship. Things can seem diluted and twisted when we don’t hear from our men; our minds can write incredibly whacked-out stories that leave us in pain.
Your disappointment is completely valid, and your response to your last conversation is totally understandable. What a bummer that the sat phone cut off mid-convo! I bet that felt very disheartening, like you sabotaged yourself in a way.
But, you didn’t. And here’s my advice on how to move forward.
- Next time you speak with him. Validate your feelings by saying that navigating through this unique relationship is more difficult than you thought. But the thing is, you ARE navigating to find clarity and ways to support him and yourself, too.
“Though it’s hard for me sometimes because I miss you, I want you to know that I fully support what you’re doing and admire the time and effort you put into your career.”
So simple, yet covers all the bases. You miss him. That’s why you’re upset. That’s love, baby. And as you grow to love him even more, you’re learning what being a partner of a commercial fisherman means.
Anytime you feel upset, remember those words: It’s hard for me sometimes because I miss you, but I am here to support you. Give the support you’d like in return.
Relationships are give-and-take. But since he’s the one currently on a boat in the middle of Alaska, you’re the one doing more of the “give.” It’s imbalanced right now, but eventually, it will even out. (If it doesn’t balance out, you have to ask yourself if the relationship is worth your time. You are valuable! Remember that!)
Here are more tips that may help during fishing season:
- Text him sweet messages he’ll see when he gets a signal.
- Share random bits about your day when you both can talk again. You are the “normal” in his life right now. Offer that, knowing soon enough you both will understand what “normal” means to you.
- Through days of silence, you’ll have a chance to figure out what you really need from a relationship. (I recommend the Love Languages test. It can bring to light what we didn’t know we needed. Even writing down what you don’t want – and seeing it on paper – can do wonders for inner strength!) Once your man is on dry land again, share with him what you need from him.
- Take this time apart to send good vibes to him and yourself. This is an exciting time in a relationship, and the distance allows you to lay a foundation of trust, communication, and understanding for the future.
I hope this helps in some way. It’s hard being a partner of a commercial fisherman sometimes. And it can be hard for them to understand where we’re coming from, too. But expressing your feelings is healthy and important. So is being there for him when he, quite literally, can’t be there for you.
As a side note, one day after the honeymoon phase has turned into a solid relationship, you’ll appreciate the time apart. This kind of relationship is great for independent women to carry on with their own lives for blocks at a time (without worrying about what the other wants for dinner 🙂 ). Plus, it’s true what they say – absence makes the heart grow fonder!
You’re doing great. And if you have any more questions, you can always email me! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, girl. You are not alone and you did not mess anything up. Congrats on finding a wonderful, hardworking man. He is lucky to have a caring, loving woman like you.
Catch up on more!