A couple who live a five-hour drive away from each other have shared how they make their long-distance relationship work, saying it has "kept the honeymoon period going".
Janey McGill, 41, originally met her partner, David Monaghan, 46, in Bologna, Italy, in September 2020 while on a photography work trip.
Monaghan had been living in Italy since July 2020, but has since moved back to his hometown Hayle, Cornwall, a five-hour trip from McGill's house in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
While the distance could have been an issue, the couple say they would "resent each other" if they had to leave their current homes and move in together, and are happy in their "digital coexistence".
They describe being "well-suited" to their long-distance partnership because they are both "independent" and respect each other's professional and personal ambitions.
"A lot of people want to own somebody," Monaghan explains.
"People think of love as a kind of ownership which they have to hand all the time so you've just got to accept what it is, you've not got the person in your pocket all the time."
Both partners say living separately allows them to pursue their interests and careers while also enjoying each other's company, when possible.
"I suppose we're good at living long distance because we're both quite adaptable," McGill explains.
"If I made him move in with me he would be unhappy and resentful towards me for having to leave Cornwall behind, so he just wouldn't do it.
"And if he made me leave Oxfordshire I would be resentful. We're happy with those mutual boundaries in place.
"We're fine digitally co-existing without being on top of each all the time."
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Living separately also allows Monaghan, a network architect, to spend time surfing and enables McGill to travel the UK and abroad for her freelance photography and film work.
"We're cut from the same cloth, so we both understand how obsessive we can become over things and the need to be good at what we do," McGill says.
"I enjoy seeing him grow and I fully support it, and it's important for him to see me doing well in my work," she continues.
"He understands where I need to be and what I've got to do.
"I get more work living in Oxfordshire, because there are more opportunities down here than there would be in Cornwall.
"I have my life here – with friends and family here, and my dogs."
David adds: "Both of us are very driven with what we do.
"In the past we both can be quite obsessive and focused which has been a constant issue in my relationships which have fallen apart.
"But with Janey because we're both living apart we have the time to do things ourselves without having to attend to the other person."
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McGill and Monaghan initially met at a business dinner in Italy but got to know each other when they had some time off work during McGill's trip.
"I liked exploring all the little nooks and crannies and seeing where he lived, which was a beautiful place with frescos all over the walls and ceilings," she explains.
Monaghan adds: "I knew a little bit about her because we had seen each other on dating apps, but in person she was very beautiful, easily outgoing, calm, but very open."
The budding romance developed over the week they shared together before McGill returned to the UK and the couple were apart for two months.
"We would just spend time together by hanging out on FaceTime or calls," McGill says of the period.
"He would be playing guitar or we would just get on with our own things."
In December 2020 Monaghan came back to England for three weeks for Christmas, but when the coronavirus lockdown closed international borders, the couple ended up living together for three months.
"We're both easy-going and laidback so we get on very easily," McGill explains.
In August 2021, however, Monaghan decided to move to Hayle, Cornwall after buying his father's house and loving the area, leaving McGill at home in Oxfordshire.
The frequency of their visits varies from month to month, with the longest period apart lasting three months between December 2022 to February 2023.
However they manage to speak to each other every day – either by text, phone calls, or over FaceTime.
The low-key pair say they do not plan virtual dates, preferring to just make coffee on a Saturday morning or quietly sit in each other's company online.
"It's just very easy," McGill says. "We'll just hang out in the evening doing whatever we're doing without intense conversations."
Despite both being happy in their relationship there are no immediate plans to move in together.
"We like our lives how they are," McGill explains.
"I've got two dogs, but we both don't want children."
Though they are clearly making their long-distance romance work, both admit to experiencing some challenges.
"They're there on the end of the phone but they're not there," explains Monaghan. "You can't sit on the sofa and be together properly so there is good and bad to that.
"You have to take one step at a time and have to be honest with the other person as well."
Fortunately, their relationship does offer proof that distance can make the heart grow fonder.
"It has kept the honeymoon period going, because I still get super excited to see him and catch up," McGill says.
"Of course there can be a few difficult times. Sometimes if you are feeling insecure for whatever reason and then you just want a cuddle," she continues.
"But we just talk about it, and because we're both open it works really well."
Additional reporting SWNS.