Secondary School Couple 

If you’re a Singaporean ’90s kids, you’ll probably remember signing in and out of MSN to get your crushes’ attention. Perhaps you were lucky and senpai noticed you and asked you to ‘stead’. While blowing your monthly 500-SMS student plan as a secondary school couple, you might have even thought, “I’m going to marry this person when I grow up.”

As fun and giddy as young love is, it often doesn’t last. But for Amirah, 23, and Danial, 23, they’ve managed to beat the odds.

The couple of 8 years are secondary school sweethearts who have managed a 3-year long-distance relationship (LDR). This is the story of how they managed to ‘last long’ and transition through the different stages of life together.

After football and cheer practice, aged 17

Meeting in Secondary 2

The pair met in their second year of secondary school at Anglo-Chinese School (International) Singapore in 2014. Amirah was in Malay language class when her teacher announced they had a new student named “Danial”.

Fourteen-year-old Danial had grown up in Brunei and recently moved to Singapore with his family due to his parents taking up new jobs.

“When I heard the name ‘Danial’, I expected a chubby-looking Chinese boy,” Amirah jokes. Instead, she saw a “thin, slightly tanned, handsome boy”.

While her friends greeted their new classmate enthusiastically, Amirah shyly muttered a small “hi” with her head tilted downwards towards her lap. Unbeknownst to her, Danial also found her attractive.

One of Amirah’s friends set in motion a plan to set the two up by asking Danial if Amirah could borrow his textbook. The plan was a success as Amirah and Danial started talking and hanging out after.

At a student council event, aged 17

Amirah was the one to make the first move. She would make it a point to leave school for home at the same time as Danial so they’d walk to the bus stop together. The more Danial got to know Amirah, the more interested and eager he was to see her.

Having the same group of friends nudged the budding relationship along. They would initiate group outings as a pretext to spend time with each other. Five months of incessant texting and one overdue “What are we?” talk later, Danial asked Amirah to be his girlfriend on 10 March 2012.

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Gaining their parents approval to date

In the early stages of dating, their parents did not warm to their children seeing each other. They would deny the relationship and refer to Amirah and Danial as ‘friends’ instead of ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’.

Amirah’s parents thought it was puppy love and wouldn’t last. Danial’s parents told him that “having a girlfriend isn’t something that [he] should be thinking about” at 15.

It was only after Amirah and Danial turned 17 that their parents acknowledged and accepted their relationship. Both sets of parents realised their children genuinely cared and supported each other, and were in a committed and serious relationship.

Though they had overcome the obstacle of gaining their parents’ approval, a bigger challenge was yet to be.

Overcoming LDR

When the time to enrol in university came, Amirah chose to study Business & Management at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) while Danial pursued Architecture at The University of Nottingham in the UK. Amirah and Danial were now faced with the challenge of maintaining their LDR.

On an overseas school trip, aged 17

The couple had to adjust from spending almost every day together to not at all. Initially, there was a lot of fighting due to both parties being unused to the sudden transition. They would get jealous and emotional when they saw other couples spending time together.

But Amirah and Danial were determined to make their relationship work. They made the effort to communicate their feelings clearly and be transparent with each other. Every night, they checked in on each via Skype, even if it was just a short five-minute call to ask, “How was your day?”.

During their anniversary or other special occasions, Danial would go the extra mile to have flowers delivered to her house. During the 3-month summer term break, Danial would return home to Asia. The couple would then split their time between Brunei and Singapore.

They maintained this arrangement for 3 years until Danial graduated and returned to Singapore.

Revealing secret to LDR and a successful relationship

For Amirah and Danial, they pin taking the effort to understand their significant other’s values and choices as the key to a long-lasting relationship. Demonstrating that you understand the rationale behind your partner’s decision minimises arguments as he/she would feel emotionally supported.

“We were once inseparable kids. Now, we have grown to be two adults who continuously motivate and inspire one another to be [our best selves], regardless of us being in the same or different country. I love [Danial] because [he is] my support, my soul mate and my best friend,” Amirah shares.

“And I love you because you’ll give me the support I need when I really need it,” Danial finishes.

At a friend’s birthday party, aged 23

How To Survive A Long-Distance Relationship As A Secondary School Couple

Usually, couples struggle to stay together when they transit through the different stages of life, especially from school to army to work. It’s even rarer for people to stay together with their childhood sweetheart.

“The best part of having a childhood sweetheart is that we get to see each other grow and mature in every different stage of our lives. Our relationship has developed from ‘puppy love’ to a relationship full of respect, compassion and trust,” says Amirah.

This coming September, Danial will return to the UK to pursue his Master’s degree. Their relationship will be long-distance for the next two years but they’re confident that they’ll be able to survive LDR and keep their romance alive.

Eventually, they plan to marry and have discussed settling down in either England or Singapore.

Amirah adds, “For now, we are enjoying every moment we get to spend with each other. We have both been through a lot together and after all the hurdles, we don’t really see any other situation than to be together.”

Images are courtesy of Danial and Amirah.
Background images from Raw Pixel.

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