How To Survive A Long-Distance Relationship
“Don’t go falling in love with an Aussie!” was one of the most common responses I received when I told people I was going to spend a semester abroad in Australia. At the time, I laughed at the very possibility of that happening – but lo and behold, it did! Now, as happy as I am with my partner over three years later, it has taken a lot of time, endless effort, travel (and therefore money), and overcoming obstacles to get to where we are today. If given the choice to do it all over again, I would, but having some greater insight into the international love situation would have been helpful. That’s why I am writing this article; to give insider insight and highlight considerations to make when navigating the cross-continental waves of love!
The Long-Distance Relationship (LDR):
Quite often, being in an international relationships means being long distance for some period. The most important factor for having a successful long-distance relationship is to have a light of the end of the tunnel. In other words, or an end to the distance; where you and your partner are finally able to be in the same place. I say this because long-distance relationships can be draining, require plenty of planning, and an immense amount of effort and commitment. The distance could last months or even years, but attempting to hold onto the joy that the day of permanently reuniting will bring is crucial!
Long-distance relationships also require ample communication, which is one of the hardest aspects for many people. Luckily, modern technology makes this super doable! In LDRs, all people involved need to verbalise what they’re thinking and feeling due to the lack of opportunities to say things through nonverbal communication (physical touch, acts of service, etc.). In my experience, this allowed my partner and I to become so much closer and emotionally intimate, and the strong communication base carried over when we were finally in the same place!
If there are plans (and both your countries have ideal visa opportunities) to move to be together, or to start a new life together, communication about these plans is crucial. This is also a super exciting experience! In my case, I moved back to Australia to receive my masters with the intention of staying after I finished, and did so with relatively little thought about what moving to another country actually meant. At the time, my parents were very healthy and there were promises of visits, however, those circumstances have changed and have made the situation a bit complicated. I’ll be honest, I am still navigating that – even after I’ve lived in Australia for almost two years. Family circumstances (or lack thereof) can place a lot of strain on relationships and can spoil plans, on both sides. My biggest advice is to try and talk about possible scenarios before one party moves, and keep the dialogue going throughout your relationship. Unfortunately, international relationships make it difficult to go home for weekends or book a last-minute ticket if someone gets sick or there is an emergency. It’s important to be aware of this before something happens, and also have discussions with all who will be impacted by this move! Having the hard conversations and being on the same page early will save a lot of fighting and hurt later on.
Integrating lives is one of the most complicated things to do. If one person has moved to be with the other, it can be hard for that person to make their own friends and begin their own life when the only connection they have to their new place is their partner. Talk about what this integration will look like as early as possible, and understand that it may cause tension. This is where I will say it is imperative that the person who has been fortunate enough to be able to stay in their comfort zone and home, needs to be highly sensitive to their partner’s emotions. As a person who did not realise the value of my home until I left, it can still be very confronting (and liberating!) to have to start over in a new place, especially if it’s a new country.
It is also important that both partners are committed to making trips to see both families and friends, particularly the one who is overseas. This can be very expensive and takes planning, coordinating, and time off work, but it is ultimately very rewarding and helps both partners feel connected to each other’s experience of ‘home’. It’s also important that both partner’s friends and family feel as though they know the other’s partner. This will build support and encouragement for the relationship.
Finally, make it a goal to create new experiences, friends and visions together. This creates a new environment and allows for growth on both ends. It can also help level the playing field of sacrifices and compromises. It’s the most rewarding way to continue the relationship once you’re finally together!
Overall, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach or manual to international love or relationships. Each person and couple’s circumstances will vary, but the keys to success are kindness and communication, both while apart and together. And don’t get discouraged; while countries have borders, love has none.
If you have any questions or want to talk further about the ins and outs of this intense-but-so-worth-it journey, please reach out over Facebook, Instagram or through the comments!