I hate everything about a long distance relationship. The sadness of missing one’s significant other, the Skype-ing, the texting. Yuk. Unfortunately (not really) for me I fell in love with someone located in a different country. I don’t want to act like the expert on relationships and the advice that goes with them, because I’m not and in reality I’ve only been in one serious relationship. The current one. The long-distance one. The reason I do want to write this blog post is the fact that a friend who found herself in love with a foreign man told me she assured him that it could work despite the distance because she knew someone (me!) who’s relationship managed to survive. This made me think, hey, maybe there are others out there who aren’t so sure about giving the distanced love a try and need/want some extra tips or reassuring. So here we go.
The short story: Matt and I met each other in Milan, while both on an Erasmus exchange, about 3 years ago. A few months later our friendship turned into a romance and yet another few months later it was crunch time. We both had to go back home to finish off our university degrees for another year so we had to decide to long distance or not to long distance? We decided on yes and this is how we went around it then and once again now, during this transition period after our travels. I am by no means saying this is a guaranteed recipe for success, but it works for us.
It doesn’t sound very romantic or spontaneous, but planning a long time ahead when you’ll see each other has several benefits. First of all, you have something to look forward to and secondly, a more practical advantage is that booking train/plane tickets in advance will usually save you some money. We try to see each other at least every 3 weeks, but I guess if you are crossing a bigger distance than the one between Belgium and England visits might not be possible as often.
BUY YOURSELF A SMARTPHONE
This might sound like a strange statement to the smartphone-owning majority of the world population, but I was still rocking my trusty old Nokia when Matt and I started the distance-dating and it was a costly affair. Because for some reason texting or calling someone in a different country is still ridiculously expensive, you are better off investing in a snazzier device and entering the wonderful world of Whatsapp, FaceTime and the likes. Oh and Snapchat can come in handy too (ifyaknowwhatI’msayin).
KEEP IN CONTACT
A very obvious one, but important nonetheless. From experience I know that it can be annoying to find time to Skype or chat on Facebook and the like, but I think you have to force yourself to do this, so that you still know what’s going on in each other’s lives. Yes, your friends might get annoyed when you’re constantly texting your beau while you are out together, so it might be a better idea to communicate during a boring and lonely train ride.
First of all, I actually hate the term ‘quality time’, it goes in the same category as the Dutch word ‘genieten’ (to enjoy, overly used on Facebook and in Instagram posts) and Dutch-speaking people using the word ‘kids’, ‘genieten met de kids’ being the worst crime of all. That being said, I do think it is important to spend quality time together when you do finally see each other. We’ve made the mistake before where we spent so much time doing our own things, that we regretted not using our time together to it’s full potential when it was time to say goodbye again.
JUST GIVE IT A GO
I don’t think you have to be sure someone is the love of your life to give having a long-distance relationship a go. As long as you know you are in love and it isn’t just a week-long holiday fling, I think it is better try it and not give up in advance. At least then you don’t have to contemplate whether you missed out on the one or not when you are 70. Don’t get me wrong, LDRs aren’t always great fun and can be very hard, but when you find that going through all that trouble is worth it, it means you have a pretty good thing going.
Eventually one of you will probably have to move. At least if you, like me, don’t particularly enjoy only seeing your significant other every few weeks or months that is. This means that after a while of making it work from a distance you might have to figure out if one of you is willing to leave everything behind and move. This is pretty scary, and a pretty terrifying conversation, but if neither of you want to make that “sacrifice” it might be time to really think about wether it’s worth all the hassle and missing each other. And hey, moving into a new city/country can be so exciting!
For all you Erasmus, travel, international business etc. couples I hope this was useful or you could at least relate. If not, as I said I’m no expert.