You're out the door to go travelling and you meet 'The One'. How do you keep the flame flickering when there's thousands of miles in between?
Meeting someone before embarking on a life-changing adventure is more than just a quirky plot twist Hollywood directors try to make you believe. It really happens.
When I was 14 I fell in love... with a country named Japan. I worked hard studying Japanese language and culture, promising myself that someday when I went off to college, I would study abroad.
Fast forward to 2010, my junior year of university. My opportunity to study abroad was quickly disappearing and I had just gotten out of an almost five-year relationship the previous year. What better timing to go travel, right? That September I finally took the first step toward making my dream come true, and applied to study abroad – a whole year – in Japan.
A month later? Bam. In a relationship.
I never expected our relationship to turn into something serious, but it did. Soon I got my acceptance letter, and although reality had yet to set in, I was going to Japan.
In our first orientation, the program coordinator told everyone that they should really consider breaking up with his or her significant other before departure – suddenly reality hit. I was going to go to Japan for a whole year. I have to leave everything behind, my friends, my family, and the new relationship I was in.
As the departure day drew closer I found that saying goodbye left me wanting to cry my eyes out, but I took a deep breath and stepped on that plane.
I’m glad I forced myself to stick to my plans, otherwise I know it would’ve turned into regret (and maybe even resentment) later on. And although my plans changed in the end and I came home four months earlier than expected, do I regret it? Not at all. Today I’ve found myself right back in Asia, and this time I’ve dragged my now fiancé with me!
Was dealing with a long distance relationship (LDR) easy? Of course not. But we made it work and so can you. I’ll tell you how.
Before you leave on your trip, it’s important to sit down and talk about your relationship. While it may be awkward at first, it’s good to discuss any LDR worries and concerns. Plus it’s always good to make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to your relationship – you don’t want any misunderstandings while you’re away!
Sounds easy enough right? You’d be surprised how often communication gets neglected in a LDR. Try to communicate everyday if possible, although I know that can be difficult depending on where you’re travelling. By setting aside a time for phone or Skype dates, you’ll always know when you’ll be able to get hold of each other next. And if something unexpected comes up during that time, it’s fine. Just give the other person an advance notice so they don’t think you’re blowing them off, and make sure to offer a time when you can reschedule.
Jealously is a horrible thing and we all fall into its trap at one point or another– but try, try, try to avoid it. I know it’s easier said than done. Don’t interrogate your significant other just because they are going out with friends or didn’t instantly return your phone call. Give them the benefit of the doubt! Their life doesn’t have to pause just because you’re apart, and neither should yours.
Try to avoid picking fights over things that just don’t matter in the long run, because arguments often seem worse than they actually are when you are unable to resolve them in person. It’s easy to get upset over small things when you’re in a LDR – things you wouldn’t even care about if you were in a non-LDR. Someone having to stay late at work or falling asleep before they could call the other person, should never be reasons for a fight.
It’s important that an equal amount of effort is made by both people. Otherwise, one person may begin to feel like they’re doing all the work and that the other person doesn’t care about them enough. This especially gets hard when one person is busier than the other. If this is the case, it is important for the busy person to reach out to the other whenever possible. And as for the not-as-busy person, reconnecting with old friends or picking up new hobbies can be great ways to help fill the time.
Even if you can keep in contact on a regular basis, send surprise text messages or emails too! See something on your travels that reminded you of them? Mail it to them with a nice handwritten letter. It’s always nice to get an unexpected reminder that someone is thinking of you on the other side of the world. By making small gestures like these, you help keep the romance alive, so go get creative!
Just because you’re thousands of miles apart doesn’t mean that you can’t do things together. Watch a movie or your favorite TV show over Skype, play a game online, or share funny links and YouTube videos with each other. There are plenty of activities you can still do together if you think hard enough. And if you can’t find time to do the activity simultaneously, each person can do it individually and then share their experience with one another after.
It’s important to feel that, even though you’re apart physically, you still have each other’s support. If your partner is going through a hard time, you still need to be there for them, even if it means staying up all night talking them through it on the phone. If the situation is really bad, such as your partner getting hospitalised or there’s a death in their family, be prepared to come home early to be there with them.
Before you get yourself into a LDR, you need to be realistic of the difficulties that lay ahead. Being understanding and willing to compromise can be key here, but still don’t expect your relationship to always be sunshine and rainbows. Every relationship will have highs and lows, even those in a non-LDR. If you’re constantly dwelling and bringing up the lows, even if it’s just how much you miss one another, it can start to get depressing. Always try to focus on the highs!
Although this may not be practical for someone who will only be in a LDR for a few months, try to plan a time to see each other. While your partner may have no desire to travel around the world with you, maybe there’s a destination or two they’d like to join you for. I was lucky enough to be able to meet Johnny in Hong Kong during my time in Japan. But even if you can’t meet up during your travels, start planning something special together for when you return!
Do you have any advice of maintaining long distance relationships when travelling? Or an experience of your own you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments below.
My name is Beth and I’m a 23 year old whom originally comes from a state that’s as flat as a pancake – Illinois. Apart from the sparse family vacations growing up, I never truly experienced “travel” until last year when I stepped off my home continent for the first time. Bags packed, I set out for a year-long adventure studying abroad in Japan.
So join me as I travel across the globe – eating good food, meeting new people, and visiting each and every Disney park (really it’s on my bucket list)!