Maintaining Long Distance Relationships For Expats – Can It Be Done?
According to the statistics, 14 million people consider themselves to be in long distance relationships. Often seen as the prelude to doomed romance, recent public opinion has been that long distance relationships can work out.
So how can you cope with missing your spouse or partner? Living in different countries for a time can seem like an impossible challenge, but there are some ways to endure the distance between seeing them.
Don’t talk too often
It sounds counterproductive, especially when you and your partner are miles if not countries apart. However, the temptation is to talk at every possible moment, and this can fast become overwhelming. Apart from being inconvenient, it won’t help you adjust to your new life as an Expat.
- Make a mental list of things you wanted to tell them, and wait to tell them
- Texting is good as it’s not direct – but it can be intrusive if you send loads every day
- Save up your info for a good long email perhaps once a week. Even better, handwrite them a letter so they have something of yours to keep
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
See this as a positive thing in your relationship. Whilst spending time apart can be hard, it’s also an opportunity for both of you to grow as individuals. Time away from your partners will give you opportunities:
- Adventures and experiences of your new country by yourself
- Memories that are not shared, just yours
- Discover new food/hangouts/hobbies
- Learn the new country’s history
- Make new friends
All of these are experiences you can share with your partner the next time you see them.
Talk to one another regularly (but not too regularly, see point 1). Scheduling a time to call one another can give you something to look forward to and help get used to being apart by putting it in the diary.
There are also various ways to talk to one another:
- Telephone – it helps to not see the person you’re missing
- Skype – put a face to the voice occasionally
- Whatsapp – useful for texting and calls without exorbitant charges
- Google Hangouts – for photos videos and chatting
Find activities you can do together
Put aside feeling self-consciousness and do activities with your partner even though you’re miles apart:
- Take them on a walk with you via video call
- Play an online game together
- Watch a film/programme/online video at the same time (keep each other on the phone so you can talk as it goes on)
- Video call them while doing normal things like cooking an evening meal to help it feel more like being together
Do similar things
As well as saying how much you miss them, recommend films or books to your partner that you’ve enjoyed or have recently discovered. It can help keep the conversations developing with the new things that are happening in both your lives, rather than staying in the same areas as when you were last together.
This is arguably the most important part of any long distance relationship. Keep visiting! Take turns for one of you to go to the other and make it regular enough without becoming too expensive.
- Aim for a visit once a month
- Spend holidays together
- Special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries are particularly important to be together on
Particularly because these visits are so important, avoid saving any difficult talk for the precious time you have together; keep talking as normal while you’re apart, including arguments!
Also, keep a mixture of special days out and lazy days. If the visits become too much of an event it can be pressurising instead of rewarding.
Keep the future in mind
Long distance relationships are unfortunately necessary sometimes. But ultimately you don’t want the situation to last forever, and the longer the two of you are apart, the more difficult it can be in the long run. Plans might change, or your lives can end up evolving away from one another because you’re not involved in the day to day lives of each other.
So keep talking, and keep an eye on the plan of how to live together again.
Stay honest with one another
It’s often tempting to keep a brave face on. When you can only talk to your partner a few times a week you want to be at your emotional best, whereas if the two of you are living together they’ll see you in every possible mood.
So try not to put on a face and just be honest with how you’re feeling whether that’s sad, jealous, happy, tired or even bored. Likewise, don’t be upset if they’re not feeling their most loving and understanding either.
Know each other’s schedules
Avoid having your communication tarred by calling or texting at inconvenient moments. Bear in mind what time they leave work, or if they are out doing something on certain evenings. Take it as an opportunity to do something just for you when they are busy; a good part of living apart for a time is to have some experiences alone that you can share when next you see each other.
Keep each other updated on what the week looks like for both of you, and you’ll find some crossover time quite easily.
From time to time, send your partner a spontaneous postcard, or text them something funny you’ve just seen.
Not all communication has to be planned or have a certain theme. Just like you would when together, tell them when you see things or are listening to something particularly interesting on the radio.
Nobody enjoys having to have a long distance relationship, but sometimes it’s necessary to get where you both want to be finally. So remember to stay positive and keep communicating. Ultimately you’re looking to be under the same roof so remember that when you have a blue day.