Long distance: four months on opposite sides of the world

Travel is such a wonderful experience! Sometimes the situation arises when a couple can’t travel together, or for whatever reason choose not to. For Dante and I, we both had different trips planned before we even met. These trips happened to be on opposite sides of the world (Europe and Central America) so a cross over wasn’t feasible.

So off I went to Costa Rica. Two weeks later, Dante headed to Paris. In total, we will have had four months apart. It is definitely not ideal and we miss each other like crazy. Seeing wonderful places and having unique experiences is not the same without the person you love.

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Here are some of our suggestions of how to keep a relationship strong, while either or both of you are abroad.

Ensure you have a solid foundation
If you’re going to be away from your partner for any decent length of time, it’s super important you have a strong foundation to start with. Both people need to be willing to make an effort (this goes without saying really) even when things aren’t perfect. Having unresolved issues or uncertainties doesn’t make for the best start to a long distance relationship. When both people are on the same page, are heading in the same direction together, respect and trust each other fully, the travel experience is likely to be more pleasant for everyone! It’s worth mentioning here that having a partner that is supportive of your travel plans makes things so much easier!

After being together a couple of months, Dante and I had a chat about what to do with our situation. I was thinking of not going at all, or maybe just taking one month (my original plan was six). The thought of being apart longer than that wasn’t appealing. Dante actually encouraged me to just go how long I had planned. He said that if I didn’t do it, I would have a meltdown and regrets in two years. Maybe he was right, I was just very excited he was already thinking we’d still be together in two years! This gave me a lot of confidence in our relationship and made me respect him even more.

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Keep communication open
This is a pretty important one for relationships in general, not just when you’re long distance! Although both people are likely to be busy with seeing new places and experiencing new things, and keeping up with work, family and friends, it is so important to keep the communication lines open and strong. This will ensure you can both support each other while apart, and will strengthen your bond overall.

Some ideas:

– Talk via FaceTime, skype, Facebook, whatsapp or hangouts when you can. Dante and I like to speak as often as we can, even if it’s just a quick five minute chat. To begin with, we were able to speak every two to three days, as Dante was still in Melbourne. Once Dante went to Europe, it was more challenging to speak regularly. It was a little trickier for us both to have wifi at the same time. I know for me, seeing and speaking to Dante made things a lot better. Sometimes I’d had an awesome experience I had and wanted to share with him. Other days I might have be faced with a stressful situation or just be a bit homesick. Either way, I always felt better after we spoke.

– Keep each other updated on what you’re doing. Even though you’d no doubt prefer to have your partner there with you, it is still possible to include each other in the experiences you’re having. You can do this by sharing pictures, stories, asking their opinion on things, getting their thoughts and ideas on something.

For example, I like to get Dante’s input with parts of my trip planning (a lot of my trip was organised on the fly). This is mainly because he is a smart guy and always gives me good advice. But also, I like having him involved so I felt in some small way, we were on this adventure together. When I was thinking of doing something I hadn’t already planned, I.e. I’m going to a yoga retreat for a week, I’m skipping out on Honduras, I liked having Dante back up the idea. I am an independent person and have travelled solo many times before, but this reinforcement was reassuring all the same.

– Connect through the channels you normally do at home. I didn’t realise until I have been away how connected Dante and I are on a daily basis. We message through Facebook messenger, we tag each other in photos and links on Facebook, we mentioned each other in comments on Instagram, we send snap chats and emails. Sounds like over kill, but this is how we are back home so we have continued this while we’ve been away.

Develop a mutual understanding
Again this is important in any relationship situation, but I think it is worth checking in about before you have time apart. When both people are working towards a common goal, it is much easier to work things through when challenges come up. It’s worth chatting about the following:

– Where you’re going and when. Will plans change? If so, update the other person.
– How often you will be in touch? What will work for both people? There may need to be some compromise in some situations.
– How will you stay connected? What’s the best way of contacting each other and staying in touch.
– Spending time with other people, especially the same sex as your partner. This will be different for each couple. It’s important both people are comfortable with what you agree on. For example, how would you feel about: your partner taking a day trip with another guy/girl, sharing rooms with others, travelling onward with someone they’ve just met, doing a short activity etc.? If I’ve been unsure how Dante might feel, I’ve just asked him and he’s been honest about if he’s cool about it or not. A completely innocent situation could be perceived less innocently about someone who cares for you a lot and is on the other side of the world. Just ask the question and be open about it.

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Be interested and engaged in each other’s lives
When you love someone, you’re genuinely interested in what they are up to. Sometimes it is tough to be excited for someone having a totally different experience to you, and without you. It might be a bit depressing going about your normal life while they are living it up overseas.

Just like at home, I still like knowing how Dante’s day went, how Lita is (his cat), what he is planning for the weekend etc. Dante is always keen to know where I have been and what I have been doing.

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Plan things for when you’re back together
This will no doubt happen naturally as you’ll be excited to be together and catch up on lost time. It’s nice to have something special to look forward to and maybe plan together. A weekend away, a day trip, a special meal, something you love doing together. It doesn’t need to be extravagant or expensive. Chances are you’ll miss doing the simple things together.

You might even something bigger planned like moving in together, getting a pet, a wedding, going travelling, having a family or another exciting dream.

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So there are some of the ways we have managed having such a long time apart. These methods may not work for everyone, this is just what we found worked best for us. Make sure you have the chat before either of you set off so you both feel as comfortable as possible in the situation.

For us, by far the most difficult part has been not having each other there to share wonderful memories and experiences. However it’s been an interesting experience. We are as strong as ever and have become closer, even being on opposite sides of the world.

If you have a trip coming up away from your partner, I hope you have a wonderful time and it works out well for you both!

Cheers,
Mel & Dante

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