Long Distance Relationships
Dating while separated by distance is definitely something to bring up in your relationship BEFORE one of you relocates. Depending on who you are, missing someone can leave a hole in your heart because love doesn't have a face in front of you anymore. Distance itself isn’t the reason why couples break up though, it’s usually because they're not on the same page or don't see themselves committed strongly enough to make the sacrifice and suffering worth it.
I won't let my personal attempts at keeping a relationship while traveling long-term or moving abroad sway your outlook, although the fact of the matter is that distance puts a strain on most relationships, no matter what love language you speak. Depending on how you and your partner work, this heartbreak CAN be avoided. Some people have messaged me asking if they should stay with their partner while studying abroad. I say if you are in a serious enough relationship where you both KNOW and want to be with that person down the road, then go for it.
If you both 1) have enough dedication to communicate 2) trust and commitment are not issues 3) will still be able to manage your time traveling independently without becoming depressed - then give it a try. Love is often so much more powerful than we allow ourselves to admit. So who I am to tell you it might not work?
To the couples who successfully manage and have won this quandary, I applaud you. If you’ve got a partner who doesn’t look at anyone else while studying abroad or traveling, you probably have less to doubt. If you are someone who needs words of affirmation and physical touch (such as myself) – it might be more difficult. Not being able to see your partner can completely change the game of love.
You’re now dating someone through a telephone screen. If you’re not good at communicating that way, it may become a problem where someone feels unappreciated, thus creating problems stemming from insecurity, jealousy, etc. Someone could become bored while the other just becomes lonely. Someone could become stricter and tighten the reigns, because they fear abandonment. Someone could become jealous who never once displayed that characteristic because they can't go out with their partner anymore. One partner might spend time coming home and FaceTiming or Skyping their partner every night, as opposed to going out and fully immersing themselves in the cultural experience of their new home.
On the other hand, two people could pass this test with flying colors, just to return to an even more satisfying relationship after “holding out” and waiting for each other. This is a very lucky case that will fall upon two people who are at the same stage of investment and effort in the relationship. These couples shouldn’t be afraid of the pain nor let fear trump their dedication and commitment. Another benefit of staying together while distanced is that you will both grow independently, in personal facets of life while distanced. To learn how to manage your independence and love life harmoniously is one of the best ways to invest in a healthy long-term relationship. All while still enjoying having companionship and love present in your life. There shouldn't be a maximum milage on truly good love.
This generation has also brought up the topic of "open relationships" which I believe is a quite personal decision. If you (or your partner) wish to hold onto your companionship but BOTH need to be stimulated sexually during your time apart, there is always that option. In my experience, that has never worked out unless the two people are on the same page when it comes to what really matters... continuing to nurture the love while apart.
If you experience a break up while traveling
If your relationship doesn’t work, you have two options. It’s that simple. Pick yourself up with dignity and grace while continuing your travels… Or succumb to your heartbreak and experience depression while away from home. Suffering might be inevitable, but how you handle that pain is up to you. The love of my life and I went through a very complex break up while backpacking through Europe together after a few months. I decided to return home and re-gather myself before setting out to travel again on my own the following time. In this example, I needed to go home and take care of myself first. Everyone is different though and has the capacity to handle a split in various manners. Someone else might utilize their time traveling to move on from their break up faster, taking the opportunity to see the world as a distraction or meeting new people.
I only wrote this article to share a realistic perspective on the matter which many couples face while traveling. In conclusion, long distance is for some people and not for others. The success will be determined by the type of people you both are and what you both truly want from your future. Communicating this before hand to analyze where you're at in the relationship will be the most beneficial preparation to this often challenging but potentially rewarding journey together.