Surviving Long Distance Relationships -Or Not

letter-writing and long distance relationships

One of the beauties of travel is meeting new people and developing lasting friendships across the globe.  It should come as no surprise then that some of these friendships will develop into romantic relationships.  This is exactly what happened to myself, as well as many of my fellow travellers.

Can long distance relationships survive?

I have collaborated with some of my fellow travellers who have found love abroad and endured long distance relationships, to share our love stories (or not so love stories) with you.  Most, but not all, have that fairytale ending that we all hope for.

AMANDA 

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Amanda and Fredrik

My name is Amanda and I’m a Swede with a big love for travelling, especially backpacking.

In 2018 I quit my job and started travelling full time with my boyfriend Fredrik, starting with Canada. This time I’m focusing on having a small budget, but a great experience.

Follow my adventures on https://mybackpackerlife.com

How We Met

Two years ago, just a few days before I was heading out on my longest solo trip (so far!) around Europe, I got a “match” on a dating app.  I didn’t think too much about it then, to be honest – I was mostly excited about my upcoming trip!  If I had known, however, that Fredrik who I matched with was going to change my life, I probably would have cared a lot more in that moment.

We started texting each other almost immediately and I remember thinking “he seems really nice”.  He lived 90 minutes away from me and the only reason we became a “match” was because he was working in my town that particular day.

Fredrik and I didn’t have the chance to meet each other before I had to leave, so I went off on my adventure in Europe but stayed in touch with him during my trip.  After awhile, we even started talking on the phone!  Our very first phone call lasted for more than two hours, and that’s when I knew for sure that this could be something special. 

I continued travelling in Europe but found myself thinking of and talking to Fredrik more and more.  I was going to be gone for a pretty long time and we both started talking about seeing each other before I returned back home from my trip.

We thought about if for a long time, before deciding that Fredrik would come and visit me in Switzerland for a weekend.  He bought a ticket and two weeks later we met in Lucerne, which turned out to be the ideal place for a rather special first date!

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Amanda and Fredrik hanging out in Banff, Alberta, Canada

Neither of us seemed nervous, just excited, and we immediately found each other at the train station.  We had so much to talk about and decided to just quickly drop our luggage at the hotel and head out for dinner.  I still remember this dinner as one of the best that I have ever had, not only because it was really expensive and delicious, but also because this is where I got to talk to Fredrik “for real” for the very first time!

The rest of the weekend went great.  We explored the mountains and the lovely city together until Fredrik had to go back home.  After he had left, we continued to talk and as soon as I got back home to Sweden we started seeing each other as often as we could.

We Became a Couple

Only a couple of months later, I decided to pack my stuff, leave my home town and move in with him.  I changed the curtains in his apartment, made room for my stuff and found a job – but it didn’t last very long.  Around six months after I moved in, I got the opportunity to go to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa.  That was a dream come true for me!  Fredrik already knew that I had applied for the visa and that I would go if I got the chance, and one day I did.  I asked him to come with me, so he applied for a Working Holiday Visa as well – and got it.

Now, we’ve been in Canada for more than a year and we have no plans on going back home for many years – we’ve already got our Working Holiday Visas approved for Australia!

Imagine how much a tiny moment that you barely notice at first can change your whole life!

GIULIA AND DAREK

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Giulia and Darek

We are Giulia and Darek, the travellers, writers and photographers behind Travelling Sunglasses.

We are expats and full-time workers based in Budapest, Hungary.  We love to explore the world around us and document our experiences.  Whether it’s our city, a city-break in Europe, or a longer trip to another continent, we’re excited!

Be sure to follow us on our adventures at https://travellingsunglasses.com

In the Beginning

I met Darek at a Couchsurfing meet-up, on a Wednesday night in 2013. I was there with a girlfriend, he was part of a larger group. The conversation started with the origin and meaning of our names, and it continued with a glass of wine. We quickly became friends, some months later we got together as a couple, and 5 years later we got married.

Difficulties Facing our Long Distance Relationship

A few, key elements made it hard for this relationship to take off.

First of all, time and space were not aligned. Darek is a Polish expat, established in Budapest for many years, with a stable job. I am Italian, trying to figure out what to do with my life, temporarily in Budapest for a 3-month internship. Even though we got along well, my plans would soon bring me back to Italy, or at least to countries where I could speak the local language, to jobs closer to the field I studied for – definitely not Hungary or tourism. There was no room for this relationship to grow.

Secondly, we were at two completely different points in life. Not even 25 years old, I had recently graduated. Yes, home and family were on my mind, but in a very distant future: now was the time to work, travel, discover. Darek instead was 43 years old, hard to believe from his looks! I could not believe that he had three children from his previous marriage.

Surviving Our Long Distance Relationship

Looking back, we can pinpoint easily how we made our relationship work: Darek had to be very patient, and I had to be very open-minded to the surprises of destiny.

long-distance-relationship-the-night-before-the-wedding
Guilia and Derek the night before their wedding in Guilia’s hometown of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

We met thanks to our passion: travelling, meeting people from different countries, discovering our wonderful planet (hence our blog, Travelling Sunglasses). We both had lived abroad and loved the Couchsurfing community. Conversation flowed without effort: food, movies, books, stories from our past, dreams for our future.

And yet, I had a hard time accepting that this person that I felt such a magical connection with was someone completely different from anyone I had ever imagined. If we decided to get serious, what if there were huge cultural differences ready to wreck our lives? What if in a few years he decided he did not want to marry again, start a new family? What if I decided to move away from Hungary? All choices related to him came packed with doubts, and felt like life-changing decisions. I had to open my mind to this unexpected surprise of destiny.

Our Fairytale Ending

Instead, Darek knew there was potential. He felt that the similarities between us were stronger than the differences. He was very patient while I made my choices: I applied for a permanent position in Budapest, I looked for a flat, and I started Hungarian classes. Before our relationship could flourish romantically, Darek made sure the foundation of our friendship was strong. Afterwards, it all came easily.

“It’s not the distance that’s the enemy, but the endless time I have to wait until I hold you in my arms” – Besski Levius

Patience, honesty, excitement to be together and do things together: these are the ingredients of our healthy relationship. Shared passions and mindsets make choices easier and eliminate hard conflicts. We are always looking forward to sitting together, on our sofa, or on airplane seats towards our next adventure.

KELLY

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Kelly – Solo Traveller

Hi there!  I am Kelly, the face behind Just One Passport.  I have been a long-time solo traveller, searching the world for all of its adventures and taking in the beauty offered around every corner.

Follow my journeys at https://www.justonepassport.com and let me inspire you to enter the world of solo travel, just one step at a time.

How We Met

When I visited my beloved island of St. Lucia in 2011, I had no way of knowing that I would be finding myself in what was to become a long distance relationship.  Afterall, I had no intentions, or interest, in falling in love.  Especially with someone a 5 hour flight away.

In the early spring of 2011, I returned to St. Lucia for the second time. This time to visit a friend who I had met on my first visit.  It was definitely a trip of a lifetime, as I literally lived like, and with, the locals.  This is how I met my future husband.

My friend owned a “bar” in one of the off the beaten path areas of Castries.  An area that wasn’t exactly safe for a white women to wander around on her own.  I spent the week helping my friend out at the “bar”, and it was here that I met many of the locals.  Several men asked me out on dates, but I politely turned them down.  As previously noted, I was not the least bit interested in finding a relationship.

There was one man in particular (a good friend of my friend) who visited the bar daily on his lunch break.  We would have idle chit chat and hang out, but nothing ever came of it, and there didn’t appear to be any interest by either one of us (in fact, I didn’t even know his name).  It was only upon my return to Canada, that I received a friend request from him on Facebook.   We then exchanged telephone numbers and began texting, and eventually our communication became a nightly skype chat.  Suffice it to say that romantic feelings had begun to develop by both of us.

finding-love-with-the-locals-in-st-lucia
The “bar” where I began my long distance relationship

In the summer of 2011, I returned to St. Lucia to see if this could be the real deal, or infatuation.  We spent most of the 2 weeks together, just hanging out, chatting and getting to know each other a little better. After a couple of weeks I returned to Canada, this time knowing that I had become involved in a long distance relationship.  Many weeks of texting and skype calls followed until I eventually went back to St. Lucia, knowing that there was no turning back.  At this point, we both knew that we couldn’t continue this long distance relationship and on Boxing Day of 2011, he moved to Canada.

Finally Together 

We were both ecstatic knowing that we were finally together and that his return to St. Lucia would be impossible.  We started the immigration process and got married in March 2012.  We did encounter some obstacles along the way, but we figured that since we could endure our long distance relationship, we would find a way to make things work here in Canada.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

We Parted Ways

After 3 years, unfortunately we separated and went our own ways.  To this day I am still not exactly sure what went wrong and why our marriage didn’t work out.  Was it the age difference?  The culture difference? Was it the fact that he was unable to work until his residency came through?  I am sure that I will never know the answer, however I suspect that it was the adaptation to a completely new culture that affected us the most.

It has been almost 4 years now since we parted ways and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and wonder why?  Even though our marriage came to an end, I have no regrets, however I can say that given the difficulties encountered, I will not be embarking on any further long distance relationships.

RACHEL

long-distance-relationship-ends-in-marriage
Rachel on her wedding day

I am a writer, blogger and teacher-trainer living in Groningen, the Netherlands.  Born and raised in the US and educated at Yale, I met my Dutch husband when serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi.  My two children are now grown, so we have entered the “empty nest” phase of our lives, leaving more time for independent travel.

Follow our journeys by visiting Rachel’s Ruminations

 

 

I met the love of my life in Malawi, a small country in southeastern Africa.  As a Peace Corps volunteer, I had been sent to the northern town of Mzuzu to teach at a secondary school.  Albert worked at the hospital there, running the dental clinic.  We met in passing a few times in our first year, but our relationship didn’t start until we had both been there about a year.

In the Beginning

A year later, though, my contract ended, while Albert’s had two more years to go, I left, moving home to Connecticut until I got a job in New York.

Keep in mind that this was in the days before internet and before mobile phones.  We didn’t even have an old-fashioned landline phone we could use….or rather, I had one but he didn’t.  All he had was a phone that connected his house to the hospital across the street, so they could call him in case of an emergency.

So we wrote letters:  lots of letters, written on paper using a pen.  The mail service to and from Malawi was unreliable, so we could wait weeks in between letters, or get a pile of letters all at once.  A year after I had left, we pooled together enough money for me to visit him in Malawi for a few weeks.

Another year of letter-writing, and Albert moved home to the Netherlands.  Now we both had phones, but our relationship hadn’t developed that way.  Talking on the phone was awkward and didn’t flow well.  Besides, it was expensive to call overseas in those days.  We kept writing.

Albert decided to study public health, so we made a deal:  he agreed to apply to universities in the United States, and I agreed to move to wherever in the United States he ended up studying.  That year, while he was busy applying to colleges and waiting to hear, I stayed in New York, teaching.  We managed to see each other three times:  once when he visited (and met my parents) and twice when I went to see him in Europe (and met his parents).

Reunited

After three years’ long distance relationship, Albert moved to the United States.  We piled all of our belongings into my little car and drove off to settle in Berkeley, California, where Albert would do his masters.  With the help of some friends, I had found an apartment already.  We just needed to get there.

If you ever want to test the strength of a relationship, live on different continents for three years, barely seeing each other, then get in a car together and drive for a week, then immediately move into an apartment together.  Don’t have a job lined up;  just go.

We survived it and thrived.  To be honest, I can’t explain how.  It wasn’t something we had to work on;  it just worked.

long-distance-relationships-can-be-successful
Rachel and Albert’s beautiful family

Happily Ever After

After a year, we got married, more for the green card than anything else.  After a few years in Berkeley we moved into San Francisco, where our daughter Anne, was born.  When she was four years old, the three of us traveled cross-country again, taking a tent, a box of barbies, and a pink bike with training wheels and tassels.  This time we took a few months to do it, and our daughter told her little friends at campgrounds along the way “We used to live in San Francisco but now we live in a tent.”.

That trip from California to Connecticut was our transition to moving to the Netherlands, where we’ve lived ever since.  Our son, Robert, was born here a year later.  Anne has come full circle:  at 26, she lives in San Francisco and works in Berkeley.  Robert is a student in Scotland.  Albert and I are coming up on our 30th anniversary in 2020.  To this day, we can’t talk well on the phone; we just exchange the required information but save the conversation until we are together.

ROXANNE

happy-long-distance-relationship-crazy-in-love
Roxanne and Remi

Hi!  I am Roxanne.  I am a student from France, currently studying Innovation Management in Germany.

You can find me on instagram as @roxannevoyage

 

 

 

 

 

Remi and I have been dating for almost 4 years.  Since our first day, I have lived in six different cities and I have been away from him a total of 2 years and 3 months.  Are you wondering how we stayed together?  These are a few insights about how to deal with a long distance relations when you are thousands of kilometers apart.

The Key for Long Distance Relationship:  Honesty, trust and balance of communication.

Our Struggles

Sure we had hard times, harsh talks and times when we were unable to communicate in a positive manner, but with experience we figured out how to make it work when we are far apart.

My first time in the United States, when I was in Florida, we reached the lowest point of our relationship.  At some point, we were not even able to talk for five minutes over the phone without arguing over trivial matters.  The situation just got worse.  When I came back, we had an open-hearted discussion to address this issue:  we did not give our full trust to each other, we were constantly afraid of being cheated on and we were trying to constantly talk over each other instead of communicating.

The second time when I was in Hong Kong, the semester went smoothly.  I was better prepared thanks to my first semester abroad in Florida.  With this experience, I decided to up my game and prepare some things.  I left monthly letters and presents for him, as I was missing his birthday and our anniversaries.  Moreover, we planned holidays:  we spent 10 days in Japan which really helped us grow closer.  It was on neutral ground and an adventure for both of us.

adopted-our-fur-baby-out-of-love
Meet our fur baby, Persee

The third time, I was in Chicago and we had issues.  We were barely speaking which frustrated me.  We had a one week break in which we decided not to contact each other.  It appeared that the balance that we had established in Hong Kong was broken as I was working in Chicago and our timetables were not matching.  The time difference didn’t co-operate either.  When I finished work, it was midnight or 1:00 a.m. in France, which was not a viable solution.  Moreover, he was not sure he would be able to come to the U.S., so this was a source of tension between us.

Making Our Long Distance Relationship Work for Us

Throughout our relationship, we had to make mutual concessions.  Some would say that Remi had to make more than me, and I would somewhat agree.  I think that the process of our ongoing relationship is related to Remi who is super understanding and that I am bringing him out of his boundaries.

Finally, the times apart enabled us to enjoy each other and make the most of our time together.  It has also improved our relationship as we are lovebirds and best friends, and both of us are independent.  We know what matters and what is important and our relationship has become even stronger now that we have adopted a kitten called Persee.  We will live happily ever after.

forced perspective photography of cars running on road below smartphone
Long distance relationships consist of endless text messages and skype calls.

Falling in love abroad may sound like a dream come true, but the truth of the matter is that long distance relationships are extremely difficult.  In order for the relationship to survive the miles in between, certain ingredients, such as trust, communication, patience and commitment must be present to have that fairytale ending.  But to answer the question, yes, most definitely long distance relationships can survive!

Have you endured the struggles of a  long distance relationship.  Did you have that fairytale ending?  We would love to hear your story!

HERE’S TO LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS & FINDING LOVE ABROAD!

Kelly xoxo

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24 thoughts on “Surviving Long Distance Relationships -Or Not

  1. Beth Borchers

    Kelly….LOVED this article as I am definitely interested in finding love (probably for the first time although I’ve thought I had before).

    I am leaving Cincinnati in three weeks for a driving tour of the lower western states and maybe the northern parts of Ca and Or. I hope that my new found relationship with me converts into BEING a better fit for my perfect mate.

    I will be also starting a blog to track my journey and growth.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michelle

    This is such a fun post. I could see how having a long-distance relationship would definitely have its struggles, but how awesome when it works out and love conquers all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. zrznaceste

    Really interesting article, I know a lot of people who made it work for a long-distance, for me was always the main question whether it was worth it. But these stories are really inspiring I have to say

    Liked by 1 person

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