What happens when you fall in love with someone from another country, and geography gets in the way? When you’re separated by time zones and international borders and even oceans, counting on those Skype video chats to get you through? Does it always mean hardship or, worse, heartbreak?
Marghini, who writes the lovely blog The Love Blender, survived a long-distance relationship (LDR) — and discovered the unexpected joys that come from loving someone from afar.
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We hear how Long Distance Relationships (LDR) are so hard all the times. The internet is full of suggestions, tips and tricks to survive through the awfulness of Long Distance Dating and most people state they would never ever accept to be in a LDR because they just need that physical presence that a LDR denies to lovers. Couples that are entering a LDR get comprehensibly worried and start frantically reading all the available materials about how to overcome the terrible hardship they are about to face.
Truth is, Long Distance Dating is not always so terrible: if anything, sometimes LDR can even be pretty good. No one ever talks about the bright side of Long Distance Dating and this contributed to generate a negative stigma around it. However, if a couple is healthy and solid, dating on a distance for a while can have a positive effect on both parties and strengthen the relationship all-around.
Around one year into my relationship with my boyfriend, I had to move back to Milan to complete my Master Degree, while he stayed in Beijing to work. We long-distance dated for over a year, until I graduated from my program and I joined him in Hong Kong, where he had moved to in the meantime. Sure, when we reunited we were both happy to be together again. However, in our case the distance did not turn out to be a big challenge and we navigated through that separation with relative ease. Not that just that: it was a great time for our relationship and we still cherish lots of memories from that period as some of the best of our life. I don’t think we are any different from many other couples out there and we didn’t do anything special to manage our separation: everyone can benefit from a LDR if it is approached with the right mindset.
First of all, Long Distance Dating is a great way to develop trust within the couple. A good dose of distance is a great trust-building experience for a healthy relationship: you have to trust your partner in this, otherwise it will never work out and it will drive you both crazy. Obviously this only works if the relationship does not have previous trust-related issues, in which case a LDR is probably a bad idea.
On top of that, a LDR gives you a lot of free time that you would spend with your partner otherwise. That allows you to cultivate hobbies, workout, learn foreign languages, hang out with friends and be awesome at your studies/ job. What a great chance! I firmly believe that we can only be amazing partners if we are amazing individuals first, and this is the perfect situation to actually put this principle into effect. At the beginning of a relationship we all tend to get a bit obsessive about spending a ton of time with our partner and doing everything together, but in the long run that is usually not the healthiest balance for a couple. A LDR forces you to be autonomous, gives you plenty of time to grow as a person and creates independency within the couple. Once the distance is over, you will both benefit from this, I promise!
Moreover, don’t forget how awesome it is to visit each other and spend time together during the separation! That is probably my favorite positive side of a LDR. When I think about the year my boyfriend and I spent apart, I remember blissful weekends, romantic strolls holding hands and amazing candlelight dinners. In between visits our desire to be together grew incredibly strong and as soon as we could see each other it felt like pure heaven. When you have limited time to spend together you really cherish it: special dinners, romantic trips and so on. Unfortunately, when you live in the same city (or in the same house) and you have a lot of chances to see each other, it is so easy to forget about the quality of the time you spend together: you end up glued to your smartphone during a supposedly romantic dinner or just watching television in total silence after a tiring day at work. When you are in a LDR this does not happen, as you really cherish the time you spend with your partner and put an effort in to make it special. When I think about my LDR, I actually miss the excitement that preceded our meetings and the absolute bliss of being together after such a long separation.
Let me just get this out: I am not trying to say that a LDR will be easy and pleasant for everyone. I am sure the way people deal with it has a lot to do with individual personalities and some may have it much harder than I did. However, I think it is good to put things in perspective and let people know that for some of them it may be tough, but for others it could very well be a positive experience.
I hope my story of Long-Distance Dating could provide a positive case study and take away some of the stigma that was placed over LDR. For me and my boyfriend Long Distance Dating was a good choice and it had a lot of positive effects on us. When the distance was over, our relationship was stronger than ever, because we used the separation as a chance to develop ourselves, cultivate our trust in each other and fall in love even more deeply, if possibly. That year taught us a lot about us as a couple and improved our relationship in ways we didn’t expect.
Often we don’t have a choice when it comes about separating from our partner; we just have to accept it as a temporary compromise. However, we have power over our attitude and we can choose how to live the experience of Long-Distance Dating. You can look at it as an opportunity of growth, enjoy the process and learn from it. Otherwise you can focus about the negative side, complain, cry and suffer through every second of it. Which option sounds better to you?
Marghini is an Italian Interior Designer, a nomadic soul and a cat lady. After living in Milan, Copenhagen, Beijing and Hong Kong, she is currently based in Taipei. She likes Japanese literature, swing music, urban gardening and her cross-cultural boyfriend. She writes about expat life, cross-cultural relationships and Third Culture Kids at The Love Blender.