It sucks leaving your partner behind. It feels like that’s not how relationships work.
I went to Thailand to teach English for 4 months, leaving behind my boyfriend of 2 years. It was difficult, but I was ready for an adventure. We decided to stay together and try to make it work long distance.
I can say with a smile that we succeeded in that time.
It wasn’t easy, especially in 2008 when I have very limited access to the internet in Bangkok. My apartment didn’t have WIFI connection for over a month when I arrived, and then it was pretty bad once I did.
It’s not something I would recommend trying if you don’t have a solid relationship to start with.
Long distance relationships test your strength, your trust and your self-respect.
There are exceptions to every rule of course.
One of my best friends is happily married to an Australian man she met in a hostel over a long weekend. They worked on a relationship from a distance for most of the beginning of their romance. Uhh successful love stories…
Generally however, it takes a lot of trust to be able to maintain a healthy relationship long distance, although that could be said about any relationship. They are hard, and sometimes hearts change.
Relationships are difficult when you’re not in the same place, let alone the same country. Click To Tweet
When I came back to the States from Thailand, I was on my boyfriend’s computer and went to his bookmarks to find a recipe I had saved. In his bookmarks, I found a list of articles about how to keep romance alive while your girlfriend is traveling. I was so touched by how thoughtful and considerate he was. He was truly making an effort.
It’s a difficult thing to have a partner whose traveling while you’re home. They are off having magical adventures in a foreign land, and you’re stuck hearing about all the amazing things they’re doing.
I was working in Thailand, but my weekends were spent on the beautiful beaches, or taking a train to some unexplored corner of the country. I can’t imagine that was easy to listen to, but I was so excited to share everything with him.
It’s good to remember that you’re both dealing with the difficulties presented to you while one of you is away. Just because someone is traveling doesn’t mean they don’t have their own set of anxieties and stresses.
While long distance is tricky, you can absolutely continue to have a supportive and loving relationship across the world. It certainty helps if you have a few years of time together, but there are some other ways you can enjoy each other even if it’s new.
9 Tips to Maintain a Relationship While Traveling Apart
Talk BEFORE You Go
Yes duh I know, you’re rolling your eyes at me right now. It’s easy to forget relationships are about communication when you are used to single life, freedom and independence. Maybe your partner can come with you!
If not, make sure to discuss any concerns and be clear about your expectations. People can have very different ideas about what cheating means…
Make Time for Each Other
Schedule time to talk on on the phone. Send them cute messages on social media. It doesn’t always mean that you actually talk, only that you take 5 minutes to let them know you were thinking about them. A tiny “good morning” text or quick picture can have you smiling all day.
Include Them in Your Plans
The general reaction when you’re off doing something awesome, is to downplay how much fun you’re having or not talk about it at all. This is silly and not fair to either of you.
If they care about you (which they do) they will be excited to hear what fantastic adventure you have planned for the day or week. It’s also helpful if you might be out of touch for a little while so you can let them know and they won’t worry.
Be Honest About Your Fears
Honesty, while sometimes painful, is always the best policy. If you are worried they might start talking to someone else, say so. If you are stressed out that they might kiss someone at a bar, speak up. If you aren’t sleeping at night because you think they’re starting to pull away from the relationship, talk about it.
No one is a mind reader, and if you are honest about your fears, you can start a real conversation about what’s on your mind.
Schedule a Date
Not just, it’s 10am, let’s talk. I mean a date. Get on video and cook the same thing, then enjoy eating it together. Open a bottle of wine and chat. Watch a movie together while on the phone. It’s not the same as snuggling on the couch, but it’s nice to have a shared moment together.
And don’t be late. If you say you’ll be there at 10, be there! Unless there’s a tsunami that washes away your hotel, being on time shows that you care.
Try Phone “Sex”
I don’t need to explain this to you, you’re an adult. It’s definitely awkward the first time and not for everyone. Start with something familiar, like past experiences that you can talk about. Move forward from there if you feel comfortable. It can be a way to connect when you’re unable to touch.
Listen to Each Other
Yes, I am aware that if you’re not deaf, talking to each other means you will hear the words coming out of their mouths. But truly listen. Do they sound sad, upset, excited, happy, worried? When you’re traveling, all you have are words. Make them count, and then truly hear what your partner is saying, not just with words, but also with silences.
We are all learning to be better communicators, so give your partner the space and freedom to communicate to the best of their ability.
The best way to learn more about your partner is to ask questions. There is no reason that just because you’re on the road that you can’t learn more about your favorite person. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for 3 months or 3 years, there’s always an opportunity to spark a new conversation or discuss something you hadn’t thought about before.
You can ask about their day, whether they think beanie babies were a good investment in the 90s, what their favorite body part is or how they would deal with suddenly losing their job.
The questions can be current, silly or honest. Be creative and enjoy the results.
Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst
As I said, it is a good idea to be clear about your expectations from the beginning and do your best to manage them. It is also important to realize that distance is challenging, and unless you are ready to really make an effort, it will likely fail.
If you are prepared to deal with the consequences of your travel, it will make you more likely to be open and honest with your partner. Realize that life goes on while you’re away, and you can’t control every moment.
Trust each other and do your best.
Being in a relationship does not mean you can’t travel. You can continue to have amazing adventures even if you’re not single. You can travel alone or with your person, if you’re lucky enough to make that work.
How do you deal with traveling alone while in a relationship?
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