Written by Dr. Russ Gadzhiev
“Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough.” – Meghan Daum
“Distance teaches us to appreciate the days that we are able to spend together and distance teachers us the definition of patience. It is a reminder that very moment together is special, and every second together should be cherished.” – Anonymous
When people decide to move abroad and start over a new life, the issue of personal relationships often arises. Yes, we are human and personal relationships are of great importance to our psychological and physiological well-being. Moving overseas certainly complicates the issue of relationships.
Sometimes when moving overseas people are wondering whether they should maintain their romantic relationships with the people whom they left behind or whether they should start over a new life. This is when the most difficult issue arises – the issue of long-distance relationships.
In this short article, we are going to talk about long-distance relationships and how to make them work. This issue is an important one because many families who decide to relocate to another country decide to do it in a step-by-step manner. First, the husband establishes themselves and then helps his wife and children relocate later after he has found a job and a place to live. Sometimes these periods of separation can be very long (that depends on personal circumstances of course).
Truth be told, long-term relationships may be extremely difficult to manage and maintain. Indeed, both partners may feel enormous pressure to make things work and this pressure sometimes leads to frustrating break-ups. So how can partners in a long-distance relationship avoid a potential break-up? Let us take a look at some of the ways to go about this tricky issue.
Not that long time ago maintaining a long-distance relationship and making it work required a lot of effort. Those couples where partners were geographically separated had to call each other and also find time to make such a call. The problem with calling was that international calls were very expensive and not everyone could afford that.
Fortunately, with the advent of communication technology now it is easier to stay in touch with your loved ones. Not only is it cheap and free, but it is also more convenient. If you miss your partner you can always facetime them. All you need is stable internet. Of course, it is not the same as being with the person in the same room. But it definitely makes it easier to connect with them. You can be anywhere: walking in the street or cooking, it does not really matter – you can still look your partner in the eye and that alone can help you alleviate your tensions. If there is a conflict between partners it can be managed as well.
In fact, during the strict lockdowns of the covid era, many people were geographically separated and could not meet their partners for a long time. That alone exerted significant pressure on their relationships and led to conflicts. But with the help of facetime, skype and WhatsApp many people managed to endure the hardship of separation and sustain their relationships. You need to remember that what holds relationships together is the experience and this is what technology can help you with. You can still cook together and even watch TV – so that alone may help you maintain your connection with your partner and make it stronger.
Connect With Your New Place
You need to live your life too and it is important to do so. Because if you do not do anything to connect with a new place, you will probably soon regret your move and maybe even return to your home country. So make new friends, establish connections, and concentrate on building a foundation for a new life with your partner.
Communicate Regularly with Your Partner
When it comes to managing human relationships, communication is the key. Without good communication, relationships fail or work very poorly. So you need to communicate with your partner. Surely if you and your partner lived in the same place it would be easier for both of you to help your relationship flow naturally. When couples who are not geographically separated meet and do things together they do not necessarily talk. Yes, they just enjoy being close to one another. They just do things together.
However, this is not the case with couples wherein partners are living in different countries. Most of their conversations done via WhatsApp or skype must be meaningful and the nature of these conversations is certainly different from those interactions in couples who live in the same place. For communication to be successful, both partners in a long-distance relationship must be willing to have one. If one partner wants to communicate and the other one does not then it is not ideal. In fact, such communication can only add to further tensions in your relationship.
For communication to be gratifying rather than stressful, both partners must agree on the frequency of their online communication. You and your partner may, for example, want to communicate via messages during the week and then have a skype meeting on the weekend. Or you may want to have a skype meeting every day after work. When deciding on a way and frequency of your communication it is important to consider the schedules and emotional needs of both of you. It may require some trial and error at first but once the rules are clearly established it should be easier.
Try Counselling or Therapy
It goes without saying that any personal relationships are difficult to manage, even more so, long-distance relationships. Depending on your age, experience, and emotional intelligence, maintaining a long-distance relationship may vary from being difficult to extremely difficult. So if you feel like you are not being very successful at managing your long-distance relationship talk to your partner and suggest doing therapy together. Do not just impose your views on your partner – explain why you think it is something you both need and how it can help you. Be aware that some people may be uncomfortable with the whole idea of counselling and it may take them some time to realize and acknowledge the fact that they need a counsellor.
While indeed the idea of resorting to counselling may feel uncomfortable, if both of you eventually agree to it, it means that you are deeply committed to keeping your relationship working. Therapy can help you in many ways – it can help you work on the feelings of frustration that may generate other unpleasant emotions and feelings. A counsellor can equip you with strategies and psychological techniques to help you manage the feelings of anxiety and depression that sometimes may come over you as well. Most importantly, a counsellor may help you look at your relationship from a different perspective and have a more positive attitude in times of hardships and struggles.
It should be reinstated again that long-distance relationships, which many people who move overseas have to manage, are tricky. In fact, they can be sustainable only if you meet with some regularity. Once in three months, or once in six months. The more frequent your encounters are, the better. The more separated you are, the more insecure about your relationship you may start to feel. Regular meetings may help you deal with lacking physical intimacy, and the issues of trusting each other. It will help you keep your romance alive and feel that everything you are doing is for the benefit of both of you.
In this article, we have talked about how to manage a long-distance relationship when you have moved overseas and left your partner in your country (hopefully temporarily). The main to remember when managing such relationships is to communicate regularly and seek professional counselling help if you think that you could have been doing better.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.