I admit that the title of this article may have you pondering:
“Is this woman about to give advice on maintaining a long distance relationship and she ain’t ever been in one? Harpo, who dis girl?”
Hear me out on this - Whether you’ve been in one yourself or watched as a friend navigated their way through one, everyone has an opinion on them. This is not to deter you from entering a long distance relationship. I promise that I come in "formation", peace, and love.
As an expat living in Spain, I have met other expats with significant others back home in the States. I give these relationships props for attempting to maintain; one partner is out in the world, collecting memories that the other partner will not get to experience with them. Living vicariously through pictures and stories and watching them grow as humans from afar must be bittersweet.
Although I’ve never been in one, I have however, turned down the opportunity. In fact, right before I moved to Spain I was faced with this decision with someone I was dating at the time. All love and admiration aside, there were concrete reasons why I knew that a long distance relationship wasn’t for me.
Here are the factors I considered and what you should consider if you’re thinking about entering a long distance romance:
If You Don’t Have An End Date You’re Doomed From The Jump. Yeah, I said it.
Dare I say that this is the biggest piece to making sure a relationship stays afloat while long distance. How long you and your partner choose to be apart is a MAJOR factor and probably the most important. If you know an end date you can mentally prepare yourself for the X amount of time you’ll be away from each other.
In my case, I had no end date. I could not and did not want commit to a deadline for when this growth period in my life would end. I didn’t want to think about ending this time in my life prematurely because I had made a commitment to come back to the States by a certain time. I didn’t want to break his heart by going back on my commitment. It was a decision between love and following my dreams and it was a hard one to make.
In the words of Weezy, you need that (young) moolah baby
Let’s be real — we all know that travel money is one of the main factors when you’re in a long distance relationship or deciding whether or not to enter into one. If you want to be able to see each other on a somewhat regular basis, this is something you’ll need to consider.
For out-of-state relationships you’ll have to consider the price of plane tickets if you’re not able to drive. We already know how much plane tickets can be and yes there’s a way around the system to land some really cheap plane tickets. More often than not though, plane tickets are expensive and can definitely add up. You’ll have to commit to budgeting and who exactly will be paying for it. Do you split the cost or do you take turns paying? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
In my case, I’m dealing with out-of-country plane tickets. I have been “lucky” to travel back to the States from Spain for less than $600. But, that’s still $600.
The way European travel is set up, I look at $600 now as about three to four round-trip flights to countries that I’ve never been to. Perhaps my particular situation wasn’t meant to be if I’d rather spend $600 traveling to foreign lands than back and forth in order to maintain a relationship.
Technology patience is a virtue and I don’t know if I have enough of it
We all know what it takes to maintain a romantic relationship and patience is right up there with being one of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship. However, the type of patience I’m referring to involves the sometimes shady world of technology.
Isn’t it great that we have communication programs and apps like Skype, FaceTime or Gchat video? They allow us to see our loved ones as if they are sitting in the same room with us. I would imagine that this is a major tool in maintaining a long distance relationship. That is, when they are functioning as they should. We rely heavily on technology but sometimes it can fail us.
Major key: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to end a video conversation with someone because the wifi somehow doesn’t want you to be great. It doesn’t want you to catch up with your loved ones.
It’s frustrating to say the least and requires patience to try to figure out technical problems when all you want to do is talk to your boo about your day. Is it wrong to want to see your boo’s face clearly and not the pixilated blog that appears on your screen if the wifi isn’t working?
Time Difference Can Be Such a Pain (an International specific problem)
This also ties back to patience. In some cases of long distance romance, time difference can be a huge factor. I don’t talk to my family and friends nearly as much as I want simply because my time is six hours ahead of theirs. When I’m waking up in the morning, they are sound asleep. When I’m leaving work, they are heading to work. Lunch time for them is nearly dinner time for me or the social period of my day. When I’m going to bed, they are getting off of work and then the cycle begins again.
It’s something that I’ve had to adjust to and I’ve been willing to sacrifice sleep in order to talk to my loved ones at a convenient time that works for the both of us. But sometimes schedules change and can shift your daily routine, making it impossible to keep up. For a long distance relationship, this can no doubt be a frustrating thing. You may deal with time differences & circumstances which will sometimes be out of your control.
Life is Happening and You May Miss out
I touched on this in the beginning but this one has to be the most personal for me. My experience living in Spain has been amazing so far. I’ve traveled to places and experienced things that I’ve only dreamed of and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve grown so much so far and I see the world with more enlightenment and understanding. The core of me is still the same of course. I hold the same values as I did before I came to Spain but I am transforming.
If I was in a relationship at this time, I probably would be constantly wishing that my boo was right here experiencing this along with me. Why wouldn’t I want to spend these most beautiful moments with the person I love? You can share pictures and utilize FaceTime so that your partner can feel as if they are here with you, but we all know it’s not the same.
If I was in a relationship, maybe I would hold back from certain things or people because of my relationship. I always knew that when I moved to Spain, I would want to be completely open and free for any type of experience I would encounter.
I’m tempted to say that being in a relationship at this time would have held me back to some degree.
I say all of this to say that if the love is strong and you’re willing to endure the sometimes roller-coaster that a long distance relationship can be, more power to you! There’s nothing greater than love. I’ve heard stories where a long distance somehow actually strengthened a relationship and I think that’s pretty awesome.
Are you or have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What’s your experience been like?
A proud east coast girl, Christina moved from New York City to Madrid in 2015. She is a writer, former fashion buyer/merchandising professional, and a Beyonce enthusiast. She enjoys day dreaming, traveling, reading, blogging, DJing and partaking in some of Spain's most beloved cultural traditions: siestas, tapas, & sangría.
You can follow her & her blog on Instagram at @iamchrissyleigh/@wonderwander_online and her blog site, www.wonderwanderonline.com.