I’ve dreamt of wedding vows, white picket fences and babies ever since I was a small girl. But I also dreamt of climbing mountains I can’t pronounce, tasting foods my tongue could never imagine and exploring countries that my eyes have been yearning to see.
Two years ago I had a conversation with my now boyfriend about my passion to explore the globe. I explained to him that my only goal after graduation was to learn from the world. We were early enough in our relationship that he found this adorable and quirky. Not so sure he still thinks it is adorable… but he has stuck around nonetheless! Jace has joined me on some of my adventures, but I recently took a two month trip without him and learned some valuable lessons about maintaining a relationship while apart.
Love makes the world go round and we all need a little bit of that magic. But it takes some serious work to keep relationships, both intimate and platonic, going strong when you are halfway across the world. It’s tough and sometimes seems like it’s not worth it, but you can do it! With that said, I don’t think long distance is for everyone. It’s important to know yourself and what your goals are with travel. If you want to be completely carefree or have no set plans on returning home, you might want to consider putting your relationship on hold. But if you decide to accept the challenge, I have some tips to help make the distance feel less expansive.
Here are some important lessons I’ve learned about maintaing relationships whilst traveling without my partner:
1. Set Expectations.
This is something you will want to do before you leave for your trip. Maybe even weeks before you leave. Sit down with your partner and have a serious discussions about your expectations in regards to the relationship. This could include how often you’d like to talk, what counts as “cheating”, what your partner could do to make it easier for you, financial plan (if sharing bank account), etc… Make sure you both get to chime on these expectations. Once the expectations are set it will make everything run a bit smoother while you are gone.
2. Embrace your independence.
It’s really easy to lose yourself in a relationship and often times people become dependent of their significant other. This is all part of the deal, but it’s healthy to get some space every now and again. Solo travel allows for an amazing opportunity to grow as an individual. You will have a chance to reevaluate goals without outside influence and you will gain a new perspective on your abilities as a person. And hopefully through this new found independence you will also realize how important your partner is to your transformation.
3. What happens abroad, doesn’t stay abroad.
Don’t you dare fall into the trap of, “he/she will never find out.” Cheating is NEVER okay in my book, but I think people have a way of justifying it in their minds while they are abroad. For one, the odds of your significant other ever finding out is very slim. And secondly, you are on a grand adventure and in your drunkin’ mind you decide that that one night stand is just a part of that adventure. If you find yourself in a situation where you decide that the one night stand is worth it, it might be time to reconsider your relationship back home. The attention from the dreamy irish guy at the bar is nice, but it’s not worth ending your relationship. For me, traveling is about exploring and learning and expanding your mind; random hanky-panky and foreign flings will complicate that experience and potentially ruin something great you have back home.
4. Talk more than you think you should.
Communication is key for any relationship, especially a romantic one. It can be incredibly difficult to stay in touch while you are traveling. Internet connection is crap, there is a time difference, and you are busy with all sorts of activites. But if you want your relationship to thrive, it is so important to make time for conversation. You are experiencing things that are changing your perspectives and ideals and you need to inculde your honey in these transformations. You will likely return home as a changed person and if your boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t made a part of that, it will be a hard adjustment.
5. Honesty is key.
This is true for life in general, but it is especially important while spending time apart. Discussing your feelings, even the dark ones, will aid in maintaining a healthy relationship. If you feel like your partner isn’t putting enough effort in, let them know. If you feel like your heart isn’t in it anymore, talk about it. If you are intensely missing them, share that. Whatever it is, you need to talk about it. It will eat away at you and impact your attitude while abroad.
6. Show your love, endlessly.
While you are off having the time of your life, your sweetheart is likely at home going to work everyday. Someone has to be responsible, right? Show them some love by expressing your feelings in non-traditional ways. Maybe post a video on their Facebook wall saying hi. Or send home postcards. I left my boyfriend a box of presents and letters for him to open throughout the 2 months that I was gone (thanks Pinterest). Without physicality, your relationship can seem as if it’s lost it’s flame. Don’t let the flame die!!
This advice will hopefully help your relationship stay strong and healthy while you are exploring the world. But more important than any of these words or even your relationship is your happiness. No man or woman is necessary for you to feel complete or worthy or valued. You are a bundle of awesomeness, don’t you forget it!