Dear Miss Help,
Everyone knows that one of the greatest things about MA Euroculture is that I get to live in at least two different places during my studies. But, at the same time, I am heartbroken! I am in a relationship and it is really difficult with all this moving around. It’s like my sweetheart sees me less often than my programme coordinator does! My study group has more dates with me than my partner!
I am dying of longing and am so worried if it will all work out. My friends have similar problems: they were wise enough to start Euroculture as single people, but then they met the best person on earth in the first semester and now they’ve got the same problem.
Please, can you give me some advice on how to make this work? I want my big fat wedding after graduation!
Heartbroken Euroculture Nomad
Dear Heartbroken Euroculture Nomad,
Today, more and more young people move around during their studies in order to get to know different ways of life, to learn new languages, and to experience other cultures. Couples with partners from different places are more common. Often, these circumstances entail spending some time apart, and the relationship becomes a long-distance relationship for a definite or indefinite time span.
For many people, this is a terrifying scenario. But with the right mindset to deal with it and taking some basic advice into account, you are ready for it.
First of all, you need to be clear that there is no need to change the status of the relationship just because the surrounding situation changes. Of course, some couples might prefer to loosen the cords to some extent, but this is not a must. The definition of the relationship in terms of its binding character and commitment keeps being a decision that should be actively taken, and agreed upon, by both partners.
Having said this, think that everything that it takes to maintain a ‘normal’ relationship is also (and especially) true for long-distance relationships – both of you will have to make an effort to make it work. As in every common project, all of the involved need to be committed to it – how often does the “not sure, let’s see…” attitude work out in the long run? It might sound trite, but trust and confidence are fundaments of a healthy relationship, while jealousy and possessiveness are poison. Also, relationships are (obviously) about the ‘common thing’, and this is something that needs to be built every day. If you can share the past (memories, experiences, etc.), the present (spending time together, participating in each other’s life) and the future (plans, dreams…), you can have a lot in common and a good basis for all your common endeavors.
It is a great thing that the physical distance no longer keeps you from doing all that. Although it might require some more effort, today it is possible to keep in touch at (almost) all times across (almost) all distances – you can now instantly know what your partner is thinking about, how s/he feels, or what s/he is eating for lunch (and everything else you would know if you were close). You can be on a video call for 4 hours or send 200 WhatsApp messages a day if you need to – it will be useful as long as you share that need. You can even decide to meet on Skype every morning at 7 to have breakfast together. Generally, it is a good idea to use all the possibilities to update each other regularly, because that helps to minimize that awful feeling of estrangement when you stand in front of each other again.
Sure, it will still not be quite the same. Something will always be missing, and online fights can be the worst. So it might be true that it takes that little ‘something more’: maybe extra patience, potentially that extra stubborn willpower to pull this through, and what really helps… is having a heavy crush on each other and being convinced that you are each other’s better half!
And lastly: time flies. It might seem like an eternity in the beginning, but time often moves faster than you think. Finding some regularity in seeing each other can help to break the eternity of being apart down into bearable pieces, and arranging the travel early provides extra comfort.
So keep your spirit up and cherish what you have!
P.S.: But it goes almost without saying that blaming each other for being apart and pressuring the other to move or visit is not very helpful at all! If both are interested, this will happen naturally.
If you think Miss Help was very helpful, also read MISS HELP… Packing!