The past 8 years I spent a care-free life around Europe as a singleton. I am a very independent person which is why being single has never presented itself as a burden or an issue of any kind to me.
On the contrary, as someone who finds it hard to stay put in any country it has probably been better that I haven’t had to say goodbye to a guy every 2 years. Because the fact is that there are very few men who would move to another country because of a relationship. And c’mon, who in their right mind would switch Austria to Estonia for the sake of a relationship?! For anyone who might be considering such a change I can reveal, it is a grave mistake, don’t do it!
For the past 8ish months I have been in a relationship with a Finnish man living here in Tallinn. His job includes a lot of traveling and spending long periods of time away from home. But perhaps because of this he is the first man, that I have ever met, for whom moving even farther away from Finland doesn’t seem like a ridiculous idea. He has seen the world and spends several weeks in a country per trip, so he knows, just like I do, that sometimes (read: often) the grass really is greener somewhere else.
At this very moment he has been away for a week and there’s another week to go before he flies home. At the beginning of our relationship, our dating schedule went pretty much like this: he was in Tallinn for 2 weeks, then away for 2 weeks, and again in Tallinn for 2 weeks and away for another 2 weeks.
This worked for us just fine because I need a bit longer than average to form feelings of affection. Especially after being single for so long it would have been challenging to share my everyday life completely with someone all of a sudden. And it seems that he thought along the same lines since we’re still together.
I often get asked about how hard it may or may not be when my man is away so often and for such long periods of time. And my answer is: no, it isn’t hard. I have known since our very first date that he needs to travel a lot, and when the beginning of our relationship went with that aforementioned 50/50 schedule, I was able to get accustomed with the issue from the beginning.
But I do acknowledge that for most couples this sort of arrangement would be close to impossible and I do have to admit that also I suffer from occasional bad days when he’s away; for example some days I require more attention than normally but the significant other simply isn’t available to give that attention due to time difference or work.
So, to give you an idea of what it’s like when your significant other is away a lot and how it’s possible to cope in a relationship like that, I thought I would list a few pros and cons that an occasional long distance relationship has brought to my life:
I need more ‘own-time’ than the average person. This might be the result of my Finnish origins but it plays to my benefit when my boyfriend is away; those weeks provide me with the perfect opportunity to just do me-stuff, like watch all those movies and series that he doesn’t care for, or hang out with my friends, or properly clean my apartment, which is often neglected when he’s in town.
These inevitable “breaks” make it almost compulsory to assess the relationship as a whole. Particularly on those famous bad days one tends to weigh the goods and the bads of the relationship. At least by now, despite the bad days, I have every time arrived to the conclusion that this relationship is definitely worth it all. We all have bad days anyway, right?
Perhaps the most important aspect of being apart for a longer period of time is that you start to miss the other! I have noticed that this is a crucial thing in determining whether the relationship survives, for example, through the bad days. If he was around every single day of the year there would be a big risk that I would start taking him for granted, which damages the relationship seriously in the long run.
When I was younger I thought that missing someone was the worst feeling ever. But not anymore, on the contrary I like missing him. At the end of the day it’s all about caring for someone, and the ultimate feeling of affection, love.
That most important person is not always there when you need them. Whether it’s about wanting to tell them the news about a new job or about needing a hug after a shit day at work, it sometimes pisses me off big time that he’s not there when I want him to be.
The relationship requires a bit more effort from both parties. But still there will be days when one of them feels that the other is not putting enough effort into it while they are apart; doesn’t keep in touch often enough; isn’t talkative enough (we’re both quite talkative so when the other seems to have much less to say than normally, it automatically sets off the warning lights in the other one’s head); isn’t interested enough about how the other one is doing, etc.
In these situations it is crucial that both parties are able to address the issue calmly and soberly(!). Not like this:
“Oh, so you found someone more interesting there since I haven’t heard from you for 2 days!?”
But rather like this:
“What have you guys been up to for the past couple of days? Is it really busy there?”
When you approach the significant other with neutral curiosity rather than aggressively it’s very likely that you will get a thorough report of the events and happenings of the past couple of days. At least in our case it has never happened that there would not have been a legit reason for radio silence.
Communicating can sometimes be challenging, particularly when you would like to discuss a more serious matter than what you had for lunch today. Time difference brings its own addition to the mess and if you are communicating by text messages there is a great risk of misunderstandings, which can lead to full-blown arguments.
But these situations, as well, can be managed quickly and efficiently as long as one of you keeps their head and stays on topic, even if the other is straying from it. The way to screw the situation up completely would be for both of you to take offence of something and retreat to your own corners to sulk and wait for the other one to realize that they were wrong and come to apologize. Not gonna happen!
At the end of the day, I think that in our case in particular these occasional distant periods work for our benefit. And that is because we have both decided that it will work.
A functioning long distance relationship requires one crucial thing in particular; trust. Without trust there is no relationship to begin with and it definitely wouldn’t survive the long periods apart.
Trust is not something that I have ever had an abundance to share. I’ve seen and lived through enough to know that too many people are not trustworthy. It’s a shame, but on the other hand it makes it all the more sweeter when you meet someone who actually can be trusted. OK, you should never trust anyone 100% but the fact that I don’t need to feel uncertain and worried when my man travels makes life a shitload easier to live.
In addition to trust, for a long distance relationship to work, it also requires patience and good communication skills. Communication skills play a huge part when there is an ocean or a continent or two between you. I, as an intense woman equipped with a South European temperament, should know! But when you care about someone and would do anything to not lose them, it’s much easier to learn to be patient and to avoid false moves.
False moves like judging the person without knowing anything about what might be going on at their destination on the other side of the world. Avoid these at any cost, and rather always ask how they are doing before jumping into conclusions. And always be honest; if you feel unsure, tell them; if you’re scared of losing them, tell them; if you miss them, always tell them!
At the end of the day if you are both in it for real, long distances should not be a problem, right? :)