If you’re reading this, chances are you’re with someone from another country.
Perhaps you fell in love with a local while abroad, or you moved overseas especially for them. Or you’re doing the long distance thing right now, but are considering a switch to be together.
What’s the best route? Is a long distance relationship really worth it? Is it totally reckless to move abroad for love?
I’ve done the long distance thing before, and I’ll be honest: on the whole it sucks. Being together in the same place is so much nicer.
According to a survey by Internations, a global community of expatriates, more than half of us are in a relationship with someone who’s not from our home country. And alas, one in five in a long-distance relationship are unhappy about it.
But statistics are just statistics right?
I got in touch with Dhyan Summers, Director of a Expat Counseling and Coaching Services, and I asked her her thoughts.
Move abroad for love or embark on a long distance relationship? What’s best?
I think it depends on the relationship; how long the couple has been together, their shared values, goals and lifestyles, where each are in terms of their careers, etc.
If one partner is abroad for a career move and the other partner is at a place in their career where they can pause or work remotely, then a move together might work best, providing they’re thinking more long term about their relationship.
Long distance relationships are difficult at best, can fizzle out or put a strain on the relationship.
On the other hand, if one partner moves abroad to be with the other, and leaves behind career, friends and family, resentment can build up which can have a negative impact on the relationship.
To what extent do you think these challenges can be overcome?
They can be overcome if both partners are really committed to prioritizing their relationship and working on feelings that arise in both cases.
I’ve worked online with partners when they are in two different locales and this has been effective.
Do you think some countries are easier to move to than others?
Yes, emerging market countries offer distinct challenges that first world countries don’t have; a new language, crime rates can be escalated, women are sometimes treated as less than equal, mobility is not as easy.
Other first world countries can be easier to adapt to as the culture gap is not as wide.
Any tips on surviving a long term relationship?
It clearly helps if one or both partners is financially able to afford the luxury of frequent air travel. Being kind and gentle with oneself and one’s partner helps a lot in dealing with the above stresses too.
Any tips for those considering moving to a new country for love?
Support from others is of the highest priority. Without it, too much strain gets put on the primary relationship.
I would advise people moving for love, or any reason, to try and develop a support network as soon as possible. Learn the language if this applies and get out and do as many activities as possible in the new country. Physical exercise also very important, and sometimes a way to make new friends.
Communication is key too. Learn tools for communicating your feelings and needs to your partner, without blaming each other.
Sometimes the accompanying expat spouse can feel compromised, that they gave up their life for their partner’s benefit. Do you have any tips?
Again, support, support, support.
Any advice on communicating openly with your partner?
Both partners need to be open about sharing feelings with each other without blame.
The partner who has moved for love needs to take full responsibility for that decision and not blame the other partner.
The working partner needs to make time for the other partner and be as emotionally available as possible.
Expat Counseling and Coaching Services is an online counseling centre for the English speaking international community founded by Dhyan Summers, a licensed psychotherapist and coach. Psychotherapy, individual counseling, marriage counseling and coaching are offered online via Skype, Face Time and Zoom. For more information visit expatcounselingandcoaching.com
Disclaimer: This post is intended to offer general advice on relationships as an expatriate. I have not personally received services from the above providers and I cannot personally vouch for them. This post was not sponsored, nor was I gifted any goods or services in relation to it.