Spending a certain time abroad implies adventure, change and many new friends. But what happens if you have to miss the one you love during this period?
In our globalised world, long-distance relationships are a pretty common relationship model. Whether the couples are already in a relationship as soon as one or both of them decide to go abroad or if they get to know each other during their stay in another country: long-distance relationships put couples to the test.
It makes no difference for how long both have been together, because physical distance requires mutual trust anyway. Especially if both are not at this certain place they call home.
‘I trusted him a lot. We became a couple in his last year at school, he was 19 and I was 17. After five years we broke up’, says Letizia (23). Usually she studies Business Psychology in Heidelberg, Germany. At the moment, Letizia is an ERASMUS-student at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen.
Now there was a distance of almost three hundred kilometres in between us
‘At the beginning of our four-year long-distance relationship, there were hardly any problems. We saw each other in the weekends, because he came home to play football and the city where he studies was only one hour away from my hometown, so I could visit him a lot. But when I started to study one year later, things changed. Now there was a distance of almost three hundred kilometres in between us. For me it was so hard to accept my new life without him although I could experience the same things he did in his first semester, like living in a new city and meeting new people. From time to time we even had problems talking to each other, he never showed real interest in my new life. We didn’t have a good relationship at that moment at all, I suffered, but I was blinded by love.’
For a harmonious relationship, emotional closeness, trust and security are of vital importance. Nevertheless, no less important for a happy relationship are communication and sex. During a separation, it is impossible to stick to these four ‘dimensions’. Nonetheless it is necessary that the couples talk about their problems and fears even though they are separated.
‘The biggest problem was that it seemed like he was avoiding me.’ It is clear that Letizia is still hurt. ‘He always said that he didn’t like to call or skype with me, because then he missed physical contact even more. His defence was that he preferred to really see me. On the one hand, I had the same feeling, but on the other hand: he never asked me what I preferred. Looking back, this often made me really angry and we argued a lot. I always wanted him to notice that I hated his behaviour without having to tell him, but this never worked out. On the contrary, sometimes he didn’t call me for two or three days or even a week. People asked me regularly why I tolerated his behaviour and the only answer I had was: because I love him.’
I heard from his friends that he cheated on me, but still wanted a girlfriend he could present
‘In retrospect I think the perfect world that we imagined to be in was a charade, that was our biggest mistake’, Letizia admits while looking down at the cappuccino on the table. ‘At the end he broke up our relationship during Christmas, it was horrible. Before that day, I often asked him if he didn’t think that it would be better to separate, but he always refused to talk about this. After our separation I found out why. I heard from his friends that he cheated on me, but still wanted a girlfriend he could present. I’m still hurt and it is hard for me to trust someone, but at the moment I enjoy being single to the fullest. Nevertheless, I long for a relationship. It could be a long-distance relationship again but that really depends on the person. Of course you can never be sure, but love deserves a chance – everything else would be cowardice.’
Because of new media it has never been easier to keep in touch with someone who is far away. But this technological progress does not only have advantages. As it is more or less possible to follow the life of a partner twenty-four-seven in the virtual world, it is probable that jealousy and mistrust will show their ugly heads.
‘I’m often jealous and the possibilities given by new media make it even worse’, says Joost (24). He is a fourth-year student of Speech Therapy at Hanze. Joost is a friendly and outgoing person who laughs a lot. His arms show tattoos he designed himself. Looking at him, you would never expect him to be a jealous person.
I sometimes hated to see pictures of other people having fun with her
‘My girlfriend and I have had a long-distance relationship for almost one year now. After only two weeks together we had to separate. It was hard for both of us but we didn’t have no choice, because we had to do an internship in our third year – she studies the same programme, but she started studying one year later. So when I came back from Munich where I did my internship, she left Groningen to do hers in Antwerp, Belgium.
‘It was clear to us that we should try to see each other once a month and up to now we succeeded in doing so, although it is very expensive. I’m happy that she is not in South-Korea or New Zealand, because then it would be nearly impossible to see each other.’
In the beginning the hardest part for Joost was the lack of physical closeness. ‘Although we skyped a lot, I couldn’t control her and I couldn’t be part of her daily life. At the beginning of a relationship you want to be together with the other person every second. Sometimes we just phoned to prevent that feeling of longing from arising. It sounds stupid but in the beginning I often thought that she could fall in love with someone there without any possibility for me to intervene. I sometimes hated to see pictures of other people having fun with her. This really made me crazy. I realised I had to learn to trust her. After almost one year it is getting better, but I am so happy when it will be over.’
With the help of the most modern technology, developers try to create an app for smartphones that enables to satisfy sexual needs via Internet. Fundawear is the world’s first wearable technology allowing a personal touch to be transferred from a smartphone app to a partner anywhere in the world. To have fun, both partners need to have this special app which shows the erogenous zones of the two lovers, on the screen of the smartphone. Beside this, the couple have to wear underwear created for this device. This underwear contains sensors that vibrate by tapping on each erogenous zone on the screen.
To make this extraordinary experience perfect both partners should sit in front of the computer screen to see each other. It may sound absurd, but for some couples this could be a revolution in their long-distance relationship, especially when the end of the separation is not in the near future.
I am sure that this would depress me only more because it won’t feel like having real sex
‘This is really funny, but I think I wouldn’t buy it. The fact that I’d have to wear a lot of electronics worries me’, says Joost. ‘Furthermore, I am sure that this would turn me off and depress me only more because it won’t feel like having real sex. Up to now we made it without such devices and the end of our separation is near, but I am sure that for some couples this could be an option.’
Take the plunge
When separated, couples have to recognize that there is a life besides their relationship. It is called your own life. In some cases this is neglected in relationships.
‘At the moment we both study abroad’, says Sebastian (24). ‘I’m in Tampere, Finland, and she’s in Madrid. We both agreed that we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to spend half a year abroad. It wasn’t easy for both of us, but my girlfriend struggled with herself a lot. At the end I had to force her to take the plunge. I am sure that it would have been even worse for her to see me experience something she could have had as well.’
Altogether, I think that we have a good and honest relationship
Although the partner is far away, both have to learn appreciate their own life and enjoy it to the fullest. It is important to share experiences, so that the partner has the feeling that he or she is still part of the other person’s life.
‘I tend to suppress my feelings, so for me it is not so difficult to manage new situations. For my girlfriend it was pretty hard at first. But since she has visited me and she knows my friends in Tampere, she has learned to cope and love her life in Spain. Altogether, I think that we have a good and honest relationship. We trust each other and both have the possibility to be free and gain experience in our academic and personal life. Nevertheless, we know that there is still someone who loves and supports us and that it is important to let this special person be part of our own new life.’
For some this might be a long and hard process, but it is necessary to allow each other freedom. Soon it will show if he or she is the right one. Give love a chance!
Lousia Kloss, Minor Journalism student