Distance makes the heart grow fonder, they say. But what they usually do not mention is how hard it is to deal with the distance. Long-distance relationships (LDRs) are difficult anyway. Throw staying in different countries into the mix and it just makes the situation all the more difficult to deal with. Maintaining an international long-distance relationship is not a walk in the park. It comes with its own set of challenges and hardships.
With more and more people moving abroad for work and couples choosing to be in an international long-distance relationship mostly due to professional reasons, it’s intriguing to see how they maintain and sustain their bonds with their significant others. We spoke to consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (M.S. Psychology), who is a gender and relationship management expert, about the problems that international couples face and how to spice up long-distance relationships.
Problems In An International Long-Distance Relationship
No relationship is devoid of problems but these problems can compound manifolds when a couple is also navigating the challenge of being physically apart. Conflict in an overseas long-distance relationship is bound to arise as couples try to navigate living apart from each other. It can also be a sign of a healthy relationship since it shows that you’re trying to make the partnership work despite all odds. It shows that you love and care for each other and that you’re way too important to each other to let go of the relationship.
Having said that, the success of an international long-distance relationship depends on the two people involved and the equation they share. It depends on how much you want it to work and the amount of effort you’re willing to put in to keep the relationship afloat. Jaseena says, “When couples live apart from each other, they don’t get to meet often. They have to make an extra effort to maintain their bond. Couples might take longer to develop intimacy in an international long-distance relationship.” Here are a few problems that international couples might face in an overseas long-distance relationship:
1. Insecurity, jealousy, infidelity
Feelings of doubt, fear, insecurity, and jealousy begin to set in when you’re in an international long-distance relationship. Living apart from each other for long periods can make you over-possessive of your partner. Fear of losing them sets in. You become insecure about the people your partner is hanging out with. The fact that they spend more time with other people can make you feel jealous. Your mind could go into overdrive if they don’t reply to your texts for more than an hour.
It could also make you question your partner’s loyalty. According to Jaseena, “Couples in an international long-distance relationship are able to meet each other only once or twice a year. They are bound to feel lonely in the relationship at some point. When loneliness sets in, there is a high chance of infidelity – emotional or sexual or both.” Feelings of jealousy and insecurity exist in most relationships but they just get aggravated when you’re in an LDR.
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2. Difficulty expressing emotions
Couples in an international long-distance relationship tend to experience a whirlwind of emotions. There could be several reasons – finances, physical separation, work, time zones, other day to day problems, inner turmoil, and so on and so forth. When you’re living apart from your partner, it becomes difficult to express your emotions and frustrations fully or properly. Couples tend to miss the physical presence of one another.
The external struggles of life often add to emotional turmoil. But you choose to bottle up your emotions and put on a façade or a happy face in front of your partner in an attempt to protect them. You don’t want your partner to worry about you, which is why you choose to pretend, without realizing that it will only lead to bad communication and resentment.
3. Communication challenges
According to Jaseena, “Communication has become more comfortable and easier thanks to technological advancements. If couples can’t talk due to their respective commitments, they can just leave each other text messages on WhatsApp. This can reduce the distance between them. In many cases, couples in an international long-distance relationship communicate more than couples living together. However, the same communication can become a cause for relationship issues. Over-communication eats up personal space in a relationship.”
Communication is key to a successful relationship. It matters all the more in an international LDR because it’s one of the few and most important ways for couples to express themselves, show affection, and strengthen their bond. In an international long-distance relationship, communication is a major challenge due to different time zones. If you happen to be communicating too much, you may have been compromising on your sleep and other things, which can lead to irritability that eventually gets channeled toward the partner.
However, being in different countries can cause international couples to either communicate too much or too little, both of which can lead to conflict. Additionally, partners may have different expectations and needs with regard to communication. One may want to receive cute and romantic messages once or twice a day while the other may be okay with not receiving a single message throughout the day and only talking to their partner later in the day or night when they both have the time. There could also be days when they have nothing to talk about.
4. Lack of physical intimacy
Lack of sexual or physical intimacy is a major problem in an international long-distance relationship. Sex is a physical and biological need, after all. Besides, not having someone to hold, touch, cuddle, or hug you when you’re at your most vulnerable is a terrible feeling. Not having a shoulder to cry on when you’re struggling emotionally is painful. You can whine and cry all you want over the phone or video calls. But nothing beats the peace you feel in the arms of the person of love. The absence of physical touch can make one feel lonely and isolated.
These are a few problems that those in an overseas long-distance relationship usually face. If you want to make the relationship work, you must work toward solving these problems, otherwise, they could have damaging effects on your partnership. Now that we’ve discussed the problems, let’s talk about how to spice up long-distance relationships.
Things To Do To Keep An International Long-Distance Relationship Alive
Maintaining an international long-distance relationship is not a piece of cake. Jaseena says, “Couples must ensure that they spend a reasonable amount of time understanding each other because in such cases, misunderstanding can creep in faster. There should be plenty of honesty between the partners. Work toward building trust in the relationship. Emotional bonding is essential because the relationship mainly works on the emotional strength of the relationship.”
If you’re looking for international long-distance relationship advice to make all of this happen, we’re here for you. There are several things you can do to keep the spark alive in your relationship and spice up your LDR, from improving communication skills and building trust to going on romantic virtual dates and paying surprise visits. Here is what we think will work best:
Related Reading: 55 Romantic Miss U Messages For Your SO
1. Communication is key
Jaseena explains, “Consistent and continuous communication is essential to make an international long-distance relationship work. But, mind you, the conversation should not revolve only around finances, work and family issues, or any other day to day problems. Couples in LDRs should talk about each other as much as possible so that they don’t miss out on the closeness and intimacy. Discuss everything with each other and make joint decisions. Prioritize your relationship.”
Communicate with all honesty. Don’t bottle up your emotions or any kind of resentment or anger that you might be feeling. If you’re going through inner turmoil, talk to your partner about it. If you feel there’s something not right about the relationship or the way you are dealing with the distance, communicate it to your partner. Share your feelings about being apart from each other, show love and affection verbally, and talk about your expectations about when you start to live together. The idea is to keep all communication channels open. This will also help build trust in the relationship.
2. Keep the romance alive
This is one of the most important international long-distance relationship advice. For such a partnership to work, you need to keep the spark alive. Do things together, go on romantic virtual dates, or send each other surprise gifts. There are a lot of fun things you could do together like finding couples games to play online, cooking and eating while talking to each other on a video call, going on a virtual museum tour, starting a Netflix party, sending love letters, taking a class together, etc.
3. Meet up as often as you can
This is again crucial international long-distance relationship advice that you must keep in mind. It’s easier to make frequent trips when you’re staying in different cities since it is cheaper and takes less time. But visiting your partner when you’re living in different countries is a whole different ballgame because international travel costs a bomb. Therefore, you need to save up and manage your expenses if you want to visit your partner as often as you can.
In an international long-distance relationship, don’t go long periods of time without seeing each other. Your time together is precious. Plan your visits well. Knowing that you’re going to meet your special one soon makes you look forward to the visit and also gives you a sense of peace and happiness. You can also take a trip together to a location both of you have wanted to visit for a long time.
4. Work on yourself
An LDR gives you the chance to work on and prioritize yourself. Besides, maintaining your independence is important for a healthy dynamic. You have a life outside of your international long-distance relationship and you must live it the way you want to. Focus on your work and career. Work on personal projects. Learn a new skill, pick up that hobby you never found time for earlier, work on your fitness and health, or run a marathon if you want. The idea is to invest in and really know yourself.
To reiterate, an international long-distance relationship is hard work, will make you feel lonely at times, involves missing your partner every day, and will cost you a lot of money. But it will all be worth it if you love your partner and want to be with them. It all comes down to how important your partner is to you. It is challenging but, at the same time, rewarding because an LDR is possibly the best test of your love for each other. It sets a strong foundation for your relationship and strengthens your bond as a couple.