Don’t sacrifice your own life
This is particularly important if you are moving abroad to work in an expat role. It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of missing your partner and not make the most of your time abroad. It is still important to build a sense of community and purpose during your time away. How you do this will depend on your interests.
Agree the situation is temporary
Long distance relationships are easier if you both know and agree there is an end in sight. Maintaining your relationship will be easier If you both know your assignment is a year and you plan to repatriate after that.
Focus on quality of communication
Unlike couples who are living with each other, you do not have to get caught up in day to day issues. Take advantage of this by using your communication time to discuss the important things including:
- your feelings for each other
- difficulties of being apart
- plans when you are reunited
Don’t rely entirely on technology
Smartphones make staying in touch when in a long distance relationship easier. Time zones allowing, you can use apps to message and video call each other, but don’t forget the power of physical connection via a letter or care package. Digital messages are great, but they are instant, writing a letter to your partner takes time and shows commitment to your relationship. For extra brownie points, include some of your loved one’s favourite snacks, treats or products from home.
Remind each other what you love about your relationship
When you are apart, it is easy to focus on the negatives. Do as much as you can to remember the positives about being in a relationship with each other. Use verbal assurances to make each other feel secure about the importance of your relationship.
Do things together
Even though you are apart, try to do things together, that could be watching a film or series on your favourite streaming channel or playing an online game together.
Visit each other
If you are going to be apart for a long time, semi-regular visits will be key. If your expat role is on the same continent, then visiting may be more regular. If it takes you to the other side of the world, visits will be less frequent. Don’t assume one or other of you have to make the whole trip, especially if it takes two or more flights to get there. Could you meet somewhere in the middle for a holiday in a destination that is new to you both?
Don’t over plan time together
Seeing each other in person can be a very exciting prospect and it is easy for the host to start planning things to do. If the expat is returning home, their partner may be arranging meals with family and friends, brunch at a favourite restaurant and nights out in favourite bars. If all the time you have together is all scheduled, it can be very difficult to properly reconnect. So, factor in down time for each trip.