If you’re a traveller at heart, I think it is very important to grasp opportunities to go to new places, experience different things, meet interesting people, and develop a diverse worldview. Because I’m open to newness and difference, I have can make interesting connections. Getting out into the world and challenging myself is an important part of who I am and how I want to live my life. If you have a desire to travel, for any reason: studying, working, holidaying, au-pairing, volunteering, teaching a language, living with a host family, couchsurfing, befriending, etc., I think you should act on it. I’m a firm believer in travel as an influencer on our personal learning, growth, and development. Especially if you have a healthy and loving support network encouraging you. If your friends and family are positive and supporting your choices, you have a resource money can’t buy. Thinking about travelling somewhere? Have people who are acting as a great support network? Eager to learn? I say go for it.
But, hang on? What about those with wanderlust who are in love?
Being in a different city, province, state, region, country, continent, or even the other hemisphere can be very difficult. When you love someone, you want to be with them. You want to share your life with them while hearing about and contributing to theirs. You want to laugh, learn, and grow with them as much as you possibly can.
Due to the nature of relationships—wanting to be with someone in the long term—many people think long-distance-relationships (LDRs), are extremely difficult, if not impossible. I’ve been told that if I go to another country and my partner stays behind, I’m ‘abandoning’ them. I’ve been told that if I love someone, I will ‘wait for them’ and be physically present in their lives. I’ve been called ‘selfish’ to my face by a past partner who didn’t communicate his objections about travelling until I’d already left Canada and was halfway through my year studying abroad in Scotland.
Well, to those negative comments and more, I rebuttal with my current partner’s own words. He has always said, semi-jokingly and semi-seriously, that I have ‘itchy feet’. He’s not commenting on the state of my socks, but on my desire to travel. He thinks I have a love affair with travelling. He isn’t wrong. And he is mature and respectful, understanding that, no matter where I go, our relationship, happiness, and wellness is always on my mind. He knows that the distance has zero effect on how much I love him and how available I am to listen, talk, write, and send support to him. No matter the distance between us, we are in a transparent committed long-term relationship and we love each other. Full stop. He would never ask me to remain in Scotland, just like I would never demand he come with me to Italy.
To keep our communications flowing and be loving, healthy, attentive partners, we purposefully make time to connect. We Skype between two and five times a week, watch films and then discuss them, use whatsapp and snapchat to instantly send text, image, audio, and video messages via our mobile phones, and we share memes, articles, webcomics, art and music to keep each other laughing, informed, smiling, and dancing. Well, I’m dancing, I can promise you that.
For Valentine’s Day yesterday, we planned to have dinner together and chat, just like we cook and eat dinner together on ‘date nights’ when we are in the same city. And even though we got our times wrong and spent more time cooking then talking at first, we ended up chatting, laughing, and surfing the net together for over five hours. We only stopped because it was past my bedtime and I was starting to nod off! For Valentine’s Day, he created a personalized desktop background for me while I made him a playlist of music about my perspective on our journey to getting together.
Distance can be difficult to navigate, and being an active traveller and a committed partner is challenging. I don’t know what my partner is up to all the time, and he doesn’t experience new things with me. Sometimes we feel like our relationship is in stasis. That is why transparent communication is vital, so we both know where in the world each other are, how we are feeling, what we are up to, and where we will be off to next. We are living apart together (LAT), and so far, so good. We are keeping in touch, supporting each other, loving one another, and working through it together. That’s what our relationship is all about, whether I’m travelling or not.