Long distance relationships: a bad idea, or an opportunity?

Once upon a time, far far away in a small island in Thailand, a German boy and a Finnish girl meet. They spend some time together and fall in love. This starts a journey of three and a half years of dating each other from distance and which, against all odds, ends happily. I’m going to share our story: how me and my boyfriend carried through a long distance relationship for such a long time. I do hope someone who’s struggling with this theme finds my story encouraging.

Stuttgart – Helsinki / 2000km / ½ year

So we spent four days together in Thailand swimming in the sea, bathing in waterfalls in the middle of the jungle, sipping cocktails at the sunset… The holiday had to end at some point, and we both knew it; we knew I’d continue my journey to India and he’d return back home to Germany. We kept contact, Skyped and wrote long messages to each other. Two weeks after I got home from my trip we decided to meet again, and that changed the life as we knew it.

That very first weekend together we decided, that we would give a long distance relationship a chance. We made a pact of meeting each other every second weekend – no exceptions. Every couple can make their own rules and we found this one to be the most fitting for us. The idea of knowing, when you’re going to see each other the next time, when you’re saying goodbyes at the airport is extremely comforting. It’s not like “I hope we’ll see each other soon”, it’s “see you in 12 days”. In my opinion, this really held our relationship together.

The first six months went by fast – with a very little sleep and very big expenses. Both of us had time only during the weekends, so the result was flying over on Friday night and going back on Sunday afternoon. There were no direct flights so the travelling took up to 6 hours one way, and for that one and a half days together we paid approximately 300-400€, so 600-800€ a month. It was exhausting and neither of us had never had to work so hard for a relationship. Sometimes the worries kicked in, if it’s all really worth it. Those thoughts went quickly away though, when we met each other again.

Stuttgart – Copenhagen / 1000km / 2½ years

After those six months I decided to change my career and start all over again. I moved to Copenhagen and started studying there. This cut down our distance in half, leaving only 1000km between us. This was personally for me even harder time, than the beginning, since I moved to a new country again and knew nobody there. The balancing between Denmark, Finland and Germany turned out to be exhausting. I was lucky though to get to know new friends, who were supporting me, and a job where I had the flexibility to take some time for my travelling back and forward.

After getting my life up and running in Copenhagen, we soon started thinking about the next move, and what would make sense for our relationship. We came to conclusion, that I’d do exchange studies in Germany in order to learn the German language, and move to Stuttgart as soon as my studies allow it. It was easier for me to do the changes, since I already had moved abroad, German would be easier to learn than Finnish and my overall situation was more flexible for changes. That decision was difficult to make though, since I had just settled in in Copenhagen.

This is when I learnt, that a long distance relationship does not come without sacrifices, and most probably only one of you has to carry them through, unless you move to a third country and both have the same situation there. I sometimes play with the idea of how it would have turned out if we had moved away together. It would surely bring new kind of challenges as well, but then the situation would have been more equal. In the beginning I sometimes thought to myself, isn’t this a bit unfair, that I’m the one learning a language, leaving everything behind and have to integrate in a new culture? That doesn’t obviously bring you anywhere though. You just have to think, that both of you were making that decision – nobody was forcing you. Secondly, you have to keep in mind all the great stuff, which you get to experience by living abroad.

Stuttgart – Detmold / 500km / ½ year

So I did follow our plan and moved for a half a year to the north of Germany to learn the language. It was ridiculous though, that now we finally were in the same country after living in separate countries for over two years, but on the other sides of the country! My university didn’t have any exchange-programs in the south, so we still had 500km between us, and with a train it took the same amount of time as flying that 2000km distance. Only thing, that kept us going was knowing, that we knew basically the exact date, when this all would come to an end and we would start our life together in Stuttgart.

Towards the end another irritating thing was other people’s doubts. When you’re tired and all you hear is “what happens when you finally move in together and then you realize you don’t know each other at all”, you don’t exactly feel motivated to go on. That ‘getting to know each other’-part is painful one to hear. What is a better way to get to know each other, than going through struggles like this together?

So we eventually proved the doupters wrong, and about one and a half years ago we moved in together: the same country, the same city, the same home. Life together is balanced and happy now in Stuttgart, after being in a long-distance relationship for three and a half years. I’m sure many couples have experienced even longer distances and time periods, but no matter how long or short it is, it’s not easy. For the doubters: long-distance relationships have a chance of succeeding! For the ones who are struggling in one: set goals together, think about your travelling budget, linguistic issues and who’s more flexible. You can do it!



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