Falling in love abroad…reversed

A big topic for travelers is relationships on the road. People fall in love while traveling all the time. You’re in new and exciting countries and can happen along another wanderer or local whom you’re attracted to. You’re in a very raw state of yourself when you are tired, hungry, and uncomfortable (which happens more than you think, even with all the planning in the world). It’s hard to put on any facade with all of that going on. Plus, on the road, people are normally quicker at bonding and making relationships than at home, whether it’s platonic or romantic. You become best friends and spill your deepest secrets to someone you’ve known for only 24 hours. Relationships sometimes expire in days. Everything is fast paced.

Before I left for most trips, whether it was when I moved to Spain, traveled to Ireland, or what have you, I always got the comment, “Maybe you’ll meet a nice insert foreign nationality here boy, fall in love, and never come back!”. And when I first studied abroad in college, I honestly had the same thoughts for myself. It always looked like the ideal thing. You meet even more people because of that special someone, improve your language, and have a fun new relationship. It seemed like something you had to do to get the full experience.

Then, if you met someone, like everyone suggested you would, they’d inevitably ask where the other is from. Perhaps you are from China, while the other is from Portugal. When you like someone, things that were once so fixed in your mind may actually start to change. Maybe you’ll follow him to Italy, instead of doing that trip to Germany, etc.. But eventually, you have to deal with the reality that you’re now in love and on the road. It’s then that you decide to continue to travel together, break up, or plan on casual meet ups when you can. Everyone always talks about this part. First, you go abroad, then you fall in love.

But what happens when you’re about to move abroad and you fall in love at home? Let’s be honest here, this was something I was not prepared for in the least. None of my travel blog reading had mentioned that this was even in the realm of possibility. But there I was, with plans to move to Spain in 2 months and not come home for 11 more after that, and I met someone. From the beginning, it was known between us that I was moving. More specifically, moving across the world. Regardless, we carried on for as long as we could until I had to go. Then, all of a sudden, I’m flying over the Atlantic, thinking not about the stress of finding an apartment when I landed, but wondering about this great guy I had left behind.

As time wore on that first semester, my plans of not going home for a whole year morphed into flying back to see him around Christmas. Instead of journeying to a foreign country because I liked someone, I’m returning back to my own. I was quite baffled at my situation. Granted, it seemed a little crazy at the time, given how little we had known each other, but, alas, my ticket was booked. After that trip, our plans and lives continued to change when he came to Spain for vacation. So on and so forth, until it’s present day and I’m in love with not some insert foreign nationality here guy, but with someone from home and doing the infamous Long Distance Relationship. While it took me some time to switch around that former ingrained timeline in my head, it turned out to be worth it. And the funny part was, looking back, it played out just as the more common scenario does. Travel plans changed, visits happened, and then we dealt with the reality of being in love on the road. Same basic principles. But why does nobody ever talk about this reversal?

If you are abroad and decide to be in a LDR with someone at home, you are tasking yourself with finding the balance between taking advantage of your life abroad and caring for your relationship. No matter where you are, you don’t want to be spending every bit of your extra time on Skype or your phone, but especially when you’re abroad. You’d be missing out on the amazing experience of living in a different country. You’d also make people crazy and want to shake you to say “HELLOOOO, stop being on your phone all the time. Look around you!”. Or at least, I would want to do that. As much as you’re dating your phone, you need some equilibrium.

At the end of the day, does it really matter whether you’re abroad or at home or somewhere in between? Just because it’s not how everyone says it’ll be, don’t be afraid to fall for someone in the place you set sail from.

They always tell you that love comes at the most random times; you’ll never be expecting it and it’ll be the best thing ever. And I can tell you, falling in love at home, while abroad, is really amazing, too.

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6 responses to “Falling in love abroad…reversed

  1. Thanks for posting this! I’m in the same situation right now. I’m about to leave for London in a week, but 8 months ago (in the midst of my grad school process) I fell in love and I am devastated to leave him. He’s coming to Europe for two months in October and November so we can explore together, but we decided to break up when he goes back to America, because we don’t think a LDR will work for us… You’re right. People don’t talk about falling in love before you leave. All my friends think I’ll find someone abroad, but it’s hard to imagine dating anyone else right now…

    • LDR is definitely not for everyone. It’s hard and I swore up and down I would never do it. But, sometimes it’s worth the work. Don’t feel pressure to date anyone just because you’re abroad. That’s a silly reason. Who knows, maybe your paths will align again and it’ll be like picking up where you left off πŸ™‚

  2. This same thing happened for me before I studied abroad 4 years ago. We made it work, in large part to Skype, and dated for about 3 years after I came back. We were in love, but it ended later as we grew apart. Last year, I was about to leave to teach in Spain, met someone, and in part because of her, decided not to go. I’m finally going to Spain in only 20 days now and couldn’t be happier with my decision. I don’t regret the past. Maybe I’ll meet someone in Spain. Maybe I won’t. I’m not too worried about that. I think that as long as you go with your heart you cannot go wrong. Both people in the relationship have to be 100% committed to making it work though. Thanks for posting this, as like you said it’s often written about the other way around.

    • Skype is seriously the best ever when you’re apart. It really makes a difference seeing them semi live (although sometimes really blurry) and hearing their voice. I totally agree with going with your heart. Sometimes what looks crazy to other people, you somehow know is right for you. And if you’re following what you love to do, like going to Spain, you’re at least in love with what you’re doing! I’m back to Spain in 2 days and am super excited, as it looks like you are. Safe travels, Mike! Can’t wait to read all about it πŸ™‚

  3. So glad you wrote about your expirience! The same thing happened to me last year before coming to Spain. I met a guy just two months before moving. We decided to make it work although we had only known each other for a short period of time. He visited twice and I paid him a surprise visit on his birthday. Everyone thought it was crazy because I was bound to meet someone abroad. It does take work especially when you’re in a new place trying to live the full experience, but it’s totally worth it!

    • I’m happy to hear we’re not alone in this! I agree. It’s a lot of work, but doesn’t any relationship require that? Long distance just requires a different skill set. Lots of trust, communication, and flexibility (plus those awesome visits!)

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