Deciding to keep an LDR during your study abroad, or just ending things before you take off on your journey, is a big decision. It’s ultimately a decision you and your SO will have to make together, so all pros and cons should be considered. Here are a few of the positive aspects of maintaining an LDR, as well as a few of the downsides…weigh each factor carefully, and in the end you’ll both know what’s right.
The Good Stuff
Grow Stronger as an Individual
Everybody has heard the phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” and however overused that phrase is, it is completely true. You will have so much space that you will grow stronger as a couple, but also as an individual. Spending all your time without your SO makes you realize who you really are. You won’t have your person around for support, forcing you to find new independence during this LDR, which will help your relationship in the long run.
Trust Grows as a Couple
When you are living more than 4,000 miles away from your SO and have a seven hour time difference, you really learn to develop trust with each other. I was gone for two months during my travel abroad and I had to trust my boyfriend with everything, even though we barely had time to talk. Most of the time I had no idea what he was doing or where he was at because I was sleeping during his day. Something that was difficult for me during our LDR was the fact that he was inevitably growing closer to people back home because they were on the same schedule. But while this was true, I had the trust that he wasn’t going to forget about that irreplaceable connection we had. It was the most trusting we have ever had to be in our relationship and now I am able to trust him fully without ever thinking twice about it.
You will Appreciate Every Second Together
Once you come back to your SO, you will appreciate every opportunity you have to spend time together. You will never take being close to them for granted, even just being able to talk to them face to face becomes something you cherish. For the two months I was gone, I would have never thought that I could miss somebody so much. When I came back to the States, I was overjoyed to see him and my family. Even now, two years after traveling to Europe to study abroad, I am so thankful that I get to see him every day and not be 4,000 miles away.
The Bad Things
You’re Tied Down During the Evenings
When I was in Sweden, my now fiancé was living in Appleton, WI – a seven hours time difference. When I was awake in the mornings in Sweden, he was sleeping and so I did most of my exploring in the mornings. Later in the night, I would stay back in my room, or whatever place had Wi-Fi, so I could FaceTime or iMessage him during his afternoon hours. This aspect of our LDR limited my times in the evenings to explore the city and a few times, I turned down events with the other people I was traveling with so I could talk to him at least once in the day. When I did go out, a lot of us would always try to find some place that had an internet connection so we could communicate with our families back home. If we weren’t so connected to our phones and laptops to people back home, we would have had more opportunities to explore the countries we were in.
Your LDR Consumes Your Thoughts
Another con to dating while you are studying abroad is that your SO takes up a lot of your energy and your thoughts. You are constantly thinking about where they are, what they are doing, when you will be able to talk to them, etc. You are rarely in the moment with the places you are in. You miss things because you’re looking at your phone. You miss what people say because you’re lost in thoughts about your SO. So just remember if you do decide to pursue an LDR, keep the mindset of being conscious of your surroundings and BE PRESENT.
The Relationship Could End Poorly
There was a time when I was in Sweden that I thought I might not have a SO when I got back to the States. All of the relationship tolls that come with dating abroad were happening and I didn’t know if we were going to make it through. In my case, we did and now we are happily engaged! But if your relationship isn’t strong and you end up not being able to battle the LDR war, a messy break up might happen. When you aren’t on the same time schedule, it is harder to communicate and that’s when things get messy. You also don’t have your normal support people with you when you are overseas and it might harm your mental health and may cause homesickness (a totally real thing that happens to a ton of people)!
In my experience, staying in an LDR while studying abroad for two months was definitely worth it. We managed to grow stronger from the experience and I got to spend two months in Europe – a time I will never forget. If you don’t think you are a strong couple and you don’t go into the trip with the mindset of sticking together through it all, it might not be for you.