Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to another Lisa who writes about long distance relationships. Lisa is Lithuanian, currently living in China. She decided to start her own blog and share her LDR story and advice on how to deal with long distance love after she and her boyfriend, Chet, closed the distance. She also runs an Instagram page (@longdistancerelationshipquotez) providing daily motivation and support. Enjoy her hard-won wisdom about the challenges of closing the gap.
My Story: How I Ended Up In China With A Man From Turkey
I would have never believed it if someone told me that leaving Lithuania and going to India for a year would result in me spending four years in India and then settling down in China… all for the love of a Turkish man.
After several years in India I had a great job in a real estate company, amazing friends who had slowly become my family, a dog, and a beautiful home. I was happy. I was only missing my man (who had moved to China for his work). After spending one and a half years apart, we reached the stage where we knew that we had to find a way to be together. We could not handle our meeting up in Hong Kong or Thailand every six weeks for an all-too-brief weekend any longer.
Even though I had moved to new countries before, and I did some homework before closing the gap and shifting to a smoggy Chinese city, the transition wasn’t smooth at all!
I suddenly had no duties, responsibilities, or activities. Having no job or social life left me feeling like I was just someone’s partner. I started feeling frustrated with the entire situation, which led me to taking my domestic responsibilities far more seriously. But focusing hours on shopping, cooking, and cleaning didn’t make me any happier. I ended up so overwhelmed and discouraged that we even broke up temporarily (thank you, my hot temper!).
During my first couple of months in China I often thought about how we used to daydream about closing the gap. “When we are finally together, it will be different,” we used to say all the time when we were long distance.
Well, it WAS different. But it wasn’t as smooth as we expected… and for quite some time it was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be.
The Relationship Changes
The dynamics of a relationship change when you move from living in different countries to sharing a bed. You discover so many new things all at once.
I learned the hard way that adapting to a life together takes time, the same as getting used to being apart… But you know what? Even with everything we went through, we NEVER asked ourselves if we had made the wrong choice by closing the gap. We had to take the opportunity and try this new life together. And today, I am together with the most amazing man.
So if you’re looking forward to closing the distance, great!! But I just want you to know that it may be more challenging than you expect. Thinking through these seven hard truths I’m about to share will help you be much better prepared.
And if you’ve already closed the distance and you’re struggling, take heart. It gets easier. After you’ve learned a whole lot of new things about each other and your relationship is deeper and stronger than ever (not to mention you’re together!!) you’ll be so glad you hung in there.
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7 Hard Truths I Learned About Closing The Gap
#1. The holiday mood is over—differences become more frustrating
Every time you see your sweetheart when you are in a LDR, it feels like a long- awaited holiday. You meet them once in a while (sometimes in different destinations every time). You are not experiencing what people in a regular relationship do.
Then one of you moves.
Suddenly, you are under the same roof, sharing the bed, cooking food and socializing together. There will be pleasant surprises you will discover about your partner, and some annoying ones, too.
When I moved in with my man, he was pleasantly surprised that I can cook well. He had the impression I was a girl who was spending her evenings in a bar.
Well, I used to do that… because I had no one waiting for me at home. But when I moved I had a lot more time and inspiration for cooking. Except… I was a great chef who doesn’t eat meat. I never considered that his love of Turkish kebab might be an obstacle for us, and this caught us both by surprise.
It wasn’t a huge obstacle, but even today we feel bad when ordering the food in the restaurant. We want to share the food, but we can’t.
#2. No one is perfect—you need to accept some frustrations with the amazing parts
When you are in a long distance relationship, you tend to think about your partner in superlatives. When you’re far apart it’s easier to focus on all the amazing things about them.
When you move, the distant admiration suddenly switches to real communication full of day-to-day interactions, which grows into a routine. Your partner is amazing, and you will continue loving them, but you will discover (or remember) that they have flaws just like everyone else. You have to learn to accept them as they are.
#3. Your communication rhythms and patterns must change when you move from online to offline
With time in a long distance relationship, you adapt to planned Skype sessions and constant texting, accompanied by long-awaited reunions. You master that kind of communication and you get used to that rhythm.
When you start living together, you suddenly start interacting face to face about everything.
Most of this is great. There is a huge advantage in being able see the person when you talk to them (and everyone knows by now that arguments in Whatsapp don’t end well!).
However, you might find yourself not knowing what to do when you get upset. In a LDR, you can just delay replying to their message until you calm down. Or you can think carefully about what you want to say in that email. You don’t have that sort of time and space when your partner is standing two feet away.
Overall, this is great—arguments will be shorter and make up sex will be one hug away! BUT, you have no time to rethink your answers… you become real, unpolished you.[Pro-tip for those of you still in long distance relationships: Do not try to be someone else before closing the gap. It will only be easier when the time comes to live together.]
#4. You must adjust to having much less private space—socially and physically
When you are apart and almost your entire relationship is online most people find some perks. And although we can hate having to do everything alone, we get used to it. In fact, you probably start enjoying some parts of doing life alone. It can even become scary when you think about moving in together, SHARING everything, and having much less privacy.
Remember, closing the gap doesn’t mean you have to start spending all your time together. Initially, you might feel tempted to do so, but it will put a lot of pressure on both of you.
Don’t be afraid to find separate friends, or find and attend social activities by yourself. Don’t feel committed to do something because your partner does it. My man and I value our personal space a lot, and I think we equally enjoy going out with our friends, doing different sports, and attending different social events if we want to.
Slowly form a life which is comfortable for both of you. But don’t think that closing the distance requires you to stick together 24/7. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.
#5. The challenges of learning to live in a new place will compound the adjustment challenges that come with learning to live together
The biggest difficulty I faced when I moved was that suddenly I felt I was just someone’s partner.
I had moved to new countries before, and it used to feel like ultimate level of freedom. Even though I was on my own and facing challenges of being in a new country, I used to love it. I felt independent, free, and ready to conquer the world!
This was different. It was only my second time in China when I moved here. I didn’t know the language, and I had no job or friends. I felt like I had lost my own identity and become just someone’s partner.
This phase didn’t last for too long (I was actively attending interviews and going to the fairs or events and trying to make contacts and friends), but it was the biggest challenge I had to overcome personally. The thought that I used to have a good job, tons of friends, a house, and independence… then left it all be behind me, was constantly crunching me from inside.
This particular challenge is much harder for the person who makes the move, but there are quite a few things you can do to ease the negative feelings. Here are 6 of them
Six Things To Do To Make Moving For Love Easier
- Never use the fact that you were the one who moved for them as a weapon during arguments. NEVER count miles walked, flights taken, money spent for them. They did a lot for you, too. It was your decision and they will do their best to help you settling down, but they’re not directly responsible for creating your social life in a new destination.
- Do your homework in advance: prepare your CV and start applying for jobs as you are planning your move.
- Gather some savings so that you don’t feel too financially dependent on your partner during this adjustment phrase.
- Try to start making your own friends by participating in social activities, workshops, courses, sport activities etc.
- Consider living apart at the beginning. I can’t personally speak to this. When we closed the distance, our relationship advanced enough to live together. That’s why we closed the distance at the first place. However, if you want to enjoy a dating phase, do that. It might work for you.
- Make sure you have responsibilities in your new city (even around the house) to give your days some structure.
#6. Having different expectations
Having different expectations which don’t get met might be the main reason for frustration and growing apart while living together. To avoid that, be as open and honest as possible. Discuss all the aspects that bother or worry you before one of you moves.
This is not time to be nice, it’s time to be open with each other. Keep in mind that closing the gap is the first step towards spending the rest of your life together.
Make sure you both are okay with each other’s perspectives on all sorts of things. They will probably be very different, and that’s totally fine, as long as you can accept your partner’s idea of the future (if you want to get married within the next couple of years but your partner is not interested in ever getting married, before you move is the time to know that sort of stuff).
So TALK openly about your expectations before you make this decision to move. There is a chance one of you will get hurt, but it’s much better than one of you changing your entire life for something you expected, but didn’t get.
#7. There are HUGE advantages
OK, so this isn’t a HARD truth, but six hard truths are enough. Let’s end by celebrating the good stuff!!
The happiness of waking up together. How much easier solving arguments is. Having peace of mind because neither of you have to take a flight tomorrow/next week/next month. The excitement of creating your new home, slowly discovering your lover as a life partner, building up your new professional and personal life, learning new language, being able to hug whenever you feel like, calling them without a prior arrangement, being physically there for them during tough moments, spending lazy Sundays together … to name few.
Make your own list. It will help you deal with those hard truths and meet those challenges.
Closing the gap is so much more than moving in together. It’s also (at least) one of you leaving everything behind and moving across country (or much further) so you can pursue happiness as a couple.
It’s exciting and little bit scary… And you know, it’s so worth it.
Have you already closed the gap or are still planning this change?
Do you have any fears related to this step?
What other challenges are you facing?