An adventurous Lithuanian girl, who left India to be with a man she was deeply in love with, suddenly felt lost in a big, smoggy Chinese city … a place she definitely couldn’t call home.
No job or social life led her to feeling she was just someone’s partner, and her most important duty became cooking lunch for her man. She felt frustrated with her own situation but tried doing her best by taking her domestic responsibilities seriously (which turned out to be the worst idea) . She ended up so overwhelmed with feelings that she exploded at her awesome man, packed her things, and moved out.
But after few days, she came back 🙂
When I look back, I think my hot temper influenced my not-so-smooth transition in China. Closing the distance definitely gave me a lesson about being calmer and made me understand that adapting to a life together takes time, the same as getting used to being apart…
When we were countries apart, all we could think about was how, one day, one of us could move so we can finally enjoy perks of being next to each other. However, when I finally quit my job in India, and we knew that I was moving to China, I suddenly felt terrified about our future as a “regular” couple (although, I’m not sure if it was more exciting or scary).
The dynamics of a relationship change when you move from living countries away to sharing the bed, and you discover so many new things all at once.
I remember, we used to dream, “When we are finally together, it will be different.”
And it WAS different, but it wasn’t as lovely as we expected it to be, and for quite some time. Having said that, I can assure you that all the experiences we went through NEVER led us to asking ourselves if we made the wrong choice by closing the distance. We had to take the opportunity and try this new life together. Otherwise, we would never know if we were compatible.
WHAT DID I LEARN?
No one is perfect
When you are in a long distance relationship, you tend to think about your partner as someone superlative. Suddenly the distant admiration switches to real communication full of day-to-day actions, which grows into a routine. Your partner is amazing, and you will continue loving them, but you will discover that they have flaws just like everyone else, and that will have to learn to accept them as they are.
The holiday mood was over
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 and likely in different destinations every time, and you are not experiencing what people in a regular relationship do.
Suddenly, you are under the same roof, share the bed, cook food, and socialize 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. Suddenly, I was a great chef who doesn’t eat meat, and I never considered that his love of Turkish kebab might be an obstacle for us 🙂 Well it wasn’t a big one, but till today we feel bad when ordering the food in the restaurant. We want to share the food, but we can’t.
We had to shift communication from online to offline
With time, you adapt to planned Skype sessions and constant texting, accompanied by long-awaited dates. You master that kind of communication. When you start living together, you suddenly have to interact face to face about everything.
There is a huge advantage in being able see the person when you talk to them (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. That’s not an option when your partner is standing two feet away. Which is great – arguments will last shorter and make up sex will be one hug away! BUT, you have no time to rethink your answers… you become real you.
Advice: do not try to be someone else before closing the distance. It will only be easier when the time comes to live together.
No private space
The thought of being apart all the time and having almost your entire relationship online becomes scary when you think about moving in together and SHARING everything, especially because you probably found some perks and started enjoying your personal experiences alone.
Remember, closing the distance 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.
Challenges of a new place
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), but I used to love it. I felt independent, free, and ready to conquer the world!
It was my second time in China when I moved here. I didn’t know the language and had no job or friends. It was bothering me: I had lost my identity. I was known as someone’s partner.
I was attending interviews and going to the fairs or events and trying to make contacts. This phase didn’t last for too long, but it was the biggest challenge I had to overcome myself. 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.
I know, it can get really hard on the person who makes the move, but there are quite a few things you can do to ease the negatives feelings:
- 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 much before you plan your move.
- Gather some savings.
- Try to make your own friends by participating in social activities, workshops, courses, sport activities etc.
- You could think about living apart at the beginning. I can’t personally suggest this. When we closed the distance, we considered our relationship advanced enough to live together. That’s why we did close 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 to make the change feel easier.
Having different expectations which don’t get met might be the main reason for growing apart while living together. To avoid that, discuss all the aspects that bother you before one of you moves.
It’s not time to be nice, it’s time to be open with each other. Keep in mind that closing the distance is the first step towards spending the rest of your life together.
Make sure you both are okay with each other’s perspective. They will probably be very different, and that’s totally fine, as long as you can accept your partner’s idea of the further. TALK openly about your expectations before you take up this decision. There is a chance one of you will get hurt, but it’s much better than one of you changing the entire life for something you expected, but didn’t get.
…and then, there are advantages
Happiness of waking up together, easiness of solving the arguments, peace of mind because neither of you have to take a flight tomorrow/next week/next month, 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 🙂
Closing the distance 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 both can pursue happiness as a couple. It’s exciting and little bit scary… And you know, it’s so worth it.