Wednesday 21 August 2013

Guest post: Long distance relationship - is it possible?

I asked a couple of female travel bloggers about their experiences with dating, long distance relationships and meeting men during their travels. First post in a new 'Travel love stories' series is by Vanessa from Sauteed Happy Family. She and her husband, Dan, spent 3 years out of 5 they were dating apart and guess what! They are still together!

“Out of sight, out of mind” or “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”—which is true? Well, for old, rotten bananas, I can tell you which one rings true. But for love, it’s not quite so simple.

My husband Dan and I currently live in a one room apartment, teach at the same school, share the same office, and live in Korea on the other side of the world from everyone else we know. Talk about relationship immersion! But it hasn’t always been like that. For the five years we were dating, we spent three of those years long distance. Even though I would never wish three years of Skype calls on anyone’s relationship, after several weeks (or months) apart, the joy and passion of seeing each other again is a beautiful thing.

What’s more fun than laughing in the grass together? Photo thanks to Davey.

It seems as though having a long-distance relationship was my destiny. In fact, the first time I realized I was interested in Dan was during our Christmas vacation in college. After having spent several months together almost every day, those few weeks apart made me realize, “Hey, I miss him and am excited to see him again! ” Because our families lived ten hours apart, we hardly saw each other over summers, and when Dan transferred to a university six hours away, our relationship had to make an overhaul. Instead of playing tennis on free afternoons or studying at midnight with our friends, we had to find more creative ways to include each other in our lives. We made presents for each other, exchanged endless amounts of music, and, of course, spent hours upon hours strengthening our relationship by simply talking together. While I would have wanted nothing more than to live closer together, those years when we were “out of sight,” we had time to cultivate other friendships and non-mutual interests.

It seems that those two years apart were preparing us for the ultimate challenge: an entire year apart while Dan finished his degree, and I moved to Paris, the city of love, to be an au pair. Living in France was my adventure and my passion, not his, and I felt grateful for his understanding and encouragement despite the long separation. I left for Paris with his great-grandmother’s wedding ring on my finger and a hope that this would be our last goodbye. My French host family didn’t have quite so optimistic an attitude about the possibility of maintaining a long distance relationship, but honestly, I didn’t care.

Our last week together before I moved to France.

Thanks to a huge discount in flights, Dan got to come visit me in Paris for New Years. It’s times like these that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” seems too tame for reality. Seeing each other after such a long absence explodes fireworks of joy, giddiness, excitement, and passion! We crisscrossed the city multiple times, frolicking here and there, laughing if our plans didn’t work out because, “Who cares? We’re together! ” During this visit we counted the number of miles we (mainly Dan, because I didn’t have a car) had traveled in the name of love, and to our surprise, we had traveled almost exactly one time around the world. Wow!

Our three year wedding anniversary is next week, and looking back I feel I can confidently say that being long distance for the majority of our five years dating shaped our relationship for the better. I wouldn’t go back and re-do it for anything in the world, but we both experienced first-hand how the other dealt with the stresses, complications, and frustrations of being apart. We had to negotiate and navigate through all the ups and downs that life presented in a different way than most relationships, and because of this, we got to know each other on a deeper level.

Taking over the world, one throne at a time—Seoul, Korea.

So, would I say that Dan living far away meant that he was “out of mind”? Hardly. But being separate gave us valuable time to grow individually without constantly having our eyes glued to each other. As for the “absence” understatement, well, I’d say that for us, it made rekindling the passion that much stronger. Does that mean being together 24/7 for our last two years in Korea has stamped out all excitement from seeing each other? Not at all. Just like being apart, being together all the time is a great chance to find new, creative ways to show you love each other.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What was it like? Don't be shy! Leave a comment!

Hi, I’m Vanessa from the blog Sautéed Happy Family! If you like to explore the world and be generally awesome, feel free to connect with my blog, Facebook, and Twitter! I’d love to hear from you!

If you are a female travel blogger and would like to share your insights on a related subject, please email me:


  1. Hi Vanessa,this is a terrific post and yet another one that makes Blondtravels so unique and fascinating to me. It is the first travel blog I've come across,and so very well written by Jo, that addresses sensitive topics that most other’s will often steer around. And your guest blog is right in tune with that. I’m thrilled for you and Dan and what a fantastic success story! Great pics too btw :)

    I was in a long distance relationship a very long time ago. And like you shared, it did offer a great time for self-reflection, new experiences and making new acquaintances. It was a great time for personal growth. While we were both very independent I did initially find myself missing her and wishing we could see each other more often. We lived on opposite ends of the state. But, as more time went on it evolved differently that this girl in the end was not for me nor me for her. To succeed I feel both individuals require immense maturity, trust, compromise and faith in the journey.

    I would be fascinated to hear from people who made this work in different countries or even with an ocean separating them! Thank you for sharing and here is wishing you and Dan a lifetime of learning, growth and love! :)

    1. Thanks for such a kind comment, Mike! Like you said, long distance tends to be a make-it or break-it moment for many couples. Either way you end up, it's good to feel like you made the right decision. Who knows, maybe even a short time apart could save you months/years of heartache in the future. Totally agree that Jo's blog delves into some deep and really important topics--love that!

    2. Hey guys, first of all thanks for the compliments. I am trying to be as truthful as possible. Although, it is hard for me as some of my friends and family read it.
      I have been in long distance relationships before as well. None of them worked, I'm afraid (even my marriage), and that's why I admire Vanessa and Dan for making it and staying together. I am sure your relationship is much stronger now.

  2. This is such a lovely story. And I LOVE that last picture of you two!

  3. THOSE PICTURES! too cute! My boyfriend and I had a long distance thing going on for the first 3 years of our relationship too, so it can totally work. I think it just depends on the people and the amount of effort you both are prepared to put in x

    1. Wow! Long distance for the first 3 years would be killer! We lived on campus near each other for 2 years before we were long distance---I can't imagine going into it right away. Glad the stars aligned for you two!! :D (plus a whole lotta hard work!)

  4. My fiance and I are in our third year of long distance, and it has been long distance right from the beginning. This year we've only seen each other twice, both times for 5 days, both times with family around. It is hard! We have worked hard at our relationship, but it is so worth it because we both recognize that what we have is rare and special. When we are together it's like life couldn't get any more perfect :) Hopefully soon things will work out so we can start planning a wedding :)

  5. I'm so glad that I found this post! I'm currently in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. It's been a month and this past month has been the hardest thing ever. We used to spend every waking moment together until I moved, so it was definitely very difficult dealing with the fact we wouldn't be able to see each other for an indefinite amount of time. Now that we're actually going through it, there have been some bumps, but I feel like those bumps are making our relationship stronger. We both know what our goals are individually and together, so that keeps us motivated. We literally text each other all day and video chat when we can, always keeping each other updated.

    I'm most excited for the time I get to see him again, that moment when we can finally hug each other again. I feel like it'll add an extra spark in our relationship when we get to see each other again. I'm so happy to year that you made it through three years of a long distance relationship! That sounds soooo crazy and super difficult to deal with, but you proved that you can stay together as long as you both work hard :)