Travel, Independence and Romance: a Triangle Love Affair

Women of this popular culture dream of travelling, discovering new lands, running the world; but we still dream of love. A passionate, unrestricted and addictive type of romance with a partner who is always there by our side. But is there a best of both worlds? In an era where both Fifty Shades of Grey and Girlboss are best sellers, and where Put a ring on it and Who runs the world? from Beyoncé are two incredibly strong feminine anthems, is there actually a way to controversially live that exciting, adventurous and careless experience abroad to the fullest while being separated from your loved one?

Wanderlust: Emelie Natascha in the country side of Barcelona. Photo: Oscar Minho

Kate is an exchange student in Rotterdam, and just like every evening for the last three months, she calls her boyfriend, with whom she has been in relationships for over a year. Although, she is involved in a blooming, healthy and loving relationship, this romance has mostly been experienced in long-distance. As many of us ambitious independent women will have face this challenge sooner or later, I am wondering: how do you keep the thrill in a relationship that is mostly happening behind a screen? Although, technology has made our life much easier with laptops, social media apps and not to forget our dear and beloved Internet connection, I personally see digital communication as an additional rather than primary type of social interaction. I find it so intriguing to hear Lisa, twenty-two years old, say “I am grateful for WhatsApp for letting us call for free. Hearing your partner’s voice and actually having a conversation makes a hell of a difference. It really brought and kept us closer”, when talking about her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend living in Suriname. Listening to her telling me with such conviction, passion and faith how well her relationship is going and how it is all worth it, almost make me believe that there is actually a chance to keep a relationship alive while being away from your partner.

However, another woman, who certainly has a less joyful and glamorous version of long-distance relationships, grabbed my attention. Jessica, currently studying Communication and Media, broke up with her partner while being in Asia and confesses how time consuming, painfully exhausting and overly difficult it was to use communication medium to be in contact with her now ex-boyfriend: “It made me too dependent on him, always thinking what time it’s there and why he couldn’t talk to me more”. Is passively waiting for your man to give signs of life what we are signing for when deciding to commit to a long distance relationship? In my opinion, although technology has helped us taking down geographic boundaries it can never replace real-life interaction, as the essence and intimacy of a relationship cannot be unfolded in their full existence. Jessica also admitted that the long-distance affected her life in the Philippines in a way that she couldn’t be truly happy. She was waiting for time to go by, constantly wondering what her boyfriend was doing, who he was hanging out with, why we wouldn’t contact her, to the point that she couldn’t enjoy the moments she lived in. And there comes my main concern: how could I ever open myself to a foreign country, if a part of me wishes to be somewhere else?

Choosing between personal life and family/romantic relationships is a dilemma that women have never stopped facing over the years. It sometimes seems like it is not politically correct for a woman to choose her happiness before the one of others. Sofia shares a deeply tumultuous, challenging and tough experience of how her professional ambitions became an issue in her romantic long-distance relationship “distance makes you unconsciously grow apart from your partner to such an extent that it can become a burden. I remember, as I was very busy during my internship, my professional life was so thrilling that I didn’t find time to communicate with my partner which he couldn’t understand”. I am myself currently involved in a flourishing, thrilling and geographically close relationship with a former colleague of mine, and the probability of me going abroad in a near future is not to exclude. Although I care about him, I am still reluctant to the idea of committing to a relationship that cannot be fully fulfilled, plus, my eager to learn more about myself, to get out of my comfort zone, to meet new people and live every experience to the fullest are my priorities. From that perspective we have to admit that love is not always enough. Going abroad changes you, whether you like it or not, and sometimes to a point where the basis of your romantic relationship does not fit with you and your expectations anymore. Distance and time are both key players when it comes to relationship, and as it takes time to build on a relationship, spending too much time apart can break it even faster.

I hope for women, especially young ones, to be more careful and affirmative in regards to their self-consciousness. I believe that the question we should ask ourselves before making the decision to start a long-distance relationship is: Is engaging myself in such a relationship benefitting my experience abroad and my happiness? When in our young age, we hold the luxury of having time; the time to be selfish and not to take care of anyone but ourselves. Make a good use of those years. When discussing the advice she should give someone who is about to take the “long-distance-relationship-step”, Lisa states that “A long-distance relationship is not for everybody. It depends on your mind set and heart and of your partner” – I could not agree more. So ladies, before engaging yourself in such a relationship, do think about yourself for once and do not let love come between you and what could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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