How To Make a Long Distance Relationship Work Part 1: 6 Best Tips for Expats

How To Make a Long Distance Relationship Work Part 1: 6 Best Tips for Expats

In Part 1, we share long distance relationship advice for expats - aka the ones who moved away. To follow up on that, Part 2 will include tips for those left behind. Stay strong!


Becoming an expat often means engaging in a long distance relationship. It is just something we have to accept when we move abroad. However, there is no point in deciding you can’t survive a long distance relationship straight away. We do not only mean a romantic relationship - once you move, everyone is going to be far away - family and friends, too. It can be a bit daunting, which is why we have prepared a few tips to answer the question of “Can a long distance relationship work?”.


  1. Don’t assume “you’re not the kind of a person who can maintain a long distance relationship”.


Everyone is that kind of a person when they care about someone. Moving away from friends and family does not mean you don’t care about them - losing touch with them by assuming you can’t survive a long distance relationship does. Think about it that way - if you have left everyone you know behind, do you plan on breaking contact with every single one of them? Whom will you have left, then? 


Although it is hard to make a long distance relationship work, it is necessary. You stepped up to that challenge the moment you made the decision about moving abroad for work. It’s too late to back out now. The truth is, when it comes to people who play crucial roles in our lives, there is simply no choice. You will feel the need to contact them and maintain a long distance relationship, no matter what. It’s natural, so don’t doubt it. Everything will be fine.


  1. Beware of guilt!


Being an expat in a long distance relationship often implies some guilt. If we are the ones working abroad, and everyone else has stayed, then it is our fault for making life difficult, no?




Your loved ones don’t see it that way. Really. You’re working hard on developing your career, and they are happy for you and will cheer you on, whether you move to a different city or to a different continent. They will never blame you for moving away, nor think that you don’t care about them just because you have decided to settle somewhere else on Earth. 


It doesn’t matter if you moved away because of work or if you simply wanted to find yourself. Always remember that just like you want the best for people close to you, they want the best for you as well. Even if it comes to the price of maintaining a long distance relationship.


  1. Be prepared for verification


Brutal as it may sound, going from seeing one another every other day to in-person meetings once a year and a long distance relationship based on Zoom and WhatsApp is going to verify who you care most about – and who cares about you. Believe it or not, but being an expat in a long distance relationship can actually bring you closer to some. 


There will be some with whom your bond will weaken, and that is completely natural. Keep in mind that it takes two to tango - and to maintain a long distance relationship. If you don’t try on your side, it is going to crumble sooner or later. Similarly, you can bend over backwards, but if the other side doesn’t do much to make a long distance relationship work, it won’t last long, either. 


The verification is brutal and painful - we won’t try to deny that. Nevertheless,  it is also inevitable. If you’re currently mourning the loss of a friendship, think of it that way: would you really want someone who can only be your friend when you’re within the same postcode to be a fixture in your life?


  1. Let things change 


You’re an expat now. Your whole life has changed. Your address, your language, and your currency are now different. Why should the nature of your relationships remain the same?


Even if you weren’t currently an expat trying to make a long distance relationship work, the world would still be turning. Both you and those you care about would be changing. One of the things expats often do is to refuse or resist change. They would accept it with no problem, had they stayed in their native country. 


Of course, a long distance relationship doesn’t look the same as an in-person one. Your weekly coffee with friends, dates with a significant other or the Sunday dinners with your parents are not an option now. However, you can still talk to them. You can still see them. It will feel weird in the beginning, but soon both sides will get used to it. The key is not to give up and keep trying to make a long distance relationship work. And - most importantly - accept the necessary changes. It will make things easier both for you and for those you love. 


  1. Don’t force it


Especially at the beginning, you will feel the need to compensate. You will want to send a picture of your every meal, update everyone on every single activity (including, but not limited to, how long you slept or what you bought today) and FaceTime everybody every day. 


Fight that impulse.


Of course, it is totally okay to do it when you feel like you need it. But, for the love of God, do not become the victim of texting everyone in your contacts about what brand of toothpaste you decided to buy because you feel obliged to do it, or even just for the sake of it. 


The beginning is the hardest, but once you settle in and develop a routine, giving detailed reports of every minute of every day is going to become tiresome. Keeping in touch with those you are maintaining a long distance relationship with should not feel like a chore. Additionally, enjoy some freedom and don’t train people to always expect a message from you because as soon as you don’t text them as often anymore, they’ll think there’s something wrong. Allow that healthy space and practice some privacy as well.  


Remember that both you and those who are surviving a long distance relationship with you have a life of their own. They have other friends, and you will meet some, too. Your new job needs you. Accepting those things as a part of your new daily routine is a step to making a new country a home. Don’t push them to the side for the sake of making sure everyone back home knows every step of your road to your office.


  1. Remember that the world keeps turning


Don’t spend every waking minute thinking about how hard it is to be in a long distance relationship. Allow yourself to enjoy your new life. 


You have a brand new job you have fought hard for, you have made a huge step out of your comfort zone by moving to another country, you feel fulfilled. Those are things to be proud of. Don’t focus on the downsides of your situation - appreciate all of its pluses. Think about how stressful the recruitment process probably was, how many nights you’ve stayed awake doing research on how to fulfill all of the formal duties of a new expat. If you have gone through all that process full of ups and downs, surely maintaining a long distance relationship is nothing you can’t tackle. 


  1. Don’t let your new life sweep you away


The settling-in process consists of many stages. Aside from the nostalgia and homesickness that will have you on the phone with your loved ones 24/7, there is also what I call the “WOHOO” stage. 


The “WOHOO” stage is the most harmful for long distance relationships. It is the moment when you start meeting people, begin to discover new places, get used to your surroundings, and sink in. You’re basically a local now - you never want to go back. 


This phase will often have you deciding your long distance relationships aren’t currently as important as the ones you’re forming in your new home. Your new job is intense, everything is new and exciting, and your old life seems simply bland in comparison to your new one. You go from kindling the fire of your long distance relationships by texting every day to updating everyone on what currently goes on in your life to a mere few times a week - usually through Instagram stories.


You might be offended now and think you would never do something like this. Famous last words. Just be aware things like that happen even to the least suspecting ones, and be careful. It is very easy to ruin all the effort you have put into making a long distance relationship work in the “WOHOO” phase. 


The key to maintaining a long distance relationship is to follow your own heart. Based on our own experience, everyone approaches the topic differently and has their own methods of dealing with the challenges posed by long distance relationships. Still, we hope our tips for how to make your long distance relationship work as an expat helped you look at the situation from a more positive point of view. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post - long distance relationship advice for those left behind!

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