Originally Published: on Relationship Matters by Susan Rex
Guest post by; Trystn Waller on what you need to know about international relationship
With so much connectivity today, many people will explore a variety of relationships. One side of this that’s been made easier by way of the internet is international couples. Some of you may have thought about, once tried, or even are now in an international relationship. And well, that makes two of us. With all the concern about how different they are, how might these kinds of relationships be like any other? What makes them more difficult, and what good comes from them? Here is a bit about these kinds of relationships, along with some advice from someone who’s in one.
Like any other relationship;
The first thing I can tell you about an international relationship is kind of obvious, but it’s important to remember. Just like with any other relationship, it requires two people (or sometimes more) who decide to be together regardless of whatever else is happening in their lives.
With that said, you can bet it’s going to require sacrifice, selflessness, some forgive-and-forget, and some good old give-and-take. Like in “national” relationships (?), involvement with the partner’s family is likely going to be a part of the deal. Another trope that’s common in most relationships is having to accept the partner’s past and “baggage,” whether that is perceived as good or bad. Understanding and comprehension go a long way.
Difficulties: The hard part;
When talking about international relationships, the most difficult thing that comes to mind has to be the distance. An overlying question, at least during the beginning stages, will be how to make time to be together. Depending on where the partner lives or on your situation, this could be a heavy financial weight on the couple.
Many countries require visas for citizens to get to their country or vice versa. Even if they don’t, passports cost money too. Some countries don’t require a passport for entry depending on where you’re coming from, but then the plane/bus/train/boat/border coyote will cost you. No matter how you look at it, just getting to your international partner will be a struggle.
Because of this, much of the communication will likely be on the internet at first. Couples might go months, if not years, just talking on the phone or by video until they can finally meet. This could mean the slightest delay in response causing you or your partner to suspect the worse.
“Why aren’t they answering? They should be at home by now. Are they cheating on me? Did they die?!”
That’s not to mention the cultural differences. Often different people groups within a country have clashing cultural traditions, so you can imagine what that looks like for international couples. And if the foreign partner happens to speak a different language then that adds another barrier and a tremendous challenge to be overcome. That is, assuming neither of the partners is bilingual.
Benefit: The good part;
That’s a pretty long list of challenges, but there is a lot to look forward to with international love. Since these kinds of couples tend to have to communicate so much more, this builds stronger communication skills. It also has the potential to create a stronger bond between the partners. Imagine if the only way you could spend time with your partner was by talking. You won’t be sitting and watching Netflix all day, that’s for sure.
That’s the kind of thing that builds trust and unity in any relationship, though it’s exploited a little more with the online nature of international couples. This kind of commitment also opens the partners up to another culture, a foreign language (or accent), and different ways of life. This can be highly enriching for the partners in that they can gain an entirely new perspective, later allowing them to consider things they never would have thought of before.
One can also feel the triumph of making it work after all the ostensible barriers get knocked down and you finally make it together. Approximating with another culture and a different lifestyle, you have the potential to gain some true sympathy for what others (especially immigrants) have to go through.
Of course, if you’re the one that will be going off to see the partner, one benefit is travel. Go and see the world, explore the country the partner lives in. It’s a chance to see another part of this wonderful planet!
Some advice: Listen if you want;
From personal experience in an international relationship, I’d say communication is number one. The key is finding, no, making time to talk with your partner. That has to be a priority because it’s the only time you have with them. Even when the couple is together, the language/cultural barrier may make things tougher than usual on one of the partners, so communication is doubly essential here.
With that said, partners should prioritize together time all the time, but especially while far apart. Whether on the phone or laptop, I and my wife always celebrated Valentine’s Day, birthdays, holidays, and whatever else together. That’s how you make it feel like you’re together.
Because the partners are so far apart, jealousy and insecurity about what’s happening on the other end could be a problem. I’d say be understanding of this and know that it’s a part of the journey. As the couple continues to grow together, they’ll trust each other more and more. It takes a constant reassurance of your presence and your commitment. “I’m here. I love you. I’m with you. I’m yours.” I know it’s a little old-fashioned, but get romantic, y’all. You just have to prove you can be trusted. Can you?
Lastly, if one of the partners speaks another language, I’d say learn that language. It doesn’t have to be too fluency, but at least well enough to communicate. This sounds like a given, but I’ve been watching 90 Day Fiancé. I’ve seen those people that just rely on Google Translate to talk to their partner. Shame on you.
But really, it goes back to respect and communicating, and you kind of need to know how to speak to do that. I mean, non-verbal signs only go so far. Beyond speaking or hearing, the ability to respect another’s culture is key too. One doesn’t have to adopt the culture of their partner completely, but having a sense of understanding and respect, being willing to hear what their culture is all about is super important. After all, showing respect earns respect, am I right?
I hope this little list of pros and cons helped those of you in or considering international relationships. Or maybe you’re just curious. Either way, this is in no way to discourage or encourage anyone to love someone from another country. There are obvious and more discreet challenges, but all in all, it’s a relationship that requires the same building blocks as any other. What do you think? Would you be willing to try this kind of relationship? Or did I steer you away? Happy reading, and love one another!
**Thanks again Susan for the opportunity to host this article originally on your website! I look forward to more colabs in the future. Keep on teaching them about healthy relationships! -CultSurf