The thought of leaving a partner behind to travel the world sucks. But, every now and then, you have to make a choice.
I’m going to be completely honest with you here. I think that leaving a partner, or anyone you’re close to, to travel is a very difficult thing to do. And is, quite honestly, one of the reasons often used to justify not traveling.
How many women do you know, for example, that would love to do a safari across Africa, but couldn’t stand the thought of being away from their partner for a month? I’ve been on both sides.
My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half now. The first time I left to travel, we had been together only about three months and it was wretched. We spent all of the night before, sobbing, professing our love for each other and promising that nothing would change.
I kept that promise, but it wasn’t easy.
In order to keep that closeness, I called him just about every day, at every opportunity I had. Each time I saw a payphone or got internet connection, was a time to talk to him, and I enjoyed it. But I wasn’t living in the present.
I was so caught up in him and our relationship, and the incredible amount of guilt I felt in being the one doing the leaving, that so many nights I can remember just wanting to be home so that I could really give it my all to make the relationship work.
I was, emotionally, sacrificing the thrill of being in South America by being so caught up in what I left behind that I could barely keep my head on straight. My heart literally hurt, every day.
If you are leaving behind a partner to travel, there are a few things to keep in mind beforehand that will help to make everything a lot easier on both of you. Long distance relationships can and do work!
Define your relationship status
Are you staying together, making a long distance relationship work? Are you committed and exclusive? Is it fair to assume you can stay faithful while traveling? What about your partner? How do they feel? When it comes to distance, you’ve got to talk these things out. Really be honest with how you might feel so there are no surprises either way. Leaving behind a partner to travel is hard, but you can help your relationship flourish when you return by being upfront before you leave.
Establish some ground rules
If you’re choosing to stay together during your travels, how often do you need to talk to feel confident in the relationship? Is twice a week fair, or do you need to communicate every day?
Does your partner want to know the details of what you’re seeing, experiencing while traveling, or would they prefer to discuss what you’ll do when you get home?
If you decide you will text every day and call twice a week, then you have great parameters so that no one is upset. The key to maintaining your relationship is all about the details when it comes to leaving behind a partner.
Keep in touch
So, you’re going forward as a couple, and you’ve decided to talk regularly. Good for you. Regular conversation is so important to keep your love alive. Now, how will you do it? What will the time difference be like? What are good times to call?
If you can plan a schedule, awesome. If not, try to email when you can’t call, and call when you can. You both have to agree to be flexible as well, because things will inevitably come up while you’re on the road.
Never Forget Where You Are
Leaving behind a partner is a horrible, gut-wretching feeling. But you must do your best to stay present on your trip. There’s nothing worse than being somewhere amazing and being too lovesick to enjoy it. Life is too short. One of my biggest regrets in my South America trip is that I feel like I didn’t enjoy it to the fullest potential, as my heart was somewhere else.
It’s only time
Leaving behind a partner can feel awful, but your time apart will be over before you know it, as will your travels. Go into it knowing this, and really try and enjoy your time traveling. Once you’re back home and your relationship is still standing, you’ll be happier for it.
If you think about it like a challenge, than maybe you can actually have some fun being apart from each other while you’re traveling.
How can you spice it up on the phone? How long can you go without talking until you are bursting at the seams to hear your partner’s voice? What about Skype sex? (Hey, you’ve got to do what you can to keep up the mojo!)
Traveling does not have to make-or-break your relationship. So, the night before you leave, instead of crying and being sad, try to be excited. Go out to eat something you both love, have a night of great passion, and when you leave don’t say goodbye– you’ll be back.