Love You... To The Moon?

Should you move for your re­la­tion­ship?

Women's Health (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

II met my fi­ancé af­ter swip­ing left on what seemed to be every avail­able man in New York City. At 27, I had reached the point on Tin­der where the only po­ten­tial matches were in­ter­na­tional guys who wan­dered into my five-mile search ra­dius. En­ter Daniel: a dash­ing Aus­tralian in town vis­it­ing his sis­ter. Daniel and I saw each other only twice be­fore he jet­ted back home, but our bond was un­de­ni­able. Af­ter 21 months, six vis­its, meet­ings of the fam­i­lies and a ren­dezvous in Hawaii, I sold my fur­ni­ture, quit my job and moved to Syd­ney. (The part­ner visa process for me to go there was eas­ier than for him to come to the States. Plus, as a writer, I could free­lance from home, whereas he, a banker, couldn’t.) I’m not the only one up­root­ing my life for a re­la­tion­ship: in Amer­ica, nearly half of 18-to-35-year-olds have moved to a new city, state or coun­try to be with or to find a part­ner, per a 2016 sur­vey by a US mov­ing com­pany. Thanks to so­cial me­dia and dat­ing apps, “more peo­ple have ac­cess to a broad dat­ing pool that was not as read­ily avail­able be­fore and now even far-flung cor­ners of the world feel ac­ces­si­ble,” says Dr Kris­ten Mark, a sex and re­la­tion­ships re­searcher at the Uni­ver­sity of Ken­tucky in the US. Not to men­tion: “There’s a ro­man­tic no­tion around mov­ing for love,” she says. True, it is ro­man­tic, but it also comes with some­times un­ex­pected com­pli­ca­tions. Here’s what you should know.

1 / DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT MOV­ING FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS

It’s the min­i­mum amount of time you should be to­gether be­fore glo­be­trot­ting, says Dr Jane Greer, a re­la­tion­ship ther­a­pist. “Con­sider how in­volved you are in the other per­son’s world,” says Greer. “Is the only op­tion for you to re­lo­cate be­cause their job ties them to one lo­ca­tion?” Also cru­cial: hav­ing “the talk” – the one in which you agree on fu­ture goals.

2 / MAKE SURE THE CHANGE CAN OF­FER YOU MORE THAN COUPLEDOM

Might it ful­fil a dream to live abroad? A chance to pur­sue a dif­fer­ent ca­reer path? The thing you don’t want is to end up re­sent­ing your part­ner be­cause you made a move that you weren’t ready for or that wasn’t right for you.

3 / THERE’S LOTS OF PA­PER­WORK IN­VOLVED

Each coun­try has its own part­ner visas and work­ing-rights re­stric­tions and you’ll need to be­come an ex­pert in yours. Brace your­self for long pro­cess­ing times (Aus­tralia takes 14 to 22 months to send you an ac­cep­tance or re­fusal let­ter), steep fees (up­wards of R70 000 in Aus­tralia, for ex­am­ple) and in­tense ap­pli­ca­tions (you’ll need to pro­vide state­ments from close friends and fam­ily vouch­ing for the au­then­tic­ity of your love and pro­vide ev­i­dence of your re­la­tion­ship, like texts, and plane tick­ets).

4 / PRE­PARE TO FEEL LONELY

You’re fi­nally in the same place as your part­ner! But you’re so far away from your tribe. For me, the huge time dif­fer­ence makes ca­sual phone calls to friends nearly im­pos­si­ble – so Daniel sud­denly had to be my boyfriend, BFF, work con­fi­dante and fam­ily all rolled into one. He did his best, but I missed my net­work and some­times grew frus­trated when he wouldn’t say the “right” thing. I re­alised I was re­ly­ing on him too much and learnt that en­gag­ing in a semi-old-fash­ioned email con­ver­sa­tion with loved ones at home can be sur­pris­ingly ther­a­peu­tic!

5 / IN­COM­PAT­I­BIL­I­TIES WILL ARISE

Go­ing from long-dis­tance to liv­ing to­gether will shine a light on dif­fer­ences you couldn’t have pre­dicted. Dur­ing our vis­its, Daniel was happy to bounce out of bed early on week­ends to do fun ac­tiv­i­ties with me, but in real life he prefers to sleep un­til 2pm on Satur­days and stay in watch­ing sport all day. At first I pouted, but now the two of us make plans we can get ex­cited about to­gether, like trips driv­ing down the coast. “When one of you moves for the other per­son, com­pro­mise be­comes more im­por­tant,” says Dr Ian Kerner, au­thor of She Comes First. “We make con­ces­sions that help our part­ner to feel safe and se­cure and hope­fully they will do the same.”

6 / THE SEX MAY NOT BE AS THRILLING

Gone are the days of ex­cit­edly burst­ing through the door and rip­ping each other’s clothes off af­ter months apart. Once I moved, Daniel and I found our­selves set­tling into a sweat­pantsclad Net­flix-and-chill habit, heavy on the Net­flix. Rather than a slow dip into the usual sex is­sues of long-term cou­ples, the sud­den rou­tine felt like a jar­ring change from the spurts of pas­sion that came with an LDR. We’ve both had to make an ef­fort to keep things ex­cit­ing in bed.

7 / CUL­TURE SHOCK CAN AF­FECT YOUR CA­REER

Even though I found a job as a dig­i­tal editor in Syd­ney, I strug­gled with dif­fer­ent norms. While the Amer­i­can com­pa­nies I’d worked for seemed to value in­no­va­tion, here I felt en­cour­aged to main­tain the sta­tus quo. As time has passed, I’ve ac­cepted the more laid-back feel of Aus­tralian me­dia. I’ve even found ways to build my skills, like the on-cam­era host­ing ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve got­ten, which would likely have taken me years to earn in New York’s more com­pet­i­tive land­scape.

8 / IT COULD BE YOUR BEST DE­CI­SION EVER

About a year af­ter I moved, Daniel pro­posed on a gor­geous Aus­tralian beach and we’re get­ting mar­ried here this May. We’ve adopted a chubby res­cue cat named Bart and I feel like I’m fi­nally set­tling into this life, even if it’s tem­po­rary. We’re plan­ning to move back to the States in the next two years – which will come with a whole new set of ad­just­ments and visa chal­lenges for Daniel that we’ll have to nav­i­gate to­gether. We know it won’t be easy – but we’re de­ter­mined to make it work.

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