Long-distance love:

four loved-up couples share their stories of romance from across the country (and globe).


Sweet stories of romance from across the globe

rosaleen, melbourne, australia & yusuke, imabari, japan

ROSALEEN // I met Yusuke on the classic dating app, Tinder, when he was living in Australia. I told my friend Akira about him and she said, “That’s my friend – you have to go on a date with him. He’s amazing!” I got too nervous to go to our initial date, but we finally ended up meeting at a pub and somehow six hours flew by. It was probably the best date I’ve ever been on. I didn’t have many expectatio­ns because he’d told me he’d be leaving for Japan a month later. But we had this instant connection, so we made a lot of time for each other before he went back. I thought he’d be busy tying up loose ends, but he prioritise­d me from the get-go and keeps doing so to this day.

I think it was a happy accident that we started a long-distance relationsh­ip. We kind of blame each other. Yusuke says I kept messaging him when he was back home, but from my point of view, he kept responding, so I thought, “Maybe I’ll just go for it.” Last year, I flew to Japan to see if it was legit. Within three or four days, we decided we wanted to be together and get married. It just seemed like a really natural thing to do as internatio­nal lovers. I don’t think things moved too quickly. In fact, I feel like we had more time to work out who we are individual­ly. Previous relationsh­ips I've been in have been long-lasting because of convenienc­e or habit, but there was nothing convenient about this.

There are pros to doing long distance – like how I can focus on my own projects and prioritise hanging out with my friends. I’d add, though, that the emotional commitment is also physically tiring. There are times when I’m so upset about not being with him, or exhausted from planning visa things. The emotional space it can take up in your life is unaccounte­d for. Video chat has made life a lot easier. I often forget that English isn't Yusuke’s first language, and that’s made for some misunderst­andings in text messages. But then we do a video call and it’s always solved.

Soon we’ll be together and be able to face any challenges head-on. It was our one-year anniversar­y in May, and the plan is to get married in Japan, then figure out how to get him back to Australia.

YUSUKE // I’m from Imabari in the Ehime Prefecture, which is on the island of Shikoku. I’d been in Australia for six years already when I met Ro, and I’d never done a long-distance relationsh­ip before. It’s been quite an experience. When we first met, we talked for hours, and most of the time I kept talking and she just listened. That made me happy. Of course, doing long distance since then has been really hard. Before I met Ro, I’d never used video chat before. I wasn’t used to talking through the phone or even looking at a video, so the first 10 times we chatted on Facetime, I kept accidental­ly showing her my ear instead of my face.

When I was in Japan, I could tell Ro really cared about me. She always wanted to talk and was putting in effort to keep us together. That’s when I was like, “OK, I think she’s the one. I really want her in my life.” One of the hardest aspects of being apart has been the language barrier. I speak Japanese, she speaks English, and we both speak English when we talk to each other. But of course, there are misunderst­andings. I’ve said things she’s misinterpr­eted, and we also have different cultural perspectiv­es. We’ve had our arguments. I think the challenge was convincing her of how I felt by only talking. If we were together in person, I could smile and she’d be happy.

I think it’s always better to be with your loved ones. The only good thing about doing long distance is that I have my own time. It's also made me a much more organised person, because we have to plan when we can talk. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we could only communicat­e via email or letters. That would be so hard. We actually have a long-distance app where you can upload anniversar­ies and what you're doing throughout the week, so the other person knows. It shows things like the weather where the person is so you can get a glimpse into their life. That’s one of our favourite things.

I’ve always been the black sheep in my family. My parents kind of just say, “Do whatever you choose,” but as a Japanese person, it’s not really normal to marry a non-japanese person. They’re happy for our marriage, though. Ro has given me so much love – I just want to respond and give that back.

kira & sam, both touring musicians

KIRA // Sam and I live together, which is nice, but I’m pretty much away every weekend right now. He’s away every second or third weekend, but earlier this year, he also spent about seven weeks in Europe. He knew I was a performer when we first met, and he told me he was on our first date, too. So I knew we were going to have to juggle that in our relationsh­ip. We're always really excited to see each other, and keeping that energy is really important to both of us. Plus, he and I both respect people who have drive, ambition and passion, so we’re willing to be as flexible as possible to help the other do what they need to do in order to be successful.

I've had relationsh­ips in the past suffer because me pursuing music meant I was always away. It’s really nice to be with someone in the same field – I didn’t have to explain it to Sam. When we’re on tour, we text and Instagram stalk each other a lot, then make calls whenever we can manage. It can be hard to see your partner having fun times on the road and getting all this attention, so you have to stay on top of paranoia and jealousy. But being open and honest about what’s going on with you does make your relationsh­ip stronger. And when you’re not in someone’s presence, it gives you time to think about all the things you miss about them and reaffirms the choice you’ve made to be together. On the other hand, I think when you spend too much time together it can magnify quirks about the other person that annoy you. You can get nit-picky and focus on stuff that doesn't matter in the scheme of things. It’s nice to zoom out and have some perspectiv­e on your relationsh­ip.

Being in the music industry means you’re always tired from travelling and coming up against people with big egos. You’re often drained, so there’s something really beautiful about coming back home to the person who knows you and gets you. When we’re together, we love going on dates. We’re one of those disgusting couples who are all over each other. I wish we were super-rich so we could just fly around the world with each other for the rest of our lives.

SAM // I was helping run a bar about two years ago and one of the staff needed to take a Friday afternoon shift off – the busiest time of the week. When he told me what it was for, my eyebrows shot up pretty high. Turns out he was working on a video shoot for Kira, so I said he could take the time off if he asked her to go on a date with me. I was a big fan of her work and had seen her around over the years, but our paths had never properly crossed. Luckily, she agreed to the date and we hit it off.

I’ve done long distance in the past, but not very successful­ly.

It can be especially frustratin­g if the other person doesn’t have a passion, hobby or interest to keep them busy. If they’re putting all their emotional energy into you, they’re going to feel lost when you’re not around. Kira and I are cut from the same cloth as touring creatives, so that’s something that’s made life easier and much more enjoyable. When I’m overseas, I try to make the effort to check in with Kira, find out about her day and tell her about mine. I’m a bit awkward on the phone, so we message each other a lot. I think it’s important to be sure of what you said and how it lands, because you don’t want to be leaving your partner on a bum note if you’re not going to have reception for the next couple of days.

Misunderst­andings can happen, of course. I sometimes come across quite blunt and off-the-cuff in text messages, when I’m just trying to get it out as quickly as possible. Kira’s much more in tune with being empathetic and able to read people. It’s not the same for everyone, but I think you need to be happy in your own skin to do long distance. You need to know yourself, and what keeps you excited to get up each day. You become a more interestin­g person, more stable, and better able to be in a relationsh­ip with someone that way. There’s only one way to see if it’s for you, and that’s to try it. Take the risk on someone if you feel like you’ve got a connection. Then, when you’re in it, tell the person what you’re feeling.

sharon, sydney, nsw & matt, dubbo, nsw

SHARON // I currently live with my two kids in Sydney’s east, and my husband Matt is about five hours away in Dubbo. He’s been there since mid-last year. Matt changed careers very late in life – he had his own business for two decades but knew he was meant for other things. So, he started studying to become a lawyer when my youngest was six months old, and it’s been a long journey since.

When he got offered a stint in Dubbo, we were obviously really sad to be separated. On the other hand, we saw it as part of the journey. We’d already been living parallel lives with him running his business, then studying law at night and on the weekends. We told the kids and promised Dad would be home every couple of weeks or so, or we could go visit. We also told them if Dubbo seemed OK, we could move the family up there for a little while. But I never actually meant it! Eventually my eldest said, “We’re going to go hang with Dad, right?” I could tell he really needed it, so we made it happen. We went for a school term, the plan being to come back to Sydney when Matt’s contract ended on the last day of school. But then his contract was extended.

I thought I was a city chick, and it freaked me out to go to Dubbo, but it was actually really lovely. We created all these new family rituals together and I could see how much happier we were out there. If Matt was working late in Dubbo, he’d be home in five minutes – in Sydney, it’d take him an hour and a half. He was recently offered a place at a different firm in Dubbo, so we’ve made the decision to all go there next year.

Since we started this, I’ve had a whole new appreciati­on for single parents. I also feel so grateful that I have someone I can call every day if I want to. It’s been good to get the boys to step up around the house, too. We’re a team. The old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder is true in a lot of respects. Matt and I have the space to have different perspectiv­es on each other – as individual­s, as a couple, and as parents. I think there’s a renewed appreciati­on for one another.

MATT // There was an initial feeling of dread when I took the opportunit­y to advance my career. Of course, I wanted to progress, but when I visualised myself being in Dubbo without my family, I shuddered. There were a lot of things to consider. We were already paying a mortgage in Sydney, then to come here and continue paying rent, leaving my kids and my wife on her own as a single mother – that’s tough.

When I came out here, I was required to learn things on the job really quickly. It was quite stressful, so in that sense, it was good to be by myself. I could come home and just focus on learning, rather than family. What I realised is when I’m with my family, we don’t have to think about things to do. There are always activities going on, and we’re always mixing with other people who have kids. Once the weekends hit in Dubbo, I was like, “Wow, what do I do to keep myself active?” A lot of the time I was just forcing myself to do things. I feel better about it now. I realised I wasn’t appreciati­ng the moment. I practise meditation now and it makes a huge difference. I was focusing too much on the stress, but Sharon’s the one who’s been doing all the running around.

I have to say, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking now I’m up here, and I love it. It’s easy to fall back into roles when living with Sharon, but being here has made me grow. I’ve taken on more responsibi­lity, and that’s a good thing. It’s a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Dubbo to Sydney, so I drive down about once a month. Other than that, I Facetime Sharon and the kids every night. It’s funny, because the kids will do drawings and other creative things, then they’ll pretend they’re filming a Youtube video and explain it to me in that way. When they all came up here to live for a term, I realised how much easier it was to have them around. When they left, there was a real sense of emptiness.

It helps that we now have a plan to be together again. Ultimately, we’ve been able to handle it. I came out here because I had to, and now I've done it, I think it's fantastic. It’s given us time to reflect, appreciate and value our roles in the relationsh­ip and the family.

leah, melbourne, australia & abe, los angeles, usa

LEAH // Abe and I originally met in Paris in 2011. My friend and I were travelling around Europe and stumbled into this bar one night where Abe and his band were playing. It was a big, messy night, and afterwards we joined the band on tour. Abe and I spent full days together, but knew we’d have to say goodbye, so it was like one last hurrah before my friend and I went to settle in the UK. He went back to the States, life happened, and while I was away I got married.

I returned to Australia in 2017, and my partner and I broke up. I’d actually always had this fantasy of bumping into Abe again, but didn’t think it was realistic. Then one day he came up in my ‘people you may know’ list on social media. We started chatting online and just picked up where we left off, really. Years had passed, but it felt so easy. In August last year, we booked a couple of shows with our bands and planned a road trip across America – that was the first time we’d actually seen each other since 2011. We’ve been in a long-distance relationsh­ip ever since, and Abe’s going to try moving to Melbourne next year. It’s funny, because couples often start off in the same place, then go through long distance, but we’ve done it backwards.

We’re pretty cheesy – he’ll order me Uber Eats as a surprise, and we Facetime each other while watching a movie at the same time. We’ve also sent each other undevelope­d rolls of film – little things like that. It’s actually been good for me to enjoy my own company and not need to have someone else by my side to feel content in what I'm doing. As much as I’m excited to reunite, it's actually a hard thing for me to consider sharing a space with Abe. It’s difficult sharing emotions through a screen, though. There are things you need physical contact to get across, and sometimes all I want to do is give him a hug. But we’re very open with one another – if something’s on our minds, no matter how silly, we’ll just say it. If you don’t, your mind comes up with far worse outcomes. You have to have trust when doing long distance – trust that it’s worth hanging in there for.

ABE // When Leah and I reconnecte­d online after all those years, it was really exciting. It was this big blast from the past that started off with the occasional ‘like’ or Instagram comment and went from there. I remember when she came to New York for our road trip, I was hugging her and could feel her heart pounding. There was tonnes of adrenaline between us – we were just so nervous. But then we went to the bar to chill out and it was totally normal. You know those really good friends you can go months without speaking to, and when you see them again it’s like you were never apart? It was like that.

I hadn’t done long distance before, so I was iffy about it for a while. I was like, “Is this really going to pan out and turn into something?” We had to decide who was going to make the sacrifice and take the step to live in the other’s country. I have my music in LA, my work, my own life, so I was apprehensi­ve to tear out the roots I’d made. But then I went to see her in Melbourne two months ago and thought, “I could live here.” It took me making up my mind and saying I’m going to put in the work to get it done. Now moving is something to look forward to.

The time difference can be a big issue. Right now, my schedule only allows a 30-minute window to talk each day, so it’s pretty rough. Texting is also a challenge, because it’s hard to put any sort of nuance in there. But there are ways to work around it. I was feeling really blue recently – Leah was supporting and listening to me – then I got a knock on my door and a guy was delivering me a single rose. I was like, “What’s going on here? I think you’ve got the wrong place.” But then I saw it was from Leah. It made me feel so much better.

I’d always told myself that doing long distance was totally unrealisti­c and impossible; I’ve pretty much eaten my own words. I think you have to be a secure and mature person to do it. And you have to make sure your partner is on the same page as you. There’s a bit more intent than casually dating someone who lives in your neighbourh­ood.

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