Sweet summertime. The popular and pristine time of year when people travel across the world to visit amazing destinations, rounding out their cultural experiences. Traveling abroad not only opens the doors to new opportunities and interests, but can also open the window to falling love. There are many a love songs and movies that center around the romantic dream of falling in love with someone from a foreign land. However romantic, falling in love with someone from another country, or even another part of your own country – can be difficult. Many people believe that long distance relationships cannot work at all, and are simply procured by means of whimsy and romance that show no signs of reality.
But can long distance relationships work? And more importantly, if you find yourself visiting a foreign land and simultaneously falling in love – how do you know if its real love – a real connection – or just part of the dreamy vacation?
According to the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (umm, yep this is a real place), long distance relationships CAN and often DO work. Especially today.
Years ago, people visiting Cancun, or the Eiffel Tower who met the man or woman of their dreams, did so knowing that very little could come of the relationship. But today, with so many technological advances that enable people from all over the world to stay in contact, these relationships can become a part of your ‘love reality.’ Which means your hunky tour guide or the amazing waitress at your favorite French restaurant who you shared amazing chemistry with, could be a potential for love.
Even so, author Caroline Tiger who wrote, Long Distance Relationship Survival Guide, warns people to be on the lookout for men and women that prey on single foreigners. There are many people in this world, often who are situated in the perfect arenas for meeting vacationers and travelers, that stream together a long list of foreign loves giving off the feelings of love and chemistry because they are confident the relationship will not work long term.
In other words, one of the easy things about falling in love with someone abroad is that there isn’t a lot of preconceived pressure about the relationship. The two of you know going in, that at some point you will have to let go and return home. Which means that you can live in a ‘no holds barred,’ ‘fly by the seat of your pants,’ spontaneous lifestyle that can make the attraction and the chemistry between two people feel adverse to anything you have ever felt before. It’s as if a timer has been set, and the two of you are cramming everything wonderful about a new relationship into a condensed amount of time. Obviously, this can make things feel larger than life, and can mislead you into thinking that you are in love, when you are actually feeling a whole lot of excitement and lust! Whether the relationship could survive in your ‘real’ world – and without the cover of romance that people are open to during travel, is a serious question that you have to ask yourself.
Additionally, if you find that the love is more than a vacationer’s mirage, you will eventually have to discuss how to shorten the gap between you and your love. Are you willing to pack up your things and move across the country or the world for that matter – immersing yourself in a different culture, for the sake of love? Is the person that you are with willing to do this for you? If not, while the long distance relationship CAN work, both of you will have to work very hard (and spend quite a bit of money traveling) in order to keep the physical sense of the relationship alive. Bottom line is that humans crave physical contact, and while the internet can provide an outlet for the two of you to communicate, it cannot allow you to feel one another’s skin or hold each other’s hands. As reality settles in you have to ask yourself how many times a year you are willing to travel back to the French Rivera, or the beaches of Spain, or the hills of Ireland for love.
Long distance relationships can and do work. According to the Center for Long Distance Relationships, there are millions of geographically challenged love birds who are making it work. Keeping a suitcase packed, and laying down some ground rules and sensible expectations for the relationship are key elements to its success. When the love you feel is for someone from another country, the struggles can be a little worse. And many people find that upon returning home, despite the awesome chemistry they felt on vacation – reality sets in and they can think more clearly about their foreign love realizing it was in fact part of the romance and appeal of the traveling that drew them in so deeply. This doesn’t mean that the person you met will be someone you soon forget, but rather something you can add to the notches of your life belt and chalk up to experience. Or….you could just possibly find that your soul mate, your one true and only love is waiting for you halfway across the world.
It is also important to consider the lyrics from the Crosby Stills and Nash song Panama.
“I was not a child, I was not a man – trying very had to understand. Indifferent to the dangers of living in a foreign land. Was I falling in love, or under the spell of Panama?
Are you just ‘under a spell?’ Will you regret asking this person who is culturally different from you to move back home with you as you pack your suitcase? Is the relationship ‘real’ or just an escape from reality? In the long run, you and you alone will be the only one who can decide for sure. That being said, you should never close the door on love because of geography. Sometimes, and often – you are a victim of fate of destiny and should follow your heart rather than your head.