The Dos and Don’ts of Long Distance Relationships

TransferWise
01.09.18
5 minute read

Louise and Mike met in a college dorm. They flirted, they went on dates, and pretty soon they fell in love.

The only trouble: This was in Copenhagen, where neither of them lived. They were each studying abroad; after 6 months, she had to fly home to Perth, Australia, and he returned to school in Richmond, Virginia – over 11,000 miles away.

Seven years later, Louise and Mike, who now works at TransferWise making international money transfers cheaper, are happily married in New York. But they’ll never forget the 2 years they had to spend oceans apart.

Here’s their advice for couples who are in the same spot they were.


DO: Set a deadline for when you’ll live in the same place.

Mike: Have an endpoint. It takes the ambiguity out. Otherwise, every day would be like purgatory.


DON’T: Cling to your individual set-ups.

Mike: Be flexible. I was willing to give up my current life, and Louise was willing to give up her current life, to be together. Be inflexible about being together – but be flexible about everything else. We were both agnostic to where we lived. We were ready to give up our jobs. What’s the money for, anyway?

Louise: Eventually one of you will have to make a sacrifice about where you call "home", but relationships are all about compromise. You learn quickly that you can't be precious about anything except your relationship. Plus, where you live is never permanent. Mike and I have lived together in two different cities in the US, and I'm already dreaming about the next city we call home.


DO: Have a communication routine.

Louise: I made my expectations known at the outset – I wanted to skype a few days a week, and expected a text every 1-2 days. Shout out to Skype. I don't know how we could have done it without it.

Mike: We both like routines. I’d wake up in the morning and skype her, and she’d skype me before she went to bed. We did that every day. And we emailed. Texted with WhatsApp all the time. Sent photos.


DON’T: Stick exclusively to technology.

Louise: Sometimes I’d send Mike romantic letters via snail mail.

Mike: We used to send each other letters, and random gifts. It felt awesome. Louise did it first. I got a letter from her in the mail one day and was like “What?!” It had her handwriting all over it. It made it feel like she was there. Reminded me of all the good things. Letters are more intimate than Skype.


DO: Send each other gifts.

Mike: I told Louise that I liked Legos when I was a kid, so she got me these little Storm Trooper and Ninja Turtle guys that I put on my keychain. That kind of stuff sounds small, but it makes a huge difference.

Louise: Who doesn't love receiving gifts in the mail? Mike sent me a stuffed panda that I named Panda, and brought to the US when I moved here. When we adopted our dog Rooster, he chewed off one of Panda's limbs to assert his dominance, but Panda still lives and reminds me of Mike's cute gestures while we were apart.

Mike: When I first went to Louise’s house in Perth, I saw she had a lot of stuff of ours around. That made me feel good.


DO: Visit each other on a consistent basis.

Mike: We knew we had to have some kind of plan to see each other – otherwise it would be impossible. We decided we’d try to see each other every 3 months.

Louise: Traveling to see each other was the highlight of every quarter. You keep your head down and work hard for three months and then not only do you get to catch up with your #1, but you travel somewhere cool and get to do some cool shit!


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DON’T: Have one person do all the traveling.

Louise: We'd meet somewhere cool, and rotate who flew to which hemisphere. And we each paid for our own flights – this isn't the 1960s. It's not cheap flying to the other side of the world so often, but since we took turns who flew, it softened the blow a bit. I'm sure QANTAS (Australian Airline) was loving all this travel. We hit Silver status by the end of it.

Mike: It also depended on what we could afford, what was easier at the time.


DO: Trust and have faith in each other.

Mike: We took a stoic approach. Very pragmatic. “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” We were honest with each other throughout the process.

Louise: Communication is key. We established a lot of trust before we went our separate ways, and gained an understanding of our different communication styles. I truly think you need this solid base before you go long distance and switch up the dynamic of your relationship. Neither of us was ever sitting at home alone stalking the other's Instagram and feeling lonely.

Mike: There was a ton of trust there. If it made me jealous to see her going out and having a good time on social media, we probably wouldn’t have worked out.


DON’T: Hold on to negative feelings.

Mike: Most of the time, if one of you is upset, it’s less someone’s fault than frustration with circumstances. You have to remind yourself to relax. “This too shall pass.” It’s easy to get frustrated with each other and let it simmer. You have to let it go. Because simmering issues can explode dramatically. Way out of proportion to reality.


DO: Introduce each other to the important people in your lives.

Louise: Some people thought I was crazy, but once everyone met Mike they understood. The issue now is that my family likes Mike more than they like me.

Mike: My parents met Louise right away, which helped a lot. They loved her.


DON’T: Do any of this if you’re not sure about your feelings.

Louise: It's not easy. Don't get yourself into this situation unless you’re positive they‘re worth it. Make sure you both set your expectations upfront and prioritize communication.


DO: Appreciate that there are some pluses.

Louise: It can be nice to have that independence. You can do what you want, when you want. You get to be selfish!

Mike: The distance helped us realize we could trust each other. And since we were only together 2 weeks at a time, we packed in hundreds of dates in that time. Every moment felt like a movie. Traveling has always been an important part of our relationship. Today we travel as much as we can, because it’s one way we feel really connected.


Send money internationally for less

Sending money to other countries often comes with high fees, especially if you use your bank.

You can avoid this by using TransferWise. Each transfer is quick to set up, and usually much cheaper and faster than it would be with a bank.

Sign up for your free account and see how much you could save.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more