Emigration is a huge part of our culture these days – be it a round-the-world trip, an opportunity to study abroad, or the standard “year in Australia/Canada/America.”
For many of those leaving Ireland, it’s not just parents and friends that are left behind, but a significant other too. Skype, WhatsApp and other technologies mean that you can now speak to anyone at the drop of a hat, no matter how far away you are, but can a relationship really survive on IMs and video chats alone?
Having given long-distance a go myself, I do believe that yes, it can be done, but only if both parties are committed to making the relationship work. It’s not enough to plan a Skype call, you both need to actually make a conscious effort to be online at the agreed time – even if your “real life” plans might get in the way. For me, that meant getting up at 6am to accommodate a 16 hour time difference, or looking on the funny side when I got a drunk phone call during my lunch break.
As for seeing each other, even if you know you won’t be together again for months, just having a plane/train/bus ticket booked – no matter how far in advance – at least gives you both something to work towards. I don’t know how many times I tried to make myself believe that ten weeks would “fly by – sure it’s only 70 days really!” But at least it was something real and tangible – we knew when we would be together again, we were able to plan for it, and that made being apart just a little bit easier.
Another benefit of going long-distance is that you are forced, even if it’s against your will, to be independent. It can be easy to lose sight of who the “real you” is in a long-term relationship, as you spend so much time in the company of your other half. Even though you’re still totally committed to your boyfriend/girlfriend when living far apart, you'll both have your own social lives and friends, which can only be a good thing.
Being constantly apart from the person you love can be difficult, and can even result in trust issues and other stresses. But I definitely agree that if a couple really are made for each other, then distance can only make their bond stronger. If you can survive months or even years apart and still have a solid relationship at the end, then you can take it as a sure sign that you two are built to last.