Be my transatlantic Valentine

A Trans-Atlantic schizophrenia. Zo omschrijft de Amerikaanse Johanna die in Utrecht studeert, haar relatie met haar vriend in Washington. Wat zijn de voor- en nadelen van deze aandoening?

This past week was Valentine’s day and it got me to thinking about long distance relationships. The main reason being that I’m in one. To be specific, mine is a long distance relationship that spans an Atlantic Ocean. But also because I noticed that many of my international friends have unconventional geographic relationships with their partners.

Some met a Dutch partner while traveling abroad, and moved to the Netherlands to be with them. Others have left their partners in order to study here. And even those who are single now, may enter into relationships while they are here and soon have to face the decision: will they stay and build a life with that person or move onto the next city/country/continent?

My partner lives in Washington, DC, which has a six hour time difference. This means that often, as I’m brushing my teeth in the morning and getting ready for class in the Netherlands, he is on the verge of sleep in the US as we FaceTime. More times than I like to admit, I’ve fallen asleep in bed before he’s off work and can say hi. So instead we rely on long texts messages that are better equated to old-fashioned letters.

I have to say that one of the better parts of a long distance relationship is the independence. (Sometimes there can be perks). Both of us are highly driven, and over the past year have thrown ourselves into our work in a way that may not have been possible when we got distracted by each other. I have this person that I love and always makes my day better, but I can focus on my work and myself. Yet, it is also important find ways to continue building a relationship together, even though you both live highly independent lives.

You also are more quickly confronted with a crossroads: how do we compromise to finally converge in one place? How should this person influence my decisions? How do I support this relationship while also pursuing my professional ambitions? Unlike some relationships where people are deeply rooted in the same place, this question can be polarizing.

As a woman with high expectations of my professional life and a feminist, I can feel conflicted. I am beholden to, nor defined by, no man. I am independent. I pursue my dreams. AND I am committed to this person who makes me happy. Sometimes it creates what I like to call Trans-Atlantic schizophrenia, where I feel equally tied to both places and never 100 percent sure where to deepen my roots.

No relationship is the same. Especially when it comes to those navigating long distance relationships. Maybe you need to call that person every day. Maybe you need to see them every month. Or maybe you won’t see them for half a year. Just make sure that you continue to be happy and healthy.

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day to all those “crazy kids" out there that are in long distance relationships. Good luck!