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Long-distance relationship advice.

PentaghostPentaghost Classification: NOT SO BADThe Southern OracleRegistered User regular
edited January 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm a long-time lurker and since I really need advice, or rather just get things off my chest, I thought I'd come here. Some back-story first: I am from the UK and my girlfriend is from the US. We met a few years ago when she was doing a study abroad program at my University, she was in her third year and I was in my fourth. From pretty much the moment we met we spent almost every minute we could with each other. Something just clicked for the both of us and within a few weeks of meeting I was staying in her apartment with her almost constantly (I was a commuter). I know that must sound a little weird but it felt right for us, and we knew we only had a short time to be physically together so we were going to make it count, and we certainly did. I'm not exaggerating when I say we spent almost her entire time here together. We went out drinking together, we played video games together, we went to the movies, grocery shopping, breakfast, lunch, dinner. We even went to each others classes together. Not once did we get sick of the sight of each other. When her time in the UK was coming to an end we decided that since I was graduating at the end of the semester that I would come with her to America on a work abroad program. So I applied to the program, went to the embassy in London, got my visa, got a job with the help of her mother, and then spent another six months doing exactly the same stuff as we'd been doing in the UK; spending as much time as we could together. It was easily the best year of my life. I had met a girl that I'm madly in love with and got to travel all over Europe and America with her.

Needless to say that when my visa expired and we had to leave each other it was a painful experience. She visited me a few months later - we're in January 2010 now - and then I visited her for 3 months in the summer of that year. She visited again in January 2011 and that was the last time we saw one another, a year ago. I had applied to a school in her area in December 2010 but the US embassy rejected my visa. I think they could tell that education wasn't my main reason for wanting to study there. And they'd be right I guess, basically we just wanted another few months to be together, but hey if I got an education along the way I wouldn't complain. Anyway that didn't work out and due to financial difficulties on my end (finding work in one of the most economically deprived areas of the UK is tough!) and lack of vacation time/financial issues on her end (she has a job but only a crappy retail one) we have been unable to see one another for a long time.

And that is the problem. Although we'd gotten a little used to being apart after we left each other the first time, we always had something to look forward to. We knew we'd be seeing each other in a few months, and with things like Skype we could at least talk/see one another on a regular basis. For the past year, however, it's been different. Due to the reasons I mentioned earlier we've had no future event to look forward to all year, and we seem to have been growing further and further apart. We talked less, and when we did talk it would feel forced, not the natural and easy conversations we'd have in the past. Things have actually gotten a little better recently, we've been laughing and enjoying one another's company again which is great, but I know at the back of her mind and at the back of mine there is the nagging feeling of how is this going to work? She is a family person, i don't think she would ever move away from them so her coming to live in the UK isn't really an option. American immigration laws are so strict that someone like me would never be able to move there. We could marry I guess, but both of us hate the idea of getting married for a visa. And due to me being refused a visa in the past I'm not sure that's even an option. It just drives me insane, both of us actually, that the only reason two people who love each other aren't together is because they were born on the wrong side of a line on a map, but that's a whole other thing.

So that's my story, I don't really know what it is I'm asking. I guess I'd love to hear stories of other people who have been in a similar situation and actually had things work out, despite all the obstacles. As much as I hate to admit it there seems to be a doomed inevitability to this relationship and it just makes me sick. I know I'm young (24) but I'm old enough to know when I've met someone that I can share my life with, especially after spending 3 years together, and I know I've found that person. I don't want to give up on it. So any sort of advice would be welcome, even if it's something I don't want to hear. Thanks for your time.

tl;dr Long distance relationship stalled/falling apart. What the hell do i do?

Pentaghost on

Posts

  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    You kind of already know what you need to do: you need a long-term plan to be together, and a short-medium term plan for visiting. You need to talk about the options you have, but if nothing is going to work you may need to consider the possibility that it just wasn't to be.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Long distance relationships aren't possible in a sustainable way.

    That said, if you both really want to be with each other there are lots of ways to go about it. Canada might be an attractive option for both of you, close enough to visit her family and friendly enough with the UK to probably give you a visa. Alternatively you could file for citizenship or a non-student visa. Or she could come to the UK for a time if she is more mobile. It all depends on what you are willing to sacrifice to make this work. That is assuming you both want to be together enough to relocate. If this is something you both really want to do, draw up a plan of action to get to a place where you can live together and make a life for each other and follow it. This will likely involve scratching up a goodly amount of cash to do, along with months of work, but it's possible. It can be done.

    If the effort doesn't sound appealing though, it might be best to separate and see other people. If you can't or wont get halfway, then it's not fair to her. If she can't or wont do the same, it's not fair to you. Torturing yourselves in a quazi-relationship during the prime of your life is something you will likely regret later on. Find a way for both of you to come half-way and be together, or let yourselves move on and see other people.

    That's my two cents.

  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    While based on my own experience, I tend to agree with @Enc on the sustainability of long-distance relationships, plenty of people have found ways to make it work.

    In fact, one of our very own forumers, @Vivixenne, has a blog dedicated to LDR advice and guidance: LDR Insight.

    I hope this helps, @Pentaghost. Best of luck.

  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    What Enc said, LDRs aren't sustainable long-term, you have to have a plan

    Also, paging @Vivixenne to the thread because she's the LDR info master (Nap beat me to it!)

    Usagi on
  • VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine. Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    Awww thanks guys for the link and the page!

    @Pentaghost, the situation that you are in completely sucks. Practical reasons for it hitting a wall are the absolute worst. But there ARE ways around it, if you are both committed to making it work.

    A year without seeing each other is rough, and as you yourself mentioned, prior to this you've always had something to look forward to. In your current situation, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, so here are a few ideas just off the top of my head:

    1) Canada and Australia both have reciprocal programs with the US and UK for something called a Working Holiday Visa. This visa typically lets you stay in a country for a year and work at the same time. Have a look... maybe meeting on neutral ground can be something to look forward to. Sharing an adventure and all that. But meeting on neutral ground can bring its own challenges. Still, it's something.

    2) Visa applications to the US tend to be a much larger pain in the ass than anywhere else in the world (and I, as a UK citizen, speak from experience on this). It may be worthwhile for you both to explore the possibility of her going to the UK instead. I am not sure if the UK offers a Working Holiday Visa, but if it does, it's not very difficult to find a job in retail anywhere in the world!

    3) No matter how far it is into the future, come up with SOMETHING, ANYTHING, for you both to look forward to and latch onto. It can be a visit, it can be a relocation... but it has to be something that you both know you BOTH are working toward. It can be you getting a job that will let you work in the US, or her getting a job that will let her work in the UK. Either way, you both need some form of goal that puts you on the right path to reunification.

    4) Where finances are involved, you may need to be a little more creative to keep you both engaged. This post has a couple of ideas that might get the ball rolling. I know time off will still be an issue, but if she works in retail then it's far easier for her to come to you than the other way around.

    It's rough, I know, but having something to look forward to in the future is extremely important. It's just a matter of figuring out, realistically, what that future goal can be.

    Vivixenne on
    XBOX: NOVADELPHINI | DISCORD: NOVADELPHINI #7387 | TWITTER
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    Pentaghost wrote:
    We could marry I guess, but both of us hate the idea of getting married for a visa.
    Anything in particular you hate about it? If it's not feeling like you have the relationship commitment to do it, like you're not ready, that's one thing; but if you're just saying "I don't want to get married just so we can be together," that seems kind of dumb. The whole point of getting married is so that you can be together. It's not like it would be a sham marriage or something like that; that visa provision is in there for just a situation like this, and you shouldn't feel guilty taking advantage of it, though you should realize it will take awhile, even getting a visa this way.

  • lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava ~~She/Her~~ Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    I met my man through these very forums. We went through a long distance relationship using skype for over a year. We started dating in November 2009, he flew to the states to meet me in January 2010. We then spent time apart until we had another week together at Pax 2010. Before/during/after that we were going through the process of figuring out how I could move out of the states to be with him (oh, he's from new zealand).

    I got a working holiday visa (1 year and can work temp/casual jobs) and hopped on a plane. My current visa runs out next month, and I've applied for a more permanent Work Visa that will allow me to stay here with him a little longer.

    LDRs can work, but they take a bit more work/commitment than regular relationships do. And you need a plan. A solid foundational plan on how/when/where you're going to see each other/be together on a more permanent basis.


    As to the not wanting to get married just for a visa, I feel you on that. I do want to marry my guy, and he wants to marry me. But we want to wait until after I get my more permanent visa. Simply because we want to get married because we want to, not in some desperate hope that it'll help me stay here. Which, it turns out, it might not anyways according to the immigration guys. It's purely an optics thing for us, since we want to get married eventually, we just don't want it to appear that we got married to keep me in the country.

    Best of luck, dude. Just remember it can work out if you work at it.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    I'm with Thanatos. If it's really the visa that's keeping you from getting married, and not that you two don't feel ready for marriage, that's pretty silly because that's the whole point of the marriage visa.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine. Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    I agree with Thanatos and Druhim on that, too, but to some extent I can totally see where you're coming from.

    I am in a similar situation now with my student visa about to expire, and one of our options is to, well, get married. And while we are looking at applying for a partner visa, we are applying for it as defacto partners and not as a married couple.

    The reason for this is, well, partly because I'm not 100% sure where my boyfriend is at in terms of proposing, but I'm also not pushing the issue because it doesn't feel right (even if I would say yes if he asked). A little weird, even. Kinda like the wedding was only taking place the way and time it's taking place due to circumstances beyond the fact that we just plain love each other. It would almost cheapen the wedding day and the start of our marriage a little bit.

    It makes no sense and it's not the most RATIONAL reason in the world, but there it is and it's what I'm feeling. From a practical and logical standpoint, getting married so that you can be together forever (ie., for a visa) makes perfect sense. But in a more classical and emotional interpretation of what marriage is, I can totally see why you hesitate.

    Vivixenne on
    XBOX: NOVADELPHINI | DISCORD: NOVADELPHINI #7387 | TWITTER
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    Vivixenne wrote:
    I agree with Thanatos and Druhim on that, too, but to some extent I can totally see where you're coming from.

    I am in a similar situation now with my student visa about to expire, and one of our options is to, well, get married. And while we are looking at applying for a partner visa, we are applying for it as defacto partners and not as a married couple.

    The reason for this is, well, partly because I'm not 100% sure where my boyfriend is at in terms of proposing, but I'm also not pushing the issue because it doesn't feel right (even if I would say yes if he asked). A little weird, even. Kinda like the wedding was only taking place the way and time it's taking place due to circumstances beyond the fact that we just plain love each other. It would almost cheapen the wedding day and the start of our marriage a little bit.

    It makes no sense and it's not the most RATIONAL reason in the world, but there it is and it's what I'm feeling. From a practical and logical standpoint, getting married so that you can be together forever (ie., for a visa) makes perfect sense. But in a more classical and emotional interpretation of what marriage is, I can totally see why you hesitate.
    Yeah, I'm not saying you should feel compelled to get married or anything like that. And I can totally see why you would have trouble telling whether you wanted to get married because you want to get married, or because you feel like you have no other choice. I'm just saying it's something worth giving a little more thought to, and absolutely not something you should feel at all guilty about using.

  • ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    I think I agree most with Viv, but, at least in my mind, there's no reason that a wedding and a marriage have to coincide. What I mean by that is, it's entirely possible for you guys to go to a justice of the peace, or similar civil servant, and get a legal marriage, while still calling yourselves engaged/betrothed/something other than married.

    Then, when you're both in a place to actually have a real wedding, you can do that. It will definitely feel cheapened, but you can work through that, and the ceremony can be a more official start of your lives together as a family.

    Twitter! | Dilige, et quod vis fac
  • flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    People hate on long distance, but if you're committed and solid then its really not that bad

    Like people have said, its critical that you have short term plans and some kind of end in sight. Did you like living in the US? Did you like it enough to want to move here permanently? Can both of you see yourself spending the rest of your lives together and you've had this conversation more than once? If so, there's nothing wrong with getting married and getting your citizenship that way. My mom got her citizenship when she married my dad, and it allowed her to stay in the country with the man she was in love with. There's nothing sketchy or dishonest about that

    If you dont think thats a option you're sure of just yet, then try making other short term plans. Can she afford to visit you again? Can you take a vacation together somewhere? Whatever it is, figure out some way to see each other even if its not for a whole summer.

    Everyone has posted great advice! If you really think the two of you belong together then don't let the distance bring you down

  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    While I was in Japan, and I ran into an old friend from years ago. We fell in love, had a 1.5 year long distance thing and then we got married.

    If you wanna make this relationship work, you need to set up a goal, such as seeing each other in XX month, and you're gonna need the economical means to make it work. Get a job, any job, save up and go visit her. Successful long distance relationship include strict financial planning and commitment on both ends.

    You know, there was a 6 month stretch in which I could only talk to my now-wife through Skype and neither of us could visit each other. When we finally did get back together it was a little cold and awkward. Mind you, that we had discussed this 6 month gap and we had already talked about getting serious, but having distance for such a long time is not healthy, I can't imagine what years apart do.

    I'm not trying to be a downer, but relationships require communication and both people being on the same page on big issues, moreso when there is complication factor such as distance. You need to make sure that she feels the same as you and that she's willing to put in the effort (and that you're willing to put in the effort). Also, for the health of the relationship, you need a short term goal in which you'll put the distance part out of your relationship. Unity, both physical and emotional, are essential, otherwise you'll both end up frustrated.

  • PentaghostPentaghost Classification: NOT SO BAD The Southern OracleRegistered User regular
    First let me just say thank you to everyone for their advice, I sincerely appreciate people taking a few moments out of their lives to help me out like this.

    The marriage visa issue is one that I'm always in two minds about. On the one hand it's the only realistic chance the two of us have of being able to start a life together in the US. It's like lonelyahava said though, I'd want us to get married because it's the right time for us and not because situation dictates that we do it. I feel it would be cheapened a lot. I am completely aware of how logically stupid that is. The other, far more important reason I wouldn't do it right now though, is that we're not at the same place in our relationship we were a year ago. The most important thing for me right now is getting us both back together in person. I know that all of our problems at the moment are purely down to the fact that we haven't been together in so long, and even a two week vacation together would go a long way to getting things back the way they were. I think Thanatos hit the nail on the head too when you mentioned feeling guilty. I realise how monumentally stupid it is to feel guilty about using something that was created to help people in our position, but I've always felt a little ashamed at the idea of doing it that way. That may not be the right word but I've attached a stigma to it in my mind and I'm not sure why. Also, and I'm going to research this myself but in the off chance that there are any immigration experts amongst you, would I still be eligible for that despite having been refused a student visa in the past?

    I guess I should also explain that we have had long discussions in the past about our future together, and we both want to get married. Even though we've had a rocky time lately we're both still committed to that. Which makes our hesitation towards the marriage visa even more ridiculous, I know. Next time we are together, however, I intend to bring it up and discuss it properly. Even if it's not the ideal solution, it is the best one we could hope for and I am not going to let my own illogical hesitations stop me from being with the girl I love. Even I'm not that stupid. Also, to answer flowerhoney's question, I did enjoy my time in the US and could easily see myself living there. I have no real preference between the US and the UK but since my girlfriend does I am happy to move there rather than her move here.

    I definitely like the working holiday visa idea that Vivixenne mentioned. I hadn't actually considered going to a country that wasn't the US or the UK but it sounds very doable, and since neither of us have been very successful in our "careers" thus far it would be very easy to take time off for a year. I am going to have to do some research on it but I'm definitely going to bring it up the next time we talk, so I'll try to keep whoever is interested posted on that. I'll be sure to read all the links that were posted too, I'm a little busy right now but I will get around to it. I am also hopeful of getting a job soon (seriously guys, cross your fingers and toes for me there) and I'm going to put every penny I earn towards going back over to see her. We had a discussion last night (thanks to advice in here) about me coming over in the summer and heading down to Charleston, SC together. That was the one place we wanted to go to but never got around to it. So as far as short term "events" go, we now have that.

    I'm sorry not to have replied to every query raised but I promise I am thinking on everything that has been brought up so far in this thread. I've felt pretty lost recently when it comes to our relationship but this has certainly helped me out. Thank you everyone.

    Oh and don't stop with the advice, I can always use more!







  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Honestly, if you both agree you want to get married then you need to talk openly and honestly with each other about your hangups over the visa thing and decide whether or not you can get past that and go ahead with an engagement. Because if you can't come to an agreement on a plan to end the long distance phase, you might as well end the relationship and both move on instead of continuing in limbo like this. Usagi and I were fine doing the cross country relationship for a year precisely because we had a plan to end up in the same place. And she's been here in Seattle for a little over a year and it was definitely worth it.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
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