What should have been a short time apart has now become much longer. Mae offers practical advice on how to survive a long-distance relationship.
Mae met Julien at her grandparents’ house in Sydney, Australia. They were Julien’s host family while he was studying English there.
Getting to Know Each Other
“It was like at first sight, I guess! After we met that day, January 8th, 2020, we had dinner at home and spoke about life in Sydney. I told him what to expect and which clubs and pubs he can go to with his other schoolmates. They all lived in my grandparents’ place as well.
He asked me if we could be friends on Facebook and hang out sometime. I noticed that the whole time I was talking he was so focused on listening to me. But at the same time, I wasn’t sure if he understood everything I said since he came here to study English.
The next day, I was around the area so I invited him out for a coffee. Then coffee turned into dinner. I don’t know how we survived the conversation, but thanks to Google Translate, we got through it. The following day he got sick with a high fever and my mom asked me to take him to the hospital.
My family teased us, saying he was just ‘lovesick’ since this was our third day in a row of seeing each other. While we were hanging out, he looked at me like he wanted to kiss, but I gave him a playful smack instead. Somehow, we had this intimacy right away. It felt like we were connected with a string.
From that day, we started hanging out more, at my place and around the city. He had a hard time adjusting to life in Australia because we run at a much faster and intense pace. I became his local guide, showing him around the city and helping him get used to it.”
Overcoming and Appreciating Cultural Differences in Their Relationship
“I can easily say that opposites attract in our case! Both of us come from a mixed background: I am from the Philippines with a Filipino-Spanish and Chinese background, while he is Columbian by birth, raised by adopted Italian parents who live in Switzerland. I am very determined and hard-working, while Julien says that Swiss people take their time and don’t rush things.
As for our way of life, I’m living in survival mode right now, which means I’m quite a workaholic. Since I’m working so hard to establish myself and my career, I want everything to be timely and in order. If we set plans I need them to be a week in advance so they don’t conflict with my other commitments.
Julien sometimes says I’m a dominant perfectionist. He lives his life in more comfortable ways. Since he’s already settled in his career and finances, his 3 months in Sydney were like a holiday. A very fun holiday! In many ways, he is more affectionate and emotional than I am, while I do many nurturing, ‘wifey’ things, making small daily acts to take care of him.”
How They Were Separated During Corona
“Even though Julien had made plans to extend his time in Australia, that schedule changed because of the virus. He had to go back to Switzerland to be with his family since his parents are high-risk and he wanted to take care of them. Sadly, he couldn’t extend the trip and even had to leave early. His country sent a charter plane to pick up nationals who wanted to get home before the borders closed.
At the airport, he took something out of his backpack, a small box. He said, ‘I wanted to buy you an engagement ring but it’s very soon and all the shops are closed because of COVID. So let’s consider this a promise a ring.’ He put it on my finger as a symbol of our love and intentions toward each other.
The day after he arrived, we realized it was a mistake. We both miss each other very much and now the Australian border is closed. We’ve tried to find a solution, every week waiting for the news but we feel disappointed. I had been hoping to visit Julien in July but it’s not possible now.
Even though we’ve come up with many ideas to get some kind of exception, we just have to wait and see what happens. This chapter of our love story may take a long time to write.”
Mae’s Tips on How to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship
“Now that we’ve realized the situation is out of our hands, we’re working on how to survive our long-distance relationship. We talk about barriers and how to find solutions.
I usually write poems to him and take photos of beautiful views to send to him. We remind each other to virtually hold hands and remember the reason we keep going.
We talk to each other about our daily routines to feel like we’re part of each other’s lives. It helps us not to get bored.
To minimize little things that turn into fights, we’ve had to adjust our behaviors to forgive and move on right away. We have to trust fully in order to be trusted, and we try to keep our communication as open as possible.
We focus on each other’s strong points. I like the way he pushes me toward my goals. He’s a good coach! At the same time, I’m a mentor for him in many ways he’s not used to. We both offer different points of view and insights.
At different moments, we take on different roles for each other. Depending on what the other is going through, sometimes we take the role of a counselor and other times play the part of a friend.
We constantly reassure each other of our feelings. The distance can make us both feel insecure at times, so saying ‘I love you’ and ‘I miss you’ makes a big difference.
We are so longing to see each other and be physically connected. One day we hope to fully close the distance, get married, and even have a baby together!”
How Others Are Surviving Long-Distance Relationships
So many couples have unique circumstances that have led them to their long-distance love stories. While some have been in long-distance relationships for many years, others were caught totally off-guard by the border closings in March.
Each one has tips to offer and stories to share regarding their personal experiences. If you’re in a similar situation, you can submit your story to be published. Help us grow our long-distance relationship community, and assist others by relating your unique situations.