Love letters from Ana


 The study abroad question

Studying abroad, a collegiate staple since the times of “A Room with A View.” It’s the time to travel, learn a new language and drink without shot-gunning or chugging. The question that often comes up this time of year is can you do all this while having attachments at home — particularly a relationship? It’s the big “abroadquestion”and it’s the uncomfortable conversation people must have with their partner should one or both go abroad.

I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that there are some couples that should just break up. If your relationship is already on the rocks or it’s more of a casual thing, it could be time to cut ties, and what better way than when either or both are miles apart? Most relationship decisions, however, are not as easy, and deciding to break up while abroad can be devastating.

It’s true that the distance and time difference can really test the commitment of two people in a relationship. Because of this, there is really no easy decision even if a couple seems to have a strong thing going. I think the important thing to consider on both ends is whether or not the distance will have a profound negative effect on you. Meaning, if you’re the part of the couple studying abroad, will missing the person at home, hinder your time or experience away in any matter? If you’re the person staying put, it’s important to think about the person who is going away and the role they play in your life at school. Obviously the couple will miss each other, but there is a difference between being able to give a positive spin to the situation and being excited to share facets of your lives apart or, on the other hand, feeling anxious, sad or even jealous because of the distance.

I think this assessment will really determine the maturity of the relationship. Sometimes, people just are not ready for this kind of commitment. Study abroad really can seem to put a pause on the progression of romantic relationships. If a couple or one part of the couple feels like the distance will too negatively play a role in their coming semester, they may decide to take a break for a while or to break up.

Taking a break while abroad seems to be a very common decision. One thing to consider with the break route is whether or not the couple can sustain a trusting relationship should they decide to get back together. In the distance, would you feel comfortable with the fact that your semi-partner can be hooking up with someone else? Will that drive you crazy? In this case, a clean break or opting to stay together may actually be easier than the limbo of taking a break.

A couple who decides to stay together during the 4-5 month period is making a commitment. It probably means there is a strong friendship and sense of respect between the couple. It means they’re willing to try new ways of intimacy and communication. It simply means they don’t want to not be together. I would say for couples who decide to stay together; stay positive, share adventures, enjoy your independence, respect your partner’s independence and remember that missing someone isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it just means they mean a great deal to you. Happy travels.