For today’s article, I asked Léo from My Sweet LDR to share practical tips for long-distance relationships when you’re from different countries.
Léo and his girlfriend, Kyomi, are a Franco-Peruvian couple who have dated long-distance. If you’re in an international long-distance relationship, check out the following advice written by Léo.
When I talk to other people in long-distance relationships, most of them only differentiate between traditional and long-distance couples.
But it’s more complicated than that. Not all long-distance relationships have the same constraints.
We can easily distinguish several different cases. First, there’s the long-distance relationship where you’re within the same country. Then, there’s the long-distance relationship where you’re in different countries, but you share a common language (USA to England, for example).
And finally, the most difficult of all is an international long-distance relationship where your mother tongue is not the same.
Remote relationship between two countries: Our example
When I met Kyomi through a language exchange application, we knew it was going to be hard. She didn’t speak French, and I didn’t speak Spanish. We had a seven-hour time difference and over 6,500 miles between us.
We also made our relationship official one week before the Covid-19 pandemic started. So, we didn’t check the “easy” box when we started our relationship.
Yet today, we are still together and happier than ever. We live in an era where digital technology has never been so present in our lives. Our parents wouldn’t have been so lucky (and yours, too).
In this article, I’m going to share with you eight tips that have helped us overcome the difficulties of a long-distance relationship between different countries.
1) Download these three apps
If you’re in a long-distance relationship between different countries, you’ll want to make the most of the applications available to you.
Here are three free, must-have apps that I recommend for long-distance couples. The first one is a translation application, the second one to share information with your partner, and the last one (certainly the most famous one) is a messaging application extremely useful to play online games.
DeepL (available on iOS and Android)
DeepL is a translation service that works like Google Translate. The difference is that DeepL is much more accurate and translates your sentences much better.
Where Google’s service just translates “word by word,” DeepL takes into account the meaning of the sentence and offers a global translation, which will take the initiative to change some words to keep consistency in each sentence.
Here is an example:
Original sentence in French: A mes yeux, une relation à distance est meilleure qu’une relation classique.Tout simplement car en ayant des difficultés dès le début de notre relation qui nous sont imposés, on renforce notre couple naturellement.
Google translation: In my eyes, a long-distance relationship is better than a classic relationship. Quite simply because having difficulties from the beginning of our relationship which are imposed on us, we strengthen our relationship naturally.
DeepL translation: In my opinion, a long-distance relationship is better than a traditional one. Simply because by having difficulties from the beginning of our relationship which are imposed on us, we strengthen our couple naturally.
One of the advantages is that you can choose the tone: formal or informal. Its only drawback is that the number of languages is still limited, but every year there are more and more.
Between (available on iOS and Android)
This application is unique because it only works in a pair. You can only create an account if it is linked to another account. Once the link is made, everything you publish on it will automatically be shared with the other account.
What is great about Between is the multitude of possibilities offered to you. You can…
- Create a shared calendar
- Customize the homepage with your photos, the number of days since the beginning of your relationship and the countdown before you meet again
- Send photos, videos, vocals, gifs of yourselves
- Chat through instant messaging
In short, it’s a good alternative to more traditional messengers like Messenger or Whatsapp, because “Between” belongs only to you and your other half. In addition to being able to organize things more easily, you know that each notification will be about your partner.
Discord (available on iOS, Android and PC)
Originally created for gamers, this messaging software is now used for many other reasons.
A Discord server is the equivalent of a private forum, where you can participate in written or vocal discussions. There are millions of servers that bring together people with the same passions: a community of a particular video game, an association that manages its volunteers, or the Love Is Not Tourism movement that organizes and shares information for each country.
When you play a game online, it is necessary to be able to talk to your partner at the same time. That’s where Discord comes in, allowing you to easily stay in touch. The application also allows you to do screen sharing.
Creating a private server is free. The advantage over Skype or Zoom is that Discord easily runs in the background and won’t crash your computer or phone.
And best of all, it’s an app that will come in handy for tips three and four!
2) Use a VPN to simplify your life (and save money)
“A VPN? What is that again?”
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that protects your internet connection and online privacy.
When you arrive on any website, it knows which country you are connecting from. That’s why sometimes YouTube indicates that the video you want to watch is not available in your country.
A VPN allows you to bypass this problem, since you choose from which country you connect!
So, in the case of an international long-distance relationship, what’s the point?
We use a VPN for three main reasons (the last one is the best):
1. Some sites are not accessible in the other person’s country
When Kyomi wants to send me a link or a video, sometimes I can’t see it because the site is not available in my country. With a VPN, I can choose to connect as if I were in her country and see what she sends me.
2. The Netflix and Amazon Video catalogs are the same
Let’s say you both have a Netflix account, and you want to watch Shrek 2. You log in and find out the movie is not present in your catalog. That’s because Netflix adapts its productions to its audience.
With a VPN, you will have access to the worldwide catalog of the platform. This also works the same way with subtitles.
3. Get cheaper flights
This last point can literally save you money without doing anything!
In an international long-distance relationship, flying is usually the only way to travel. Airlines may raise their prices if they see that you log onto their site often (especially if you are looking at the same flight).
With a VPN, your connection is hidden from the airline, so they can’t know if you’re looking at their website for the first or tenth time.
Be careful, though, as this is not systematic. Each flight is different and a price change is justified by many other parameters.
How do you get a VPN? There are free and paid ones. I personally use Tunnel Bear, which is free (but not unlimited). The monthly subscription is usually a few dollars a month for the paid ones.
3) Learn your partner’s language
The biggest problem I had to overcome when I started my international long-distance relationship didn’t happen right away. It happened when I first met my girlfriend in her country, Peru.
Since I didn’t speak Spanish, it was impossible for me to have a conversation with her family members. Between us we spoke English, but her parents did not speak it.
This was one of the reasons that motivated me to learn Spanish. The second one was that in the long run, I didn’t want to speak a third language with Kyomi. But I will come back to this point later in the article.
So, I highly recommend you to learn your partner’s language, or to help him or her learn yours!
There are so many advantages to learning a language in long-distance relationship:
- You have a teacher just for you who loves you dearly
- You will be able to talk with your partner’s family members
- You will feel more immersed in his culture, his country, his life
- You will spend unforgettable evenings
- You will develop your language skills
- You will have a common project
- When you go to visit him/her, you will already have the basics
- It is a real proof of love
- In the long run, your communication will become even better
- It’s free (you almost forget it!)
Organize a weekly meeting of at least one hour dedicated to language learning. It’s so cute to see your partner speak their own language with their accent!
This is an activity that will take some work and concentration. It is never easy to learn a new language. But, you will have a real motivation!
As for me, I don’t speak Spanish very well yet, but I’m getting by. I can have a conversation with her parents, and that’s great!
My girlfriend is very grateful for this because her family is the most precious thing in the world to her. It was important for me to get along with them. And I was able to improve the next point because of it.
4) Immerse yourself in the culture of your partner’s country (even long-distance!)
Being in a long-distance relationship between different countries means immersing yourself in a new culture. Your mind opens up to something new that you didn’t even imagine!
In Peru, there is a tradition of running down the street with a suitcase on the night of December 31. It is a way to bring good luck for the new year. Don’t ask me more…
In France, we eat frog legs and snails. And believe it or not, it is absolutely delicious!
It is always very interesting to learn more about the culture of your partner’s country because your long-distance relationship will be stronger and you will discover new and unexpected things.
And, it will make you want to travel and meet your partner again to experience it for yourself!
Investing yourself emotionally and culturally in the life of another person shows that you care for them. And honestly, wouldn’t it bother you if your partner wasn’t very interested in your country and its customs?
Date Idea: Culture Night
With Kyomi, we agreed one evening during the week to prepare a kind of presentation of her country. We had imposed some constraints similar to school to make it fun: dress like a teacher, hold a quiz at the end with a mark, and give punishments if we are not attentive.
Some of the themes we chose were traditional clothes, three recent and three historical events, five culinary dishes, the symbol of your country, three beautiful places to visit and surprising facts.
We tried as much as possible to prepare beforehand illustrations or to find reports or testimonies to illustrate what we were explaining.
This evening remains to this day one of the best we spent together while apart.
5) Send parcels using these techniques
The greater the distance between you and your partner, the more expensive it will be to send a package and the higher the risk that it will never arrive.
So, is there really a quick fix for this problem?
The answer is … no.
Each country has its own rules, distributors and constraints. It would be wrong of me to generalize and put them all in the same basket.
But, here is a a list of all the things you should think about to maximize the chances of sending a package that will arrive at its destination in good condition and at a lower cost:
- The price of the shipment (may vary depending on the weight and volume)
- The duration of the delivery (from a few days to several weeks)
- The content (is there anything illegal in it?)
- Customs (you may have to declare the contents of your package, and estimate its price)
- The address of your partner and yours (are they valid?)
- Protecting the contents (special paper, protection…)
To find information to these questions, try these solutions:
- Contact the companies in your country that deliver internationally directly
- Find testimonials on Facebook groups, Discord, Youtube videos and blogs
- Surf the internet to play with prices and find cheaper solutions
- Ask your partner to find out what you can and cannot send to their country (this is especially important with food products)
Finally, my personal advice to ensure that everything goes well:
- Put the address of departure and a way to contact you on the back of the package
- Personalize the inside (and outside) of your package if you can
- Send a first “test” package with not much value inside to test the service so you evaluate the delivery time and the value for money
- Check into companies that specialize in sending packages internationally.
6) Avoid this classic mistake
Planning your next reunion with your partner is important. But it’s not the only thing you should be discussing. Eventually, you need to talk about long-term plans.
I’ll get right to the point: the ultimate goal of any long-distance relationship is to close that distance one day and live in the same place together.
For many people, myself included, it is difficult to imagine what you’ll be doing one, two or five years in the future. On the one hand, this is because life always reserves surprises, and the global pandemic illustrates how quickly everything changes.
But you must have a course, a goal of where to find yourself permanently.
If after months (or years) of long-distance relationship, you are convinced that your partner is the right person, you need to have this conversation: how and when will we close the distance?
I had this discussion with my girlfriend about six months after we met. The question was, word for word, “Would you be willing, in a future where we are still together, to live with me, away from your family and your country?”
You can imagine our respective answers.
Many couples don’t think to ask themselves this question, which in the end is very important! You need to think about the purpose of a long-distance dating relationship. This is a classic mistake that too many binational couples make.
Take the time to discuss this with your partner. There’s no need to bring this up if you’re still in the early stages of your relationship, but don’t wait too long, either.
7) Try these little tips to improve your long-distance relationship between different countries
Finally, here are a few simple and effective tips:
- To avoid getting confused about the time difference, add the time zone of your partner’s country on your phone.
- To know if you can travel despite Covid-19, visit this site.
- If your family doesn’t approve of your long-distance relationship, suggest that they do a video call with your partner
- Look at the moon — it’s the only thing you can see at the same time as your partner (don’t try it with the sun). Rather romantic, isn’t it?
That’s it for these seven ways to improve your long-distance relationship between different countries.
What tips do you use to make your relationship unique?