Today we are in for a treat! My friend Linda, who I met through my blog, wrote a guest post for us about her long distance relationship with her Chinese boyfriend. I’ve met her boyfriend too and have to say they are a cute couple! But now over to Linda…
Hi! My name is Linda and I spent 6 months in Guangzhou where I met my boyfriend Fu. I heard and read about Guangzhou before going to China, but most people said people mainly speak Cantonese in Guangzhou and that I would not be able to improve my Mandarin.
When I came across Sara’s blog I asked her about it and she told me not to worry, that most people would talk to me in Mandarin and that I would definitely be able to improve my Chinese – therefore, I decided to go to Guangzhou! So basically Sara plays a part in me actually meeting my boyfriend!
We started going out really quickly after we met and everything went really well! I was able to improve my Chinese and learned a lot about Chinese culture. He lives in Heyuan, Guangdong, about 2 hours from Guangzhou. As my time in China was coming to an end, I decided to spend as much time with him as possible. Staying for 3 weeks with Fu at his parents’ house.
However, sooner or later it was time to say goodbye – the most horrible day in my life. I had to move to the US to finish my Bachelor’s degree in San Diego, California. Luckily, we have not given up and we have been going long-distance for 3 months now which, of course, leads to problems every once in a while.
The most obvious problem is, of course, the time difference. With me living in Southern California, we are suffering a time difference of 15 hours! Before I came here I had serious doubts if it works out well, but after all we have found our “rhythm” and talk as much as possible – EVERYDAY!
I think the key to every LDR (long-distance relationship) is communication – because that’s all you got! So just as you were together you also share the small things, like what you had for dinner or what kind of new shoes you bought. What my boyfriend and I are doing is sending each other pictures from our everyday life while waiting for the bus, during break, during lunch etc. We would also tell each other funny stories about what kind of weird people we came across and just laugh together. After all, we talk much more instead of just sitting on the couch and watching TV for example. I find this is a real advantage, because we can have much more deep conversations.
Tip: Besides photos, send your partner postcards from everywhere you travel or buy him/her some small gifts.
When you cannot be together, trust is essential. Of course, you or your partner won’t stop living your life and still go out to clubs or hang out with friends. I experienced this a lot of times: my boyfriend would get upset when I wanted to go out and meet friends and not spent time with him video chatting. Sometimes I would react the same way – just because I missed him so much. Nevertheless, it’s not okay just to start an argument if your partner wants to go out with friends.
Tip: You just need to think clearly and remember all the nice things your partner ever said about you: why and how much he loves you. After all, respect and trust is essential in a relationship – not only in LDRs!
The next thing I experienced about being in a LDR is how fighting changed when not being together. For me having an argument is all about body language and facial expressions. When I see how hurt or touched or angry or upset my boyfriend is during a fight, I might change my standpoint about what we are fighting for. But when you are arguing over the phone or even text messaging you cannot see what your partner looks like, you cannot tell how he really feels about it. Since I have been apart from Fu, we have encountered some ups and downs which led to arguments and I still have trouble handling them well. Fortunately, we’ve only had a few fights but I still cannot figure out how to handle it well when I don’t see my boyfriend’s expressions.
Tip: Try to avoid arguing through texting. It is important to show and see body language! If you have to fight, keep the webcam on! And don’t hang up the phone during a fight!
Believe it or not I am still experiencing cultural difference issues with my boyfriend. However, not how one would think me questioning various Chinese habits, but HIM not understanding some of the 外国 (foreign) habits. This happens when I am out at the beach, for example, because he does not get why one would just simply lay at the beach and relax in the sun. It is very interesting to experience the other side when he doesn’t understand some of my habits or a new culture’s habits (he has never been outside of China).
Tip: Now you know how your partner usually feels when you don’t understand some of the habits, therefore: be patient and explain these “weird” habits to him/her!
I’ll be back!
I still have another 8 months to go until I graduate and go back to China. However, I am optimistic that Fu and I are going to make it and be happy ever after. He is also trying to come over and visit me in the US during my long Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Until then, Fu and I will try to continue our (mostly) happy LDR – which in a way, ironically, also brings us more together.