The Hobo Guide to Long-Distance Relationships
It happens a lot when you’re trotting the globe. Someone will say “hello” to you in a vaguely foreign accent, and all of a sudden your ovaries ignite and you start thinking the hostel shower looks like a mighty romantic place to make love. A night of passion will ensue, and provided you’re both still attracted to each other in the light of day, it’s fairly likely you’re going to repeat offend.
For a few snatched weeks of bliss, you’ll have all the beauty of a honeymoon without the actual ball-and-chain of an impending marriage. Your relationship will progress much faster than it would have if you’d just met back home. I don’t necessarily mean you’ll have anal on the first date, but from spending every waking (and non-waking) minute of your lives together, you’ll get ridiculously close. This is particularly true if you’re in a dorm with its own bathroom and one of you gets Bali belly.
But sooner or later, real life will get in the way – university commitments, a visa expiration or a court date – and you’ll both return to your constituent home countries. Most will write it off as a fling, adding another flag to their wall of conquests, but some decide to go the distance.
As I spend half my life overseas and the other half at Cheeky Monkeys, most of the romances I’ve had have ended up turning into long distance ones. This suits me perfectly, as thanks to Skype’s video saturation settings, I look far better on a webcam than I do in reality. But I will admit that it can get incredibly difficult to maintain interest in someone 14358 kilometres away when the average penis length is only 15 centimetres. No matter how much Viagra he takes, it’s just not going to reach.
It’s not very well known, but the phrase “long-distance relationship” actually comes from two Latin words meaning “depression” and “cybersex”. This is because your time will now be split between sobbing into your lover’s filthy old beanie and trying to make your nipples hard for Skype. Fantasies of destination weddings will flood your mind, you’ll start looking at mixed-race children in a new light and you’ll set your watch to his timezone (but even that won’t stop you from drunk dialling at his 9am).
There are plenty of bonuses. I mean, sure, you’ll miss them, but you’ll also really love not shaving. What’s more, there are plenty of apps that cater to long-distance lovers. Snapchat has revolutionised the days of old, when lovesick puppies like Van Gogh had to send actual chunks of flesh to their lady friends (“I know you miss nibbling on my ear, so this is for you. Love, Vince.”). There’s even a range of products tailored to helping long-distance couples out. My personal favourite – a set of pillows that light up when the other person rests their head on theirs – can be an exceptionally touching gesture. But, in the words of rapper Trev Rich:
And that is where the problem lies.
When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you’re living the lifestyle of a singleton, but have to possess the virtue of a nun. Our non-committal generation finds fidelity and trust tricky to master at the best of times, let alone when we are too far away to ever properly be held accountable. And even if you are a monogamy martyr, you’ll never really know whether your significant other is exhibiting the same moral fibre; well, not until you discover that the fire in your loins is actually just a burning sensation when you pee. There’s also the risk that the legend you hiked through Machu Picchu with isn’t the same guy who, during the non-holiday season, works a dreary 9 -5 office job and votes Republican.
Worst of all, after you’ve been separated for a while, you start to forget how perfect you were together. And because you are on opposite sides of the globe, you are essentially powerless to change this. There’s only so much warmth that can be transferred through a speaker or a screen before something short-circuits.
So my advice, dear hobos, is to keep your international interactions like a Shetland pony: short, sweet and not sustainable to ride long-term. If, at your own risk, you choose to disregard this invaluable guidance and get serious with someone overseas, I wish you the best of luck, as it’s a colossal commitment that is often about as fulfilling as that relationship you used to be in with your Hanson poster. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
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Gemma Clarke is the editor-in-chief of Global Hobo. She spends her time contracting tinea in foreign countries, taking afternoon naps in her van and drinking red wine through a (bamboo) straw.