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RTW: Surviving the Time Apart

Dear Lynda,

How do you keep your relationship healthy when you don’t ride together? How do you survive the time apart?

One of us rides and wants to do a round the world trip, the other doesn’t although they support the trip and are willing to join for small periods of time.

– Greg

Hi Greg,

It’s one thing to take off for a two-week vacation separately, far more complex when the magnitude of the trip is so much greater. Built into this dilemma is the reality that you will each have vastly different lives while apart, and ensuring you find ways to adapt to the changes that inevitably result will be an important factor to plan for. How can you use these changes to strengthen, rather than destroy, the closeness you value?

Assuming you’ve agreed the trip is something you can both support there are a few questions to initially consider, such as how long can each of you tolerate going solo before it begins to gnaw at the connection between you? How important is it to be able to share your experiences while separated? Is it imperative to return for periods of time to experience life at home in addition to meeting up on the road? Understanding the answers to those questions will help with your planning.

Once those conversations have occurred, the next steps are logistical. What is your budget, both financial and time? How will the trip be funded, and will that impact how you each feel about it? Do you both have the freedom to travel as long as you wish, or is one of you constrained by work or the need to earn money while the other is off on an adventure, and will that build resentment or guilt? Is the trip continuous, or can it be broken up into segments?

Different answers can lead to a variety of ways to stay connected. Brainstorming and ingenuity will be key elements to finding shared solutions. For example, can each continent be a journey in itself, with a break at home for reconnecting? Can the partner at home take sufficient time off to join up for different portions of the trip?Are there places the non-riding partner has always wanted to visit, and if so, can you take time off the bike to share in a vacation participating in activities you both enjoy? Can you create a schedule for online visits, at a frequency that lets you both share what, and how, you are doing? Do you have a way to handle physical intimacy when you are worlds apart? Are you comfortable having those kinds of detailed talks about how you can stay connected?

Finally, keep an open mind to the reality that your feelings may evolve over time. While that’s a possibility in any relationship, the extent of this undertaking may change one or both of you to the point where it negatively impacts you as a couple. Of course, stifling someone’s dream can do the same thing. The more open you are in being able to discuss this possibility, the more likely you are to be able to address it successfully should it arise, and the more likely you will be able to find solutions that support you as a couple.

We don’t always find partners who share all our dreams. The secret is finding someone who is willing to support the most important ones in ways that ultimately bring us closer together despite being miles apart.


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1 comment

Elisa Wirkala 2017 February 17 at 6:58 AM

Thank you, Lynda! Really appreciate reading your thoughts. I’ve struggled with this one for years!


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