Update About Us!

So big news to share!  We are officially moving in together!

We move into our place this weekend, and we are excited about this transition.  I know I previously mentioned that we would not live together, but….things change.  Basically, my boyfriend’s new job is about two hours away from my apartment where we are currently living.  Our friends are about 45 minutes away from my place also.  So after my boyfriend got his new job, he started looking into places a bit closer to his office, splitting the difference between my apartment and his work.  Then as he started looking more, and we started talking about it a bit more, we both realized we didn’t want him to have a roommate, and we both didn’t want to add an hour to our days commuting back and forth to our apartments, so living separately all of a sudden seemed pointless.

I always thought that I shouldn’t live with someone unless I was engaged or married; old-fashioned, I know.  A couple months ago though, I read an article that basically questioned why women feel that way. Is it right?  Justified? Do we need to be married?  It made me think about things a bit more, and open up a bit to the idea that things aren’t always cookie cutter, that maybe all rules don’t pertain to everyone.  Do I still want to get married?  Yes, absolutely. Right now though I am enjoying being present in my boyfriend’s life, and him in mine.  I am enjoying learning how we live together, and how we have become better and more amazing friends and support systems with each day.  I am loving having him back, and right now, the best choice for us, is to live together.

The thing that helped most in making our decision, was him staying with me the last few months.  Honestly, based on a past experience, I was so afraid that living together would kill the relationship for me–that I would feel trapped, the zest would leave the relationship, etc.  The opposite happened in our situation–we can’t get enough of each other, and we absolutely love spending time with each other, so to think about him moving an hour away from me, made us both sad and we pretty quickly realized that even though it’s still a little scary to be taking this grown-up step, we are both excited about moving under one roof together. So my apartment is in shambles, boxes everywhere, but I am happy, we are happy.  We are both looking forward to this new chapter in our lives, where we really get to be together everyday.

LDR without Technology in the Peace Corps

I just received this comment on the blog that I wanted to share with all of you.  (The comment structure is kind of weird on this page, and I can’t quite get it to do what I want, so wanted to make sure you didn’t miss this one).

Hello and thank you for this wonderful blog. I am currently in the 9th month of my peace corps service in Peru. I just wanted to leave a comment to encourage people who are in the first stages of a peace corps ldr- my boyfriend and I are doing great, even without technology like video skype or cell phones. A fundamental quality of being a peace corps volunteer is the resilience: the ability to face and overcome outrageous obstacles, all the while maintaining belief that anything is possible. This is what it means to be a peace corps volunteer. You have to believe that, even if a place and a people have a desperate lack of resources, with enough hard work and dedication life will get better.

I visited him (he lives in Japan) a month ago and, as was eloquently stated in one of the blog entries after a trip, the love that is there in letters in emails is just as strong in person. So don’t fret about if your significant other is going to be without the technology to talk to you every day. I live in a very rustic location and we get to exchange emails a few times a month. It still works. You can do it!

It was so great to read this comment, because it is so different from our experience.  We were definitely spoiled by his location and his access to technology, and honestly not sure how well we would have done without it–but I am so happy to hear it is working for you guys!  Congrats and keep us posted. :)

Deciding What To Do After Peace Corps and Money

What’s tough about returning from the Peace Corps as an older volunteer (ie. someone who didn’t go directly from college), is that even though you gain a lot of experience in that two years in a different environment, you have stayed fairly still in your career path.  It’s different if you are just out of school, and you haven’t ever received a good salary or promotions, if you are just starting out.  The problem with my boyfriend’s situation is that he did have a great career before he left, and if he had stayed his salary would have gone up tremendously over the two years, along with better titles.  Now though, since he has been out of the corporate environment for the last couple of years, it’s a tougher sell for some of his potential employers to realize how talented he is, since he was away for two years.  On the other hand, it’s not a complete reboot, but in some ways with the career switch, I think it feels like a bit of a small setback in terms of salary, so it’s tough.

Since he hasn’t had a job for five months and the Peace Corps only gives a $7k readjustment allowance, my boyfriend’s bank account is running thin.  Luckily, I have a good apartment we have been able to share for the last couple of months but the lack of cash flow is getting to him.  This is tough to see, and there are definitely days I’m not sure how best to help; he also refuses to borrow any money from me, which is probably for the best.  I have no problem covering our food and groceries (and am fortunate to have a great job), but he wants to be moved into a place he can call home, not just a place where he feels like he is staying.  So I can tell he is feeling anxious to return to work.  Recently he decided to take a job in the field he wants to pursue at a reduced salary for a few months.  As happy as I think he might be to making a move in the direction of his interest, I think it is also tough for him to be taking a bit of a step back.  That said, we both agree that this is a great time and chance for him to check out this field, and see if it’s actually interesting to him.  I actually haven’t felt anxious about him getting work, as I’m fine financially, I’m just more concerned that he finds something he is passionate and excited about doing.  Hopefully, this new gig will either confirm his desire to enter this new field, or redirect him to other possible options.

I guess, if you are an older volunteer (and by that I mean someone a few years out of college=27 years old+), try to have some money saved before you join up, as the stipend is minimal and the readjustment allowance will run out quickly.  My boyfriend did have savings before he left but he supplemented his stipend quite a bit during his Peace Corps service.  He didn’t live extravagantly by any means, but he did tend to eat out a lot.  Even though most meals were $5, the approximate $30/week he received as his stipend didn’t cover all his food, toiletries, etc.  So he emptied his savings during Peace Corps, as he also visited a couple countries around Kenya.  Again, I want to reiterate that he by no means lived extravagantly–and he wasn’t into the party/drinking scene, so there wasn’t a lot of excess money he was spending.  Additionally, the travel he did with other volunteers was also modest (hostel type places, etc.), but ultimately money goes fast.

The main reason to have money saved is to offer yourself some flexibility upon your return.  The five months since he has been back has flown by and seems like a lot of time–but really with family and friend visits, readjusting to life and deciding what to do next, it’s not a lot of time.  So just plan carefully, and try to overplan for the unexpected.

The toughest thing for me, is that I wish there were other ways I could help him but I also think I can’t figure out his life, or what he wants, so he just has to do it himself.  The best thing I can do is just listen (which is so hard for me to do sometimes instead of giving advice), and try to keep him focused on the dreams and interests he had for himself when he was in Kenya.  We are so fortunate to be back in the same place, still in love, and helping each other through this next transition.  Even though I mentioned above that you should overplan, every day I am starting to realize more and more, how impossible that can really be–so I am trying to enjoy the end of this chapter, instead of skipping ahead to the next.

Setting Something (or Someone) Free – Part II

I just received this comment in response to my last entry, and since it was so long and well written, I wanted to include it in the actual blog, so I could share it with all of you and also respond.  So here is the comment:

Love this blog – came across it recently and think it’s great! And, I have to agree with the heart of this response. I also think I can extend some additional pespective for anyone in a siutation like this since I am 6 weeks into my girlfriend being overseas in Guyana for her term. Some background is that we met only 2-3 months before her departure date. Neither of us were looking for love, at all, it found us and it was unmistakable. I don’t want to come across as arrogant but I do believe we are a part of the lucky few and are going to make it through this, whether or not she stays commited to her contract through the entire term or not. In fact, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life because we have an amazing, balanced and, this is key – selfless relationship.

Here’s the thing, the more selfless and supportive you are towards someone you love the more suited you are to be together. Sure, every relationship is different and every one has different needs but I can tell you that my girlfriend finds ways to show me how much she loves me and it’s effortless and she gets the same from me. If, tomorrow, she decides to quit and come home will I rejoice and be the happiest guy on the earth? – Absoultely!..but at the same time I am already happy and get what I need because of the nature of our relationship and how confident I am that we are meant to be together. In many ways we were bred for this and are extremely lucky – but perhaps there are a few specific things I can share that will be of help in how we are managing this:

1. When she first got to Guyana she was pretty down but used that depression to look out for me and wrote me the most sincere note about how she wanted this to be the happiest 2 years of my life and how if she could take care of me every day she would but that I needed to take care of myself. She told me to be free, single but when I came to visit in July I would be far from a single man. She was not trying to release me so she could be free but so that I could be and it’s that sincerity that is at the heart of why i love her so much and still feel free even in my commitment to her. Within a week of writing this letter to me and me letting her know I would do what I could to be ‘free’ we both realized it was never going to happen in a sense that I would be single, hit on girls or what not. I just don’t have a need for that because she is all I need and she feels the same way about me. Did I offer her the same freedom – yep – and did she take it – definitely not and every time I hear from her she finds new ways to make me feel secure of her commitment to me.

2. Luckily, I have spent a good bit of time traveling and a year overseas as well, so I realize the commitment and also how beneficial an experience like that can be to a person. If you haven’t had a similar experience on your own to relate to just try and keep your focus that they do in fact need this, that you supporting them in whatever fashion makes sense for your relationship will reap rewards. don’t be needy, evolve as time goes by to fit your relationship and give them their space if they need it. if you are unsure if you are doing a good job, ask them. Nothing wrong with that.

3. She writes me every night – this has become her journal in a way. Sure, we email, skype and chat on occasion but the letters are much more intimate and important to me. It’s further reinforcement that she needs this experience but that I am the most important thing in her life and she wants to share it with me.

4. Plan trips and break it up with milestones. I’m going to see her for 2 weeks in July and then we will meet up again the first week of December and she has already commited to come here for a full month next year. I did not push her taking off a month of her vacay to come back to the states – this was her idea and i think that’s an important point to make.

5. if you don’t have the money to visit throughout these 2 years then I have pity for you and your relationship. I honestly don’t think it’s a good idea to try and stay together if you can’t visit – that will just be too much on any one person. Yes, I suppose it can be done but it will be incredibly hard.

6. No matter what, know that it’s going to be tough. Make sure you take care of yourself and don’t get away from what makes you you.

In closing, I realize it may sound like good advice but also premature for someone only 6 weeks into this, but I hope my confidence and advice is stll helpful. She has made it clear that even if things are going well that if I saw ‘when’ and need her to come back she won’t blink. It is for this reason and the others that I laid out that I want to keep going.

Good luck everyone!


Here is my response:

Dear Drew,

Love your enthusiasm and positive outlook.  Similarly to you and your girlfriend, my boyfriend and I had only been dating for a short amount of time before he left (about eight months).  Somehow, I think that increased the romantics in us, as the relationship itself was still on the newer/honeymoon phase.

For us, we didn’t even think about being an open relationship at all. We both felt like you are either committed or not, and we wanted to be committed to each other. So I think that is the right choice for you both also.  That said, I am aware of a couple that broke up before Peace Corps and upon her return they reunited.

Definitely agreed about finding ways to connect with each other, so incredibly important and will help you both know you are in it together.  I did the journal thing as well and even scanned/PDF’d some of my entries and emailed them to my boyfriend.  Was one of the things that helped keep me sane.

Visiting–totally agreed that you should visit as often as possible.  I went to Kenya four times through the course of our relationship. I had wanted it to be five, but I couldn’t squeeze it in with life and work.

In terms of a PCV returning for a month, I honestly think that period of time is incredibly optimistic.  Depending on what she does (business or teaching), it may be incredibly difficult to get the time off.   The funny thing with Peace Corps is even though you receive an incredible amount of vacation every year, it’s really tough to take it all, or even take it all at one time.  My boyfriend worked at a school, and even though they would at times have a winter or summer vacation (for a month), the longest actual time he would have off was maybe two weeks.  The other “free/vacation” time was filled with mandatory sporadic trainings and meetings.  I think the business group has more flexibility, but I still think it might be a stretch to be able to leave their site for a month.  Also, in our experience, the trainings were not always planned super in advance, so sometimes were hard to plan for–however, even when my trips overlapped with his work or training, it would only be for a few days and our nights were free.

I think planning trips in advance is a great idea, and it helped me to plan the next one as soon as I would return.  Gave us days to count down for, which was fun and helpful.  It may also help to read my entry summarizing my first three trips, so you can get an idea of what to expect.

Best of luck to you and your lady!







Setting Something (or Someone) Free

Okay, so this comment recently was posted:

I can totally relate to this. My boyfriend was accepted into the Peace corps a year ago and left yesterday for Honduras. We have known for the last year that he would be leaving which made things kind of hard while the year was still playing out. Towards the last two months i started having break downs and crying. The last month he was here we lived together which has made letting go even harder and the last week we spent a lot of time crying together. I am scared and in pain. We broke up after being together 2 years because he wanted to figure himself out (by joining peace corps). I have let him go because i know he needs to do this for himself, but i have this selfish hope that he will not like the PC and come home or that he will miss me too much.. i also have mixed feelings about him joining because of his actual intentions for being in the PC. I am absolutely heartbroken and do not know what will happen which is terifying. I haven’t had anyone to talk to about this because no one else can relate so it is nice to hear about other people’s stories. -Krisztina

Dear Krisztina,

Thanks for sharing your experience.  I can completely relate to your situation.

The last couple of months leading up to my boyfriend leaving were definitely trying for us as well.  There was one moment in particular in our experience where I realized that he would be going on his own without me (that I couldn’t join unless we were married, which we weren’t ready for and honestly, it worked out better in the end). In that moment, I was also really terrified.  I was so scared of being hurt, or being left behind, so he could embark on this other life.  We ultimately decided to be committed to the long distance thing, but different people need different things.

I also completely understand wanting your boyfriend not to like the Peace Corps.  Which is also possible.  I knew a girl who after the three months of training ultimately decided that she couldn’t be away from her boyfriend, so she returned home.  However, they ended up breaking up eventually for different reasons, but she couldn’t handle being apart.  In my situation, I knew my boyfriend was completely committed to the Peace Corps, but in some way, I hoped that maybe there would be a slight chance he would get sent home  (ie. maybe the school would close, and they wouldn’t need all the volunteers they had originally thought).  Was something in the back of my mind, but something really of fiction not reality.

In your situation, the best thing I can say is that people join the Peace Corps for all different reasons.  Some people join thinking it will help with their resume, or that’s it’s something they need/want to do for their own life experience, or to escape their current life, or travel the world, or to get a couple years out of the corporate world in a beautiful environment, or to help others or even to find themselves.  I honestly can say, wanting to find himself is not the worst reason to join the Peace Corps, it’s actually really straight forward.   The interesting thing about the Peace Corps, is that his experience will not be entirely what he expected.  My boyfriend went in wanting/expecting one experience and got something completely different.  If I were you, I would try and accept that your boyfriend needs this experience for whatever reason at this point in his life.  The hardest thing about this is not to take it personally.  Trust me, it doesn’t mean he loves you any less, it just means this is something that he needs right now.  I was on his side of this situation at one point in my life, and I can tell you that leaving my significant other at the time, also broke my heart.

Now in terms of breaking up before he joined…my boyfriend had a few Peace Corps friends that started with significant others, and others that had just recently broken up.  All of the couples (with the exception of us) who were in long-distance relationships broke up during the course of their service.  There were people who were engaged, had been together for years, even a couple where the girlfriend moved to Africa to be with him in the middle of his service but they all didn’t work out.  That said, I heard recently that one of his Peace Corps volunteers who broke up before they joined, got back together immediately upon homecoming.  So you never know.

My best advice is to accept what he is doing, and go about your life.  You don’t know what will happen with the two of you, but you do know that he explicitly has told you he needs this time to find himself.  Even if you don’t agree (or know what that means), this is something he has told you that he needs, and so you need to respect him and his needs.  That said, also give him the space he needs to do this.  If he initiated the breakup to find himself, then you need to let him go, hope for the best and not try to convince him otherwise.  Go about your own life, he made the choice to leave, so you need to make the choice to continue living your own life.  I know it’s super cliché but I really like the following phrase and think it is so true for long-distance relationships:

If You Love Something Set It Free
If It Comes Back, It Was And Always Will Be Yours.

If It Never Returns,
It Was Never Yours To Begin With.

Hang in there, and again, just remember, his choice was not personal against you, it was something he needed-and now you should take this time to figure out what you want in your life.




New Entries to Help with Peace Corps Long Distance Relationships

Have really appreciated all your comments about how reading this blog has helped you!  Has meant a lot to me, that people are even reading this blog, and that secondly, my own experiences are helping others.

Since my boyfriend is now back, I’ve kind of been torn about what to do with this blog.  I originally thought that maybe I would use it to talk about the re-adjustment period, but honestly it has been going great.  So that may be a separate post.  Additionally, though, I was thinking of just kind of opening up the blog for your questions, and I can give you bits of advice based on what I have found.

So if you leave a comment, I will answer you back in blog form.  Hoping that is helpful, and a good place for everyone to share their own experiences!  There are already a couple comments in the pipeline that I will be responding to shortly.

Thanks again for your comments, they mean a lot to me. :)

My Boyfriend is Back!

So….drumroll please, my boyfriend is back!! We did it!! We beat the 0% odds that the Peace Corps tells people you can expect if you are in a Long-distance relationship.  So for any of you doubting, or questioning if you can do it–you can, we are proof, and you should create your own success story!!

I would like to take a moment and say how grateful I am–I had an amazing support system the entire time my boyfriend was gone, in so many ways.  People made me feel loved and supported, they helped me when I was drowning a bit in sadness, and ultimately they supported both of us–my friends and family knew us and how much love there was between us and never tried to get me to see other people, or questioned what we were doing.  I think people knowing me, and knowing how I felt about my boyfriend, gave them every reason to help me/us see this through, and just be supportive.  Our families were also amazing–his family especially made me feel incredibly welcome and part of them, which meant so very much to me, and also helped me get to know him a little more, even in his absence.

I also want to mention something my boyfriend did before he left, which honestly, helped me a lot on those days I felt sad or disconnected; my boyfriend gave me a necklace.  It is a beautiful necklace, elegant and simple enough to wear every day, which gave me a daily reminder how much he loves me.  Any time I was feeling sad, I could immediately touch it and think of the love he was feeling for me even oceans away.  He gave it to me before he left, so I would know how much he loved me, and honestly it really did help.  I put it on in the mornings and could think about him, and it was a lovely reminder–even seeing photos of me over the last two years, has me wearing it quite a bit, which is a wonderful way that he made his presence known without even being here.

Also, a quick thank you to any readers of this blog.  Any time, any of you would write saying this blog was helping you feel encouraged in your own long distance relationship with someone in the Peace Corps, it also encouraged me to write more, and share more, which in turn helped me. So thank you!

So my boyfriend is back! He is back in the states, we have been hanging out for the past three weeks with only a couple nights apart, and it has been wonderful.  He is now back with his family for a few days, and I will visit him over the next couple of weekends (it is only a one-hour flight, which is incredible compared to the 30+ hour journeys I had to take the last couple of years).  In February, he is planning to move near me, and get a job in the area.  To answer the question that is typically asked when they hear he is returning, “No, we are not going to live together.” We both made this decision together-there are a few reasons this isn’t for us, mainly we want our relationship to work, and want to give it the best shot at succeeding.  While it would probably be okay living together, and we would adjust, we both get worried about having freakout moments where either or both of us feels smothered, since we have been in our own space for two years.  We also want to adjust to living in the same city, and seeing each other more frequently.  More likely than not, we will still spend most nights together, but it’s just having that option of our own space that we think is a good one to help with our transition into normal coupledom (whatever that means).

So how am I feeling? I love having him back, and having my guy around to hold hands with and go to the movies with.  I couldn’t stop saying “You’re here!!” the first couple weeks he was back–was just so oddly wonderful to have him back in my apartment in person, not just on Skype. Tonight is the first time since he’s been back that I’ve really been alone in my own space.  It feels very familiar to be alone, but I miss him already.  I think having a few days off after being together for the last few weeks will make our hearts grow fonder, and help us both adjust to life in the same country, same state, same place.  Since he returned during the holiday season, there was a lot of balancing family time, which was good but maybe a bit overwhelming for us.  He had a couple of moments where he needed some time, and I had a night where I was feeling a little overwhelmed but we told each other, and got what we needed.  I can again attest to the LDR making me a better communicator.

Even though my boyfriend is no longer in Kenya, I still think I’ll keep this blog for a little while longer, to help process the next few months.  I welcome any updates from any of you also (both good and bad) about your own Peace Corps LDRs–I think it’s good if we all help each other as much as we can.

The Last Month of Peace Corps Service

The last month that your boyfriend or girlfriend is in the Peace Corps can feel kind of rough.  It feels a bit like the training period of their service, except you know the end is in sight, which helps you power through, but also unearths some concerns.  What I mean is that there is less communication, and your volunteer will be extremely busy with COS (close of service), last-minute trainings, and last trips with their volunteer friends–which can make you feel a bit disconnected.   The toughest time in a long-distance relationship is the weekend; it can be lonely, and sometimes gives you too much time just sitting around reflecting, which can be sad and not great for the relationship.  Even though the last month can be really tough, I again tried to look at it like a positive thing–that it was my last month before he got back, so I tried to enjoy every thing that I loved about being by myself as much as possible.  I ate sushi, watched trashy TV, went to the spa, hung out with girlfriends, went hiking with girlfriends–and it was good. The other thing we did before the last month of craziness began, was we had a date weekend–where we made sure not to make other plans (although we both ended up having last-minute things we had to do), BUT we did get a solid day of Skyping in before the last month began, which helped us bond before the sporadic communication time kicked in.

Knowing that the last month was going to be a little tough for me, I called in reinforcements and booked my weekends solid.  My best friend flew in, and we gorged ourselves on sushi, sang karaoke, and set up my new TV.  My sister flew in, and we ate at wonderful restaurants, visited the fashion district, saw a movie and went to a couple comedy shows. On another weekend, I went to Disneyland with a girlfriend, had dinner with my boyfriend’s family, and hung out at a lovely brunch with girlfriends all Sunday afternoon.  The last weekend before he was to come home, I had one of my local girlfriends come over on Saturday (after the cleaning lady had left–super good decision), and we went over my crazy wish list of things I wanted to have done before he got back the following week–my friend looked at the list and said, “When did you want to get all this done by??”  Needless to say, we didn’t get everything done, but we did get a lot done, and she kept me sane for my last weekend alone, by just being around and making me laugh.

Writing all of this and thinking how in some ways, it is similar to the training period…I really don’t know if I would recommend the “keeping busy” approach to the first couple of months that your boyfriend or girlfriend is away.  I mean, I think it’s good to, of course, have other things to do besides pining for your boyfriend or girlfriend, but I also think the first couple of months when he or she is gone, it’s important not to distract yourself too much, you need to take that time to remind yourself that even though he (or she) is far away, and maybe not around as much as you like, that they are with you, and you are with them.  Maybe a tad cheesy, but I think it really helped me to miss my guy in those first couple of months and write in my journal as though he were here, it helped me feel connected.

Even though the last month is rough, the end is in sight, so my biggest piece of advice is that if anything is bothering you both, or you feel arguments coming up–try to prevent them if possible, as it might be better for actions and reactions to happen after you are both in the same place.  Distance makes things harsher in a lot of ways, so be as nice, patient, supportive and loving to each other as much as possible.

How Quickly Slow Time Goes

Today is two years exactly since my boyfriend left for Kenya.  Looking back, I think, wow, has it already been two years?  But then I think back to certain moments at the beginning where I was so sad and felt lost, and I think, yes, it has absolutely been two years and it’s time for him to come home now.

Not only have we survived the distance, but I feel like we have thrived. We are stronger, more open and love each other more today than we did at the beginning.  I can also confidently say that I have never been in a relationship, before this one, where I have been more comfortable being as honest and open as I am with him.  It was not always easy to maintain everything, but the relationship worked for us because of the daily communication, and we were fortunate that I could visit so much. At the end of the day, we love each other and are committed to each other, and I know that more than anything he is my guy, and I want to be with him, which is also a big reason why we have worked.

So what am I looking forward to now that my boyfriend is coming home?  Everything basically–anything and everything.  My bed will no longer be empty and I’ll have my partner in the same time zone.  I’ll be able to speak with him in person, and hug him when he’s feeling alone, and be hugged by him when I am feeling sad.  I’m looking forward to going to the movies, double dates, holding hands, dancing to our favorite songs in my living room, playing board games and staying up late at night together laughing.  I’m looking forward to the next stage in our lives and continuing to build a life together, but now in the same place.

I just want him to come home now.  It’s time.  Luckily, he gets to come home in mid-December which is a couple months earlier than the normal schedule.  It just worked out that way with his group, and honestly, I think it would be really tough to do much more of this apart time.  It’s definitely together time now.  So now that we have an end date, we are starting to make plans for the holidays and travel—and it’s lovely to think about plane trips that are domestic and the seats we book are not just for me alone, but now for two.

Lastly, I want to say that I am thankful.  I am thankful for finding such an amazing man.  He has been incredibly patient, kind, loving and supportive.  He has been my rock and sounding board for two plus years, and I cannot imagine my life without him and the joy he brings to my life.   Two years has been tough at times, but it’s been worth every single moment, because I have found such an amazing man, friend and partner.  I found my person, and his time in Peace Corps has made me realize this more and more with each day that we are apart.  I am grateful to have shared this journey with the love of my life, and more than anything I look forward to the life that awaits us when he returns home.

What the Peace Corps Means To Our Relationship

The Peace Corps has always been a part of our relationship.  When my boyfriend and I first started becoming friends (before we started dating) he was beginning to think about finally putting in his application for the Peace Corps.  Due to my personal family background with the Peace Corps, I encouraged him to apply as I would any friend, as it was something I had loosely considered also.  So my boyfriend submitted his application around the same time we began dating.  We dated for about eight months before he actually left for his Peace Corps  assignment, and almost every day there was something to discuss or do that was Peace Corps related (ie. the medical application, logistics, etc.).  We enjoyed the process together, and even discussed our options as a couple in the Peace Corps and ultimately realized that it was not for us.  I also remember my boyfriend pulling up the family and friends pamphlet half jokingly to give us ideas on how to cope, which did not amuse me as I was so scared of him leaving and didn’t think advice on sending packages would make me feel much better about what we were about to face.

Due to the timing of our relationship, my boyfriend also did not fill out a Peace Corps Relationship Form.  We had only seriously started dating long after it normally would have been required, and we both felt like the hassle of the form and calling attention to our relationship might impede on my boyfriend’s application process.  It’s at least honest of the Peace Corps to put the risks in writing. I suppose the “Relationship Form” makes you think more seriously about your decision.  That said, I’m glad we weren’t at that point in the relationship where my boyfriend had to fill one out—in an odd way, it almost seems like a lot of pressure for the relationship, the declaration and acceptance of the liability, instead of just weighing the risks yourself without the paperwork.

At this time two years ago, I was helping my boyfriend pack up his apartment in preparation of leaving for the Peace Corps.  I was sad, I was scared but I tried to be brave.  I needed some faith, I needed faith in myself and in my boyfriend.  I meditated on it, and looked for answers where there wasn’t anything solid, and ultimately threw myself into the preparation of his departure process so I wouldn’t have to think too much about the days and months ahead of us.  One day, before my boyfriend left, I remember looking at myself in the mirror and reminding myself that he was worth the wait, we were worth with the wait, and if this was our trial, then we would find the strength because our relationship was something too rare and precious for either of us to give up on it without a fight. And so we packed him up, made calls to close accounts, said goodbye to the people in his life and I watched as he boarded a plane to his new life–and I cried.  I cried thinking about him away, life without him around and the impending loneliness that was surely to follow.

Two years later, I’m now preparing for him to come home, worrying a little about life during his upcoming transition, his adjustment to life in America and how we will function without as much independent space and how we will deal with him in a regular working environment again.  My boyfriend’s time as a Peace Corps volunteer definitely brought out a more relaxed him, someone without the anxieties and burdens of a regular American life and it has been pretty great.  It’s not to say that everything was constantly positive during his Peace Corps experience—there are a lot of unexpected feelings I experienced about non-profit work and what helps and what doesn’t in Africa; I now have really mixed feelings after hearing my boyfriend’s day to day experiences, and seeing and reading so much about it myself (more on this topic during a later post). We also each had some personal funks during our long-distance relationship, where we felt down about different situations (not each other) but thankfully found strength in each other and built a friendship and relationship that can’t even come close to the ones I’ve had in the past.  We have grown incredibly strong through all of this as a couple, to the point where I really wonder if we would be this connected if he had stayed.  Sustaining a long-distance relationship for two years depends almost exclusively on communication, friendship and honesty, which you don’t always need as much of if you can see each other every day when you have the option to fill your time together with activities in lieu of conversation.

Now that my boyfriend’s service in the Peace Corps is coming to an end, I also think about how strange it is that our relationship, for the first time, will not involve anything actively with the Peace Corps.  That said, I also realize the Peace Corps will always be part of our story and our lives.  It was there when we first started dating, started falling in love, when we grew together as a couple and our stories in Africa will be amazing adventures and memories for us to reflect on for the rest of our lives.

I am thankful to the Peace Corps in a lot of ways—I am thankful for all the stories I heard about it while I was growing up and how it shaped my world view, and am now thankful to have experienced it from an unique perspective which is still influencing my perception of the world.  I’m thankful also that it facilitated so much travel for me to Africa. Mostly though, I am thankful the Peace Corps brought my boyfriend and I closer and stronger as a couple.