Questions & Tips For a Long Distance Relationship With a Peace Corps Volunteer

So…Your boyfriend or girlfriend has decided to join the Peace Corps.  Congratulations, you are with someone who wants to give of them self in a really amazing and challenging way!  In my situation, I was incredibly proud, excited for him and nervous about what it would all mean for us. Here are a few main things you need to ask yourself if you are going to be in a long distance relationship with a Peace Corps volunteer.

  • Are you absolutely committed to your partner?  Are you prepared to be away from someone for 27 months with only sporadic visits and be faithful to the relationship, to each other?
  • Are you prepared to put in the same effort that a daily in-person relationship takes (ie. speaking every day, knowing when your partner needs more attention and finding ways to make them feel loved every day)?
  • Do you trust your partner?  There is a lot of socializing in the Peace Corps, so you must trust your person and know they are committed to you (at the same time they must also trust you).
  • Is technology available to both of you? This question will actually need to be answered when your SO (significant other) actually gets to their real Peace Corps site, but it’s an important one, so it’s included.
    • I might sound like a broken record, but I cannot reiterate enough how important Video Skype has been to the success of our long distance relationship especially in this longer time apart. I realize only phones might be available in some situations, since some Peace Corps volunteers end up in obscure locations, but with Video Skype we stay connected, we get to see each others’ joy and sadness, which is incredibly important.  That said, I recently reflected on the fact that for the first couple of months we had sporadic email and sporadic phone calls–then that was followed by daily phone calls (1-2 times per day) w/weekly Video Skype when the internet wasn’t out, then Video Skype in the morning and night whenever we aren’t traveling.  We have definitely gone in phases, but Video Skype is wonderful.
  • Can you financially afford the in-person visits and the calling cards? And do you have the flexibility from work to visit? It is extremely important that you visit your Peace Corps boyfriend/girlfriend as much as possible so you maintain your connection to each other and also so you can relate to their experience and know their friends. By the time my bf comes home, I will have visited him four times (about 2-3 weeks each time).  Honestly, I think five times would have better, but we are working with what is available to us.

Okay, so now that you have answered “YES” to all of the above questions, here are my personal tips for surviving and growing in your Peace Corps Long Distance Relationship.

    • LDRs can be tough, so don’t make it tougher by playing games, communicate clearly when something is bothering you-don’t make your partner guess.
    • When people ask me how often my boyfriend and I talk, most are surprised to hear we talk at least once a day or twice (depending on our schedules).  You would speak to your regular boyfriend once a day, and fill them in on your daily life, so of course you should do the same in a LDR so you stay connected and share all aspects of your life. I actually get a bit frustrated and anxious when we can’t speak as often (we will deal with those feelings in another point later).
    • Find a way to communicate every day.  When my bf first went off to PC, we couldn’t get on the phone for a couple of weeks.  He also had extremely limited access to email, so I did a couple things to keep myself connected: 1) I would write him emails whenever I felt like mentioning something to him. 2) I kept a journal of letters I wrote to him at night to help me chronicle my feelings (this is also a great way to see a snapshot of your relationship).
    • Funny enough this is something that is stressed to PCVs also when they volunteer.
    • This one is sometimes tough for me, but it’s important—you never know what the situation will be for your PCV (living/work, etc), be flexible and adapt to the situation.
    • Time zones can also be tough, so you may need to take turns staying up late for the other.
    • This one is also sometimes tough for me, but by exercising patience you will keep yourself sane.
    • Sometimes there will be blackouts and your partner’s cell phone won’t work, or they will be stuck in trainings—just know that the situation will pass and you will be communicating regularly again-breathe.
    • Again, I repeat breathe.
    • Just because your partner is not right in front of you every day, this does not give you permission to take them for granted—this goes for both the PCV and PCVSO (Peace Corps Volunteer Significant Other).
    • Make sure they know they are loved by making time for the other (ie. little emails or texts help).
    • You both will have busy social calendars, make sure you make room for each other in those schedules.
    • If you feel you are not getting enough time together, say something and be creative about finding a way to feel connected.  If you don’t say anything, the distance will grow and you face the potential issue of disconnecting.
    • My bf had to go into town and contact an Internet provider to install something on his roof to get Internet.  It costs him about half his monthly PC allowance.
    • If your PCV did not bring any additional savings for these kinds of situations, consider giving your PCV the money—it benefits both of you and will be incredibly worth it.
    • There will be times when you are tired, sad, lonely, and frustrated.  That is okay, your partner lives halfway around the world.
    • Let yourself feel that way, talk to your partner, talk to your friends, remind yourself that your PCV is coming home soon to you!
    • You both will have ups and downs in your life apart-sometimes relationship related, but mostly life related—support each other and take turns being the shoulder to lean on.

I think I will add on to this list as more things come to mind…but at least this is a good start!

Leave a Comment