What Would Zula Do
WWZD is where we answer submissions from our readers, from queries to confessions or even recurring dreams. While we are no experts in this thing called life, sometimes all you need is a listening ear from your e-BFF, anonymously.
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WWZD: Should I Go On University Exchange With My New Boyfriend?
Hi, should I go on my school’s uni exchange with my boyfriend, especially if it’s a pretty new relationship. I have seen how some relationships completely go wrong during exchange and how some couples come out even stronger. It’s risky if one were to break up overseas. Also, any advice for couples going on exchange together? Thank you.
—Anonymous, female, 21
I can’t deal with the small spaces Josephine Teo advocates for, so going on an overseas exchange sounds like a great idea. You get to wake up next to your man daily, make coffee together and chew on croissants al fresco while the sun sets against the Arc De Triomphe (or insert tourist landmark of exchange destination).
It sounds extremely romantic, but postcard memories don’t build the foundation of a long-lasting relationships. Living together will inevitably create conflict. Which is why you’ve witnessed some relationships succeed while others completely blow up.
Are you mature enough as a couple to handle these conflicts? Are you secure enough as individuals to weather the intensity of living in a completely different culture? These are the questions you need to ask yourselves.
I’m inclined to tell you to hold off on this potentially volatile decision, but you already know the risks involved. Clarify with yourself what you hope to get on this exchange. Do you want to throw yourself 100% into a foreign culture to grow your horizons? Or are you just looking for a 6-month staycation with the Eiffel Tower in the background?
At 21 years of age, the world is your oyster, while men will always hang around.
Make the most out of your youth and cultural exchange that will not knock a second time around. If your man is going to be a distraction, bid him au revoir until 6 months later, if he cares to wait.
To help you gain greater clarity, you could consider the current pace of your relationship. You mentioned that it’s a pretty new relationship. Going on a trip as a couple will bring your level of intimacy up another notch. Based on how things have been progressing, is the level of intimacy you have right now with this new partner something you wish to speed up at this point in time?
In the process of loving someone, there’s the desire to constantly find a new sense of euphoria with that person. While that isn’t wrong, love isn’t always about chasing a new high in the shortest time possible. It’s also about learning how to pace things out and knowing when to increase intimacy, without smothering the other person with affection too quickly.
Right now, is there more you’d want to learn more about your boyfriend before going on a trip together? How well can you guys handle long-distance? The latter is also a good indicator to see how strong your relationship’s foundation is. Yes, being together on trips does bring some couples closer to each other. But for other couples, distance makes the heart grow fonder too.
Is what you want at this point increased intimacy or the insight to know whether your love is able to survive the distance? 21 is a year of discovery, not just for you but for your partner as well. All new adventures start off on a high. But if you’re looking for something long-lasting, which I believe you are, something that can survive both the highs and lows of life, then these are some questions that I hope will shed some clarity on how to solve your dilemma.