So this is a post I wasn’t sure about writing, but it’s a topic I couldn’t find much information on when I was scrolling through endless sad quotes and looking at how to deal with breakups abroad, so I thought I’d give it a go.
As some of you know from my other posts, I emigrated over to Aus in September 2016 with my then-other half of 8.5 years and we both knew it would be a challenge, we had both spent the last few years preparing our finances, visa applications, family, our house… packing.. for this big move, but never really gave much thought into how it would change us as a couple and how big a challenge it would be to be each-others constant, in a foreign land. We made promises to each other – as the outgoing one, I asked her to promise she would be open to going out and meeting more people, being more social and in return I promised to really give life in Australia a good go – as I was a little apprehensive at the start of this journey.
A year on, we had moved from Brisbane to the Gold Coast for my ex’s job, I was out of work and I massively under estimated how hard it would be to get a job on the Gold Coast in marketing or graphic design. It’s not that I didn’t have the portfolio and wasn’t applying for jobs – over 100 job applications later and I got 5 rejection emails, and 2 interviews – the rest didn’t even bother to thank me for my application. It took me from February – the end of July (2017) to get a job and having always been the outgoing one, I had become much less social, a strain on finances had taken its toll and we were miserable. Her more so than me. I thought it was just a rough patch, all couples go through them and when I got my new job I was really excited about going out to meet new people and work hard to build up our future – don’t get me wrong, we had friends – but they were all her friends. As time went on it became apparent that I was being left out of more and more social outings with her (“our”) friends and she became super distant.
One jokingly asked question in a hot tub about whether she’d gone off the idea of marrying me one day (no joke) turned into three weeks of turmoil and eventually her ending our 9.5year relationship because it wasn’t enough anymore. It was FUCKING HARD. My lord, it was heartbreaking. Not only because I thought we were finally getting back to a good patch, but because I hadn’t realised how bad things had gotten – I wasn’t given chance to fix anything or give it a try…and then there was the niggiling feeling that a certain friend of hers was more than a friend. All of that, on top of the fact that I had no friends other than collective friends from her work, being thousands of miles away from home – I felt like the loneliest person in the world, and that was the hardest thing because back home I was so used to having a support network of great friends, colleagues, family. Plus we had to continue living together as I’d only just started a job and couldn’t afford to move out on my own.
Now, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom – but the advice I would give to anyone thinking of moving to the other side of the world with someone, is focus on building up a nest egg and a tribe of people – so that *if* things ever hit the fan, you aren’t stuck in a place that isn’t good for you mentally. I logged onto many travel sites daily looking for cheap flights home, ready to give it all up and just GO! But… am SO SO glad that I didn’t, that I stuck it out. I was lucky, my parents were due to come to Australia for this big 3 week holiday, 2 weeks after the breakup – which at first I thought was horrendous timing, but it was actually kinda perfect. It gave me the emotional support I needed to make some big changes and nothing beats a big bear hug from your mum and dad!
I was lucky that things fell the way they did. I happened upon an App called Meetup – like Tinder, but for friends – if you are ever alone in a city but want to go out and meet new friends and get out of the house, you should 100% check it out. There’s something for everyone of all age ranges – from knitting clubs, to LGBT friendly days out, to book clubs, nights out, over 50s clubs… all sorts. It was a god send for me. I went along to a Boardgame n Drinks night and met the best group of geeks I could have possibly met – to this day, they are some of my closest friends over here and I owe them a lot for getting me through the dark patches. I moved in with one of them, she took me under her wing, gave me a place to stay and became a friend I desperately needed.
I went home at Christmas, which was the biggest test for me – I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d get back on the plane to return after my two weeks at home catching up with old friends, seeing family, having the ability to pop round to my Nan’s for a cuppa tea n a cuddle. But I did it.
9 months on and I’m mentally in a much better place – I moved again, out to a share house with an Australian guy who runs his own business from home (landlord) and an Italian Pastry Chef (omg the food….) and I’m in a great place with affordable rent. But my god it’s expensive to be single and live on your own in Australia – I genuinely don’t know how people manage it on less than 60k a year and even then…it’s pushing it!
I’ve had other Brits (Poms) come over with other halves and break up after a year or so here and the pattern behind it seems to be that so much time is spent focusing on the move, the paperwork, the family ties, the finding new jobs and houses – that you don’t focus on your feelings towards your partner. So before you pack a bag and move your life to the other side of the world, here are my biggest pieces of advice:
Make sure it is what you both want
Resentment causes huge issues and if things don’t go your way, you are more likely to express this within your relationship which puts a big strain on you both.
Be honest and open about your goals
Do you want a job in the city, do you want more time with your own friends instead of couple friends, do you want more weekends away, do you want to focus more on your career – what are your goals for moving? What do you want to get out if it? It may seem obvious but if this hasn’t been discussed, lifestyle changes can be a big game changer for relationships.
Be honest about money
Do you have enough money set aside incase things fuck up? Going out on a whim is fine if you are willing to deal with the consequences, but be honest with each other on money expectations – can you afford the house you are in if one of you suddenly becomes unemployed? would you expect your partner to get any job under the sun instead of waiting for the dream job, and if not – how long will you support them for? how willing (and most importantly, how happy…) are you to support your partner financially if one of you is struggling more than the other?
Stick to your promises
If you promise to be more outgoing – don’t promise it for the sake of someone else, mean it. Follow it through and if someone isn’t sticking to their promise? Call them out on it… in a friendly way. Encourage them. The emigration in itself is a big lifestyle change, but if you are moving for the change and realise you still spend most of your nights watching Corrie on the sofa…what was the point? Make promises, and stick to them.
You WILL miss home (and that’s totally fine!)
You can hate your job, your friends, your situation, your prospects, Brexit… but I promise you that when you get over here, as beautiful as the beaches are and the lifestyle is wonderful, there will be times when you miss home, or at least things from home. Assure each other that it’s okay to be nostalgic and miss home, be open to talking about things you can overcome from that – and communicate your feelings if you are starting to doubt the move or if you are changing your mind. Letting it build up and not communicating about it will not work out well.
Have an Exit Plan
Not sure about the move, don’t want to feel trapped by it? Have an exit plan in place. I said to my ex that after 2 years we would sit and have a conversation about whether it was working for the both of us, how happy we were with our lives and whether we wanted to continue the journey over here or not – rather than waiting to spring it on the person, plan it in. Would you both be willing to move home if one of you were unhappy? Think about that.
Give it time.
Everything takes time – finding jobs, finding the best areas to live in, making friends, getting into a routine you are happy and comfortable with, finding the best coffee shops (FYI, Aussies LOVE coffee), settling into your new life – know that it may be the both of you supporting each other and being the everything for each other for a significant amount of time. It’s added pressure, but if you prepare for it and set boundaries – you can make it work.
Emigrating isn’t a big plaster (bandaid to Australian’s) – your problems are still your problems.
This was the big one for me, we both thought that moving to the other side of the world would fix all of the issues we had in our relationship – yet the issues just move with you. It’s the same as when couples get married or have a baby to fix things – it doesn’t work. Work on your problems together before you move.
If it does go tits up – be able to back yourself.
This was the biggest shock to my system. Having been unemployed for 5-6 months I had depleted my savings and felt the financial strain – which left me in a vulnerable place after my breakup, I couldn’t afford to move out and live elsewhere. Suddenly the life I came over here for – the house/apartment by the beach with a dog and a good lifestyle, was compromised because all I could afford when I eventually moved out, was a house share – I had no bond saved, had no idea whether my job was secure or not… it took me a good 6-9 months of working hard to rebuild up any savings, any ‘backup’ so that if something happened I wouldn’t fall to pieces. If you are able to – have a back up plan. A friend you can crash with for a bit, money to pay a bond for a share house or your own place until you figure stuff out (4 weeks rent as a bond and 2 weeks rent upfront for most properties). Do you share a car? Make sure you don’t work miles away from the closest tram/bus stops so that if your mode of transport is suddenly out of reach that you can still work.
It’s just about being a little more savvy when you first get to a new place. I certainly learnt the hard way.
Oh and be prepared for everyone you know to ask you when you are coming home after a breakup. It was hard for me because I wanted to, but I also didn’t want to. I’m glad that I stayed – does it mean I’ll stay forever? Probably not. It’s still not the life I came out here for, but I’m enjoying it for now. But people back home will want to take care of you and will ask a lot if it means you are coming home yet. If that is what you want to do – nobody will think you have failed, nobody will blame you or see you as the person who couldn’t make it. I had all of these thoughts and anxieties… but it’s not true. If you want to go home – go home. They just care about you. But if you want to stay – be frank with them so they understand that you may not be okay now, but you will be – and you are staying until you figure it out at least.