A Dane Abroad: The upside of separation
Kirsten Louise Pedersen

December 3rd, 2016

This article is more than 7 years old.

Living 17,500 odd kilometres away from your birth country and close relatives, as I do, can make it challenging to see any positives about that distance: arduous long-haul flights, obnoxious time differences, a lack of regular catch-up time with loved ones, and quality time being replaced by Skype calls. Yet, as they say: everything comes down to perception.

Stretch that mind
There can be upsides to separation. Embracing the radical idea that closeness can be fostered, even in geographically-challenged relationships, can stretch one’s idea of what a good relationship really is, and perhaps bring previously unfamiliar aspects into one’s perception.

Paradoxically, relationships can deepen from separation. However, most of us don’t typically stay apart for long enough to experience this as we cave in to the knee-jerk heartache spurred by sudden detachment. Separation can mature relationships through added perspective, reflection, introspection – ultimately enhanced awareness of what is really important in life. For me, separation led to the realisation that what we are strongly connected to isn’t necessarily right next door.

Distantly close
Geographical and physical closeness does not automatically equal a close relationship. How many can relate to being close, yet feeling distant? We can be living under the same roof or within minutes from each other – yet be as distant as if we were a thousand miles apart. If we never invite separation in, our relationships can become boring, unchallenged and dulled by familiarity and complacency. Being abroad for a number of years, I have found that my closest relationships have ultimately deepened as a result of being apart.

Nothing beats time spent in person, but face-to-face time in itself doesn’t equal quality. There are valuable lessons to be learnt about yourself and your beloveds from being apart. Conversations with loved ones ‘at home’ are definitely less frequent for me, but they are always deeper when they do happen.

Love conquers all
Distance has strengthened my spirituality. Having family get-togethers limited to once or twice every couple of years has forced me to consider what really matters. It has also made those get-togethers that much more magical. We are more likely to be honest with each other about how we feel. Emotion suddenly doesn’t stay hidden. The love will just burst out, and it is all the more refreshing and renewing for it. I cannot describe the sense of connection I have felt with my loved ones ‘at home’ when we see each other after a long period apart.

Separation has made me consider the unseen but limitless connection between people: love. Separation can teach us to shift from a small perception of reality, to a much greater one. We all know love isn’t a tangible thing, yet many of us still struggle to come to terms with the idea that love can be exchanged and experienced across borders and oceans.

Love can stay strong in spite of distance and location. At a time when international travel and cross-cultural relationships are more prevalent than ever, it may be time to revise how we think of connection – for our own sake. Perhaps it’s time to ‘break up’ with the old idea of how good relationships are cultivated and accept that our capacity as beings stretches far beyond that of our mere physical body, if only we allow that to enter into our perception.


Kirsten Louise Pedersen

Born and raised in Denmark, Kirsten jumped ship in her early 20s to spend the next 12 years living in New Zealand. A physiotherapist, acupuncturist, yogini and foodie, she has a passion for life and wellbeing. After a few stints back in the motherland, Kirsten is once again back living in Aotearoa, New Zealand.


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