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Beyond Happily Ever After: when falling in love online while living in two different countries becomes an interesting neverending love story

By Missy J

wedding photo sunset

Do you know what the problem is with most love stories? They end right when the actual challenges start. We leave our couple in fiction when they’ve overcome hurdles to embark on a picture-perfect fairy-tale relationship. We’re told, “They lived happily ever after”. In reality, this is where most love stories begin, where the real journey starts. 

My love story was challenging to write because it started on the Internet in 1998. These days, it's unremarkable to hear of people falling in love online. Two decades ago, however, it was a novel concept. People were suspicious of the idea, and often with good reason. My now-husband and I met on ICQ, an instant messaging platform. He lived in Australia, and I was in Singapore.

We were 16, and we'd chat regularly and flirt occasionally, but mostly, we were obnoxious teenagers just having a little bit of fun on the Internet. 

chatting online while sitting on bed

After leaving secondary school, we fell in and out of touch as we embarked on our tertiary education and then our respective careers. It wasn't until 2005 that we stumbled upon each other again. We both found that the other had grown up pretty cute, and we shared interests and similar views. We fell helplessly in love, and for the next few years, we experienced the fairy-tale stage of our relationship. Our real love story began when we got married.

airplane flying into sunset to another country

We decided it made more sense for me to uproot from Singapore to join him in Australia, ostensibly because he had a stable, well-paying job. In contrast, I had just graduated from university and didn't have a dime to my name. Moving wasn't necessarily a difficult decision, but it was extremely emotional. 

Mine is a close-knit family, and to this day, my siblings and I share an extremely tight relationship. The thought of being unable to see them freely, my mum and all the friends I ever had was very hard to come to terms with. I knew immediately that being far away from my support system was going to be a struggle. 

Although I had been to Australia a few times before my permanent move, I don’t think I fully understood how different it was from Singapore. Perhaps it’d have been easier if I had gone to a big city like Sydney or Melbourne, but I moved to a regional town bordering Canberra, Australia's capital. For someone who was used to the hustle-and-bustle of a city of 5 million people, living in a town of under 38,000 people and where shops closed by 5 pm was a colossal shock to the system.

I always thought I was an introvert, but besides my husband, I was a social butterfly. In Singapore, I almost always went out. I’d take a bus, get off somewhere, and lose myself in the city for hours. I never felt alone because everywhere I went, I’d hear the chatter of voices, which made me feel involved without having to participate. I loved that feeling. 

Singapore financial distract landscape

My new home could not offer that same comfort. The Canberra region is too sparsely populated to get lost in, and being a homebody, my new husband knew little about the place despite having lived there for a decade! So, the first few years of my new life were spent at home. I often felt isolated and depressed, and although my husband showered all his love on me, I always felt incomplete. 

I hate looking back on those initial years. Things changed for the better once I got a job. It gave me my circle of friends, which renewed my confidence. I felt brave enough to explore our little town and soon started taking my husband and our kids to new places around town. 

11 years on, I find it easier to make my entertainment in this sleepy little town. I’ve grown to love the quiet, starry nights, the perennially smooth traffic and the breathtaking mountainous horizons. The laidback attitude of the people here is impossible to resist, and I’ve grown accustomed to their ways. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still miss the bright lights of the big city. I crave it constantly; if anything, the yearning has only deepened over the years. And good God, I miss the familiar, reassuring sound of Singlish!

My husband was a fantastic partner and a very involved father to our three children. I struck gold with him, but when I’m in a depressive funk, the fiery love I once felt sometimes gives way to resentment. At times like that, it feels like I had made all the big sacrifices, whereas he’s had the luxury of staying put in his comfort zone. This emotion persists even though no one has forced me to make those big decisions.

stressed mom during depression

I hope I don’t sound like I regret what my life has amounted to. I don’t, but I do wish I had made smarter decisions. Whenever I’m asked about love, I advise you not to follow your heart blindly. When you’re giddy in love, it’s tempting to want to accommodate your beloved’s needs over your own, but this could backfire if your needs are unmet.

Before you commit like I did, list things in your daily life that bring you joy. Ensure you can access these things, or at least comparable alternatives, before giving yourself to a new relationship. Double and triple-check that list if the relationship requires you to make massive, permanent changes. I don’t think it’s selfish to do this. Rather, caring for your emotional well-being will make you a more reliable and well-rounded partner.

passion made you work for it

Meanwhile, my “happily ever after” is still a work in progress, with plenty of twists and turns to keep us on our toes. That goes over people’s heads when they start a long-term relationship. A good love story doesn’t end when you walk down the aisle or into the sunset. That’s where it begins. 


Love stories like the above can be cinematic and emotional through a couples' boudoir photography session.

Singapore couple on bed in love

black and white couple boudoir singapore

Celebrate and rekindle your relationship with a couples' boudoir session with us! The Pin-up Rebels specialise in boudoir photography in Singapore, and working with couples is so much fun! We are a safe, private space that helps couples pose with emotion and plenty of movement. Think of it as storytelling through photos! Click the button below, and let's discuss your dream session!

All photos shared were granted with written permission by the couple.

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