I started seeing a woman from abroad a few months ago. She is a non-EU national who was here on holidays and visiting friends.
We met on her second night here and somehow we just clicked. I was recently out of a bad break-up and in no form for starting anything new, so I just treated it as a one-night event.
She asked for my number, which took me by surprise, and a few days later texted to meet up.
For the rest of her month here, we ended up spending the time together. It took me totally by surprise. I have never met anyone like her before and reluctant though I was to admit it, I really fell for her. She is very open with her feelings. I am not. The day she left, she cried a lot and we promised to keep in touch somehow.
I was sure after a week or two I would have moved on emotionally speaking but in fact it got worse. I couldn't stop thinking about her.
We ended up in contact almost every day and after three weeks I went on holiday to visit her at her home. I've even gotten in some trouble at work, pretending to be sick and staying on holidays a week longer. Now I am back home over a month and it's worse than ever.
I've begged her to come and just live with me illegally but she is reluctant to do that.
She's afraid and rightly so I guess that if she is caught, she will be deported and never have a chance to come back. I don't know how it works accessing work permits for foreign nationals but I know through her friends it can be tricky.
I know I would use up all my holiday leave just to be with her and she will do the same with me, but what then?
A few weeks together a year isn't a relationship.
I have looked into job prospects in her country for me but they are literally non-existent.
The last time we spoke, she was quite depressed. She said her family have told her to cop on and move on.
I know they are quite reserved about me too, as our cultures are very different and to be honest, I think they had someone in mind for her.
I'm terrified I'm going to lose her.
I think if we stick it out we'll figure it out.
If you had asked me a year ago would I ever go through this sort rollercoaster for a woman, I would have said not a chance.
I simply can't explain how I feel except to say that I'm in immense joy when we're together and almost physical pain when we're apart.
Part of me wonders if the distance has just enhanced all these feelings and the doubts about our future have magnified the emotions.
Another part of me is convinced she is my soulmate.
There's no question distance greatly enhances emotions. After all it's perfectly easy to imagine the ideal without being confronted with the messy reality of someone's foibles daily.
The thing is, you took the brave step of testing it out again on their territory.
Holiday mode or not, I think three weeks together does allow you get a real sense of how well you might work out as a couple.
Clearly you work.
Society on the other hand, or legislation, doesn't care about your feelings. Whichever route you decide to take, it's going to continue to be a rollercoaster for some time.
How many times do you meet someone on a night out that captivates you so entirely? I would say, personally, it's a pretty rare occurrence, perhaps not once in a lifetime but certainly very infrequently.
The wise thing to have done of course would have been to walk away after a couple of dates and refuse to allow yourselves get more involved.
But now that you're there, walking away is infinitely harder.
We may not be able to control who we fall in love with but we can control the circumstances afterwards and whether these feelings should be acted upon.
Love sounds like a wonderful heart-warming fuzzy feeling but it encompasses plenty of pain and heartache too. It's brave of you to take all these chances to try and make this work and it probably hurts like hell too.
Maintaining a relationship with a non-EU national while living in Ireland will at some point introduce you to our immigration system and its rules.
You're right, the work permit system can be tricky. Currently with the state of the economy, securing a work permit is a serious challenge. Bosses here will have to be convinced it's worth sponsoring your girlfriend in this way, while at the same time filling out forms for the relevant government body. They will most likely have to prove she can do a job, they could find no Irish person is qualified for and most certainly show that they are paying her a decent wage.
It was the case that work permits would be granted only to people earning over €30,000, although the rules governing this have changed in the last few weeks for a limited number of categories.
If you make a decision that you really want this relationship to work, begin investigating the issue of the permit. A work permit is granted initially for two years but you need one for a consecutive five years to apply for residency in Ireland.
Your local citizens' information office should have those details to hand. Also ask the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland.
Employment opportunities may be better here than in this woman's country but don't rule it out either.
Given the cultural differences, it may be harder for her to adjust to life here.
At the very least, while you investigate work permits and prospects for her here, do the same for yourself abroad. That is, if you are prepared to make all these changes.
The fact that she is in a relationship with an Irish national will assist her ability to stay in Ireland. The problem is you have to prove you have been in a de facto relationship for two years.
My understanding is, it is not an easy process but with infinite patience and plenty of long deep breaths you can get through it.
A relationship with a non-EU national means you will face many of these sorts of challenges in the years ahead.
If both of you are prepared for that, there is no reason why you can't spend your life with your soulmate.