WHAT MEN SHOULD KNOW: LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS (HOW TO KEEP SMILES BETWEEN THE MILES)
Most of the talks I have about long distance relationships have one common underlying theme, that they are very very difficult.
Regardless of who I spoke to, these five words were definitely part of the conversation. It didn’t matter whether the person was currently in a long distance relationship, or had succeeded or failed at it, everyone agreed that LDRs are very difficult. Often the conversation did not take a very optimistic route and most times I felt like I was being prepared for failure. Anyway, life is often not just defined by the destinations but also by the journeys we take.
With that thought, when I initially sat down to write this piece on long distance relationship, I was racked with negative thoughts and how difficult and hard it is. Till I asked myself the question, what relationship is easy? How easy is it to trust your heart with another person and hope that he or she never stomps on it? How easy is it to be patient and listen when all you really want is to zone out and take a nap? Every relationship has it’s high and low points and LDR in no different.
The first thing about LDR is to know that this is what you WANT to do. In my personal opinion, if you are not sure that you really want to end up with this particular person, do not get into it. If your attitude toward LDR is “let’s see where this thing goes”, then things could get very difficult for your relationship.
With that attitude, even if you and your loved one are within the same location, I believe you would get nowhere and one day would have to sit down and decide on where you are headed. The downside with long distance relationship is that you might not always be in the same state of mind to talk of such things, especially if you are in opposite time zones. Communication is key in a relationship and even more so in long distance relationships. And although the time zone can be difficult, I do believe it is completely workable. It depends on how much your girl means to you and creating that system and routine with her in it, regardless of the distance.
Luckily, we are the blessed generation. Unlike our ancestors who had to rely on pigeons and the mailman to get their messages across, we have the internet. And not just dial up internet, we have wifi and cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, 3Gs, 4Gs apps. Oh so many apps created with the intention to make sure that the time zone disappears and we feel connected and loved all the time. Women love to know that we are the center of our man’s world. We also tend to love to show off how happy we are. Well, my apologies, I think both men and women like that. And thus we see our Facebook walls full of pictures of people on dates with their happy faces or their made up pouty faces, the food they ate, the drinks they ordered and the gifts they shared. At such time, couples in LDR can feel left out, but you know what? You don’t need to be in a relationship simply to show it off on Facebook. Any who, if you are in an LDR, then schedule yourself a skype date, get dressed, order in and print-screen and share away. Take pictures of you in front of your laptop with her smiling back, the food you guys shared and have fun. The main thing is make sure you communicate and do things you would do if you were together. The way I see it, you are saving such a lot by not having to go out on dates all the time, use that money on a good webcam and wifi. Don’t scrunch on the time you can spend with her.
While writing on each other’s walls and posting Instagram pictures might feel awesome when you see the likes accumulate, it still isn’t enough. Communicating on walls and via comments is like always meeting your significant other at a huge dinner party. There is no privacy, it is not always most genuine and you will have your internet avatar on. And although it could be a nice flirty retreat, it is not as important as proper one on one time.
Make sure you create a schedule and commit to talking to each other, via phone or the hundred other internet based apps that allow you to make phone calls. I emphasize on talking and video calls because messaging and texting can be very tricky. It is always best you hear the words in the tone they want to use it and not what is in your head. Make sure you talk to her and hear each other’s voices.
Apart from the usual Skype, Viber and Line, there are many other apps that are catered just for couples. Apps like Avocado are made simply just for couples, for two people to use and it can be your own place to post pictures, videos and messages to each other. You can also send each other hugs and kisses. Some, ahem! A lot of corniness is always welcome in LDRs. Another useful app is the Chapter, where you can write chapters of your love story and also post pictures and can add comments to it. Its little things like this that can really help a relationship maintain its spark and make a huge difference.
Also playing two player games online or using apps to play charades or Pictionary also allows you to do different things together other than just the monotony of voice and video calls. And lastly, use your resources to send her gifts. There are plenty of websites that do that. It doesn’t always need to be a big gift but it’s nice to remind her you are still around in her life.
This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. Maybe smartphones are not affordable or internet is not always around, it is important that when you do get to talk you don’t get lost in awkward pauses. Make a note and write it down “1. Ask follow up questions. 2. Give descriptive answers”. To make sure communication flows and you as a couple don’t lose interest in each other, try to answer a how are you question with more than just “I am fine”. Say how you feel, talk about it your day or your week in bigger details. When you talk of movies don’t just say it was okay, elaborate on what you liked about it and what you didn’t. It is these small conversation starters and continuers and ensure that ease in the flow of conversation. It might seem routine, but it can be very useful. Life isn’t a movie and sometimes you need to put in some effort.
Once again, we are the blessed generation. We have so many resources available to stay in touch and in love with our beloved. And while we have the option of making it look and feel bland and robotic, we also have the other option of feeling happy that love and happiness can be just one click away.