Many of my blog readers are involved in long distance relationship. There is no doubt that lengthy separation presents a serious challenge for lovers and not every couple passes the test. As someone who has the first-hand experience, I’d like to give my opinion on this topic and describe the dos and don’ts of LDR.
Those who read the series of articles related to Erich Fromm’s book “Art of Loving”, remember that in one of the posts I tried to show that love is a job that requires a lot of discipline. The way in which your communication beats the distance every single day is the chance to prove that you are ready for this job.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for every couple to create their own routine. My fiancé and I had a time difference of 5 or 6 hours (depending on the season). We found that if he gets up one hour earlier than usually and I eat my lunch in the office – then we can talk every day on MSN.
And then there were weekends when we could have longer chats (and video-chats, as well). Add to it telephone calls, text messages, e-mails and you get the whole spectrum of communication channels to use.
Don’t forget, by the way, that the telephone bills and e-mails will be very useful for those of you who plan to apply for fiancé/spouse visa to prove the authenticity of your relationship.
2) Technology and creativity
What would you do if you were together right now? Think you can’t do it because you are miles apart? Well… with a bit of imagination you can.
For example, watch movies or listen to music: I know that in Yahoo Messenger it’s possible to share Youtube videos. Surely, this is just a little part of the things that you can do together using different technological tricks. If you need some inspiration, check this list of ideas.
Actually, one of the cool things that we sometimes did was to log to video-chat and study together. Yup, I read my book, Eugene read his and from time to time we would just exchange few phrases :smile: .
3) Meeting in face
Just like long distance journey requires from driver to stop and refill the gas tank, long distance relationships require the involved persons to meet in face. No technological advances can substitute the real physical contact.
How often you will meet depends on actual distance, financial situation, schedule strains and many other things. I and Eugene, for example, planned to see each other twice a year: fortunately, we didn’t have to test it in practice since I managed to come to Israel sooner than we thought.
Even if the couple created a certain routine of communication, they should always remember that the ultimate goal is to reunite and live together. For this reason it’s very important to set a deadline for separation. It can be 3 months or 3 years – there are many factors involved and for each couple they are different. But having some kind of agreement and plan is very important. Not only it motivates people to work together towards the common goal, but also creates a feeling of commitment and mutual trust.
It also means that one day – and better to do it early, you must have that serious conversation about relocation and all related legal and financial issues.
And now I want to talk about the problems characteristic for long distance relationships.
1) Unanswered questions (lack of plan)
Starting relationship is not a rocket science. Keeping it is more of a challenge. The very nature of LDRs implies many questions that have to be answered. When will the separation come to end? Who will move to whom? How will the person who moves deal with the loss of his/her social circle and acclimatize in the new environment? Employment and career changes also often come into play.
And this is only part of the deal. Intimidated by these problems, people sometimes prefer to avoid them at all. No need to explain that sooner or later it will backfire and bury the relationship.
Since love is job, laziness is its enemy. It is relevant for any kind of relationships. But in LDR discipline is the attitude of even higher importance. You cannot neglect your partner.
When once daily long letters become shorter and shorter, followed by excuses of being tired or not having enough time – what does it mean?
Sometimes this is the first symptom of real problems (eg. those existential questions that haven’t been raised and answered in time).
In other cases it’s just the indicator of weak discipline. But then you might ask yourself – is this person a reliable partner?
In any case, it would be the red flag for me.
Where is he/she now? What is he/she doing at friend’s party? What will his/her parents say at the family gathering this time? Long distance multiplies our fears and doubts.
Or imagine the situation when you met online, and one day you check her profile and see that it is still active. Or that she even has multiple profiles on other dating sites showing that last time she logged in yesterday right after kissing you goodnight on telephone! This is what happened to one of blog readers for whom this revelation was like thunder from the blue sky.
And – as it turned out later – it was the fault of dating agency which posted the woman’s profile to different sites and kept them active long after she asked to remove them.
It doesn’t mean that you must be blind. All I am saying is that you should be aware that in LDR even simple and ungrounded doubts can be amplified and drive you crazy.
4) Lost in translation
If the long distance relationships are also cross cultural, then it can bring additional problems. You don’t speak Chinese, and she is not fluent in English. So, you use Google translator or some other automatic tool. They can be of great help, but you will need one more thing which unfortunately doesn’t come in bundle with this software – sense of humor.
Since I haven’t been using such tools myself, I will quote a member of one forum dedicated to cross-cultural relationships:
It is good sentence by sentence, but you need to use simple language and cut down the amount of useless words. Also, their sentence structure is not like ours but it has been my experience that they get the message. But make sure you translate back to English. I have seen the software [to] change the whole meaning. Example: you write in English, “I like you”. It translates, “I hate you.” It happens but you need to rearrange words and make sure you do not translate too many words at once. The software gets confused and will send your woman the wrong message. I told one woman I was writing [to], that if it sounds wrong or bad – ask me because it is likely that it is wrong.
Well, to those who got to the end of this post I will wish happy relationship with your soulmate and dedicate the song “Right Here Waiting For You” by Richard Marx.