Tag Archives: Skype

Long Distance Love II

In my last post I tried to articulate the pain.  I tried to identify some of what makes long distance romance so incredibly tough.  These were the reasons that a lot of people don’t even attempt to date long distance.  The reasons they think it will be too hard or too risky.  They are very real problems and this post is not intended to laugh them off.  But I AM saying that most of the difficulties that come up in long distance relationships CAN be faced and defeated.  You CAN make it work.  Here’s what worked for Jammie and I:

1) Be Consistent – Jammie and I LOVED to talk.  Whether on Skype, on the phone or via email, we talked and talked and talked.  Hardly a day passed in which we did not at least have a conversation.  Often the conversations were at least an hour long.  For us this was essential.  This may be too much for some but I am pretty convinced that anything less would have eventually led to the relationship fizzling.  You can’t keep a relationship going by sheer force of will unless you are very intentional about communicating.  This meant Jammie begging to borrow friends’ laptops so we could Skype and me leaving things early so I could be available at the time that she could talk in between her English teaching when she was in Korea.  Whatever it took we tried hard to be very consistent about staying in contact.  This may seem like an obvious point but it is not at all easy to put into practice.

2) FOCUS -  We talked in the last post about the myriad of things that come in as distractions when you are trying to make a long distance relationship work.  You have GOT to stay focused.  Your thoughts can make or break you in a relationship and never is this more true than when you are in a long distance relationship.  Focus on the the positive qualities of the other person and how much they mean to you.  Everyone has got a whole mess of negative things about them.  Your boyfriend does, you do, I do – no point spending too much time focusing on them.  ESPECIALLY when you are dating long distance.. if you focus on them, these negative traits will only swell in your imagination.  Also, refuse to get distracted by other people or by a busy schedule.  Eyes on the prize!  Which brings me on to my next point…

Sometimes you just have to hang in there and make things work even if you are tired, irritated or feel like giving up.  Think back to good times.  Think ahead to what you are dreaming of.  Realize that tough times come and go and that you just have to stay with the relationship even if you are discouraged or feel that you have hit a dry patch.  If you stay with it and refuse to give up, chances are you will be able to weather most relational storms.  Decide to fight for what you’ve got – come what may.  It is worth it.

3) Be Brave and Set Some Parameters!! - Long distance cannot go on forever without some kind of a timetable.  It is unfair to both of you.  If it isn’t going to work and you have no intention of making it work long term then drop it right away.  On the other hand, if you see yourself with this person long term, put some limits around how long you are going to do long distance for.  Do not be afraid of some commitment.  It was actually through long distance that Jammie and I realized that we wanted to get married.  That realization and some general talk about what we both felt sounded reasonable as a timeline, really helped us stay focused and motivated to make it all work.  It takes courage to keep taking steps towards a permanent relationship but each step is rewarding and worth it.  Be brave and go forward!

4)  Forgiveness and Generosity – Having a forgiving spirit is pretty fundamental in any relationship but it takes on stratospheric importance when it comes to long distance relationships.  If you hold grudges, insist on being petty and are not giving, you are going to hurt yourself and the person you are with.  Be generous, give the benefit of the doubt even when it is hard.  Resist the temptation to blow off steam.  Ask yourself “Will this matter three years from now?”  If not, don’t make a scene about it.  Long distance is hard enough without the stamping of little feet.  Set the other person up for success by thinking the best of him or her.   Long distance takes a unique measure of faith and positivity, make it a point not to lack in either department.

5) Travel – The beauty of living in the 21st century is that travel has never been easier.  You may live far from your boyfriend or girlfriend but flying over to see them can help immensely.  It is something to look forward to and a reunion after a long time apart can be just the spark and source of energy that you need to power you through to when you can live in the same place.  I am really glad Jammie and I made the trips to see each other – whether it meant crisscrossing California or flying overseas.  Trips were part of what made the difference and they helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Of course, this will cost you time and money but few investments are more important than your relational well being so this is not one that you need to over-think.  Do it!

Finally, remember that there are advantages to temporary long distance relationships.  A lot of good reflection that would probably not happen if you were together, can take place when you are alone and get some time to think.  It is good to have a clear head and pursue a relationship with your eyes open rather than running on infatuation alone.  Take advantage of your long distance relationship to strengthen your communication, to reflect on the relationship and to grow into the person that you want to be for the other person.  Good luck guys.  Some day this will be three years ago!

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Bjorn Karlman

Long Distance Love I

Jammie in Korea / me in California

Long distance romances are often seen as totally doomed.  Time zones, poor communication, lack of physical presence, work distractions, competing local contenders, long distance lovers’ squabbles, dropped Skype calls, bleak future possibilities – the list of obstacles is as long as it is real – it can be a killer for even the most devoted of love birds.  So it was with a heavy heart and quite a lot of angst that I navigated the U-Haul truck down Hollywood Boulevard.  I was about to leave behind the city I called home, my Los Angeles circle of friends and Jammie, my girlfriend of two months.  Right before leaving Los Angeles I had a conversation with a mentor, the CEO of a local hospital.  I told him that Jammie and I were going to do the long-distance thing.  His reaction?  “I give it three months.”

Well, almost three years have now passed since I moved up to the greenery of Northern California and not only did Jammie and I make it but we are now extremely happily married.  As the average CultureMutt reader is of the well-traveled variety, I thought a piece on making long-distance relationships work might be in order.

We’ll take in two steps.  This first post will be about challenges and post #2 will handle how to tackle said challenges.  So here we go – here’s what really sucks about long distance romances:

1)  Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Not only did I move to Northern California, a few months later, Jammie moved to Seoul, South Korea for 6 months.  The natural course of development would have been to gradually forget about the other person.  Without a lot of communication, it would have been easy to simply let the distance take over and gradually let the lack of a physical presence mean the lack of a mental and emotional one.

2)  Phone Conversations and Emails are Ripe with Opportunities for Misunderstanding – Ever receive a text that you had NO idea how to interpret?  Or an email that seems a little curt?  Wish emoticons could be banned?  Not sure how to interpret your boyfriend’s tone on the other end of the line? (is he tired of bored?… does he just not care about me anymore?)  Even with video conferencing, communication IS compromised when you are not in person.  Communication breaks down all the time in person, what are you supposed to do if you are getting yelled at from across the world?  A challenge for sure…

3)  Long Distance Relationships Cannot Continue Indefinitely – Some kind of an end needs to be in sight for most long distance relationship to have a prayer of surviving.  I mentioned that Jammie and I had only been together for two months when I moved from LA.  It was a little earlier to start hunting for wedding locations.  Instead we were faced with the challenge of nurturing a relationship long distance that was brand new and had no predictable reunion to it.

4)  Distractions - Whether it it be other people, work or the demands of a busy schedule, relationships die from distractions.  If long distance compounds an already messy relationship that is suffering from one or more distracted parties, the future can look rough.  It takes extraordinary focus to overcome these distractions.  Life is incredibly messy and if one of you is traveling, the very reality of being abroad is a HUGE distraction.  One of the beauties of traveling is that you redefine reality with every step.  This can help or hurt a relationship… it is easy to get caught up in a new reality and forget an important part of what really makes you happy.

5)  Are you Really Dating? - A friend of mine who dated long distance for years got some fairly direct advice from a married friend.  “You and your “girlfriend” aren’t dating… this long distance stuff doesn’t count.”  Agree or disagree, there is some truth to this.  If the main reason your relationship is working is the fact that you don’t actually have to physically interact, then it is very possible that your long distance relationship is a touching but misguided creation that may well turn out to be a disaster as soon life serves up a physical reunion and you have to deal with day-to-day contact.

Help!  That’s Sounds Too Much Like My Relationship!

If you feel that the above list hits too close to home, don’t give up.  You don’t necessarily need to throw in the towel.  There is hope.  Part of the solution is in articulating and understanding the problem.  But there is more to making long distance relationships work.  In my next post I’ll tackle some of worked for Jammie and I.


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Bjorn Karlman