The difficulties of different LDRs

There are two main kinds of LDRs. Either two people meet and are together for a short period of time when one or both are travelling, or two people are living in the same place for a considerable amount of time and then one has to move away for family, work, or study.

There are difficulties and advantages to both. If you have only been together for a short time before you’re separated by distance, you don’t have to reconstruct your entire relationship, because your relationship is starting out as a long distance relationship. On the other hand, if one of you has to move away after having been in a relationship for a long time, you have that time as a strong basis and foundation.

However, if you are starting instantly with an LDR, you’ll be getting to know one another via Skype, Whatsapp, phone calls, and Facebook, and it’s natural that some things will evolve very quickly and others not evolve at all. You may find when together, that you can have very efficient conversations, but others things may seem a bit disjointed, whereas if you have a basis of a few years or months, you’re going to see and have to get used to different communication habits, because you will be communicating differently.

Either way, if you’ve committed to an LDR, it’s because you two have made a tremendous impression on each other’s lives. Be patient with one another, speak about issues rather than be angry about them, and ask rather than assume anything.


Shake off the bad day

Whether you make use of Whatsapp, Facebook, email, or phone calls in your relationship, these still aren’t as effective as Skype can be. When you’re leagues away from one another, Skype is the closest thing you can get to a normal conversation – which is wonderful. However, because of this simulated normality, Skype conversations may also come with the drawbacks of normal conversations.

I too often find that when I’m in a glum mood, I bring it into my Skype conversations with my partner. For example, when I was busy with my exams, I was stressed and working all day. The only time that I stopped was when I Skyped with my partner. Ironically, because he is a source of comfort for me, and this was the only time I wasn’t distracted with work, I would vent and take out all my frustration on him. People do this with people with whom they’re in close proximity as well; friends, partners, family. They’re not angry with them, but there’s something about familiarity with a person that makes you want them to really feel your frustration. Astonishingly, he understood and would be able to calm me down and put me in a good mood. But in a long distance relationship, you don’t have ample time to spend together. You have a fixed time to have a conversation. This time that you spend together is valuable and you don’t want to waste the first few minutes coming out of a bad mood.

If you’ve had a rough day, perhaps take a few minutes to disentangle yourself from your thoughts, so that when you log onto Skype, you feel nothing but excitement to see your partner and enjoy the time you have together. Share what is frustrating you, but don’t take it out on your partner.


Time economy

Despite its many blessings, a long distance relationship doesn’t exactly seamlessly fit into your life. Even if you aren’t battling with the difficulties of time, language, and lifestyle differences, the time you spend with your partner can’t really be done simultaneously with anything else. You need to make time to be able to go home, sit down, and have a Skype conversation with them. Evidently this is going to have to be when you have free time and if you’re studying or working or both, you don’t exactly have much of it.

Generally people spend their spare time with their friends or their partner, or by themselves. Sometimes you need to be selfish and snatch some “me time”. When you’re in a long distance relationship, you have to negotiate these three, and compromises are going to have to be made by you, your partner, and your friends.

It’s important to keep a balance. It’s not healthy to sacrifice your social life for your relationship; however you do need to spend effort and time on your partner for your relationship to function. If your friends haven’t been in a long distance relationship themselves, they may not understand why you need to meet an hour later so that you can Skype your partner beforehand, or why you’re sending them pictures of what you ordered at a restaurant. Explain it to them.

In addition to balancing your spare time, you should devote yourself to your respective activities. While it’s good to let your partner know what you’re doing and where you go, don’t spend the whole time you’re with your friends on the phone, and, likewise, don’t text your friends when you’re Skyping your partner. And when you’re relaxing on the couch or at the gym, ignore your phone and focus on yourself.


Visa requirements and advice

Being in a long distance relationship, you’re no doubt looking for opportunities to be with your partner. Be aware that job or study opportunities may become available suddenly and it would be good to be prepared for when they do.

• Some embassies have unfathomable websites, so start looking and understanding your respective one soon.

• Go through the visa requirements with a fine-tooth-comb. It would be good to have someone else take a look to ensure you haven’t missed something.

• Of course, some things you can only do once you have been accepted at a job or university, but there are others you can do while you’re waiting. You may need a police clearance certificate, for example, and this may take up to 3 months.

• To ensure that you will have a visa in time, be sure first to do the things that take longer. Opening a bank account abroad may take 2 weeks, where finding health insurance may only take a few days.

• Some health insurances only cover you from the day your work or studies start, but you need to be covered from when you arrive in the foreign country. Look for travel insurance or check if your health insurance at home will cover you for that time.

• Check carefully which documents the embassy needs in original and which documents need to be copies, as well as how many copies.

• Be sure you have passport photos that fit their requirements.

• You’re going to have a myriad of email addresses and phone numbers. Keep all of them organised and keep track of who you’ve emailed for what and what information they’ve given you.

• Most importantly, ask your partner for help. They know what other people in your situation do in their country, how the health insurances work, and other details like that.


The time before we met

The last time my partner came to visit me I got ill on his last few days with me. I was so miserable that we couldn’t do the surfing and snorkelling which we had planned for the last few days. But then on his last day, he suggested that I show him all the places I frequented from my childhood until the present.

It was wonderful. I showed him the first house I lived in, my kindergarten, junior school, high school, my old friends’ houses, the trees we climbed, and when we were a little older the café, cinema, and mall we went to. I also showed him my old school uniforms and I dug up some of my parents old photo albums to show him photos of me when I was younger, my old friends, and my dog. We then drove to the town nearby where I studied and I showed him my university, the dormitory where I spent my first year, and the digs I stayed in thereafter. We had dinner at the pub where my university friends and I used to meet.

It truly was one of my most special days with him. I ended up showing him things which I had long forgotten. I would recommend that when your partner comes to visit you, that you do the same.


Why commit to an LDR rather than wait to be together

The person with whom you’re planning to commit to a long distance relationship with must be someone who has made a tremendous impression on you; whether you met them and one of you has to move away, or you met when one of you was visiting the other’s country. Being in a long distance relationship is going to also make a tremendous impression on your life. It requires an incredible amount of trust, patience, and compromise. This isn’t a business for the faint hearted. It also instantly puts your relationship in a different place than if it were allowed to develop naturally if you were living together. But this big jump, this escalation in seriousness and trust, is a good thing. Actually, it’s a wonderful thing.

However, you may decide that it’s better for you personally to wait until you two live together to be together. The chances of you meeting up again aren’t impossible. But the thing about committing to one another is not that the assurance that you won’t lose touch, it’s that you will share some amazing times. And you will come to discover that you wouldn’t give these up for anything. And, believe it or not, despite being apart, you will grow and evolve together.

It’s worth it. Take the leap.


Things one can do to feel closer

The main problem with a long distance relationship is the distance. While there are many issues that come with this, the most pressing is the simple fact that you and your partner are very, very far away from one another, and the simplest, yet strongest, wish that you two share is to be together.

It hasn’t anything to do with the intricacies of communication difficulties; it’s merely the desire to physically be in the same place. There are some things you can do to ease the longing and feel more physically connected in each other’s lives.

A good way is to send visual information of things which are happening in your everyday life. Send photos via Whatsapp of your meals and when you cook or buy something really tasty. Send photos of your shopping; ask your partner’s opinion. Send pictures if you buy new furniture or put a poster up in your room. It’s a small thing, but it makes a tremendous difference to witness these details in each other’s lives.

Another way to feel closer is to start and end your days together. A quick good morning and good night call or Skype feels really good.

Also be aware of your messages. Use full sentences; if you’re able to send a message, you’re able to send a good one. If you have different languages, it may be easier each to speak in your own languages and it’s good practice to read their language.

Another way to feel closer and learn more about one another is to play questions games on Skype (see posts “Ways to liven up your Skype conversations” and “Date Night Ideas“).