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“).


Tips for Air Travel

When you’re flying over to meet your partner, you naturally want to arrive feeling fresh and ready for a great time. Although airports and aeroplanes aren’t the most comfortable places, there are measures you can take to feel more at ease.

  • Pack well in advance to be sure you have everything. Having to buy things at airports or abroad is an unnecessary expense.
  • If possible, pay the extra money for a direct flight. Connecting flights add to your travelling time and any time spent on planes and in airports is draining.
  • However if you do have a connecting flight, it would be good to pack extra underwear, a toothbrush, face-wash, and perfume or cologne (not deodorant as it is not permitted) in your hand luggage.
  • Try to be well rested before you disembark, since you probably won’t be getting a good rest on the plane.
  • The air-conditioners on a plane produce terribly dry air. Drink lots of water and try and keep as hydrated as possible.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic; thus it dehydrates the body and you will have to visit those cramped lavatories more often. It also has a greater effect on the body at a higher altitude.
  • Also be aware of deep vein thrombosis. Move and stretch often during the flight.
  • You may not be prone to airsickness, but, especially if not used to flying, take tablets along in case. Recycled, dry air, awful food, turbulence, and a cramped cabin may all lead to nausea, and all the flight attendant will offer you is a ginger ale.
  • Take vitamins before and after flying. You will be squashed in a cabin with people from all over the world, breathing in recycled air.
  • Keep in touch with your partner. Let them know when you’re boarding and when you’ve landed.
  • Most importantly, don’t get stressed out and make sure you have a good trip!

Things to Discuss Before Committing to a Long Distance Relationship

It’s really no secret that being in a long distance relationship is no easy task and you would only consider entering into one if your prospective partner were monumentally important to you. You don’t, therefore, want to end a relationship over something trivial. Not physically being with the person with whom you’re in a relationship puts tremendous strain on communication. Everyone is different, has different habits and expectations, and you’re having to negotiate these differences over a distance.

Before committing to an LDR, it’s important to clearly define the status and perimeters of your relationship. You don’t want to be hurt along the way because one of you thought it was open and the other thought it was exclusive. It would also be wise to speak about when you two plan on closing the distance. It’s good to have that goal to work towards.

Another important thing to discuss is what you expect on a day to day basis. Your expectations and ability to fulfil those expectations may be very different depending on time differences, whether you’re at school, university, or are working. Ask each other what you expect in terms of Whatsapp messages, Skype and phone calls – how frequently? how long?, and Facebook – what are your opinions of sharing things about your relationship?

It’s also good to have the unpleasant conversations earlier rather than later and avoid nasty surprises. For example, some people keep photos and messages from ex-partners, whereas others erase everything, some people have many friends of the opposite sex and you may or may not be comfortable with that, or some have grown accustomed to a socially or professionally demanding schedule and now need to make space in their lives for a relationship.