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.


Date Night Ideas

Although you’re not able to physically enjoy each other’s company, you are able to enjoy some special things together thanks to technology like Skype.

Some ideas are…

• Game night. You could play online board games together, or even something as simple as charades.

• Movie night. You can both watch the same movies at the same time and perhaps both eat the same snacks together. If only one of you has the film, you can use the share screen option, otherwise both press play on the count of 3 and leave comments in I.M.s.

• Series night. You could record your favourite series and watch them together if there’s a time difference or they broadcast at different times. Assign a specific snack to a specific series, for example, Downton Abbey is chocolate and wine and Suits is jellybeans.

• You could also cook together. Decide on a dish, draw up a shopping list together, and then meet over Skype in the kitchen. You can teach each other dishes or experiment together with new ones. You can do the same with baking.

• For a special night you may try tasting wine, chocolate, or cheese. Decide on the ones you want to test and taste them together. It’s a great way to find out about your partner’s tastes and preferences.


Steps to make the phone call better

Being in a long distance relationship makes you reliant on technology, and you may not always be able to enjoy a Skype conversation, so you have to settle for the next best thing. Phone calls can be frustrating in that they don’t allow you to read each other’s expressions and place more emphasis on what it is said and less on how it is said. Additionally, there is also the pressure that comes from the expense of long distance calls, so you are trying to enjoy this time with your partner while trying to be economic with your time.

Here are a few steps you can take to make your phone calls better:

• Plan on a time to call. Just send a Whatsapp message to ask if it’s a good time or not.

• Look for cheaper options to call abroad. Perhaps your phone company has special deals. You can also take a look at companies like Nobel Com and Call2.

• Keep a basic conversational structure. It may seem dull and mundane, but there may be some things you will really want to tell or ask and you may forget.

• Run through your day. Share details like how you slept, how work or class was, how the weather was, what you wore, what had for lunch. They may seem like silly details, but they’re fun to share.

• Establish your surroundings. Share the small details like where you’re sitting and what you’re wearing. It will help you feel like you’re actually together while speaking.

• End with your main news. It’s also good, if something interesting happens throughout your day, to write it down, so you can remember to tell your partner about it.

• Plan your next meeting or call.