Friday, February 25, 2011

Dealing with distance

Kenji and I climbing Drakensberg in South Africa (May 2010)
I think at one point I told myself that I wouldn't blog about my relationships any more, since the last one I blogged about sort of ended in disaster (understatement). But here I am, after Marie-Eve Vallieres requested via Twitter that I impart my knowledge of long-distance dating upon the world. Little did they know exactly how large the can of worms was she was opening - but it's not like me to deny a request.

Allow me to backpedal a moment.

Since we started dating, my boyfriend Kenji and I have spent a total of 28 days in the same time zone. We met last May while on a volunteer project in St. Lucia, South Africa with African Impact, though we didn't start dating officially until a few months later. That time (and many conversations thereafter) was reserved for a number of discussions regarding his traveling, my plans to study abroad and whether we thought being a couple was worth our time.

Most people ask me why, but I think that might be an entirely different blog. Long-distance relationships are hard, but they are by no means impossible. I wouldn't be in the relationship I'm in if I didn't think it was worth something and there are ways that make it easier on both of us. So here they are.

1. Set aside time
Make the time to talk, whether it's through type or voice talking. Obviously a phone or Skype call is best, but while traveling often the Internet is unreliable at best and typing over Facebook Chat is the best you can do. Whatever your situation, taking an extra twenty minutes at an Internet Cafe or finding a hostel with unlimited Internet access will make a world of difference. If you both don't take the time, one of you will start to feel resentful.

2. It's the little things

I couldn't have written this blog without some input from the other side, so Kenji offered this piece of advice. He likened the little things you can do while you're halfway around the world to the text messages you send during downtime at school or work even if you're going to see your partner later in the day. Taking the time to send a quick message, whether it's on Facebook, a quick e-mail or even a postcard can make your partner's day. Particularly when it's months before you'll see each other, not hours.

3. Have a time line

Dealing with distance can be made so much easier when there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Plan ahead for the next time you see each other no matter how far away that date may be. Even discussing potential visits will help ease the stress of long periods of time apart. Ballpark a date or a month that you will see each other next and make tentative plans by researching things you could do together. Even the prospect of seeing each other will lift your spirits and give you something to look forward to.

4. Use Skype

Skype is likely the greatest invention known to couples not living in the same city. Free calling between computers and cheap calls to landlines and cell phones make Skype a great tool for those in long distance relationships. Being able to speak to someone and see them on video can make all the difference when you're coping with months apart.

It's almost to be expected that if you love traveling your current, or potential, partner will share that passion. Trying to make a long distance relationship work 20 years ago would have been next to impossible, but technology now helps us keep in touch so much more intimately. If you are serious about making it work, you can ease the strain of the miles.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. I agree that you have to make time for these talks, even if it's just for a little while - even just 5 minutes will make my day much better. These small moments are gold and I cherish every single one of them, especially over Skype.

    The upside of a long-distance relationship is the eagerness, the excitement to see each other.

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