Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Here's how I do it

I've been in a long-distance relationship for four and a half years. Some people are impressed by this, others react as if I'm admitting a severe mental instability. Regardless of how this information reflects on my psychological profile, I'm invariably asked 'how do you do it?'.

For those who wish to know, read on.

The background: my girlfriend is from the USA, I'm from Ireland. We met in early 2005 when she was studying in Ireland, and we started dating in late 2006 when I was studying in the USA. From the beginning, our relationship was long-distance, as our respective universities were a plane-journey away. This may well have made it easier.

So then, how do I do it? Hopefully these notes will pique your interest or help someone in a similar situation.

#1 Commitment

Of all the things to emphasise about a transatlantic long distance relationship, this slice of banality should be the only vital one, as everything will fall into place with the right mindset. Based on our close-friendship, I knew enough about Kate to know that she was the most viable candidate for a life-partner I had encountered, and we decided to give it a try. Why let the opportunity pass?

That aside, let's get onto the pragmatic aspects:

#2. A big bag of money

People ask me how far away my girlfriend lives. I sometimes reply "About €800 away". If you're planning on getting out to see your beloved quasi-regularly, it's going to take money. There's a lot of ways to reduce and eliminate the costs of keeping in touch, but physical-proximity is going to cost ya. Use price-comparison sites like, sign up for the frequent flyer miles, and pay attention to the special offers that are often running. Consider taking a bus (yech) to eliminate the cost of a connecting flight, and volunteer your seat away when the flight has been overbooked to score precious airline-credit.

These tips help, but there's no getting away from the fact that this is an expensive habit. I don't smoke or drink, and I sometimes try to convince myself that the money I haemorrhage away on flights could easily be spent over the course of a few weekends of booze-fuelled socialising.

#3 A libido with an off switch

The less said about this, the better, but if you're looking to follow in my footsteps, your genitals better be capable of going into a state of hibernation (of course, it helps when your social life consists of staying in listening to podcasts). If you're feeling remorse over denied gratification from those immediately around you, a long distance relationship might not be for you.

Looking at this sleeping animal should soothe your carnal urges

#4 A (slavish adherence to a) routine

Me and Kate talk every day, almost without fail. With a 6-hour time difference, that can be awkward, particularly with her hectic schedule, but whether we can make time for an hour-long video-conference or grab a thirty-second phonecall, we will inconvenience ourselves to make the call.

Calling it a 'routine' might be misleading, since sometimes the call will be crammed into the tiniest window without notice, but despite the number of absurdly brief conversations we've had at awkward moments, we've never entertained forfeiting the ritual of talking every day.


This post has bloated up rather quickly, so this one is becoming a two-parter. The remaining pointers will be posted tomorrow - in the meantime, feel free to leave a comment (and if you can find a picture that accurately portrays a sleeping libido, bring it to my attention!).

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