Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How I do it - Part 2

Picking up where we left off yesterday, today I’m elucidating on what I consider the important bits of keeping my long-distance relationship alive:

#5 Technology on your side

As far as I'm concerned, communication is everything in a relationship, so getting that all important conversation in each day can be a logistical and financial burden.

Skype is essential, but it's not the only option. (If your technology aligns, FaceTime is also a great viable service). We use free webtexts and Google Voice to pepper one another's day with sweet-nothings at no price. Google Voice (available from within Gmail) has been offering free voice-calls to the States from the end of 2010 through to the beginning of 2011, effectively making it cheaper to talk to my girlfriend 6000km away than my friend in the same city.

For the past year, I’ve been using a smart phone, which has made everything even easier. Skype over 3G (or even 2G) is a great service, but having essentially free access to Google Voice and webtexting services mean that keeping in touch doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Not having to justify spending €0.35 to brighten up my lady’s day with a cute message from the road is a luxury that I might not be able to live without, and the exchange of e-mailed photos of curiosities and encounters of our days does wonders to close that gap.

#6 Some basic character traits

Patience is important for a number of reasons that should be obvious.

There's no point getting pissy if the conversation is cut short, for whatever reason. There have been times when I've been excited to share my day with the person I hold most dear, but she can't talk for longer than a second. After staying up hours past bedtime for what is essentially an exchange of pleasantries, it would be easy to dwell in the disappointment, so occasionally I will have to remind myself of the choices I've made and why to keep perspective.

I don't fret when I hear that she's been spending time with guys more attractive and accessible than me, despite the cross-examination by my friends ("she's at the cinema with another guy? You know what that guy is after, deep down"), despite my misanthropic nature (particularly towards fellow males), I have absolute trust in my girlfriend. Anything less and the relationship would surely crumble.

I will admit that I could keep my cool much better when the technology lets me down. A choppy connection with missing and distorted sound irritates me - a monomania that often rankles my ladyfriend, and decays the conversation into one about our connection trouble. When the lifeblood of my relationship is being blocked by some glutton sharing my Internet connection, it's not uncommon that I find myself suppressing the urge to rain blows upon friends and family.

#7 An unwavering commitment

Yes, this is #1 again, but it's worth repeating. I've been in relationships before with commitment and mutual affection, and I had no intention of settling down anytime soon when Kate came along, but it just seemed like it was worth a shot.

Over the four and a half years, the relationship has gone from strength-to-strength, but an uncomfortable thought has continued to lurk in the back of my thoughts - 'what if I feel so strongly about this because it's difficult?' What if the moments we share are so special because of their scarcity? And what if I'm not seeing the true relationship dynamic, as we're both holding back on our petty gripes to not spoil the limited time we have together?
It seems to me that the only way to eradicate these fears is to close the gap, so that's what I'm doing.

I'm one week into my extended stay in the US of A. The plan is to stay for as long as I can via the tourist visa-waiver program, before heading off to Canada on a one-year work permit.
If you asked me five years ago if I'd ever inconvenience myself in such a fashion for the sake of a woman, I'm pretty sure that I'd have the hubris to scoff at such an irrational course of action. The trouble is, leaving behind my friends, family, and a quarter-century worth of accumulated material-possessions for the sake of narrowing (not closing!) the gap seems like the only sensible thing to do.


J said...

Quality post. Long-distance requires work, but obviously when you have something worth working for you're gonna do what it takes.

Interesting bit: "what if I feel so strongly about this because it's difficult?' What if the moments we share are so special because of their scarcity? And what if I'm not seeing the true relationship dynamic, as we're both holding back on our petty gripes to not spoil the limited time we have together?"

My two cents. That probably plays a little bit of a role--scarcity increases value. Incessant proximity is far worse for a relationship than long absences. All else being equal, long-distance relationships can be stronger than ordinary ones simply because scarcity makes the time spent together more valuable. The "petty gripes" don't get a chance to seep in. But, absences quickly snuff out relationships that weren't naturally strong to begin with. The extra effort involved would make all but the strongest relationships fizzle out. Nearly half a decade later and still going strong--that's about the best sign you could get.

[As for a pic representing a sleeping libido, not sure, but there are plenty of handy stock mental images that immediately kill the libido. Try: Ann widdecombe vigorously scissoring helen thomas, both dripping old-lady sweat and shrieking in ecstasy. You're welcome]

Sully said...


Pumping five years into a relationship-category that a lot of people don't consider valid is a curious step for me, particularly given how I scoffed at friends who had similarly trapped invested themselves in. I still turn it over in my head, wondering if it was rational - in terms of maximising my happiness with a female companion, it probably is, but when considering the inconvenience involved, I often regard it as the least sensible thing I've ever done.

Also, thanks for your valiant efforts in libido easing, but the objective was to put it to sleep for a while, not murder it outright.

J said...

Here's a quote; prepare for an influx of estrogen: "People who are sensible about love are incapable of it".

Apologies on the earlier libido murdering btw.