Tuesday, 5 June 2007

HOW TO MAINTAIN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP?

Here is something I would like to share with Pikey on his recent worries on the abovementioned title. I have written this articles some time back (now with some minor alterations to fit the present environment) and I do hope you guys or gals can read and understand my experiences. I hope that my guidance can ease away some of your stresses. I do advise readers but no one can heal the wound of the writer. I preach what I teach and all those small notes down there are exactly what I have done before. This is a TRUE LIFE experience. If you read further and deeper into the content, you may understand how it feels to be way apart from the one you loved. This is one of the best guidance I have written so far. Do cherish this article please…

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The new millennium has spawned a new problem in relationships thanks to the widespread use of computers. There have there been so many people who have fallen in love from a distance, some without ever meeting. On any of the well-known IRC, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Skype or even Blogs networks, you can find literally thousands of couples who have online relationships and are seriously considering moving them off-line to real time. Love is not always conscious of geography. So these couples often have to try to maintain their relationships while being hundreds or thousands of miles apart. For most, many long months pass between visits so they are faced with trying to keep the relationship alive while waiting for the time when they can actually be together again.

We have seen a growing number of these "cyber" relationships happening daily and to keep one from vaporizing into digital dust is not a simple task. The lifespan of most long-distance romances is very short, for many reasons. They seem to sprout, bloom and die much faster than their real life counterparts and are prone to all the same failures as conventional ones, plus a few more that really complicate matters.

Sometimes our romantic interludes occur when we are not in the same room, the same place, or even the same town. From separate worlds, we connect to each other, simply by connecting to the internet. No, it is not the same as the real thing, and naturally I would prefer to connect in person on any given day. Sadly, most of our given days do not afford us that luxury. But, what they do afford us (for the cost of an ISP fee) is the next best thing or maybe it is the alternative we get to make the best of.

For those involved in a long distance relationship (LDR), the internet can be an invaluable resource. Flowers and poetry cross continents in minutes, love letters are delivered with the touch of a button. Whether communicating through email, conversing via instant message programs or spending time together in a chat room, the web provides a quick, practical means by which to stay in touch. Thanks to the speed and accessibility of the internet, couples can contact each other at any time, letting each other know, "Hey! I'm thinking of you at this very moment." They can share sentiments and connect in a right here, right now way that snail mail would not provide. The internet also allows loved ones to spend unlimited time together.

Take my experiences as a sample. We may have an advantage over many long distance couples. Having met on the internet; we learned the value of web communication right from the start. Before we ever met in person, we knew that words on a screen can be just as powerful as the audio/visual brand of conversation. As long as the sentiment is sincere, the feelings come through loud and clear. And "cyber dating" can be romantic, fun and fulfilling.

Why don’t you give it a try? Spend a "night out" with your loved one in a popular chat room and see how much fun you can have mingling with others while whispering sweet nothings into each others' private message windows; or spend a quiet evening talking in a less crowded room, or playing an interactive game together. Rather be alone? Create a private chat room and spend the time relaxing together, exchanging thoughts, talking, laughing, sharing your innermost thoughts and dreams or even engaging in some wildly...errr...stimulating conversation...

However you choose to utilize it, the internet is always ready and waiting to bring you together. And whether it's face to face, or screen to screen, the together part is really all that matters.

There are two kinds of long distance relationships:

The Temporary LDR: You met online, fell madly in love, met face to face and now are waiting out the time for one of you to make the big move to overcome the geography that separates you. The time can seem to drag and those miles can feel more like light-years at times. Waiting out those months can be a real test of endurance and many fail to carry it off successfully. There are things that can help make or break the bonds that brought you together in the first place.

The Long-Haul LDR: This can be a real tough one. Most likely the couple involved in this type of LDR will never be able to spend a lifetime together. The most common reasons are family obligations and careers that are not conducive to relocation. You have already set a foot into a LDR and you are going to be spending a lot of time online to bridge the distance so use this time to learn about each other. How long can this last? When you are no longer sitting in front of a monitor or even have your ear pressed to the phone, or maybe looking on the 3G screens, these things are going to be BIG issues. Here are a few ways to avoid that dilemma.

Keep it realistic: Fantasies can be wonderful things until you try to live one. It is very easy to slip into the trap of living a "perfect" life online where you never have to deal with real issues. Keep your online life as real as possible. Deal with the issues you both face everyday in your ordinary lives. Be honest about any lack of skills and seek to improve on the ones you have. Spend a portion of your time online as yourselves and let your chat room personalities take a back seat to reality for awhile.

Be yourself: Far too many people are not honest with their online love interest or themselves. You have to be who you are. Sooner or later, the frustration of trying to be someone or something you are not is going to end up making you miserable and destroying the chances of any kind of realistic relationship. Being who you are is what attracted the other person to you in the first place. While having things in common is nice, having differences is exciting. Do not be too eager to become a "clone" of your lover. When you're no longer viewing each other at a distance, you are going to have to be who you are ALL the time. So you better practice now.

Be honest: It seems to be a reoccurring pattern for individuals to try to be the "perfect" mate by always being agreeable to anything that has said or done. This might work for a short time, but it is never going to make it in the long run. Most people fall into this trap too by pretending to desire the same things their partner seems to want. If you are not into certain activities, then you better state it clearly before hand. Excuses will not get you out of this mess.

Expect Some Rough Spots: NO ONE has a perfect relationship. There are ups and downs in all of them and in our daily lives. The things that happen to us at work or when dealing with a difficult family member affect how we react to things within the relationship. There are days when you just feel like barricading yourself in your cave away from the responsibility of dealing with the dynamics of a LDR. Give each other some grace and a lot of space when difficult times arise. Be prepared to be "real" people who sometimes make mistakes or have bad days.

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Surviving any long distance relationship takes lots of hard work. Not only do you want the relationship to last, you want it to grow and deepen the bond between you. There are some basic tools that can keep your relationship from stagnating and can actually enhance it while waiting for that big day when you reach out and touch each other, without a phone!

Share Things: Just because you are not physically in the same place does not mean you cannot share things. Here are a few things you can try. Rent the same movie and watch it at the same time while you are chatting. Laugh together. Share the parts that touched you. Give your comments about what you have seen or felt. You can do this with books or magazine articles also. Listening to the same music while you're spending time online is another wonderful way to close that distance. We own many of the same CDs and very often play them at the same time so we can share the mood they create for us. There's no limit to the things that you can share while apart if you only make an effort.

Develop Your Own Rituals: Many of the things that we enjoy together are ritualistic in nature and there are ways to recreate them online or through SMS. Go through a specific routine when preparing to go to bed or when greeting each other for the first time each day. If you're going to do this right, do not use pop-ups, macros or copy/paste methods either. It might take a little longer to type it out each time but at least it is genuine. Show a little devotion and do it from your heart.

Work on Your Skills: The sky is the limit on this one. The time you spend waiting can be very productive time if you allow it to be. Academic, spiritual, artistic or even languages skills development might be some useful choices. All of these things will enhance the quality of your life together. It opens doors to growth and strengthens bonds.

Meet People and Interact: Being together online is great but spending all your time alone is not such a good idea. You both need to see how each other reacts with people and how you function as a couple in a group. There are channels devoted to almost any topic you would ever care to discuss as well as some that are just plain fun. On the Internet you can find sites where you can play a variety of games with people from all over the world. We have spent numerous evenings playing online games with old friends and total strangers, not once failing to enjoy it.

Take Time to Show You Care: There is a million ways to say "I love you" or "I miss you and am thinking about you." Online there are virtual greeting cards, flowers, candy, postcards and countless other little things that can express your feelings. Finding a special card on your lunch break and sending it off with a little note shows your mate that you have them on your mind even when you are not online together. Even a short SMS will brighten his gloomy days.

Make Each Event Count When Meeting: Talking on the phone or online is an event and keeping it from becoming mundane is very important. Make an effort to prepare yourself to meet your loved one. Freshen up, put on a little cologne or perfume, fix your hair and make yourself look as attractive as possible. This not only shows your lover that they are special, it makes you feel good. When you are together face to face even if it is through webcam, you will want to look your best so why settle for less here? Take a few minutes to plan something different once in awhile. You would not want to do the same thing repeatedly with all the precious time you have being together. A relationship gives back whatever you have put into it. You add nothing, you get nothing. Have the initiative. Do not expect the other person to keep things fresh and exciting while you sit there waiting.

To summarize all that was mentioned earlier, think and plan carefully before you commit yourself to a LDR or even if you had committed yourself. You would think this would get easier. I myself have made the trip several times, survived the boredom and exhaustion. I have weathered the backaches, the leg cramps, the headaches that always accompany me on the long hours of journey. I have managed baggage that is too heavy into overheads that are too high.

At first, I thought it was fear. And in the beginning, it probably was. Traveling alone can be a daunting experience as thoughts of robbery, harassment and even "what if the bus breaks down and leaves me stranded here alone" rush through the mind. However, having done this so many times has calmed my otherwise panic prone sensibilities. As a matter of fact, the first half of my round trip is fairly painless. Armed with enough reading and listening materials to busy the time between naps, I make the journey happily, even excitedly, with only scattered bouts of minor nervousness. Of course, there is actually something to be happy and excited about as I approach my destination. My courage and stamina will be rewarded when the ride has finally reached its end, when I will step off the bus and into the arms of my love.

Unfortunately, the reward is short lived, and in retribution there is the return trip. This is the part that smothers me in anxiety. Fresh off the heels of a sad goodbye come the dreaded second half of the round trip. It is here that the alone part is so greatly emphasized. Every mile the bus moves along is another mile further from my love and closer to my life without her. Each moment, every hour set another reminder of the distance between us. Suddenly the headaches and backaches are further exaggerated by the accompanying heartache, as the knowledge looms that this time, there will be no one waiting for me to disembark. Most of the time, I have to hide the fact that I cried silently during the whole journey home. Every time I made that trip, it just gets longer and lonelier. And each time I'm greeted by nothing but the rushing of strangers in a cold depot, my heart grows sadder.

Yeah, you would think it would get easier, but you have thought wrongly. It only becomes a hell of a lot harder, which brings me to my question. How long can a long distance relationship continue to survive the distance? Six months? A year? Two? Indefinitely? I rest my case…

21 comments:

Ken Xu said...

Ohhh.... How sweet! You girlfriend must be very proud of you....!

She will not need to be at you side often because you have a great knowledge to tighten long distant relationship! hahaha! Cool, man!

kuanhoong said...

Scary cartoon you got there. The guy with "BLUE" eyes.. Don't know what kind of movies that guy has been watching. :P

kayatan said...

Criz, where does yr gf lives ?
I don't recommend long distance relationship especially internet.

My husband and I met on the net and we have been happily married for 7yrs now. But, I have to tell you it is hard work !!!!!!

It is difficult enough to have a relationship within yr town, let alone distance.

If it is international lagi susah. 1st is who is to give up, pack and leave ? It used to be easy in the old age , man is the head of the home. Now, how many woman would say so ?

Ok, after relocation, loneliness, adjustment to new environment / cultures is not something to take lightly off. If it is man, he has to adjust to not having the kind of role he used to have - provider cos now he might not have a job or might not have the kind of pangkat job he used to have.

For woman, might be a little bit easy, she can stay home, have kids, take care of home. But if she looks back of her good life back home, depression might set in if adjustment stage is not develop well.

Out of the cases that I knew (my friends in US), the failure rate of internet relationship is 80%. This statistics is taken from people whom I knew in my area.

Think not twice but many times before you even embark in this journey.

papajoneh said...

wahhh criz... this can be compile as e-book and sell for a higher price. this deserve another off day for you. well written :)

CRIZ LAI said...

kenxu: you mean ex? i wrote that after breaking off from a 1.5 years LDR. I tried but I failed due to fatigue.

kuanhoong: u meant cybersex? LOL

kayatan: She lived in KL while I'm in Penang. It's too tiring to maintain a LDR due to work pressures, time constraints, etc. So as I told kenxu, it only lasted for 1.5 years.

papajoneh: do tell me how to sell it...hahaha. Well, $$ is not important, it's the sharing that will change another person for the better matters more :)

a n n n a said...

wahh.. long post but i enjoyed reading it. kekeke.. but i still think LDR is tough & tiring. huuu...

gracieq said...

I was also in a LDR before. The man was one of the sweetest and nicest man I have ever met. It didn't start off as a cyber relationship cause we met through friends. I had to leave Malaysia for Perth after we started getting serious for a few months, thus the decision to try to make things work in a LDR between us. After all, I'll be going back to Malaysia after 1.5 years in Perth. Unfortunately, many reasons arises and soon, there were just too many problems between us to make the relationship work anymore. Insecurity and jealousy were only some of the problems we had.

Yes, LDR is never easy. The length of the relationship depends highly on how the 2 individuals work things out between them. I've heard of LDRs which lasted over years and the couple ended up getting married in the end and could still live happily ever after. For me? I don't think I would ever wanna endure a long-haul LDR anymore. A temporary one I might consider if I'm really in love with the man. :)

Sasha said...

a fast one here. Thanks for your wishes.

Anyway, its HARD to maintain along distance relationship. Seriously. Cos no touch.No feel. No Love.

Ah Pek said...

mmm...meself no experience in these mordern things. by the time i was on ICQ i am already married with 2 kids, so the affairs with all those ICQers were plain cyber sex, but it was damn orgasmic also!!

SuwaN said...

wao.. very long ..
ur gf got a good bf, haha!

zewt said...

one more tip my friend...

whenever you end your phone conversation... keep it at a postive note... dont ever end your phone conversation arguing and say "i dunwanna talk about it anymore".... it can be lethal.

Jewelle Tan said...

Hubby and I had a 6 years of LDR prior to getting married. Like you said its a lot of work but I think at the end of the day, no matter how much one tries or did not try, it really is up to your nasib, whether you are meant to be together or not. I guess we were lucky.

CRIZ LAI said...

anna: I hope I did not bore you with the long post. Trying to help a friend out :)

graceq: I did not say it's easy but they are a few who really made it. :)

sasha: yea I wanna touch, I wanna feel and I wanna love in person but fate has decided that we two to be together but it still did not work out.

ah pek: Gosh...i did not know you are in cyber sex...any luck? haha...infidelity case wor...did you try out the test i have on that? :P

suwan: of course...i'm her jewel, diamond in fact. :P

zewt: your "dunwanna" zewtpinion sure flows into here...haha but i like your style.

jewelle tan: hi...god to have you back here. Congrats your are 3rd couple I know that got married after LDR after kayatan and sweetpea :) ***jotting down the record book***

pikey said...

well... there r few scenarios though... starting a LDR and having a temporary LDR.

Starting a LDR is like wad u said, havent met in real life b4 and then start a relationship virtually... i think this kinda relationship, i have less faith in it too..

A temporary LDR is like from a real life relationship, the other person has to move away *temporarily* for studies or work and there a dateline that the other person will come back....

So.... depends how to start the LDR topic la.... whether the foundation is there onot, when the LDR phase came in....

And you are certainly right on your pointers... i will take note of it too and thanks for continuing this topic from my entry....appreciated it and thanks for sharing :)

Bee said...

One thing I learnt, if you break up with someone through internet, you won't see the real reaction. Begging through words is totally different than begging in front of you with face expression.

CRIZ LAI said...

pikey: Happy to know that it might help you a bit on the matter.

bee: yea...i can imagine that.

a n n n a said...

no lar.. am not bored with it. It's very informative to me. kekeke..

CRIZ LAI said...

anna: awww...next time i write two times longer..LOL

Nicholas Chan said...

i got a feel friends also know their PARTNER from the internet, but yes i met a lot of friends from the internet, and went out together. I think i miss the fun of getting to know each other in REAL LIFE, somemore i am studying in a all boy school, very boring de lo.

talking about long distance relationship, i think it kinda hard, but my cousin and his gf can tahan 2 years and now it become CLOSE relationship already.

CRIZ LAI said...

nicholas: Finally i got you to comment here. Good to see a promising blogger in here. :)

Yup no relationship is as good as a LIVE relationship. You are going to be 15 years old soon and people your age always screwed up their relationships. I do hope that they are as mature thinking as you :)

Hey...please congrats your cousin for breaking the LDR barrier :)

Bell said...

I'm not the kind of person who can handle LDR. Which is why I've always avoided it. Of course sometimes unexpected things happen when you're already in an established relationship, and that's a different situation. But I'd always made it a clear point to avoid LDR, internet or overseas relationships... even if feelings developed, the answer was always NO. Maybe it was just me being scared and stubborn... But I'm glad for it, cos now I'm happily married to someone in real life! :P

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