The Many Faces of LDR’s
Long distance relationships can take many forms, and in this ever-shrinking world we live in, they are becoming far more commonplace than ever before and for so many different reasons. In the town where I live there is an abundance of FIFO workers. FIFO stands for Fly In – Fly Out workers and is usually used to describe people who work in the mines. They fly in to the mining towns for their week/2 week shift, then fly home again at the end for a week or so off, then back out to the mines, ad nauseum. It is hard and exhausting work in almost every single aspect of it. The demands of the job are high and stressful, as is leaving their families, friends and lovers behind. This can go double for people (and their partner’s) who work in the military and who go on long tours-of-duty in foreign war-zones, sometimes with little to no communication for months!
There are people who travel interstate or internationally regularly for work, people who met a lover while on holiday and come from different places. There are relationships that have had to separate because of work or family commitments in other states or countries.
Whatever the reason you are separated from your partner, it is not easy, and can put your relationship under a whole lot of strain, but don’t look at it like the end of the relationship! There are plenty of things you can do to make it fresh and exciting and keep the fires burning. Sometimes it takes a little looking outside the box… But it is possible.
Creepy Internet Weirdos
It’s funny thinking about it now, but back in the old days, you know, the dark days of the early 1990s where oversized daisies and Stussy hats were all the rage, I discovered a thing called “the internet”. I was one of the only people in my whole class to have proper access to it, and my dad even put in a whole new phone connection so he could use it for work while living in a house with three teenage girls who spent most of their time tying up the phone line chatting to their friends…. I didn’t have a lot of friends back then, and so the discovery of online chat groups was huge for me! People from all over the world coming together in one place to talk about all sorts of things (okay, it was mostly sex). The friends I did have were pretty worried. Back then only creepy weirdos hung out in internet chatrooms waiting to pounce on poor young school girls like myself and kidnap them and force them to live in a basement with three other sister-wives, but that didn’t stop me. I started to make actual friends out of these groups, and real connections, and I also kind of fell in love.
He was a bit older than me and lived in another state, but he was lovely and friendly and not a creepy weirdo living in his mum’s basement. We talked on the internet every day and we spoke on the phone every night. We made plans for visits and outings and holidays and it was awesome. We even managed to meet up a few times. He took me to Australia’s Wonderland (yes, I told you this was a long time ago) and gave me his leather jacket and bought me a necklace and it was all wonderful… Until, of course, he met someone else who actually lived in his town and broke it off. No-one got it. The pain of that breakup was just as difficult as the pain of any breakup I’ve had, but no-one around me seemed to understand. Internet relationships were weird and unusual and different and so they couldn’t possibly have the same emotional effect like a real one could. But they were wrong. It was very real, and the only comfort I have now is knowing that all of those people who scoffed at me probably get it now, and may not be so cruel or dismissive to someone else going through the same thing.
We’re Older Now
We’ve grown up a lot since then. The internet has too. Social media has kicked off in such a huge way that I have to laugh sometimes at the memories of searching through intranet databases to find decent chat rooms and the secret backdoors we would take to find sex chats. There was no Google or Pornhub back then, and even dating sites like Adult Match Maker were hard to find and often impossible to navigate. Us creepy weirdos sitting in basic html chat rooms were the forerunners of MySpace and Facebook and now everyone and their dog (literally) has a Twitter profile, a website, and a million friends they’ll never meet, and, because of this, long distance relationships have become almost as common as living-in-the-same-city ones.
Navigating New Communication
As common as they are, however, long distance relationships can still be hard to navigate and work out, and they come with different challenges and setbacks. The fact that so much of the relationship is done via text and phone conversations means the way we communicate and the way we respond is very different.
Body language and eye contact and facial expressions are all huge factors in the way we relate to other people, and without these things we can often get confused about the meanings and intent of the conversation. If my partner is in front of me and says “Wanna see a movie?” and I say “okay” he can tell from my inflection, my eyes, my body language and other visual and audio clues that I am enthusiastic and excited about it. In text “okay” can sometimes feel dismissive and a bit bored. So if I reply that way to a long distance lover they are more than likely going to start rolling down the “have I done something wrong, does she hate me, is she pissed off, is it over” hill until they become an avalanche of self doubt and stress.
Communication is a huge factor in any relationship, and long distance ones are no different, but the way we communication often is.
There are some days where I can spend the entire day at home with my husband and hardly speak a word to him. Like I’ll be squirrelled off writing somewhere and he’s off doing whatever it is he’s doing, and for hours the only communication may be him bringing me a cup of coffee or me winking at him as I pass the room on my way to the loo, but those tiny little things are the things that tell us both we are connected.
In long distance relationships a day of non talking can be like an eternity of “what’s going on!!’ Selfies (not necessarily nudes) and little quick texts are those coffees and winks and are a really important part of the everyday way you and your long distance lover talk. Sending “good morning” texts and “sleepy selfies” is a really great way of letting them know you’re thinking of them in those first and last moments of the day, and little voice messages or video clips can be a fun way of letting them know they’re in your thoughts.
In saying that, though, while staying in regular communication is important, it’s also necessary to not forget the life you have at home, or neglect the people in your immediate world. It’s very easy to get swept up in the romance of a new relationship (or the familiarity of an established one), and when the person you want to spend the majority of your time with lives a million miles away, it can be easy to forget the world and stay locked up staring at a screen and having as many moments as you can with them.
Video chats on AMM, naked Skype sessions, sexy selfies and all those sorts of things are a fantastic way to be intimate with a long distance lover. In fact in some cases, especially if it’s an international relationship, these are often the only intimate moments you’ll have together so make them fun and exciting. Change it up, wear cute outfits, ask them to dress up for you. Set each other sexy challenges and dares and keep the excitement and horniness alive with regular dirty talk and sexy sessions. One of the best inventions of the last few years are the sex toys that have apps give the control over to another person. Sitting in your lounge room in Sydney and having your lover in Perth or even somewhere like France in control of your sex toy is a really exciting way to have long distance sex! Go and chat to your local adult shop to find out which ones might work best for you.
The Necessary Normal
While all that sexy nudey stuff is good, it’s really important to remember that a relationship is not just based on sex. You really need to have other things in common too to make it work and last and, thankfully, with the internet and the technology we have, this is really really easy. Play a game together like Scrabble or similar. Get something like Netflix and watch a show together. Talk about your interests and find out about theirs. Read their favourite book. Write actual letters to them. Take them on a virtual tour of local landmarks in your town. Send news articles and memes and pictures that you think they’ll enjoy. Be interested and involved in their life as much as you can from where you are. Relationships are about building moments and memories together and these are all ways to do that even if they’re not next to you.
Rules, Boundaries and the Future
All relationships have rules and boundaries. From the most monogamous vanilla, to the kinkiest of open relationships we put in place boundaries and rules that help us feel safe, loved, comfortable and, of course, sexy. Long distance relationships are no different and it’s really important to have a mutual understanding of the other person’s needs in order to make it work.
Things like seeing other people as in dating or sex. Is this something you’re okay with? Are they?
What level of commitment are you after in it? Does it match theirs? Is this a relationship with a view to be together in person one day? If so, who is moving? Is it interstate or international? Because both of those distances are very different things to navigate when it comes to visits and eventual togetherness. It’s imperative that you have these discussions and talk openly and honestly about what you want and what you expect.
All in all love is love, and it’s not up to anyone but you and your partner to tell you the best way to be in a relationship. Only you and your partner really know the deal so make sure you keep up the communication and the honesty and keep it as fresh and exciting as you can. If it’s possible have face to face meetings and holidays as often as you can, and always be aware that distance can warp emotions and perspectives to different proportions. Try and kerb jealousies and insecurities before they get too crazy and overwhelming, and always have a friend you can talk to when you need to debrief.
Good luck, my long distance lovers, and may the force of love be with you all!