Late (For) Tea

Month: February, 2014

6 Tips to Make Your Long-Distance Relationship Prosper

In a couple of weeks my boyfriend Vince and I will have been together for 2 years. To some people this might not seem like much but to me it is a milestone because we have a very peculiar relationship. Vince lives in the United States and I live in Europe. Out of the (almost) two years we’ve been a couple, we have only been together at the same place for a few months. Maybe half a year or so if we add up all the weeks that we spent visiting each other.  Many people have asked me how a relationship like ours can work. To me the situation we are in has almost become natural but sometimes I realise how crazy we must sound to others.

I hope that with this post I can inspire people who might be going through the same thing or are thinking of starting a long-distance relationship but are not quite sure what to expect. I also hope I can give clarity to those who don’t completely understand how these things work.

Before I start rambling away, let me clarify that I am not able to give advice on relationships that were formed online. I personally don’t think it is a good idea to be in a relationship with someone you have never  met, especially not if they apparently live far away. It is not safe and you could easily become a victim of ‘catfishing’.

After seeing this picture, I knew we were special.

After seeing this picture, I knew we were special.

A Little Bit of History

Vince and I met when he was studying abroad at my university here in London. For me it was ‘attraction at first sight.’ I saw Vince for the first time on the very first day he arrived. I was having dinner at the cafeteria with some of the girls I lived with and we saw a big group of people coming in. My wonderful friend Maria enthusiastically announced that the new Americans had stranded on our campus. Seeing new faces on our small campus was always very exciting and we were curious about newcomers. I saw Vince and I couldn’t stop staring, it was ridiculous. I explained to my friend Maria that I didn’t care because the Americans were going to leave anyway. I didn’t want to fall in love with someone who was going to leave me behind. I obviously had no idea what I was talking about. I would see Vince around campus all the time but never bothered talking to him because I didn’t want to get involved with an American. Well, you know how these thing go… One night I went to a party with my friends at the Student’s Union and there he was. Hanging out with his other American friends. Somehow I ended up talking to him after all. I just had to take that chance. I thought it had all gone horribly wrong until he added me on Facebook a couple of days later. I don’t think I need to tell you the rest of the story.

So, how do you make a long-distance relationship work?

A long-distance relationship is really like any other relationship but there are a few essential differences. Here are 6 tips on how to make it a great experience.

1. Get Creative

If physical intimacy and closeness are the most important factors to you, then don’t even think about having this kind of relationship. Being in a long-distance relationship means having quite a few lonely nights. However, once you can hold your beloved in your arms again it will feel like falling in love all over again. We all know how ‘amazeballs’ that feels, eh? Since there is no physical intimacy you have to be ready to communicate in a different way. Texting, skyping, face timing, writing letters, sending each other little gifts etc. Let your creative juices flow. It is important that you communicate effectively and honestly. Vince and I have a private blog where we post all kinds of things for each other. The posts range from music to funny videos to pictures. Arrange date nights by watching movies together. You can use Netflix if your connection is good enough. Since a LDR doesn’t allow you to be together physically, you have to try and at least feel together constantly.

2. Note the Time Difference 

Take note of the time difference. It might not seem very important but if the time difference is greater than 2 or 3 hours it will matter. You might not go to bed at the same time. Sometimes you might even go to bed when your partner is already getting up. Also, the greater the time difference, the greater the distance, the greater the travel costs to see each other. Let’s not forget the jet lag you will experience when visiting…

3. Travel Costs

Barrett Strong once sang ‘The best things in life are free but you can give them to the birds and bees, I need money’. Because that’s what you will want and that’s what you will need when you want to see your significant other more than twice a year or so. I don’t even want to think about how much money we spent on plane tickets. In the end you might not even spend more money on the relationship than normal couples do. Normal couples might not have to spend as much money on travelling but they might just spend money on date nights and other things. If possible meet half-way. The costs might not only be less horrendous but you can also go on a new adventure together. Yay!

4. Trust

I think trust is always important. In any kind of relationship. Yet, in a LDR it is sometimes all you have. When your significant other is going out with friends and you know that it is one of those crazy nights, don’t panic. It is wrong to question them, or worse, accuse them of things they haven’t even done. You have to trust them or else the relationship is not going to work and that’s a promise. It’s OK to be anxious. If you are, just tell your partner and they should understand.

5. Honesty

Like trust, honesty is important in all kinds of relationships. If you have any worries or fears that are bothering you a lot, you should probably let your partner know. Especially when it concerns the relationship. Sometimes omitting information is worse than telling them straight away. If you don’t say something straight away and they find out somehow, it will look like you were trying to hide something and that’s not good.

6. Distraction

It is unhealthy to let your whole world revolve around one single person. Even though a LDR requires commitment, dedication and sacrifice, it shouldn’t become the one and only thing you care about. If you think about your partner 24/7 you will get miserable very quickly. It is normal and OK to miss someone. You can’t help missing someone when you care about them and they’re not with you. However, distraction is important so you don’t fall into a major depression. On top of that, imagine how your partner will feel if you cry yourself to sleep every night and tell them how miserable you are. They will most likely feel like they cannot live up to your expectations. The amazing advantage of a LDR is that it gives you space to grow as an individual. Concentrate yourself on your job or studies. Go out and explore the world. Take up a new hobby. Read a good book. Watch a movie. Educate yourself. Let your partner know about the new things you learnt. It will make a big difference.

If you have any more tips, feel free to share them in the comments!

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Are You Disconnected Yet?

Valentine’s Day makes me think of red roses, chocolate hearts and frustration. Don’t get me wrong! I believe that the idea behind Valentine’s Day is great. Having a day to specifically celebrate Love is a beautiful idea. Taking time to connect with another human being is important. You shouldn’t need a specific day to remind you of that but today I realised that maybe reminders like this are now more important than ever. When was the last time you genuinely interacted with another human being?

The Internet is a splendid invention. Before the Internet our lives were less practical and convenient. If I didn’t have free software like Skype, I wouldn’t be able to talk or see my boyfriend, who lives thousands of miles away from me. Without Google, it would take me weeks instead of days to do academic research. Without Spotify, I couldn’t listen to my favourite music wherever I go.
Smart phones are yet another convenient invention that has made our lives even easier because now we can carry the Internet in our pockets. We have access to it almost whenever and wherever we want. For a while I’ve been trying to convince myself that all of this convenience isn’t changing who we are and how we interact with the world around us. However, I would be more than just naïve if I truly believed that. I don’t doubt that there are positive changes to all of this but what about the negative ones? I wrote a short research paper on how social media like Facebook affects adolescents. My findings were disconcerting because I had to come to the conclusion that social media was not only doing something strange to adolescents but to all of us. And that’s just Facebook. What about the Internet as a whole? What about all of the distractions it constantly offers?

I don’t own a smart phone, which is important to mention because it allows me to have a completely different perspective. Last week, for instance, I sat on the London Overground heading to Richmond. At some point I started looking at the people around me and everyone had a smart phone and was doing something with that smart phone. They were listening to music, texting someone, browsing the web or playing games. God knows what they were doing but they were definitely in a different world than I was. This is all OK, I mean, I get bored on the train. I do some introspection or just read a book. Back in the days, people probably had their heads buried in the daily newspapers. What about social gatherings, though? One of the most annoying examples I can think of right now are concerts. I go to a concert because I want to listen to my favourite artist in the flesh. I can let the sound waves carry me. I feel the beat in my chest. And then you have those interesting individuals who stand in front of you and block your view because they’re trying to record the whole thing with their smart phones. They are literally trying to capture a moment they will never be able to capture because it is so unique and so evanescent. We’ve always been eager to capture moments which mean something to us. It is a desperate attempt to hold on to a specific moment in our lives. It is not reality, though. It’s only a representation, an image. I love taking pictures. I have several photos in my room to remind me of all the wonderful people I have met and all the beautiful places I’ve been to. Now, with social media it seems that we want to capture and record every little thing. We want to present fake lives to the virtual world. Our online self is often not who we really are. But what are we trying to prove? What are we escaping from? Are we escaping from a broken society? We seem to be willing to connect but actually this overload of information is making us kind of antisocial. No ordinary human being will ever be able to process all the information that we take in every single day. I don’t understand why we’d rather connect with things, events or people that aren’t in the Here and Now.

I think that a lot of us are missing out on the world because we are constantly distracted. I know we and the generations after us will be OK somehow. We survived the telegraph, the radio and TV. So, I’m sure we will survive the Internet, the smart phone and even Google Glass. I just don’t know how.

What Studying Abroad Taught Me

I’m full of empty promises sometimes. That is one of the many things I discovered about myself while I was studying abroad in New York City. Obviously, not being able to keep a promise is more than just a bad habit. It’s a sign of unreliability, a lack of discipline. For instance, I promised myself and many others that I would blog about my experience out there. It would have been a good way to keep track of everything and update my friends and relatives. It also would have been great to find out how and when I became who I am now.

Taken by Laetitia "Lee" Kaiser

College of Mount Saint Vincent. Taken by Laetitia “Lee” Kaiser.

When I stepped into my old bedroom at my parents’ house in Luxembourg two weeks ago, I realized that I had changed. I had become a different person in only 6 months. Standing in that room felt like standing in a cabinet of curiosities. The pictures on the wall belonged to a time long gone. The books in the shelves were putrid remnants of the person I had ceased to be. Someone else had rearranged the furniture. Some things were gone. Others had collected a layer of dust. That’s when it hit me. 6 months. Sometimes that is all it takes.

Brooklyn Bridge. Taken by Lee Kaiser.

Brooklyn Bridge. Taken by Lee Kaiser.

I had many challenging moments in New York. I doubted myself and the decisions I had taken so many times. There were nights I silently cried into my pillow because my heart was overflowing with emotions and I was interminably confused. I didn’t understand why everything I did seemed so very bizarre and unusal of me. I was surprised at my own actions. I felt emotions I had never felt before. It was like I was watching myself from the other side. I had a lot of time to think about it all and I came to the  conclusion that New York encouraged me to live. I knew that the months would fly by like nothing. It was like I was finally aware of the passing of time. I could finally see with clarity. I felt no inhibitions, I did all the things I wanted to do because they felt right to me at that time and place. I have no regrets. I don’t even regret the painful moments. I am happy, I am sad. Happy — because I learnt a valuable lesson that I will never forget. Sad — because my study abroad experience is nothing but another collection of seemingly pointless memories now. When we are caught in a daily, monotonous routine, we tend to forget  that our days are numbered.

‘I can do it tomorrow.’

‘I’m too tired to do this now.’

‘I don’t have the money.’

But really… Let’s be honest for a minute. Would we stick to our little excuses if we knew that today was our last day on earth?