Staying in Touch Across a Continent

2014-05-18 20.26

Get used to having your phone on you.

Hey, Lyndsay here! So Tom and I have been managing a relationship from Calgary to LA. And it’s hard, but not as hard as it could be. There are a lot of things you can do to make distance work. We haven’t been at this for long, and I am hoping some people in longer-running relationships will hop in in the comments!

The first thing to remember about distance is the little parts of body language and tone that you can use to communicate in person aren’t there. Clear communication – be willing to be frank, and be willing to share things about yourself. You have to do it with more bravery than it can take in person.

Here’s a lot of the stuff that we use to stay in touch with each other and hang out all the time when we can’t be there in person.

Being in touch is very easy with smartphones and social media!

Text

If you’re international, there are great apps that let you get around international texting charges. Voxer lets you text and send short voice messages. Gchat lets you chat, share images and video chat on hangouts. For international couples, gchat keeps archives – a big help if you need to file proof of relationship later!

I use text and IM to stay in touch with Tom throughout the day. Sharing news stories, talking about what’s on my mind and just hanging out. The apps let me avoid international texting charges.

Social Media

Tom and I already had a lot of overlap on our social media accounts, Twitter especially, but sharing our relationship on Facebook and Twitter is a great way to get to know each other’s friends and interact in a way that’s not just one-on-one.

I like being able to use twitter to introduce my friends and Tom to each other. It’s something that I have a lot of fun with, and it can help your relationship feel more integrated with the rest of your social life. Without this, our relationship sort of feels like it’s not a part of my other friendships, and it’s important to me that they’re at least a little bit entwined.

Photos

Snapchat is a great way to stay in touch with photos while avoiding filling up your storage with a ton of boring photos of each other’s faces. You can also text chat, add text to images and jazz up your photos with the drawing tool.

I like snapchat because Tom sends me photos of cars he sees around in LA – I really like cars, and sometimes I’ll get 4 or 5 shots of a Tesla, SLK or something more unusual. It’s a little thing that lets me know he’s thinking of me. I mostly brag to him about my meals and give him important Luigi updates. There’s also a lot to be said for being able to see each other’s faces throughout the day. It’s very comforting when you miss each other!

Video

Hangouts and Skype are the most popular choice here. You can share links and leave them running for awhile to just spend quiet downtime together.

We get together on weekends over Hangouts. Sometimes we’re just spending time together, other times we’re helping each other out. I get to help Tom plan his D&D games sometimes (if you’re in Tom’s game: everything bad that happens to you was totally not my idea, that was all Tom, I promise). We planned a lot of the fundraising campaign over Hangouts as well!

I really like the quiet, not doing anything hangouts that we have. It’s nice to share my downtime with him there.

Games!

Tom and I share a love of games, so we play a lot together. There are board and multiplayer games on Steam, and lots more to play on iOS. We like to play board games together on a hangouts. We also play Martian Dice together on Hangouts with 2 sets!

One of the more fun things we did recently was play through Borderlands 2 on co-op on PS3. I’d never played it, but Tom loves Borderlands 2 so he got to share it with me. I’m excited to do the same thing with the Left 4 Dead games – they’re my jam, and he’s never really played them.

We also play tabletop games over Hangout with friends, which is another one of those integrating your LDR into your social circle things.

The point of all these tools is how you use them!

It’s important to have rituals. Have a block of time each day, each week, etc. where you do something together. Being able to know the next time you’ll have each other’s full attention is a huge deal. Whether it is a hangout or a co-op game, make sure you have time scheduled to make each other a priority.

Online Shopping

I like to find little things with low shipping cost to have sent to Tom as a surprise. We both really like stationery, so I’ve sent him some pens before. It’s nice to be able to give him something tangible so easily. Steam purchases are another nice surprise, especially a co-op or multiplayer game you can enjoy together!

Being there

This is the trickiest part. Long distance relationships aren’t cheap. It takes travel – and international travel is especially expensive. But knowing the next time you’ll be able to be together has a big impact on your well being.

Plan your visits while you’re apart. It’s nice to be spontaneous, but we like to have 2 or 3 things we plan to do before a visit starts. Sharing your days with each other with the apps I talked about before is a good way to figure out what you should do together when you’re there in person!

Believe in it.

Above all, you have to believe in your relationship. You have to work hard on it to be successful, but if you’re pulling together you can make it work!

Moving to be together isn’t always an option. I’m looking forward to hearing how friends who have been in long distance relationships have managed. What are your tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Staying in Touch Across a Continent

  1. We were lucky in that we both work from home, so we were able to be in a Skype call pretty much 24/7. Exceptions being when we need to work without distractions, had to go out, had meetings, etc. That was really helpful for us because we had to go a couple months at a time not sharing a physical space with each other. It also made for no surprises when we started to live together, because we were already well familiar with each other’s daily routines, moods, etc.

    I know 24/7 isn’t feasible for everyone, but other things people can do is watching movies and TV together via Skype or Hangouts. Just pick something on Netflix or that both may own, countdown to press play, and go.

    Also, sleeping together online helped us. We’d fall asleep with Skype still on. Sometimes, one of us would have to mute our mics if we were working through the night, as to not wake the other person up. What I’m about to say may sound depressing but it was our reality: The sleeping together was super helpful when Andrew’s dad died suddenly in the middle of the night. He was able to start yelling and wake me up, so I was “there with him” when he got the news, as if we were living in the same house. It also made the next few days until I could fly down to DC a bit more difficult because I was there but I wasn’t (if you know what I mean) but it was a lot better than if I wasn’t there at all.

    Anyway, the more time you can spend together, the more you’ll already be used to them when the time comes to cohabitate.

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