Guest Post by Andrei Milosevic
When I was twenty-one, I fell in love with a woman who lived in California. This wouldn’t have been a problem, if I’d lived in California. Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn’t even living in the continental United States. Needless to say, our relationship wasn’t easy—long distance relationships never are.
There are a lot of insecurities, inconveniences and anxieties that come with long-distance relationships. Even the best long-distance relationship can turn the most level-headed, rational person into a semi-paranoid, sexually repressed blend of nerves and bottled-up emotions.
Being in a long-distance relationship is like being trapped in a jar of molasses. You feel like you’re in a constant state of suspended motion, because you spend the vast majority of your day waiting—waiting for your partner to call you, text you back, sign into Facebook or save up enough money to come see you. When you do finally get to see your significant other, the time flies by too quickly and, before you know it, you’re on a plane headed home.
It’s enough to drive anyone insane.
Yet, despite these trials and frustrations, long-distance relationships are increasingly common. It makes sense, when you stop and think about it. We live in the age of social media, inhabiting a world where people are more comfortable connecting through screens than they are making eye contact.
It’s only natural that people would find and maintain committed relationships with people they don’t get to see very often (or, in some cases, haven’t even met).
The problem with using social media platforms to maintain long-distance relationships is that something always gets lost in the equation. Intimacy conveyed in a rapid exchange of text messages and IMs will never compare to the feeling of being with the person you’re in love with.
Besides, those kinds of communication are easily exhausted and tend to get stale. There are only so many times you can text your girlfriend an “I miss you” message before she has to start resisting the temptation to roll her eyes.
So, what are you supposed to do when your social-media romance starts to flounder?
Personally, I’d suggest getting back to basics—WAY back. Like, thirty years back. Forget Facebook. Forget Twitter. Forget the internet, and any other type of technology/social media platform that didn’t exist in 1987. If texting, Skyping, tweeting, etc. aren’t really cutting it anymore, maybe it’s time to take some relationship advice from our ancestors.
See, before social media, people had to make do with whatever tools they had on hand. Maybe we should follow their example and start thinking outside the social media box.
1. Write a love letter.
Remember love letters, before the invention of the telephone, they were the primary method by which people in long-distance relationships used to communicate. The worst thing about the recent rise of social media is the declining significance of hand-written love letters. I’m not saying you need to write out your feelings on papyrus in your own blood, but it’s always nice to open up your mail box and see a letter from someone you love.
2. Never underestimate the power of a phone call.
Has anyone else noticed that people don’t call each other that much? When people use their phones, they’re usually using them to text, Facebook or get directions somewhere.
That’s fine, but there’s going come a point in your relationship where the person you love will need to hear your voice—not because they have something to tell you, or complain about, but because they miss you.
When I was living in Serbia, my girlfriend and I used international calling cards to call each other every Friday night, and that worked really well. They were cheap and we got to talk to one another without worrying about my internet connection spazzing out.
3. Constant communication is less important than consistent communication.
If there are parts of your life that interfere with your ability to be in constant communication with your significant other, that’s okay. If you were one of those people who needs to know where their significant other is every waking moment of your life, you probably wouldn’t have agreed to a long distance relationship in the first place.
Instead of worrying about being in constant communication, set aside time every week to talk to one another. Finding that time can be difficult, since you’ll have to navigate two different schedules and take time zones into account but, if you’re flexible, there’s no reason that you and your significant other can’t continue to develop your relationship when you’re apart.
Andrei Milosevic is an international student, traveler, and writer. Over the past few years, he has been studying international business and providing advice and insight into international calling. In his free time he kayaks and Skypes with his best friend back home in Serbia.