Don’t Blame the Distance

It takes a certain type of person to keep a long distance relationship going. You can’t just jump into it – assuming it will be the same as a “normal” relationship and expect everything to work out.

There will be ups. There will be downs. There will be fears, tears, frustrations, and lonely nights.

But Long Distance Relationships are NOT impossible.

And, when done right, they are the most rewarding thing in the world.

Thankfully we live in the day and age where video chats on Skype are free, easy, and readily available. Just because you live across the world (in a different country, time zone, or culture) doesn’t mean you can’t still have a close, loving relationship… fostered by Skype calls.

After two years of Long Distance Relationships – these are the things that work for me. They might not work for you, though; each couple is different. And by “worked for me,” I mean that my husband and I survived the distance; we’re happily married now, living in Japan.

For couples “new” to the whole long distance relationship thing, I highly recommend Chris Bell’s Book: The Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide

Or, of course, my own book (written right after my husband and I moved to Tokyo and our LDR ended) My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book

He lays out a good way to approach LDRs – regardless of whether you expect to be in an LDR for a couple of months or a couple of years. The book is chalk-full of the stories of other couples who have successfully gone the distance.

So here is my advice for long distance relationship Skype date ideas (that keep the romance burning)

1. Skype as often as YOU need to

I know what you’re about to say. No one has time for that. No one has time to Skype every day. Between school, work, friends, and studying – it is hard enough to block out 20 minutes for your favorite trashy reality television show, never mind an hour to chat with your significant other.

But I need to Skype every day.

And if you need to Skype every day. Or every other day. Or twice a week – find some way to do it.

It took us a couple months of long distance to figure this one out. I noticed that if it has been more than 12 hours, I forgot to tell Ryosuke things about my day. If we only Skyped twice a week, I had a hard time prioritizing what was important and what could be left out. And we missed a lot of important things.

Our new rule: Skype twice a day. It’s hard – and it is a lot of work. Because of the time difference (14 hours) we Skype every morning and every evening for AT LEAST 15 minutes. Since we get to chat every day, we rarely Skype for more than an hour at a time. Having a regular Skype schedule has helped me fix my sleep and work schedules. I have much better time management skills, because the only constant thing in my life are my Skype dates.

I’ve noticed as soon as we starting Skype once a day, the number of (and the magnitude of) our fights decreased drastically.

[For more, check out: The Hardest Part of a Long-Distance Relationship – 12 steps for making it work]

2. Turn off ALL distractions

Don’t check email, Facebook stalk, or work on homework while you Skype. That’s just disrespectful to your significant other – and you won’t be able to get much work done anyways. Think of all the times you tried to “study” together when you lived together (or think back on previous relationships).

How much “studying” really got done?

I’m guilty of checking email and Facebook stalking during Skype calls. I get distracted easily – I can’t stare at the computer screen for too long. I get bored. I need to flip through things. Ryosuke hates it. So much.

To ease my “fidgeting,” I change positions every ten minutes on Skype. I sit in a chair, lay on the bed, spread out of the floor, or walk around the room with the laptop.

Just remember: 20 minutes of quality Skype time + 20 minutes of quality study time is MUCH better than a crappy hour of Skyping and “studying” where nothing much gets done.

3. Mix it up – try a group chat every once and a while

I’ve found the best way to keep Skyping new and fresh (even after 13 months of it) is to not always do one-on-one chats. Mix it up a little bit.

We are fortunate – both of us met at Ursinus College when Ryosuke studied abroad. As a result, we share lots of friends. I like to pass the laptop with Ryosuke around to other friends once a month, so he still feels like an integral part of my life here. Sometimes if I have to go the bathroom or buy a drink, I will drop my laptop off with a friend to keep him company.

I’ve met most of his friends in Japan; when they have “boy’s nights out” they will typically Skype me before they leave. It makes me feel like a part of his life. They ask my permission to “take Ryosuke out” somewhere fun.

We don’t Skype with friends for long, maybe five to ten minutes max – once or twice a month. It’s a great way to keep Skype interesting.

4. Watch movies and tv shows together

Ryosuke doesn’t watch TV. How I Met Your Mother is one of the few shows he will actually watch – so we try to watch an episode once a week (during the season). It’s fun. We open Skype in one window, the episode in another window, and chat throughout the episode.

Those are my favorite times. He feels close. For those 20 minutes, I forget about the distance. It’s a great feeling. Then, you know, we have something to chat about for the next couple days.

5. Send Skype Video Messages throughout the day

I suffer from panic attacks. They can be brought on by anything – a missed deadline, homework piling up, or getting sick. The hardest part about being in a long distance relationship (aside from, you know the normal horrible parts of a relationship) is the fact they can’t always be there. Ryosuke lives in Japan; I live in America. Even when we both DID live in Japan, we still lived a 13 hour bus ride away from each other (Akita to Tokyo).

He physically can’t be here for me when I need him – which is a depressing, but unfortunate, barrier in our relationship. We have a 14 hour time difference, if I have an attack at 1pm, it is 3am for him. I have no way to call.

So I leave video messages.

Not long messages – just the short, standard 3 minute video that Skype lets you send. It calms me down. When Ryosuke wakes up (or gets back from work) he can watch the video to check up on me.

Even when we don’t have problems, I try to send a couple video messages a day. I love waking up in the morning to find videos of Ryosuke awkwardly lip-syncing to something by Maroon 5, chatting about his day, or dancing around his room. It is Ryosuke-on-demand. I love it.

6. Try skype sex

A necessary part of any relationship. I have a lot of friends in long distance relationships – half of which (on average) cheat on their significant other without meaning to. Of course Skype can’t fill the void you miss by cuddling, falling asleep in each other’s arms, or kissing – but there is no reason to make yourself sexually frustrated.

Find what works for you and do it as often as possible.

Some couples love skype sex; some hate it. I’m on the fence… but every once and a while it is nice.

7. Try to eat meals together once or twice a week

My favorite part about doing long distance in Japan was eating dinner together. We were both in the same time zone; when we got back to our respective apartments at night, we would launch Skype, chat about our day, and unwind over a can of beer or glass of wine.

When we got hungry, we cooked together. I would put my laptop next to the stove while I made stir fry, cut vegetables, and fried meat. Then we would “eat dinner” together – with a plate of food on the table in between us and the laptops.

Most of my friends laughed when I told them about my Skype dinner dates. I’m sure to single people it doesn’t make sense – but to me it was the favorite part of my day. I grew up in a family where we chatted about our day around the dinner table. We always ate dinner together. Ryosuke and I keep that tradition going. Granted – it’s a bit harder to manage because of the Long Distance Relationship aspect – but long distances do not have to be painful and lonely.

[For more, check out: The Four Stages of a Long-Distance Relationship – Surviving the Separation]

Certainly, it takes a certain type of person to keep a long distance relationship going. You can’t just jump into it – assuming it will be the same as a “normal” relationship and expect everything to work out. There will be ups. There will be downs. There will be fears, tears, frustrations, and lonely nights.

But Long Distance Relationships are NOT impossible.

And, when done right, they are the most rewarding thing in the world.

[Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele]


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