LDRs

The Big Move

Luggage

When you and your partner finally have the opportunity to move and be together and once you have everything arranged and ready on the other side, your biggest task is going to be the actual move and deciding what will move with you.

Set aside the things you will be taking, do a trial pack, and weigh your suitcase. The costs for having an overweight suitcase are far more than the costs to courier something over. A great way to get some extra things in, is one of those 4-wheel hand-luggage suitcases. It also saves your neck the strain of a backpack or your shoulder the strain of pulling a suitcase. Remember you don’t need to pack for the weather you’ll only be experiencing in 6 months. It’s also better to pack those things which are expensive and one-of-a-kind – coats, boots, handbags. You can buy T-shirts and jeans anywhere.

Couriering

Look at your courier options before you leave and pack the boxes you will want couriered over before you leave. Your things can be shipped, flown over, or sent as excess baggage, which you simply pick up at your destination airport.

When You’re There

Organise the things you need to sort out when you arrive by priority. Ensure that everything is in order with the foreign office, your bank account, health insurance, enrolment, rent, etc. It’s better to set up debit transfers for your bills. You don’t want to be stranded without health insurance or heating. Be certain of all the costs entailed or in addition to your rent – heating, water, electricity, insurance. If you’re on specific medication which isn’t sold in the country, find out the equivalents. If you’re able to, you might consider converting your driver’s license ASAP before a law changes and you need to do another exam!

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LDRs

The Honesty Pact

Miscommunication and trust can be a great difficulty with long distance relationships. What your partner is doing, what they meant by a certain text or particular Facebook status can send your mind reeling into questioning doubts and anxieties. The solution however, is simply you and your partner agreeing to be open and honest with one another. It’s difficult to trust, but if you’re open about your life with your partner, it makes it so much easier.

Make these promises to each other:

• If something bothers me, I will tell you and not be indirectly hostile or impolite.

• I will tell you when and where and with whom I socialise.

• I will not divulge anything about our relationship which you might be uncomfortable with.

• You can ask me anything.

It’s important not to avoid awkward conversations and hostility to grow between you. If something is making you uncomfortable – however trivial – discuss it. This way you are certain that if something is bothering your partner, they will tell you and not drop passive aggressive messages like bread crumbs hoping you’ll lead yourself to the problem. And you won’t have to look through meanings in text messages or Facebook statuses.

Talk about your friends, what you do and where you go. If you share these details nothing will seem clandestine and suspicious to your partner. And if you feel uncomfortable sharing something, perhaps it’s an indication that you shouldn’t be doing it. The more details you share the better, and offer them willingly. Tell your partner they can ask you anything anytime. If they know this, they don’t need to feel uncomfortable when they do or worse yet, just keep it to themselves and let the issue fester.

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LDRs

Dealing with different lifestyles

In addition to being in different locations, you and your partner may be living different lifestyles. Naturally, this could be the case in any usual relationship; that one of you is at school or university or working, or has to work and study, or works and has made an amateur profession out of a hobby, while the other is occupied with one of the others. In a long distance relationship however, the chances of having different lifestyles are that much greater, as you two most probably didn’t meet under normal circumstances. And, of course, the cultural and time differences don’t make your situation any easier.

The main thing is to share and explain to your partner how your life works on a daily basis, what your expectations are of your partner and how much time you can spare for your relationship. In turn, your partner explains how their life works and you two can construct a communication schedule from there.

Understand that there will be times in anyone’s life when things get terribly strenuous. If one has exams or a deadline at work, one may not have time to Skype every night or be distracted by regular I.M.s. You need to be understanding of each other at these times and give each other the space to get the work done. You may find that you’re a bit grumpy when you’re under a lot of stress; try not to take it out on your partner.

It’s also a good idea to synchronise things which you can control. Work when your partner is working, so that you can have mutual free time. Do other things at the same time too, like meals – which you can have together on Skype, and exercising, and you can check in on each other afterwards. This way you can hold each other accountable to deadlines and enjoy each other’s progress.

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LDRs

Transitioning between visiting and the normal day-to-day LDR

When you visit your partner, or they visit you, you will be moving from one extreme to another. You will be going from a time packed with sight-seeing, traveling, romantic dinners, romantic movie nights, meeting friends, meeting family, in fact spending several consecutive days together, entirely together. After being apart for so long, everything is sentimental, special, close, and romantic. You may even have to spend the first two days getting used to each other again. And when the time comes to say goodbye, you won’t be ready and the vacation will have seemed far too short. Then, all of a sudden, you are having to get used to communicating at set times through phone calls and Skype after having spent all day and every day with them.

Here are some tips to help make the transition a little smoother:

• Try and ease into the distance by communicating a little more than you did before the vacation. It will help make the sudden separation seem less severe.

• Bridge the gap between the times that you see one another with talking about the vacation that has passed and planning the next one to come. Distance is a lot easier when there’s an end in sight.

• It’s also good to start planning an end to the distance.

• Look through photos of your vacation together, reminisce about your highlights, and what you found particularly fun or surprising.

• Tell your partner how much you wish they were with you. It helps in this time to be particularly intimate and affectionate in your words.

• Also try and maintain the intimacy that you two gained when together until you see each other again, so that the next time you visit you’re building from where you left off, not starting all over again.

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Issues which may arise when visiting one another

While you may speak with your partner often with instant messages, phone calls, and Skype, and may know them very well – their likes, dislikes, fears, hopes – it’s an entirely different situation when you two are physically together. You will most probably find your conversations to be wonderfully efficient and flowing with limitless ease, but it’s the simplest actions and miniscule details where you may have problems. It’s because they appear to be so negligible, that you tend to dismiss them when you’re the perpetrator, but feel terribly slighted when you’re the victim.

An issue may arise if, for instance, you’re sitting together and one of you decides to leave the room without any explanation to the other. You may just be going to do a small errand which has just occurred to you or to make a cup of tea, but the one who’s left sitting in the room will be thinking, “uh, did I do something wrong?” Another is example may be if you are out together and something bothers one of you – the table is wobbling, a baby is crying incessantly in the corner, the club is too smoky. This happened to my partner and I, but instead of letting a trivial circumstance ruin our evening, I decided to just be alright with it, but I didn’t communicate this to my partner and he was confused as to why one minute I was grumpy and then next, happy.

Because you are apart for the majority of your relationship, you’re not used to sharing all the processes of your mind. Naturally you won’t have to tell each other everything when you’ve been living together for a while, you’ll get used to picking up on each other’s subtle hints, moods, and body language, but in the mean time, share what you’re thinking. You don’t want to waste your limited time together squabbling over silly things.

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LDRs

The difficulties of different LDRs

There are two main kinds of LDRs. Either two people meet and are together for a short period of time when one or both are travelling, or two people are living in the same place for a considerable amount of time and then one has to move away for family, work, or study.

There are difficulties and advantages to both. If you have only been together for a short time before you’re separated by distance, you don’t have to reconstruct your entire relationship, because your relationship is starting out as a long distance relationship. On the other hand, if one of you has to move away after having been in a relationship for a long time, you have that time as a strong basis and foundation.

However, if you are starting instantly with an LDR, you’ll be getting to know one another via Skype, Whatsapp, phone calls, and Facebook, and it’s natural that some things will evolve very quickly and others not evolve at all. You may find when together, that you can have very efficient conversations, but others things may seem a bit disjointed, whereas if you have a basis of a few years or months, you’re going to see and have to get used to different communication habits, because you will be communicating differently.

Either way, if you’ve committed to an LDR, it’s because you two have made a tremendous impression on each other’s lives. Be patient with one another, speak about issues rather than be angry about them, and ask rather than assume anything.

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Shake off the bad day

Whether you make use of Whatsapp, Facebook, email, or phone calls in your relationship, these still aren’t as effective as Skype can be. When you’re leagues away from one another, Skype is the closest thing you can get to a normal conversation – which is wonderful. However, because of this simulated normality, Skype conversations may also come with the drawbacks of normal conversations.

I too often find that when I’m in a glum mood, I bring it into my Skype conversations with my partner. For example, when I was busy with my exams, I was stressed and working all day. The only time that I stopped was when I Skyped with my partner. Ironically, because he is a source of comfort for me, and this was the only time I wasn’t distracted with work, I would vent and take out all my frustration on him. People do this with people with whom they’re in close proximity as well; friends, partners, family. They’re not angry with them, but there’s something about familiarity with a person that makes you want them to really feel your frustration. Astonishingly, he understood and would be able to calm me down and put me in a good mood. But in a long distance relationship, you don’t have ample time to spend together. You have a fixed time to have a conversation. This time that you spend together is valuable and you don’t want to waste the first few minutes coming out of a bad mood.

If you’ve had a rough day, perhaps take a few minutes to disentangle yourself from your thoughts, so that when you log onto Skype, you feel nothing but excitement to see your partner and enjoy the time you have together. Share what is frustrating you, but don’t take it out on your partner.

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