Ahh, long distance relationships. LDRs...lovers daring romance...lengthy doting rituals...loooong dry-spell run...
Whether you sparked a fast connection over Wi-Fi or met IRL before circumstances changed, mutually deciding to maintain and strengthen that bond across time zones and date lines is a pretty ballsy conclusion to come to. Not to mention hella romantic.
Full disclosure, your humble narrator has been in two LDRs, the second of which lasted over two years, resulted in my overseas relocation, and dates back to 2004. (AOL Instant Messenger, you were THERE for me, #RIP.) I cannot lie, it was tough. This was pre-Skype. There were lots of international phone calls, lots of international calling cards, general frustration at the time difference and, of course, missing the all-important physical contact.
I’d like to assume, dear reader, that as a healthy and functioning adult, your imagination has also included ways to keep the LDR interesting for both yourself and your partner. The fact is long distance relationships do require more work and more communication. You have to be willing to put in the effort. And putting in that work is actually a very sexy quality, just saying.
I still find LDRs genuinely heartening. I see you, people who put their hearts on the line and their declarations online. But I wanted insight, too, since technology has flourished in such a way that there are now many formats through which to keep flames firing on all cylinders.
I cast the net out to...the net...to see what my people’s more recent LDR experiences have been with Facetime in lieu of face-to-face time. After speaking with five different couples, it turns out LDRs still come with the same obstacles to unpack, like managing the lack of physical contact, finding ways to stay close despite the distance, and generally lessening the FML factor of an LDR.
Time After Time Zone: The Dateline Game
In the extreme cases where you’re several thousand miles/kilometers apart (as I was from my dude), scheduling a time to talk can be tricky. But this is where the opportunity to get really creative presents itself.
One of the peeps I spoke with, S, had a love who dropped her pin in India after they started dating. They called each other once or twice daily, which felt like a healthy amount for their situation. “The fire is always there in an LDR, per that ‘scarcity breeds desire’ motto,” says S. And when that desire bred creativity, “Sometimes we’d surprise Facetime each other while the other was sleeping. Waking up to a ‘live show’ became a fun gimmick.” It’s sort of like virtually passing a love note to someone, only waaaaaay better.
I’m sure Alexander Graham Bell had something else in mind when he invented the telephone, but good old phone sex still does go a long way. The mere sound of your lover hearing what you sound like when you think of them...hold the damn phone.
Dial R for Raunch
Missing each other does suck pretty hard, there’s just no way around that. It’s part of the reason LDRs are among the more noble (or Shakespearean?) of human relationships. You know you’re going to suffer, but you also know you don’t want to be with anyone else right at that moment. You’re all in.
That said, the silver lining with time apart is that it keeps the door open for you to explore what works for you, sexually. Meditate on that extra bit of self-discovery and share your findings with your SO. That kind of idea swap will only strengthen your emotional connection, the strongest tool in your LDR-mory.
Teasing each other with fantasies about your past or future sexy times is just as crucial. Back it up with some off-the-cuff racy photos, like I once took while trying things on in the dressing room at my local lingerie boutique. In the face of unsolicited dick pic culture, S says “There was something cool about asking for and being asked for pictures and then getting them.” (Louder for the folks in the back, consent is sexy!)
Having that routine of sending yummy selfies on the regular is a great way to also just boost confidence in your sexuality, as well as your ownership of your sensuality. As I’ve mentioned before, making honesty the key factor in your self-exploration will transfer to total honesty in your relationship, making the distance seem a little more bearable.
Before you burn out on sexting and swapping photos, plan ahead to carve out a decent chunk of time for when you can spend a quality “date night” together.
Watch a movie with some idea-planting love scenes while Facetiming or Skyping (may I recommend Gaspar Noe’s Love). It’s totally okay if you don’t finish the movie!
Another friend of mine had the brilliant idea of Facetiming with her love while cooking, 6000 miles apart. They went from swapping recipes, to improvising with different ingredients on themselves. It wasn’t quite 91/2 Weeks, but it wasn’t far off. They’ve been cooking together once a week since then.
Can’t give a lap dance in person? Get your burlesque moves in order and make a little bedroom production out of it. Borrow a camera (and tripod) and take your own boudoir photos. Ain’t nobody got curves like yours and it’s always nice to send such a reminder.
Closer Than They Appear
According to science, touch is the first of our five senses to develop, and also the most intimate form of nonverbal communication. Not having that physical contact poses a challenge to any relationship, which is why consistent verbal contact counts for a lot. If the love is too strong, you just find ways to stay inspired and maintain that connection. (The brain is, after all, one of our largest sexual organs.)
All but one of the five couples I spoke with ended up staying together, and at least two of those couples relocated to be together. They all emphasized that a combination of knowing when they see each other again, and finding ways to keep the intimacy in tact were key factors in surviving the time apart.
I wish you luck, patience, a solid Wi-Fi connection, and more patience. Keep on keeping hope and love alive.