Today, there are more long distance relationships than ever before in history, and I can say this without having made any research into the subject. How do I know this? Because we have the internet, and the internet changed everything. Never before have people all over the world been so connected to each other. Chat messaging, video calling and social networks allow us to communicate across the world in real time, and it’s no wonder that we become friends and form relationships with people everywhere. This means a lot of long distance relationships. But how can we use all this modern technology to improve those relationships? That’s what Tech Time is for.
I’m going to make a few assumptions about you:
- You are a human being
- There is another human being that you like a lot
- This other human being does not live where you live, and it’s far enough away that you can’t simply drive there whenever you want
Congratulations! You are in a long distance relationship! Now, if you want to maintain this relationship, the best way to do that is to talk to each other. Everyone does it, but in a long distance relationship, it is especially important. You can’t express your feelings through physical interaction, like hugs and kisses, hair stroking, hand-on-thigh, sofa cuddles etc, so you’ll have to express it in words, and that can sometimes be difficult, but there are ways to at least get closer to the physical, and I’m going to go through some of them here.
1. An Actual Letter
It’s not actually a tech item, but the most personal way would be to send an actual letter, written in your own hand, in your own blood… okay, scratch that last bit. My point is that it’s something that you have touched and actually physically made your makings on. It can be touched and smelled, and it’s a great thing to keep, and collect. Something you can pick up and read in times of loneliness.
Quick tip: Kiss the letter before you send it and then mark where you’ve done it.
The oldest way to communicate on the internet, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon! The good thing is that anyone who have spent more than a few days on the internet is likely to have an email address. There isn’t much you can do without one, unless you just spend your time looking at pictures or videos of cats. Email can be received on any kind of device, both computers and smartphones and anything inbetween. You don’t have to rely on the receiver having the right app, or if they’re at the computer or whatever else limitations some other services have. It’s the most versatile messaging platform. On the other hand, many people’s emails get so many messages, spam and newsletters and other junk, that they get clogged up, and it’s easy to miss single, more important message, and some people don’t even check their inbox at all. It can take some time to get a reply to an email.
Quick tip: Being most suitable for long-form content, try and be creative! If you don’t get time to chat often, maybe it’d be fun to make a weekly newsletter?
Oh the beloved chat clients. They are everywhere, and new ones keep popping up. I remember a time when everyone used just one chat platform. A time when you could just ask for someone’s “msn” because you could just assume that everyone had an account with MSN Messenger, later called Windows Live Messenger (I think I was the only one who actually made an effort to call it Live Messenger instead of just MSN). Nowadays, we have Snapchat, Kik, and a million other chat apps, each serving a different purpose. When it comes to what client to use, all platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Kylie and I primarily use Skype coupled with a little Facebook Messenger. I can’t tell you what to use, because everyone has their preference, but I really recommend Skype. It’s a great allround platform. It’s got a good basic selection of emoticons, some fun hidden features like the possibility to apply basic text formatting and you can send files, photos and videos. Facebook Messenger is a bit more limited, but it’s more likely that any given person has it. Kylie and I mostly use it to privately share links from facebook or sending photos, since for some unknown reason, sent photos don’t show up on Skype on her computer. I guess I can touch a little on text messaging here. As Kylie and I live not only in different countries, but different continents, texting isn’t a viable option for us because of international texting fees. But it can be a good option if you mostly connect through your phones.
Quick tip: In Skype, you can make text italic by surrounding it with two underscores _like this_, bold using asterisks *like this* or stike through using tildes ~like this~. Also, put “!! ” is the begining of the message for monospace font or “/me ” for a little roleplay!
4. Video calling
Video calling is the most real-time way to connect outside of actually meeting. It’s not as easy to misinterpret as written text can be as you can communicate with both speech and body language. There are several services that allow you to set up a video call, and Kylie and I have tried most of them. We seem to be always coming back to Skype though. But Skype isn’t perfect. One of the biggest downsides (even though this is probably applicable to every video calling service) is a tendency to lag and often drop calls when uploading or downloading from Dropbox or other cloud storage services and sometimes the calls just start lagging for no discernible reason. At these times, we will use Google Hangouts, or since I now use an iPhone, FaceTime, both of which work pretty well, but still don’t feel quite as stable as Skype does.
Quick tip: A video call is great for simulating all those intimate activities you can’t do in long distance like dates and if you have the call running on a mobile device, it’s a good way to have your significant other attend parties and birthdays with you. If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s also really nice to fall asleep with the call running on a device beside your bed.
Ultimately, you will probably use a combination of all these methods of communication, and so it’s a good thing that there are so many offers available.