Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Communication...and Errors

One of the biggest things people in long distance relationships seem to struggle with is communication. To me, communication is one of the most important things to build a strong, healthy, and lasting relationship. Based on my mindset and the normal struggle of being half a world away, long distance relationships shouldn't work..but someone mine does.

I am very fortunate to have a boyfriend that can survive on very little sleep and one that loves talking to me (I think!). That 8 hour time difference doesn't seem so bad when I call him on Skype before I go to bed to have a chat about my day and say goodnight. Unfortunately for him, that little bed time chat falls somewhere between 4:00 and 6:00 AM, depending on how sleepy I am or how much I miss him.

Technology helps too..being able to stay connected throughout the day with Whatsapp, G Chat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Skype makes the distance feel smaller. Sometimes they close the gap so much that I forget we are in different time zones, different countries and different cities. When I get a text saying, "I'm sleepy, I think I might go to bed," I look in horror at the clock as it strikes 3:00 pm...and then slowly remember it is 11:00 pm in England.

The key for Tim and I making it work is just genuinely putting in a little effort. Send a text hello just because, make a call when you have a spare minute, and send pictures of what you are doing, wearing, and experiencing so they might feel a little closer. Today I ate lunch while I was working and used my lunch break to call him and have a chat. We didn't talk about anything too significant, just spent time laughing and catching up, and I know that it brightened both of our days.

That little extra effort of Tim waking up before I go to sleep to say hi, even if he goes right back to sleep after, really makes me happy and makes me feel connected to him. I don't need minute by minute updates, but it does feel nice having a bit more of an insight into the other person's day, especially when it is in a place that is foreign to you. (On a side note - I'm so happy I visited because now when he says he is going to the shops I can actually picture where the shops are!)

I'll admit - it isn't all roses and sunshine all the time. I don't know anyone where it is and I don't think I ever will. The biggest problem for me with long distance is tone and lack of communication.

Despite all the wonderful things about technology, it can be difficult to detect tone. My boyfriend happens to be a snarky, sarcastic man with his British sense of humor, and a lot of times that does not come across to me how he thinks it does. For me, I get short with people in two situations: when I'm busy/overwhelmed, and when I'm angry. A busy day at work can mean me being short with Tim and him thinking I'm mad at him. Or sometimes I am mad and I have to try to explain how I'm feeling written in a text with no tone and no facial expression, just words on a screen. I'm not the greatest at expressing my emotions all the time so that can be hard for me.

What I may consider as a "lack of communication" can just be him sleeping in, playing sports, hanging out with friends, being in a meeting at work, making a meal, or taking a shower. Without having a totally accurate clock in my mind of what his day is like I forget those things are happening and think he's over me for the day.

I talk a lot. He listens and talks back. We make it work as easily as we can and use all ways of communication to do so. For every hour of confusion and frustration each month I have hundreds of hours without it. That little bit of extra effort can go a huge distance, maybe even enough to bridge a 5,000 mile gap.

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