No one should ever say that managing long distance relationships is easy. It’s hard work. But today, technology streamlines communications to the point that friends form high expectations of each other.
And with tone-deaf, body-less technology, sometimes the message gets lost in translation. What one person considers a joke, the other could consider an attack—and neither could possibly be aware of the facial cues or body language that might lead them to a better understanding.
That perhaps is the most frustrating part of the experience. I like the phrase Eliana Dockterman used: “the impossibility of physical intimacy.” It’s not just for a boyfriend or girlfriend, too; part of the reason I feel more distant from my long distance platonic friends is because we literally can’t physically be together to high five or exchange looks. How many times have you settled an argument with your best friend by hugging it out?
Inevitably, one person or both question the others’ commitment. It could be brief, practically harmless. But it could be a virus, a distrust that consumes your opinion of the person. That is the ugly face of long distance. Its breath is filled with regret and its soul is bitter. To judge loved ones on perceived misconduct, big or small, is the great fallacy of the relationship.
So what can be done? For starters, confront the problem with communication. Let the other person know: hey, this is what been going on and this is how I feel about it.
At the very least, your openness will inspire an honest conversation. Rehearse what you want to say once or twice before delivering the message. The next step is the hard part, and one I can’t give as precise advice on. That’s because only you and that person can negotiate a solution. One thing I can say is that it will take sacrifice and commitment. That’s the investment you make for a friend; don’t complain about it.
But no one banned creativity as an option for making open communication easier. For instance, plan a surprise performance for your loved one the next time you video chat. (By the way, apparently video chatting a friend is much more worth your time than stalking their Facebook and Twitter activity.)
Of course, this is where my advice breaks down. Every relationship is different, and there is no ‘correct way’ to dealing with long distance. Concerning technology, perhaps recognizing the inherent complications that I’ve discussed will help temper expectations. We use the tools we can because we know they can help–that’s the point.
I like the Internet, sports and new people. Jon Stewart is my hero.