That’s the question most people ask me when they find out that I Skype with Alain every night. I don’t know how to start answering the question so I just end up saying, with what I’m sure is a bemused expression on my face, “Erm, everything?”
The thing I don’t get is why people seem to think Skype convos are any different from the ones they have with their other halves in real life. Could it be that, thanks to smartphones, the art of real-life conversation has been lost forever? Maybe being physically together, but only mentally there half the time (the other half of the time being dedicated to OTHER conversations on Whatsapp or watching YouTube) is the new normal, which is why a fully-engaged conversation for a sustained period of time seems rather odd in this day and age?
I guess the idea of being on the “phone” for an hour or two at a stretch seems rather archaic. As much as I love my friends, I can no longer imagine calling them out of the blue for a heart-to-heart as I used to do back in secondary school. Similarly, I would be extremely alarmed if I were to get a call (rather than text or Whatsapp message) from a friend out of the blue; I’d most likely think it was an emergency or that they were in urgent need of help (or maybe they just want someone to give them directions to get someplace).
But the truth is, I look forward to talking to Alain each and every night. No matter how shitty my day gets, that Skype call is the thing I can count on to be the highlight of my day.
So what do we talk about? Like I said, everything. We’d update each other on what went on in our lives, we seek counsel with each other if we’re facing a tough decision or dilemmas, we talk about fighting and sport, we engage in a debate about politics or the state of the world.
While our current long-distance situation is far from ideal, our Skype conversations go a long way in strengthening our relationship, not just because of the constant contact, but because, through many of our conversations – both trivial and serious – we reaffirm our worldviews and values. As an example, both of us have recently talked about going partly-vegetarian, as we’ve watched a series of documentaries about the cruel treatment of animals in the meat industry, so we’d talk about what we ate for the day, the difficulties we faced.
I know. It all sounds pretty mundane. But this is the only way to know how to grow – not just as individuals, but also as a couple.
Being Friends Is Just As Important As Being Lovers
I have a pretty short attention span where most other sorts of social interactions are concerned. I shy away from small talk as I find it mind-numbing. When I’m with a group of people and they’re talking about things that don’t interest me, I tune out. (According to this HuffPost article, they are all telling signs that I am an introvert.) But when I talk to Alain, I find myself being more engaged, responsive, excitable and chatty. Talking to him requires no effort at all and, to me, that’s a sign that we’re not just partners in a relationship – we’re also best buds.
And I think you really need that sort of connection to make it in a long-distance relationship. Above and beyond that spark and passion that lovers have, your partner must also be a friend. If not your best friend, at least one of your very good ones. People always talk about “putting in effort” to maintain an LDR, but if you’re friends with your partner, I assure you, the effort will be diminished by half. Because, really, what could be easier than catching up with an old friend?
Anyway, while we’re on the topic of Skype convos, I might as well answer all other questions you might have about maintaining a relationship over Skype.
Do you dress up to Skype with him?
I met this man as we trained in the same muay thai gym. When you meet a guy looking your worst – red-faced, sweaty, hair plastered to your scalp, wearing a pair of satin shorts – you set the bar pretty low. I do finger-comb my hair though.
What if you guys run out of things to say?
It’s rare, but it does happen. But they are comfortable silences so it’s not that weird. But most of the time, we’d just send each other YouTube links to funny videos or movies we want to watch together. I’d make him watch it and wait, just to see his reaction.
Do you guys …
No. Please don’t ask me that again.
About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. It’s suddenly occurred to her that there aren’t many Hollywood movies about LDRs and wonders why this is the case. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.
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