You’ve read the advice, the tips and the tricks, but sometimes just hearing about other long-distance relationships (LDRs) can take weight off of yours. Today get to know my brother Peter, a high school senior, and his partner Iris, who joined us on Facebook chat from college. They have been together for 7.5 months and in a LDR for 5.
How far apart are you and Iris when you are in a LDR?
P: Half an hour by car.
How often do you see each other in person?
P: Usually once every two weeks, sometimes longer. I convince a family member to drive me up. Also on her breaks.
You don’t have your driver’s license?
P: Nope. That’s what she wants for her birthday.
How did you meet?
P: At church, I guess. On a trip to North Carolina was the first time I actually talked to her, because we were in the same work group. We were in North Carolina to rebuild homes and play with children in a rural town. It makes our relationship sound very exotic. We actually got to know each other on a church trip in Scotland, which sounds very romantic.
What attracted you to each other?
P: Originally it was just because she was someone I vaguely knew in my work group. She’s silly. And she’s gorgeous, and she’s nerdy. She’s very smart.
I: Other than you were a nice guy? You were in the Friend Zone back then, man. You were weird in a nice way, and funny and smart and what-have-you. Basically, you were friend material.
In your LDR, how often do you communicate and what is your usual method?
P: Usually daily and usually Facebook chat because it’s easiest.
What is your preferred method of communication?
P: I like Skype because you can see them. It’s nice after not seeing them for a week to have their face appear on your computer screen.
I: Skype, providing it’s working. And if it isn’t, then the phone. I get to hear you and see you on Skype. It’s the closest I can get to actually having you here.
What other ways do you communicate?
P: I like the telephone because you can hear tone. You can actually understand how they’re feeling. Facebook, letters. I’m gonna send one tomorrow.
That’s an old-fashioned way of communicating. What made you decide to start?
P: It’s more personal. It’s kind of the same as Facebook: you’re seeing words, but they’re handwritten, and someone took the time to write them out.
How do you feel when you send or receive a letter?
P: When I know she’s sent one, I get excited and check the mail right when I get home. And when I send one there’s anticipation of her reaction, because she always seems excited to get one.
I: Warm and fuzzy. Receiving a letter in the mail is awesome to begin with, but it’s doubly great when it’s from you. There’s something particularly personal and touching about a letter.
What do you do to stay involved in each other’s lives?
P: Talk daily. Send little Facebook messages to each other when we get home from school or wake up. Tell each other about our day.
I: Communicating in some way, shape, or form at least once a day. I feel rather distressed if I don’t hear from you for a while.
Are there certain topics you always cover?
P: I send her a message in the morning when I wake up, and I always have my plan for the day. I ask her what her plan for the day is.
How do you resolve arguments when/if you have them?
P: I don’t think we have had any. We have nothing to argue about. We’re both happy.
How long do you expect to be in a LDR?
P: Until she’s done college this semester. Then it’s a close-distance relationship because she’s home for the summer. And then it gets farther away, because I’m leaving for college.
I: I may have started mapping out a train and bus route to your college.
What do you like about being in a LDR?
P: It makes seeing each other a lot more fun. It’s like pent up energy from when you were apart all gets focused to that time. I might be apart later in life from someone, and it’s good to know that you can handle it.
I: The only plus that I can think of is that we’re forced to give each other space. No clinginess.
What don’t you like?
P: Separation. It’d be nice to see her whenever I wanted. I’m not worried about her doing anything; I trust her. The only problem is the separation.
I: Sometimes I feel a bit like we’re growing apart, which is why I’m really happy that this semester will be more flexible in terms of visits.
What would you change about your LDR?
P: I guess Skyping more often. It’s nice to see her, even though I’m not there.
I: I wish it weren’t such a hassle to see each other because we see each other rather infrequently considering how close we are.
What advice would you give to a couple just beginning a LDR?
P: If you want it to work, you can make it work. Send letters because it’s always nice to find something in the mail from the person you’re missing. Talk about the little things in your day, because even though you think they don’t care, they might be interested in what you had for breakfast. I always ask Iris what she had for dinner because she has the fourth best dining hall in the country. Tonight it was taco bar; it was the fourth best taco bar she’d ever had.
I: Sometimes it’ll be rough or frustrating because you don’t get to see someone you care about for extended periods of time, but sticking it out is worth it, especially for someone like you, Peter.
Thank you to Peter and Iris! And look forward to more interviews in the future!