On Long-Distance Relationships

Do you want to be in a long-distance relationship?

For most of us, long distance relationship is doom. This survey by an Indonesian blogger (written in Bahasa Indonesia) further proves that LDR is feared by many people; many would discourage LDR-to-be couples by saying “well you could just break-up now, it won’t be any different”.

I used to have the same opinion. I oppose the idea of LDR and don’t believe that relationships could last without a regular physical meeting with your beau. I hear stories here and there of friends in a weepy post-break-up state because of the little troublemaker that is LDR.

Graduating from university means that students will now go back to their hometown, near or far. Hence, lately I received a horde of stories from my friends (and myself and my boyfriend) who are in doubt of the future of their relationships because they will be separated miles away from their significant other. This is, of course, natural. Physical proximity is important in relationship; in fact, a research by Segal in 1974 (Alphabet and attraction: An unobtrusive measure of the effect of propinquity in a field setting) proves that people are more likely to start a relationship with individuals who are physically proximate than those who are at a distance. In a more day-to-day situation, of course it is natural for people to fear for being “in a distance” when you usually spend more than a third of your day with this special someone.

My first try in a long-distance relationship was about six months ago where my boyfriend had to be in Jakarta for his internship while I have to stay in Bandung doing my thesis. It was not much of a distance; it was just 130 km away. No time-zone differences. Yet I still find it weird not having someone you can call in the middle of the night to grab a bowl of Indomie or pick you up because you took the wrong angkot route. We had our share of quarrels; lots of ’em. Weeks later when he had to go to Singapore for a month, it felt like all eternity. For those months, we were able to find a reason to be upset with each other every single day.

It was a tiring situation, and to be honest, I was losing it. I didn’t believe in the relationship. Why keep a relationship going just to fight every single day?

Miraculously, we managed to succeed our first leg of our long-distance relationship. It was my boyfriend who kept on believing on “us” (that sounds a bit too cheesy, doesn’t it?) and said relentlessly “have a little faith.”

Now being on the sixth month of our long-distance relationship (now I am the convict, flying away to the UK for seven months from September), 11,753 kilometres, and seven time zones away, we, to my own surprise, manage to survive.

The teleportation machine is not yet invented (and even if it is, with the current technology it would take 4.85×1015 years) hence we cannot go for a salmon maki and inari sushi every now and then, nor can we hold hands or go to the movie together (but we do have movie dates, powered by Skype). But here we are, one of us widely awake at 20:42, and one of us sleeping serenely at 03:42. Both of us are reaching our dreams; here volunteering in museums and cooking (yes, I do cook regularly now (such an achievement)), and there utilizing IT to make social development more efficient and driving (yes, he can drive now!!!! *throwing flowers*).

Turns out my then-opinion of LDR is just an utterly foolish thing to do was wrong. It has its own benefits and thrills as well.

Why long-distance relationships are not really that bad

(some additional points to this BuzzFeed post)

  1. Quirky dates.
    It might be a reason that resulted from self-pity, but it is still something I like about being in an LDR. Thanks to Jeje, my high school bestfriend, who gave me ideas of video-call-dates I could try doing with my boyfriend. Also thanks to other LDR couples out there whose ideas of a date I took and implement. Among them are movie dates (go on a video call and each one of us would play a movie together at the same time, down to the very second), eat the same menu as if you were out in a restaurant together, have a commemorative romantic dinner (which involves dressing up and eating cakes/desserts), or as simple as skype-ing while cooking.

  2. The mail.
    Who doesn’t love handwritten letters? In the era of emails, Brown & Cony stickers, and WhatsApp’s emoticons, handwritten letters among young couples are as rare as finding shiny pokemons (but I heard it’s not so hard anymore, isn’t it? (I haven’t played Pokemon X & Y omg)). Everyday on my way to the kitchen, I pass my house’s main corridor where the mail slot is located. There are lucky days when I find a letter/postcard/package directed to me among the brochures and leaflets of pizza delivery services; and it surely does boost my mood up, if not bring a smile to my face.

  3. Trust.
    As I’ve hinted in earlier paragraph, the reason why my first long-distance relationship survived was Dika’s constant plea for me to have faith. Being away from each other, you cannot know for sure whether the other end is actually at home, or whether the 20.00 appointment with a group of classmates really is a group of classmates. I have never been so possessive up to the degree of syncing calendars or checking messages inbox, but let’s just say I do not trust people so easily. Being in a long-distance relationship taught me loads about trust: how they are very easily ruined and how they are very hard to obtain.

  4. Maturity
    Long-distance relationship makes me more mature. My childish, clingy self is sometimes faced with the bitter reality that it cannot roam as freely as it usually could. I became more independent. My impatience diminishes. Our selfish selves learn how to compromise. Dika’s indecisiveness shrunk. He became less dramatic. Our (more like my) enormous ego that never wanted to apologize first or the desire to prolong fights, just because, gradually decreases. The brief moments on which we can converse are far too precious to be filled in with meaningless fights.

  5. If we can make it now, we’ll make it later on
    (In Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York tune)
    I see long-distance relationship as a good test to the hearts. If we can survive months of being away from each other now, I have this belief that I can tackle future problems as well. It serves as a stage where couples remake and retest their foundation of relationship until it fits and less shaky. Making an overused analogy, one may compare it to the formation of a diamond; worthless carbons, given tremendous amount of pressure, resulted in a beautiful and valuable diamond. (geuleuh ah)

  6. Lastly, love.
    I love my boyfriend (d’oh). But being in a long-distance relationship…changes it. In a better way. My affection for Dika has grown perhaps into a more mature form of love. It is no longer the unstable love where my feelings for him can change in a nanosecond, nor the kind of love that resulted from a sudden romantic treat. It is no longer roller-coaster-kind-of-love. It doesn’t fluctuate ever so often, not rushed. It has evolved to be one that is calmer, purer, simpler, and more…basic. In an analogy of a theme park ride, maybe it would be a ferris-wheel-kind-of-love. Slow and is ran on a constant speed, yet still exciting (or maybe a carousel? Ferris wheel are kind of boring….)(well I am never good in making analogy). I feel genuinely happy. I do not need nor demand a well-planned romantic evening. It is already very pleasant just to converse in dull, daily stories.


Now back to square one. If asked the same question, do I want a long-distance relationship? Maybe. If I had to choose between eternally in a close physical proximity and long-distance relationship forever, surely I’d choose the earlier one.

But, I would like to argue that couples need it. It is a great source of learning, testing, and rediscovering your relationship. I am genuinely grateful that I am currently on a long-distance relationship. And, thank God, so far it worked 0:-)

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