So what’s distance got to do with it?
Apparently, everything. Using technology to bridge the gulf in a long-distance relationship may not lead to e-nirvana. Technology has safely deleted the ‘distance’ from long-distance relationships (LDR), allowing couples to eat, drink, live and even make virtual babies together.sex and relationships Updated: Feb 18, 2012 20:24 IST
Drop in a risqué text to your beau. “Come on gchat,” it signs off. “I’m online on BBM and Whatsapp,” pops the reply. “Cool, but we NEED to Skype tonight. <wink>” You don’t need to be sitting in the same room, the same city, the same country or even the same continent to be having this conversation. And you certainly don’t need to hear about this from us. The mental wait for a letter, gargantuan telephone bills (I actually know someone who had to sell his handset to pay the bill after a month of amorous conversations with a girlfriend) and the stolen schmoozes from a shady cyber café may well be keepsakes from the technical dark ages.
Technology has safely deleted the ‘distance’ from long-distance relationships (LDR), allowing couples to eat, drink, live and even make virtual babies together. And they can continue to live in e-harmony, only a few gigabytes away from their happily ever after, right? Wrong. Because even as these tools of connectivity lull you into believing otherwise, someone will have left the building.
The art of oversharing
And despite sharing everything, from the colour of your pillowcase to the flavour of your milkshake with each other, one will have to start a new life without the other. And no technology has reached wide enough to fill that gap, yet! Our inhouse tech guru, Rajiv Makhni calls it the burden of over-sharing. “When you depend excessively on technology, refusing to acknowledge the actual distance between both partners, it eventually fails you. Earlier, there was more romance in the classic sense, in long-distance relationships. Now, there is a lot of pressure to share every little detail of your life. And when a partner, usually the one who has made the shift, is unable to keep up with the pace, the relationship bursts at the seams,” he says. While we don’t suggest hiding what you shouldn’t, every small detail shared could be unnecessary and even dangerous.
“Text messages, calls and virtual images still provide just a momentary – and sometimes puzzling – window into a partner’s life. Stories abound of jealousy over comments posted on a boyfriend’s Facebook wall or photos showing him dancing with someone else. A late response or poor word choice in a text can leave girlfriends stewing for hours about the state of their romance and asking friends and therapists to decipher a message’s meaning,” writes Abigail Sullivan Moore, co-author of The iConnected Parent, for The New York Times.
Long Live Distance
You won’t be very smart if you think technology can overcome the distance in your LDR. The number of kilometres will remain the same, with or without electronic signals flying in the air. “Technology can just help in connecting people but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a real person or their love and affection. Your partner can watch you from a screen but can’t come and be by your side,” advises Dr Surbhi Soni, a specialist in psychotherapy at the Fortis Hospital, Delhi. And if an exciting sex life is the sole girdle of technologically-propelled LDRs, then that’s a bubble waiting for its premature burst.
Hugo Schwyzer, a professor of gender studies and a popular American speaker on sex, relationships, and masculinity, writes in an article published in the widely-read women’s blog, Jezebel, “FaceTime and iChat aren’t a substitute for real sex, or for the wonderful awkward feeling, familiar to generations of college students, of trying to fall asleep next to a lover in a narrow twin bed. As Meghan (a 20-year-old student whom I spoke with for this article) put it, ‘Long distance relationships are too hard. 100 text messages days don’t add up to a single hug.’”
Most long-distance relationships that survive do so only when the partners deal with their time apart instead of viewing their future through the prism of online connectivity. Shreya Kapur Gupta, who made a three-year-old LDR work in a Skype-less era, tells us that they never solely depended on technology. “Of course Rohan and I would message each other, but it was never in a continuous stream. We’d make extra effort to remind each other of our time spent together. We would often send small, thoughtful gifts like collages of the tissue-paper notes that we wrote to each other initially. It really went a long way in keeping our bond intact.”
Why so Skype?
If your LDR’s sole life support are texts, calls and occasional Skyping, then it might be headed for a yawn-induced coma. Snap out of your tech-fuelled ennui. Here’s how:
Video Diary: Record yourself as if you were in front of your partner. Start with sharing a cup of coffee and make him / her tag along when you shop for groceries. This video packet is just the bundle of joy your relationship was waiting for.
Love Notes: Whip out the voice note recorder on your handset and etch your thoughts in data gold forever.
Date Night: It’s easy, even though you might have to learn to navigate a laptop while stuffing food in your mouth. Watch a movie or a sitcom that you both love. Sofia Vergara looks hot in all continents!
Cock-a-doodle-doo: Be the P’s (let’s keep it convenient, shall we?) alarm clock. Wake him/her up with a call and an amorous message. They might not want to get out of bed, but they’d be up all right.
Put Your Game Face On: We don’t need to tell you how to play online games, even when they’re banned at work but doing it with the P doubles the fun.
Dear Skype junkie/ whatsapp fiend/ rabid-text messager. You think you have the best ammunition to see you through years of LDR? See where you and your tool rank on our intimacy meter.
Doves and Pigeons:
Even though they’re completely hack proof, there’s a very slim chance of your message ever reaching your lover. Unless you have a ninja pigeon like the folks at Rajshree in Maine Pyar Kiya.
A twig out of ten
Telegrams and Telegraph:
Not far from modern text messages, but the operator might have his eyes on your dirty business. (Unless, you’re into that sort of thing.) And even then, the gratification would be far from instant, with all the STOPs.
Having done a cover story on ADD, we are well aware of the attention span for the written word today. But if you have it in you, then dig out the papyrus and give the Indian Postal System a boost. Lord knows they need it and it will be infinitely romantic.
Intimate, yes, if you trust that your letter makes it.
It’s not about size, but what you do with it. Calling every half an hour could well veer into stalker territory. But if you limit your calls to certain times a day, especially when you most need your partner, you could be calling God. Don’t forget to practice your dirty talk and voice modulation though.
When all else fails, messaging succeeds. In the middle of a big fight or a mega-boring presentation, it’s real-time chat that can save your day and remind your lover of what lies on the other side of the subcontinent/ocean.
A/S/L is the cornerstone for modern dating. How can we dare to question it?
Your lover will be forced to read them, regardless of time, patience and romance. A strange differentiator from the love letter.
It still ain’t a letter!
No touching, only seeing. A bad lyric but the most pertinent description of the video calling facility, bringing estranged lovers closer since 2006.
If it could get any better, you would be inside the
From HT Brunch, February 19
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First Published: Feb 18, 2012 15:25 IST