Tuesday, December 27, 2011

4 Months, 5000 Views!


Exactly 4 months ago on August 27, I started LOVEanon. Today marks not only the 4th month anniversary, but the day it HIT OVER 5,000 views! We made it! Thank all of you LOVEanese readers so much for your support! Thank you for spreading the love!

Keep spreadin' it,
-Ogie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Love and Technology

Good morning LOVEanese, I have a lot of exciting updates and news! The first is that for all of those waiting to hear about my thesis... I'll be starting the rough draft of the results by tomorrow. So, hopefully it will be written by the end of the first week of January. Also, I hope to have a rough draft of my entire thesis by the end of January/beginning of February! We'll see if I can do it :)

Second, you are all great. The blog already has over 4,751 views! Thank you for reading, and thank you for commenting (y'all loved the last post about platonic friendship with the opposite sex!). But now I have a request. It would be an amazing Christmas present if we could hit over 5,000 views by 11:59 on December 31. Do you think we can do it? Spread the blog around: post it to Facebook, e-mail it to friends, Tweet it, Google+ it, post it on your blog, to your RSS feed, tell your friends, check out the LOVEanon Facebook Page... whatever you want! It would really mean the world to me if it could get to that number.

Today's post isn't going to be long. All I want to do other than give you my news is post about a couple links about computer mediated romance. Last night, an article came out in the Daily Star written by my friend Brooke Anderson. She wrote about technology and love. You can read it here. She also interviewed me, and mentioned LOVEanon. Another good story was written on a blog I like to read (IvySays) also related to dating and technology. It can be found here. Check out both of them. What do you think about it? Tell me in the comments below! Bonus: this article discusses why it's so easy to fall in love online.

Also along those lines, I just wanted to highlight some other technology and love-related articles. One of which is this one, which spotlights 5 pretty decent-sounding post-break-up apps for a smartphone. Another is this infographic about relationships and Facebook:


In case it's difficult to see, once again, you can check out the original, bigger version here. Another interesting infographic related to Facebook was created by Science of Relationships (available here if it's too small):


Another cool article to check out is from Mashable, and presents statistics on how technology is used in dating and within relationships. For instance, 1/4 people send a friend request on Facebook before the first date (assuming there IS a first date). It also includes stats on when people think it's acceptable to become "Facebook Official," how individuals in their teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s follow-up after a first impression, and statistics on sexting. Here's a bonus too: apparently, people are using smartphones everywhere--including in bed.


(+961): "Dude, I thought foreplay was an app!"
(+91): "That's Foursquare you idiot!"

In another Mashable article, the author looks at oversharing on social media, and how it can not just be detrimental to a relationship, but people are increasingly trying to show off their relationships online.

Lastly, a really interesting article (also from Science of Relationships) is this one about the connections between predicting relationship satisfaction and longevity and your mobile phone. I really suggest you read it, but one of the most interesting reviews of the findings was that: "[the researchers] quickly realized that the number of text messages mattered far less than why couples were getting in touch in the first place. Surprisingly, "expressing affection" (e.g., "I miss you already," or "XOXO"), was the most common reason couples were texting each other. In fact, couples said they texted for affection 75% of the time, followed by discussing serious issues (25%), apologizing (12%), broaching confrontational subjects (6%), or hurting their partner (3%)." This is interesting because it sheds light on a more positive side of phones in a relationship context, as they often get a bad rap and are associated with negative effects.


"Mmmm! Thx 4 da pza babe! *Instagram*"
"NP! Lol, jk, luv u!! <3"

Something I think is interesting is that, compared to my American friends back in the States, people here in Lebanon really do seem to put their relationship status' (and in fact, a lot of information) on Facebook. Is it because people are trying to keep some information private from their friends, or more likely, their parents/family? Do people here just "trust" Facebook and the Internet less? Is it because people's networks are just so much bigger here than they are on average in the US? Let me know what you think!

I'm not sure if I will post next week or not, but keep the conversation going. Have a great Christmas/New Year/Holiday (no matter what religion you are), and enjoy the time with your friends and family!

Spread the (holiday) love,

-Ogie

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Can Men and Women JUST Be Friends?

Good afternoon LOVEanese! Before I get into my topic, I just wanted to share two things. The first is a picture that I took in downtown Beirut:

Even the Beiruti sidewalks are catching on to the message!

The second is a really cool article that I saw in the AUB Main Gate magazine today:



It says "One day somebody will write a book about all the wonderful love stories that started on campus..." I sent them an e-mail telling them about my thesis and said, "I'm already way ahead of you!" :)

Just thought I'd share...

So, now, on to what I wanted to blog today about something I've seen going around Facebook and Twitter, and I figured now's a good time to talk about it since it's fresh in everyone's minds. There was a really cool video posted recently about whether men and women can be friends or not (the general rule being that they can't be friends). Basically, these two independent filmmakers went around and asked male and female students at Utah State University in America if they can be just platonic friends with someone from the opposite sex. You can check it out here:


Pretty powerful huh? More recently, this study (as reported in Scientific American) affirmed the validity of the pseudo-experiment conducted above. Well, in case you don't know, however, they weren't exactly the first to point this out. Hollywood has long purported this as "fact," and the person who is best known for making this idea famous was Harry from When Harry Met Sally (one of my favorite movies), and Oscar Wilde touched on it before as well in Lady Wildermere's Fan. Here's the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally:


So, that's what got it all started, and frankly, he may have a point. A lot has been written on the topic since as well. Before I get into whether or not men and women can enjoy platonic friendship, let's think about what's going on when two people want to be friends. As this author argues, basic platonic attraction comes out of sharing similar activities, values, communication styles, etc. that allow them to spend time together. So as individuals do things together that they both like, they often become friends. The article also has some great advice from relationship authors and scholars who have more to say about it (this podcast has a lot of great information too).

Some other really good articles and resources that talk about this are this one, this one (provides some examples/anecdotes), this one, and this one. In fact many people have tried to comment on this such as Chris Rock who has some wisdom and insight to share.

Even she has something to say about this! (RIP)

So, CAN men and women just be friends? The majority of the research so far actually says yes, they can be, but with conditions and rules. This author writing for Psychology Today (which has some really great resources) sums it up well:

"The point is that the majority of people believe friendships between the sexes is possible. The majority of people, I suspect, also know what their own parameters are and when those friendships are safe as friendships and when boundaries might be crossed. In that case, the friendship is at risk, and a marriage or partnership (if one of the friends is in one) may be in jeopardy.  I return to the need for transparency.  Know enough about yourself to understand when a friendship is possible and when you are being friendly with the hope of developing a love relationship -- the latter happens when you are physically as well as emotionally attracted to someone. There is no right or wrong way to do this but being honest with yourself (I admit I am being nice to this person in the hopes of getting them to like me) may prevent confusion and hurt feelings down the road."

Would a guy still sleep with a girl though, even if they were "just friends?" Research also suggest that yes, they would. In a study conducted by Bleske and Buss (2000: 131) found that "men perceived sex with their opposite-sex friends as more beneficial than did women. Women reported receiving protection from their opposite-sex friends more often than did men, and they perceived the protection as highly beneficial. Both men and women reported receiving information from opposite-sex friends about how to attract mates, and they perceived this information as beneficial." So, this reflects the video that I mentioned was going around. Men are perceived as being "protectors," whereas men tend to value the sex they can/do get from their opposite-sex friends. The authors relate this to evolutionary functioning.

What I would want to know is if this question of male-female platonic friendship can be achieved in the Arab world. As all of the above research/resources/articles all are framed within a non-Arab context, it just makes me wonder how these relationships are here. Moreover, it makes me wonder how these narratives are interacting with the local, pre-existing ones.

What do you think? Can they just be friends? Let me know if there's anything else I can expand further (I don't mind editing this (or any) post(s)).

Enjoy your friendships; spread the love,
-Ogie

References:

Bleske, April L., and David M. Buss. 2000. "Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?" Personal Relationships, 7: 131-151.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

3 Stages of Love & Keeping the Passion Alive

Good morning LOVEanese! I hope everyone enjoyed the day off (if you had one). If not, that's one more reason to come live in Lebanon: tons of religious holidays (which = no work/uni)!

I find introducing my posts is probably the hardest part of writing them. You know that I have a specific topic in mind, and you know it has something to do with the title. Well let me start this one like this. A friend of mine asked me a very poignant question a few months ago, and I told her I'd address it. But I was waiting for the right time. Now just happens to be the perfect time. The question she asked was "Does love always feel passionate?" What she means is, do you always have to feel those very strong feelings that particularly characterize the beginning of a relationship? Moreover, I could tell she was subtlety asking for reassurance and validation that she's "okay" and not doing something wrong since she still loves her boyfriend and is very happy with him, but doesn't necessarily feel that way anymore.

I've been wondering this a lot myself. I'm thinking about the feelings I have, and I just cant imagine that the intensity will ever fade. But sadly, according to most research, the intensity does fade. It does leave behind something so much better, however. In fact, anthropologist Dr. Helen Fischer have identified three "stages" of love that explain why this all happens.

In her book (Fischer, 2004) (you can find a great book review here), she explains how different biochemical processes are occurring in the brain during the course of a relationship. I've already talked a little bit about why we love, but these stages go through and explain how we progress in a relationship. Moreover, it assists in helping to understand how we adapt to relationships, how our brain regulates romance, and how love affects our body and mind. As the article points out, this is also evolutionarily advantageous as it helps maintain monogamy. These are the descriptions of each stage:

1. The first stage: Lust. This is characterized by those intense emotions of attraction and intense physical and sexual arousal. According to the author of
this website, "The first phase often is the all-important sex drive. The hypothalamus and pituitary, which lie at the base of the brain, signals the gonads to release testosterone and estrogen which stimulate libido, an important component during the "lust" phase of a relationship." The main hormones at play here are: testosterone and estrogen.

This is the "I really want to make sweet, sweet passionate love to you" stage.

2. The second stage: Attraction. While the first stage is all about being (or wanting to be) physical with someone, the second stage is the attraction stage. This is characterized more by the cliché emotions heavily portrayed in media for instance. This includes missing the person so much you feel like you're going to explode, only being able to think of the person, butterflies in the stomach, "obsessive thinking and focus on the loved one; the racing heart; diminished attention span; the need to ascribe significance to even minor encounters or communications; and the ability to see only positive qualities of the new partner" (this website). This is the stage I am in now, and this is the stage most common with new romantic partners. In my experience and interactions, when this stage of love tends to dry up, some people think that their relationship has become boring. Often what happens then is that they get bored or frustrated, and move on. What they might actually be craving though is the natural high you get from this.

"This is the phase in which the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine come into play, as well as the "stress hormone" cortisol and a substance called nerve growth factor. As brain scans show, these substances can be as powerful as addicting amphetamines. MRI scans show the brains of lovers, like cocaine users, "light up" in this phase, leading researchers to conclude that romantic love can be addictive. And as occurs with many addictions, in intense romantic love, the brain experiences: tolerance, which makes it need more exposure to the love object; withdrawal, the pain that occurs when the love object is gone; and even relapse; if a break-up occurs and--even months later--if the other person reappears, thanks to a resurgence of dopamine and norepinephrine, the partner is once again in love" (website). There are many chemicals at work here including: epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, norepinephrine, cortisol, serotonin, and nerve growth factor.

3. The third stage: Attachment. Remember how I said that usually, over time, those really intense feelings with physical and physiological effects wear off? Luckily, what they leave you with is something so much more important and lasting. This is the feelings of comfort, security, true, warming love. According to the same website, "the hypothalamus and pituitary release hormones like oxytocin. In women, oxytocin stimulates uterine contraction during birth and allows milk to flow during an infant's suckling, and is important for maternal bonding. The biochemical objective in this phase appears to be to foster calm, peace and security..." So basically, before you were feeling sexually attracted in the first stage, then a euphoric happiness in the second stage, but then if you make it to the third stage, you feel calm, secure, comfortable, and have a longer-lasting happiness. The key chemicals at work here are: oxytocin and vasopressin. Just an FYI about oxytocin, that's the chemical that exists in high levels among (usually older) individuals who have been happily together over a long period of time. Another interesting fact is that oxytocin is released when a woman orgasms.

There has also been a lot of scholarship on attachment styles and attachment theory (e.g., Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1979, 1980; Ainsworth, Blehard, Waters, and Wall, 1978; Hazen and Shaver, 1987, 1994; Feeney and Noller, 1990; Simpson and Rholes (Eds.), 1998) that examines the connection between attachment, attachment style, and love. Check out this website as it provides a great interactive survey that tells you what your attachment style is.

So, that's the three love stages. There are a couple other good sites related to the stages of love here and here. Perhaps it's hard to identify when you can fall in love exactly, because it's easy to misread the signs, or more than likely, identify the wrong stage of love that currently reflects your feelings and your relationship. BUT, this still doesn't answer my friend's question. Sure, you may move into the attachment phase of the relationship, but DOES that mean the passion is gone too?

The best answer is: perhaps, but it doesn't have to! Often if you've been together with someone for a long time, you've adapted to each other. This is common sense: the more you know someone, the more comfortable you are with them. Maybe you aren't wondering how much they like you anymore--you already know. Maybe you aren't tripping over your words when you see them anymore--because you can talk to them so easily. The fact is, as you get closer to the other person, you do get to know them, but we also generally get lazier. You hear things like "she knows I love her," or "I know he wants to be with me," yet people often forget to show it.

I've talked a lot about how individuals who are in a relationship can do enjoyable things together like try fun date ideas, and also stressed how compatibility is really important. In the case of reigniting passion, or keeping it going, you do have to make the effort. You probably already know what makes the other person happy. But don't be afraid to do something spontaneous like go to the mountains for a weekend, or surprise them with something, even if it's a small token of affection such as their favorite candy or a hand-made card with a sweet message inside (of course don't forget to be physically intimate either, or neglect your partners physical, emotional, or intellectual needs). There are many different sites I found that give some great tips and pointers how to do this, and entire books have actually been written on this. But I really like this site, this site, and this site. You can also check out some more fun date ideas here.

The most important thing to keeping the passion alive later in a relationship, however is communication. Communication is key! I've already blogged a lot about communication and understanding your romantic partner (e.g., here), but there's so much that communication can do. It can help you and your partner manage and organize your feelings, It can help you be open and honest about your feelings, and it can help you figure out how to continue to make the other person happy and satisfied in the relationship--as well as so much more.

I mentioned in the comments of my last post that I want to stay as objective and value-neutral as possible. While certain events in the past few weeks of my life have definitely challenged/changed my perspective on things, I can honestly say that no matter where you are--e.g., at the beginning of a romantic relationship like I am--or in the middle of a 1, 2, 3 year relationship, there is an explanation for why you feel different. But that's not an excuse! True, in the beginning, your brain/biochemistry/body/emotions give you a head-start. But later, if you're really committed and attached, the rest is up to you (and your partner).

Empower yourself. Communicate. Be proactive. Be romantic. And as always...

Spread the love,
-Ogie

P.S. Here's a great follow-up post.

Update: An article that was floating around the Internet in Sept. 2013 entitled "I Didn't Love My Wife When We Got Married." It's a poignant account of how the feelings of love are often misunderstood or misinterpreted, and is really a great reflection of the 3 stages. Check it out!

References:

Ainsworth, Mary D. Salter, Mary C. Blehard, Everett Waters, and Sally Wall. 1978. Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bowlby, John. 1980. Attachment and Loss: Vol. 3. Loss: Sadness and Depression. New York, NY: Basic Books.

----. 1979. The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds. London, UK: Tavistock.

----. 1973. Attachment and Loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and Anger. New York, NY: Basic Books.

----. 1969. Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Feeney, Judith A., and Patricia Noller. 1990. "Attachment Style as a Predictor of Adult Romantic Relationships." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(2): 281-291.

Fisher, Helen. 2004. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co.

Hazan, Cindy, and Phillip R. Shaver. 1994. "Attachment as an Organizational Framework for Research on Close Relationships Attachment as an Organizational Framework for Research on Close Relationships." Psychological Inquiry, 5(1): 1-22.

----. 1987. "Romantic Love Conceptualized as an Attachment Process." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(3): 511-524.

Simpson, Jeffry A., and W. Steven Rholes (Eds.). 1998. Attachment Theory and Close Relationships. New York, NY: Guilford Press

Thursday, December 1, 2011

To Date Long-Distance or Not: That Is The Question

Saba7o LOVEanese! Let's just face it: most people either love or loathe the idea of long–distance relationships (LDRs), especially if you're an internationally-minded Arab or a third culture kid (TCK). Often enough, our interpersonal relationships span the continents. And while this may fill us with a sense of connectedness throughout the world, it definitely doesn't come free of its drawbacks either. In a world that continues to globalize and become more interconnected, it's not just the case that our family and friends lie in different countries. In fact, our affinity for travel, discovery, and connecting with others means that who we fall in love with (and where) has the potential to create difficult situations. I mean, what are you supposed to do when love doesn't understand the concept of borders?

For anyone who isn't familiar with the concept of a TCK (Luchunyu / Via shutterstock.com and BuzzFeed)

It's like something out of a movie. You meet someone, you have an amazing experience together, and then, surely enough, it's time to go. It's the life of a nomad, a global citizen. Or simply, it's a product of the present. Either way, long–distance is tough to do (just as it's tough to say goodbye). I can tell you from experience that it isn't easy. I did it while in high school, and it was so difficult then (and mind you, it was with someone in the same state, not to mention same country), that I promised myself I'd never do it again (even though I did).

But this is the real world, and in particular, this is the Arab world! We're always moving around. Moving to the Arab Gulf; to Africa; to America for work. We go to university abroad, come back over the summer. Go to grad school abroad; come back for Christmas, for Eid. In the age of globalization, LDRs are something almost everyone I know of (Lebanese or not) have to deal with at one point or another because people are always coming and going. And many of these end up being international or even intercontinental relationships, not just intra-country relationships. 





Are LDRs really worth it though? What does relationship science have to say?
 
There is much research into LDRs, and looking into the studies that exist, you find that the results are mixed:

1. In one study, Maguire (2007: 415) found that individuals in her sample "who were uncertain about ever living in the same city as their partners were significantly more distressed, less satisfied, and rated communication coping strategies as less helpful than those who felt more certain about reunion." Meaning, if the future isn't looking to bright for you in terms of ever living around each other, there is a higher chance that it won't work out.

2. On the other hand, Guldner and Swensen (1995) found no significant differences between long–distance couples and couples who were proximately close together when considering the amount of time spent together and relationship satisfaction. "This suggests that the amount of time a couple spends together does not itself play a central role in relationship maintenance" (p. 313). Remember, too, that if you have good communication in your relationship, although you aren't physically close, you may be spending more good, quality time communicating with your partner.

3. Lastly, to give all of you who are in a LDR some more hope, Stafford and Merolla (2007) actually found that among their sample, those who are in LDRs actually had higher relationship stability than those who were in proximately close relationships, despite having limited face–to–face interaction. What they predicted was that LDRs have a higher level of "romantic idealization"--that is thinking about them more, having a higher frequency of romantic feelings, and what included being "idealistic distortion, romantic love, relational reminiscence, perceived agreement" (p. 37). However, they also found that "satisfaction with communication was more pronounced in LDRs than [geographically close relationships]. Idealization was also associated with infrequent face–to–face communication. [LDRs] were more stable than geographically close distance relationships as long as [LDR] partners remained geographically separated, but [LDR] partners were likely to terminate their relationship upon becoming proximal. Longer absences between face–to–face visits and extreme idealization during separation predicted instability upon reunion" (p. 37). In other words, LDRs tend to be more stable than geographically close relationships. However, this is only true as long as LDR partners remained geographically separated. Like the first study's findings, the partners were more likely to end their relationship when they started living close together again, in part, because long periods spent apart in addition to idealization often leads to break–ups when partners reunite.


So, as long as you are apart, you will most likely be better off than when you are close together because then the level of idealization will decrease. This makes sense too because even if you're talking every day, you don't notice their little habits. These habits may end up really frustrating you. And it is so true: it's the little things in life; the little things that both make you happy and upset you. Over time, little things build up into big things, and then they can erupt like a volcano. At least there is the potential for this unless you communicate openly and honestly. On a related note, however, it may simply be a case of quality of communication as opposed to instant gratification through the frequency of communicating. For example, author Simon Garfled commented on a long–distance relationship between his 25–year–old son and a woman he met and liked while on holiday in Portugal, stating the intimacy withered because they stayed in touch by e–mail, not letter, he claims. According to Garfled, "The problem was, this was all too instant. He would write, she would reply, and then he'd be obliged to write again, probably on the same day. But there was nothing significant to report, and so the whole thing fizzled out almost as soon as it began."

Just bear in mind, though, that one of the biggest limitations to these studies are that they are often focusing on specific populations (such as university students) that may not be representative of the general public, much less TCK's. Some of the research was also conducted almost 20 years ago when the way we connect was arguably different from how we do today. Regardless of whether or not LDRs are worthwhile, the fact is that TCKs will most likely to continue to enter into long–distance relationships, as it is often unavoidable. One of the best authorities out there on relationship research is a website called Science of Relationships (SofR). It is written, edited, and managed by a group of relationship researchers, and provides scientifically–based and reputable information about a range of issues, including LDRs.

SofR has four specific articles related to research about LDRs. The first is a response by Dr. Tim Loving to the question of whether LDRs were rewarding. In the end, he doesn't really explicitly conclude that they are or aren't, but they come with both positives (such as idealization and novelty), as well as challenges. The second and third is a two–part series entitled "Does Distance Matter." The author here presents evidence arguing that in general, "LDR dating partners are not significantly different from geographically close Relationship (GCR) dating partners in terms of how close, affectionate, and nurturing they are with each other, and they are no more likely to break up over a three–month period." She also presents research that finds LDR dating partners "actually report being more in love with each other and engaging in higher quality communication than GCR dating partners." She asserts that these findings indicate that "LDR and GCR dating partners are more alike than different in terms of a number of important relationship characteristics." Lastly, you can check out this infographic SofR posted with even more information:



An additional source for really great information on LDRs (that is well-researched and from an expert source as well) is this blog post from sex and relationship researcher, Dr. Justin Lehmiller, who also writes for SofR. He says that "The best research-based advice [he] can offer is to communicate—and to communicate frequently. He also cites multiple studies on LDRs and I encourage anyone interested in LDRs to read his words directly from the source.



What if I'm currently in a LDR?

Don't worry; you're not out of luck, and you don't have to cancel your Skype date. While the outcomes may be uncertain, there are multiple resources out there that try to make it a bit easier for you. For instance, SofR offers four good tips to navigating LDRs. Another is this cool infographic on the evolution of long–distance dating. I also suggest this helpful guide from Dr. Terri Orbuch with some great step–by–step instructions.

In any relationship, regardless of distance, communication is key! And we've come a long way, even since 2005 when I was in a LDR in high school As I have mentioned, how we communicate (or at least the media available), allow for multiple ways to help people stay in touch—especially in digital age. For instance, this website gives 10 tips for how to stay in touch with 10 types of technology. You can also now send text messages (SMS) to each other for free! There are three good sites that I found that review tons of different free SMS services (especially good if you have an international romance). This site has a good "top 10" and is a reputable website. In case you want more options, you can check out this website with 35 options, or this website with 10 others, or this one with more options as well. Some are listed more than once, but altogether, there's roughly about 40 options or more to choose from! And don't forget to check the comments section for even more. AND as a bonus, check this out. It's all about the art of texting, specifically focusing on LDRs. In case all of that wasn't enough, if you're in Lebanon, the two Lebanese mobile operators, Alfa and MTC Touch, also offer a free, practically unlimited Web-to-SMS service that can be used anywhere in the world to reach any phone in the world! Of course, smartphones and services like WhatsApp are so ubiquitous now that this might even be behind the times.

Additionally, you have Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Flickr, Reddit, Path, etc.), smartphones, FaceTime, Snapchat, Google Talk (Hangouts), e-mail, Pushbullet, laptops with built-in mics and cameras, Foursquare/Swarm, apps like Viber and Tango (great for making free calls and free texting!), blogs, personal websites, online gaming communities, YouTube, streaming a Netflix movie together at the same time, and the list continues to grow! There are just countless ways to stay in touch, and the apps keep growing.

Communication tools aren't the only additional resources available. I also found a couple of really nice and encouraging articles about LDRs, one on CNN, another on the New York Times. But these don't really give too much advice. They just offer reassuring anecdotes. On the other hand, so much has been written about LDRs, especially in the digital age and globalization. This includes an entire guidebook. I found many good resources for LDRs though on other sites. One of the best one I found was an entire website dedicated to long-distance relationships called Loving From A Distance. It has some great advice, links to resources and articles, and nice information for anyone in a LDR. I also found many lists giving advice about LDRs. By far, the best one giving point-by-point tips is this one. It's (conveniently) so on point! And it gives much better pointers than I could ever muster. Some other interesting point-by-point websites are this one and this one, and this one is a "do's and dont's" list, although this list is ever better. Lastly, this e-how article offers a bunch of resources that you can use to help make your LDR better like advice how to take better photos for your partner, links to flower-sending services, how to write love letters, etc.



In sum, I can tell you in my experience that if there's no way for you and your partner to see each other semi–often, it will be harder. Communication tools have gotten better, but there is something great about having someone close to you, next to you, with you. Able to touch you, kiss you, feel you. Proximity is very important to a relationship––they learn your habits, how you work, what makes you tick on a day–to–day basis, as well as get to know their friends (all of this vice–versa too for them with you). But on the other hand, having someone far away means you have to work harder. It means you have to set time aside just for them. And a plus side of LDRs is that you really enjoy talking with/spending time with the other person. It requires so much trust, and honesty, and openness. Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but only if that distance isn't prolonged. As one of the writers of SofR notes, a realistic chance of both partners living close together and the ability to visit each other occasionally can really make a big difference in how they manage the distance.

In the end, you and your partner have to decide what's the best thing for you both. Also bear in mind that some of the tips or advice may or may not be relevant to your relationship. There are a lot of variations to LDRs, and it definitely is different if they are a one- or two-hour car/train ride away in the same state/region vs. a flight away on a plane to a different country that is in a different timezone. Overall, though, TCKs especially will most likely to continue to have to face the positives and challenges of long–distance relationships. I only hope now that at least the reality of LDRs are more grounded, even if your thoughts and heart are up in the air.

What is your experience with long–distance relationships? Is it something you experience often as a TCK? As an Arab? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!


Spread the love,
-Ogie

Authors Note: A condensed version of this post was published on Gate37 online magazine on October 20, 2014 (Link)

References:

Guldner, Gregory T., and Clifford H. Swensen. 1995. "Time Spent Together and Relationship Quality: Long-Distance Relationships as a Test Case." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12(2): 313-320.

Maguire, Katheryn C. 2007. ""Will It Ever End?": A (Re)examination of Uncertainty in College Student Long-Distance Dating Relationships." Communication Quarterly, 55(4): 415-432.

Stafford, Laura, and Andy J. Merolla. 2007. "Idealization, Reunions, and Stability in Long-Distance Dating Relationships." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(1): 37-54.

Also see:

Knox, David, Marty E. Zusman, Vivian Daniels, and Angle Brantley. 2002. "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?: Long Distance Dating Relationships among College Students." College Student Journal, 36(3): 364-367.

Stafford, Laura, Andy J. Merolla, and Janessa D. Castle. 2006. "When Long-Distance Dating Partners Become Geographically Close." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6): 901-919.