I have dated my boyfriend John since February, 2008, and I feel closer to him in more ways than I have with anybody else. I also live farther away from him than anyone I have ever been with. How can I be so close, yet so far away?
It's the Internets baby
My relationship with John was cultivated directly from social networking. We met on BearCiti, a friendly and well designed bear niche dating/hookup/oggling community. I oggled, he oggled back, "you're My Type," "OMG Woof!" From there we'd chit-chat and IM, and bit by bit the urge grew to get on a plane to see a man I never met before, whose mother thought I could be a crazy person (a valid fear I think). We met, fell in love, and then the realization hit that I would still have to live in Buffalo, NY, and John (at the time) still had to live in Annapolis, MD, and neither of us liked the idea of being apart. We had to give it a shot though. Luckily, with us both being geeks, we have a few tools that we used to build a relationship, 400 miles apart...
- Twitter - This is a lifestream spew of all my thoughts, rants, and aversions. John follows me on twitter and I follow him. We follow each others friends and have a comfortable network of people that share our thoughts. Twitter allows me to know whats going on with John, and vice versa. I know his thoughts in 140 characters. and he knows mine.
- IM - God we talk a lot. Both of us use IM for work purposes, and all day we chitterchatter, rant and rabble rouse. Occasionally we get work done, but its good to know I have a link to him. IM is the good old standby.
- Blogs/podcasts - I blog (duh), and John does occasionally, but this is more than just our content. Its the content of the web. So many of my relationships have fizzled because we have ran out of things to talk about. The web is a series of tubes and they go on forever. We share our web findings and our snark on a daily basis. From all this, I learn how John feels about things, his interests and opinions are a vital part of me feeling close to him.
- Flickr - This was something I wanted, whether together or apart. I wanted dinner parties and flickr sets. I get it all with John, and even though sometimes we quarrel over who gets upload rights, flickr archives it all. There has never been a trip with out a flickr set attached to it. Flickr doesn't just benefit John and I, our friends and family see us in action (well, that set is private, actually) and provides a little validity, whether they need it or not.
Sex - This one's a little bit archaic but its the absolute most important thing besides physical contact: hearing your lover's voice. John is the first person I talk to in the morning (I call and wake him up) and the last person I talk to at night. We have done this every day. I text a lot too, and with a smartphone I can manage and use all of the above social apps wherever I am. I admit to being a bit attached to my G1, but I'm also really attached to John. And as crude as it sounds, nothing is more fun than getting a dirty picture message out of the blue.
- Video Streaming - Here's our most recent example: John and I aren't spending Christmas together due to logistics, but I still want to experience some bit of the Holiday Spirit with him. His present arrived a little early due to need, and he opened it last night over uStream. I watch and we talked as he unboxed it, smiled, and tried on his fancy new headphones. Sure it was a little weird, but you know what, it felt like I was with him. I got to see the look on his face, the joy of the gift, the appreciation. That's what Christmas is all about right? That and spiked eggnog. I will admit we use video for other purposes, too... just not over uStream.
I don't like long distance relationships, and neither does John. We do more than make it work, we thrive in it. All of it has to do with love, dedication, and a little web 3.0.
There a many other benefits of the web that can benefit long distance relationships. Think about finding cheap travel or job hunting. LDR's used to get a bad rap because they were difficult to maintain and communication was limited to phone, or letters (something about paper, and stamps.. don't know). If you have hesitations about getting closer to that person who's not so close, think long and hard about why you want to take the risk. Dating someone across the way can be heartwrenching, and no amount of twitter can help that. However, things have advanced in the ways of communication, and as long as you can maintain a strong connection, the miles don't suck so much.
P.S - Its totally OK now to date someone you met on the internet. Don't be a prude, update your snobbery book. kthx.
(Crossposted at: Buffawhat.com)