I must say I didn’t want to write about this topic. I am convinced that my relationship works mostly because me and my boyfriend are simply compatible and both seriously committed to build something for our future rather than because we know some tricks or use particular communication apps. I am not an expert of long distance relationships, since I only had one, but my relationship seems somehow to work and many people ask me for some advice so I finally decided to write a post about that. Keep in mind that I don’t own the solution but I can at least write about what works for us and maybe you can be inspired and find your own way to make you relationship go far.
1. Keep in touch at your own pace
This is pretty obvious but I read many times tearful stories of Japanese boyfriends disappearing for days if not weeks and then arising again as nothing had happened telling to a worried to death girlfriend that they have been busy with their job.
Make it clear from the beginning because it will be a pillar of your relationship, if you are the kind of person who’s fine with a couple of messages per day fine, if you need more, say it clearly. As most of the men on the planet also Japanese men are not good at understanding their girls’ needs, unless their girls tell them. Japanese men probably won’t be very accustomed to direct requests so your boyfriend might be surprised at the beginning but he will eventually appreciate the benefit of having a happy girlfriend. Me and my boyfriend have this agreement: we write each other random messages during the day, call for a couple of minutes if we can and Skype extensively during the weekend. We used to Skype everyday back when we were both students at university but now office hours don’t allow us anymore. Essential part of our agreement is that the longest time without communication must be 24 hours maximum.
We reached this agreement after one episode that made me almost lose my mind. I wasn’t getting any message from him on that day and I was already worried when I read on the news about an earthquake in the Tokyo area. I started to read frantically all the information I could find and I was about to freak out completely and start calling all the hospitals in Tokyo when he finally wrote me. He was completely fine and totally unaware of any earthquake. He was just very tired and went to sleep without writing me. I didn’t want to be the obsessive kind of girlfriend so this is what I told him “Fine, you were tired and I cannot complain about that, but at least let me know you are alive before going to bed, no poems, no long conversations, nothing like that, just a word to let me know you are still in this world and I will be happy.” That’s where our 24 hours agreement is coming from. I am allowed to worry (and complain) only after 24 hours. It works for us so I feel like suggesting a similar agreement if you are in a long distance relationship.
2. Send each other gifts
The hardest part of a long distance relationship is the lack of physical contact. Sometimes, when a long time has passed since the last time we had the chance to be together, the relationship feels so distant from every day reality. I know the feeling very well and I found out that the post office is the cure. The trick is to send each other gifts. I cannot send myself in the mail but at least I can send something I made or something I choose especially for him. It does not have to be expensive stuff, it can be just a picture of you two in a frame, a letter, a poem, a handmade card, homemade cookies or other sweets (beware of the shipping time, something risks to arrive too late to be eaten), a souvenir if you went on a trip with family or friends, simple things like these. Even if you communicate every day the feeling of receiving a letter or a small package is so nice! It always makes my day both when I send something and when I receive something.
3. Carefully plan your encounters
To make plans about our holidays is one of our most loved topics of conversation. We will be together and we will be exploring new places, it is top for us. To plan your holidays with the partner is also a good way to understand if you have the same tastes, if you like the same activities, if you are fascinated about the same kind of places and so on. It is a great way to get to know each other better and better.
There are a lot of things to discuss and choose when planning a holiday, how to get there, what to see, where to sleep, what to taste. It is a fun activity. Another option might be to give him just some hints about your tastes and let him surprise you. Would you trust him enough to let him organize it all? If you are the organizer, would he trust you enough to let you decide on all aspects of your holiday? During the last year we almost established a sort of competition about who organizes the best holidays, for the report at the moment I am the winner.
4. Make good memories
Whenever you are together try to make tons of memories of your happy times. Take pictures, collect tickets or cards, collect objects like sand or flowers to dry or coasters from the restaurants. You don’t need to buy expensive souvenirs, unless you want to obviously. When in Japan we take purikura when we visit a new city and we collect all the entrance and transportation tickets, we collect flowers and even small stones or shells from the beach.
Every now and then during our conversations on Skype I challenge my boyfriend showing a ticket or something we collected to see if he remembers where it comes from. Sometimes he gets it completely wrong and we have lots of fun. I think that remembering the good times together and feeling again those good feelings makes the bond stronger. Even when I am alone sometimes I look at our collection of pictures and souvenirs and I can see how many things we did together and how far we have gone since our first encounter.
5. Involve the parents if you can
I already wrote a lot so this will be the last suggestion. It has been very important for us and I think it might be as important for some of you. I know it might not be possible in all cases, sometimes you already know that parents don’t want you to date a foreigner, some other times you just want to keep it private. There are many different situations, I am aware of that, but, if you can, involve the parents. We were lucky, our parents have been enthusiast about our relationship and supported us, I have stayed at his parents’ house, he has stayed at my parents’ house, we have been travelling together, and they have also been involved in our gifts sending. This is important especially if you are in a relationship with a Japanese person, for the Japanese the approval of the parents is extremely important and having the blessing of Mom and Dad will be a great step towards the next achievements of your relationship (if you know what I mean).