Posts tagged Relationship
Married in San Francisco
 
 

Waking up at six in the morning and nervously applying my own makeup. Forgetting my bouquet at the salon and panicking in the Uber. A short but incredibly sweet ceremony in a beautiful marble city hall, surrounded by our loved ones. An intimate reception at a restaurant by the bay with champagne, ribs, and happy tears. An afternoon of prancing along the beach and by the Golden Gate Bridge while still dressed in our wedding outfits. Hopping in an Uber after a whirlwind of a day and holding hands as we head home as husband and wife. 

It was a magical day. 

 

 
Our Honeymoon
 
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Day 1: Waikiki Beach + Fort Derussy Beach park

It wouldn't be a proper trip to Hawaii if it didn't involve a trip to the beach so we decided it would be the first thing on our list of things to see and do. We were staying at the Wyndham on Olahana St. and heading to Fort Derussy Beach Park was a nice walk. We rented a beach chair, picked a spot, and made ourselves comfortable. Joe braved the chilly water and took a dip while I read my new book and enjoyed watching all the different people on the beach. 

At one point, I wanted Joe to take a few photos of me in my new bathing suit but I didn't have the courage yet to take off my cover-up. There was a beautiful, curvy lady in a sexy one-piece suit with two friends who cheered her on as she posed on the beach for photos. She was so confident and seemed so comfortable in her own skin so I decided to do the same. Joe happily took my photos and the curvy lady smiled at me and cheered me on. It made my day! 

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Before heading to the beach, we had breakfast at Goofy Cafe and Dine. It's a bit of a hidden gem along Ala Moana Boulevard and was recommended to us by the concierge at our hotel. Joe ordered the Eggs Benedict that came with taro muffins and a salad. I ordered the Hawaiian classic omelette with brown rice and salad. We loved it! It was light but filling and everything tasted very fresh. 

 

Day 2: Luau! 

Another must-do that we wanted to cross off our list was a luau so we booked our tickets to the Chief's Luau at Wet N Wild Hawaii. It included a quick bus ride with an enthusiastic and entertaining guide, tasting of Lomi lomi salmon and poi, Mai Tais, beautiful handmade crafts for sale, and some talented people opening coconuts, singing, and teaching guests to weave. 

After about half an hour or mingling and sipping on Mai Tais, we took our seats and got ready for the buffet. It included taro rolls, purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, vegetarian chow mein, Kalua pork, poi, and sauteed Asian-style fish among other things. After dinner came the dance performances, song numbers, and lovely tribute to newly weds and couples celebrating anniversaries. 

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Day 3: Cromwell's Beach + Iolani Palace

On our last full day in Honolulu, we decided to check out a beach that on our friends recommended, Cromwell Beach. It's a short drive from downtown Honolulu and hidden away within a quiet residential area. Our Uber driver dropped us off at a dead end facing the sea and we walked down. The beach was quiet with only a few others there to sunbathe and enjoy a quick dip. If you need a beautiful, quiet place to write, read a novel, or just sunbathe in peace, this is the beach for you! 

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If there's one thing we enjoyed thoroughly in Hawaii, it's the food! From malasadas and poke bowls to fresh sashimi and Kalua pork, we tried to eat as much of the local food as we could. I particularly loved how Spam musubis could be found everywhere and huge platters of sashimi were only $30.

Must trys:

  • Malasadas from Leonard's Bakery. Get the original and cinnamon ones! 10/10 
  • Kyung's Seafood. It's a bit of a hole in the wall kind of restaurant but the poke and sashimi platters are so good and so affordable. We went there twice!
  • Eggs N Things. It's a popular restaurant that has an all-day breakfast menu. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not fond of pancakes but Eggs N Things changed that with their fluffy pancakes with macadami bits, shaved coconut, and dried pineapple.
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When we settled all the arrangements for our honeymoon, I did a Google search for all things we need to see and do while in Honolulu. Iolani Palace was on almost every list so we made sure to make that stop! The Palace Grounds are lovely and great for a little picnic on a warm day. The palace itself has been perfectly restored. Unfortunately, we were not able to tour the inside because we arrived as the tours were ending but we enjoy walking around and exploring the different historic sites. 

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Wedding Diary: My Bridal Appointment

Everyone makes a big deal of the wedding dress. It's supposedly the most important dress I'll ever wear and finding the perfect dress should be one of the pivotal moments of my life. There's quite a bit of pressure to find the dress that brings tears to my eyes, gets my heart racing, and leaves butterflies in my stomach...all while sticking to a budget. The goal is to look jaw-dropping, to look like a vision in white. That's not quite how my dress hunt played out. 

We walked into David's Bridal half an hour earlier than our scheduled appointment which gave us time to walk around and browse. Against everyone's protestations, I brought my fiance along to my bridal appointment and yes, he was the only male in the shop. I happily spent that half hour trying to give Joe a crash course on wedding gowns from the difference between ivory and champagne to the the different kinds of dress silhouettes. He, of course, nodded along and let me ramble. 

When our consultant was ready, we jumped right in and I gave her my criteria and budget: simple, classic, under $500, and midi-length. She wasted no time taking showing us some options. Since I had time to browse and had a good idea of what I wanted, within 10 minutes, we narrowed it down to four final dresses to try on. It was very straightforward. 

As you can imagine, Joe wasn't quite as excited as I was but he was incredibly helpful. He actually picked out the first dress I tried! He was also very practical. While the look and silhouette mattered to him, his biggest concern was if I was comfortable, if I could walk and sit, and if the dress made me feel beautiful. 

I suppose I expected the whole experience to be like an episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress' with tears and a consultant who is like a fairy godmother, determined to find your perfect fairy tale dress. Don't get me wrong - it was a great shopping experience but it wasn't quite what movies and shows make it out to be. My consultant was juggling my appointment with another bride so she was running around the shop, spending a few minutes at a time with each of us. When she was with me, she would look me up and down, ask me how I felt, and recommend some shoes, a veil, or a belt then run off. There was no time for gushing or retelling the story of how I met my fiance. We had 1.5 hours to try on dresses and there was no time 

 

 

 

Essentials: 

  • No makeup - You're going to be spending an hour and a half trying on beautiful, WHITE dresses and even with the most careful maneuvering, it's quite easy to accidentally get makeup somewhere. Try to avoid wearing makeup that can rub off onto the fabric like foundation and lipstick. 
  • Strapless bra - I made the mistake of wearing a regular strapped bra to my appointment and I ended up trying on mostly strapless gowns. Thankfully, my consultant was nice enough to let me use a bra they had on hand but I do wish I had worn my own. 
  • Shoes - When I tried on my first dress, I was wearing black flats. The dress seemed just okay. When I slipped on a pair of white peep toe heels, it immediately pulled everything together! Shoes make a world of a difference especially for dresses that don't cover the feet. 
  • Shapewear - Shapewear can do some great things for your body and how a dress looks on you. It also smooths out your silhouette and makes it easier to slip dresses on and off. It's best to wear the shapewear you plan on wearing on your big day. 
 

Tips: 

  • Do your research - There are a surprising number of things to consider when shopping for a wedding dress. Color, silhouette, neckline, sleeves, fabric, etc. I didn't realize there were that many shades of white or so many variations of tulle! Of course, you don't have to know all the terminology but having a pretty good general idea helps especially when communicating with your consultant. 

  • Be upfront about your budget - When I walked into David's Bridal, I already had a set budget that I was determined to stick with. I made that very clear to my consultant, who was very accommodating. We didn't waste any time trying dresses that were out of my budget and within that hour and a half, I had found my dress and a beautiful veil to go with it! Also keep in mind that your budget should also include other accessories or add-ons like a veil, shoes, alterations, and shipping fees. 

  • Focus on how the dress makes you feel - I knew I had found my dress when I walked out of the dressing room, saw my reflection, and couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a goddamn queen! I used to shop with the goal being to find items that slimmed me down or flattened my tummy instead of items that made me feel good. That mentality has changed in the past few years and it shined through when looking for my wedding dress. 
  • Be honest - The consultants can't help you find the perfect dress if you keep trying to be polite instead of giving them honest feedback. If it doesn't fit, say something. If you don't like the silhouette or the color, say something. They didn't design the dress so don't worry about hurting their feelings. 
  • Buy for the body you have now - I've read so many stories and articles about brides who try crash diets and questionable detoxes in order to look 'perfect' on their big day. Someone even told me to enjoy the burger I was having because as my wedding day approached, I would be eating nothing but lettuce. My response? The dress should adjust to me, not the other way around. And I already look perfect! 
  • Don't try too many dresses - The last thing you want to be when shopping for your dress is frustrated and overwhelmed, something that can easily happen when you try on one too many dresses. Take your time to go through the racks, let your consultant pick a few out for you, and try on around 4-5 dresses. 

 

Joe + Val: Q&A

In celebration of finally formally announcing our engagement, Joe and I decided to answer a few general questions about our relationship because everyone loves to hear a happy couple gush and ramble on and on about each other, right? KIDDING. But really, we just thought it would be fun to look back and answer a few questions about how we got started. 

 


How did you meet? 

Val: We met through mutual friends. I believe it was around late 2012. I happened to be walking around school and I bumped into Joe and two of our mutual friends. They were heading off-campus to grab a few beers and they invited me to come along. It was a bit awkward actually because I barely spoke to Joe that evening since he was stranger to me. 

Joe: We were both in 3rd year college when we first met at Cannan, a small hangout spot near the school. On our way there, my two good friends Renard and Daryl just kinda dragged Val along for the little hangout. 

 

What were your first impressions of each other? 

Val: Honestly, I deeply disliked him at first. Everything about him annoyed me. He has this laugh, a very hearty, boisterous laugh that can fill a room and I found it obnoxious. I think I was irked by the fact that nothing about him was restrained or censored. If he was happy, everyone knew it. If he found something funny, everyone would hear it. I was so used to people reeling themselves in that seeing someone be so completely comfortable being loud and quirky bothered me. 

Joe: I had no idea how to talk to Val and I was slightly awkward around her. I honestly found her kind of intimidating. We barely talked, any conversation being very simple or introductory. 

 

Who made the first move? 

Val: I did! Haha. Towards the end of March 2013, I decided to take the plunge and just tell him how I felt. I really wasn't expecting anything from him. I just wanted to get it off my chest. And as I had expected, he politely declined my affections. To be fair to him, my timing was horrible.  

Joe: Val made the first move. One day, she just said that she wanted to talk, just between me and her. She sat me down at a quiet area in the school, and just said it straight, and admitted to me that she liked me. At the time, I was going through a tough time in my life since a close friend of mine who I really liked just passed away. It caught me off guard, and I made up this really dumb story instead of telling her how it was. It basically read as a "no" from me, but I intended it to be more of, "I'm not ready. This isn't a good time."

 

What did your parents think of him/her? 

Val: My mom thought he was too much of a goody two shoes! Haha. When they first met, she gave him a bit of a hard time. She pushed his buttons a bit just to see how he would handle it and he did great. At the end of the night, she told me that he seemed like a good guy who really loves me but that he needed to let loose a bit. As for my dad, he liked him from the very start. 

Joe: My parents think she's a nice girl. They don't really have any complaints about her. In fact, when I once asked my dad about what he thinks about Val for me, he said that he'd never seen me happier, and that he never saw my grumpy self show. He was referring to when I brought her with me to La Union for new year, and I just had a great time with her.

 

What did your friends think when you first became a couple?

Val: Well, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for it to happen. Most of the reactions were "finally!" or "about damn time!" Haha. 

Joe: Our friends made a pretty big deal out of it when they first learned of it. Maybe it's because I kept it quiet from everyone else and just surprised them later on? I can't really say why, but that following week was pretty funny with everybody kind of losing their minds over the fact that Val and I were now a couple.

 

What quirk about him/her initially annoyed you but now you find charming? 

Val: His laugh, his gaming, his confidence, and his very competitive personality! 

Joe: Val says sorry all the time, and while I did find it a bit annoying at first, I accepted it as just a part of her personality. She's just a genuinely well-meaning person. It was just the way she was. Now, when she gets all apologetic, I just go with it and tell her not to worry so much.

 

Describe your ideal date. 

Val: I'm fairly easy to please. Just give me great food, good ambiance, lots of talking and laughing, and cheesecake and I'm a happy camper. But for an ideal date, it would be staying in, cooking dinner together, watching a movie or show then talking into the wee hours of the morning over some cold beers. 

Joe: My ideal date is a great foodtrip where we just don't hold back. I've never been a fan of overly formal dates in fancy places. I'd much rather have a very casual date at a nice place where you can just eat, talk, and hang out without worry. On that note, one of our favorite places is Joe's Crab Shack at the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. We've had a couple of dates there, and we just take our time and have a seafood feast without a care in the world.

 

What's your favorite memory together? 

Val: Oh gosh. We have some great ones like our first date at Chef Jessie or our first kiss! I think my favorite memory was going on our first proper vacation in San Francisco then to Las Vegas. It was such fun! We ate at two buffets, explored the strip, stayed at a beautiful, fancy hotel, and got to discover a place together. 

Joe: My favorite one would have to be our first kiss. We were hanging out at Bo's Coffee at Katipunan, and went up to the third floor as the sun was setting. There was nobody there so it was literally just the two of us. It seemed like the perfect moment, and we just shared our first kiss there. It was like a scene straight out of a movie.

 

What's your funniest memory together? 

Val: There are quite a few hilarious ones like when I first tried to copy the way Joe curses which is in Tagalog and very crisp. He cracked up! Another would be when we were swimming and he tried to kiss me but had water in his mouth so he more or less ended up spitting on me. 

Joe: Oh dear, there are a LOT of bloopers and funny moments. From the top of my head, one that comes to mind is when I brought Val to Wham, my favorite burger place. It was pretty early in the relationship, and I was just sharing with her my favorite comfort foods. We ordered the same thing, and I was about halfway through my burger when I asked her how she liked it. She looked at me with big eyes and an empty burger wrapper. I couldn't help but laugh at how much she enjoyed herself. I told her that I love how she can enjoy her food in front of me. It was great.

 

What's your favorite thing about him/her? 

Val: He's such a genuinely wonderful, weird person. He is who he is and he refuses to apologize for it. He's nurturing, loyal, and loves food just as much as I do! 

Joe: My favorite thing about Val is her ridiculous, almost saint-like patience. My goodness, anyone lesser would not have been able to handle me at my worst. At this point, she knows me like a book, and can deal with me flawlessly when I have my mood swings. She makes it very easy for me to make amends with her when I do wrong, but I also never abuse it as well. 

 

What do you argue about most? 

Val: When we're apart, we tend to argue more about little miscommunications, dependency, and how words have to be enough. When we're together, arguments are usually about me bothering him to do something and him getting annoyed at my little antics. 

Joe: We argued about the circumstances of our engagement like crazy. I wanted to keep it on the low for a bit because of my family, and Val wanted to announce it to the world right away. It became a topic that I hated to talk about because she would always just get mad at me. We've been able to finally resolve that recently, and it's such a big relief.

 

Why do you call each other Bun and Opi? 

Val: It all started when we discovered those Facebook sticker packs. There was one pack named 'Bun' that featured an adorable, fat bunny who was very expressive and silly. Joe mentioned that it reminded him of me. Then I found a packed named 'Opi' that featured a straight-faced rectangular bear that seemed to be awkward in all kinds of situations. It reminded me of him. So we started calling each other Bun and Opi as a bit of an inside joke and it stuck! 

Joe: Oh this one is simple. We chat a lot on facebook and use a lot of different stickers just to add some fun elements. We came across these two sticker set, one was called Bun, and the other was Opi. Those characters just reminded us of each other, with me being Opi and Val being Bun. 

 

What's your secret to handling and overcoming the struggles of a long distance relationship?

Val: Set an end goal as a couple, communicate, set ground rules, and finally, grow separately but not apart

Joe: The key is communication, and always having the next meeting planned. We made sure to set aside some time everyday to be able to talk to each other. Now, some people may find that you're better off not talking every single day, but if you're decided on this person, then they will become your everyday. In that case, it would be much better off to get used to it earlier. As for the meetings, we would only be able to meet up every 3-4 months. One time, we met up after 6 months and decided that it was too long of a gap to wait. So we decided on the 3-4 month gap, and would plan our next meet up every time we met. We always made sure to have something to look forward to because if we left it in the open, then it really wouldn't have worked.

 

 

Do you have any others questions for us? Let me know in the comments! 

 
We're Engaged!

On April 25, 2015, after a long day of exploring San Francisco and downing a couple of beers, Joe handed me a book as we were getting ready to sleep. It was entitled: Where Will You Be Five Years From Today? He asked me to read it to him. I thought he was being silly and it was just the beer was talking but as I flipped through the pages, beside each quote I saw our photos from when we were just friends helping each other through hard times to when we were in a relationship and enduring the pains of long distance. By the time I got to the end of book, I could barely see through my tears. I looked up at him and smiled but he was still looking at the book, waiting for me to keep going. There were no filled pages left so I turned the very last blank page and saw that he had carved a small hole into the back and there was a silver ring sitting in it. Around the ring, he had written, “Where will you be five years from now? May I offer a little suggestion?

Two and half years ago, we were both in different places in our lives, literally and figuratively. He was starting his masters in San Francisco and I was starting to work in Chicago. So we agreed to wait a few years for when we were both ready to start a life together. It’s been a long and bumpy road but we’re finally ready and I am delighted to announce that I accepted his little suggestion. ❤

 
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Into A Long Distance Relationship

My parents have been in a long distance relationship for a decade. For half my life, I witnessed the delighted airport hellos and painful goodbyes. We experienced the anxiety of separation and the excitement of an upcoming visit. Phone calls and Skype video chats replaced my father's place at the dining table or the typical sit down to talk about birds and bees. In many ways, I feel like I missed out. So when my boyfriend and I began discussing how we would dive into our own long distance relationship, all I could think about was how I was going to say goodbye and not crumble into a million pieces. I was so afraid of what I would miss out on in his life and what he would miss in mine. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, achievements, failures; all spent apart. How would we survive the estimated 3 years apart?

When I made my decision to move to Chicago shortly after my boyfriend's decision to move to San Francisco, my mother warned me not to follow some guy around the world. She wanted me to live my life and build myself up, not drop everything to be with a man. I understood. And I still went with half of my heart set on leaving to make my relationship work. That's the truth. Part of me left for me, for my own adventure. Another part of me left for him and I don't think there's any shame in that. I love hard and I was ready to sacrifice for it.

But I wish someone had warned me about how difficult it would be just to set up a long distance relationship, just to get things settled and find out footing. I wish I had a guide book for navigating the Skype calls, time zones, video syncing, arguments, and planning of visits. Unfortunately, that's not what I'm offering now but I do have 10 things that I wish I knew then that I know now.


 

1. It's going to be a horrendous emotional roller coaster ride.

Let's be real. No amount of planning is going to prepare you for the gut punch of the initial separation and the continued beating each goodbye will give you. The months you spend apart will be speckled with memory triggers, sobbing, giggling, pouting, random arguments, pillow punching, flaring tempers, more sobbing, and wondering if this is all worth it. Then you see each other and it's right back to square one. Take things as they come and enjoy the ride.

Welcome to the LDR life! 
 

2. You won't be top priority.

He's going to lead a separate life and spend A LOT of time with other people, many of whom you don't know or particularly like. That may not always sit well with you but you rarely ever have a choice and this may make you feel jealous, possessive, or neglected. Basically, it may prompt you to throw a tantrum. Remember that he'll have his own daily routine, chores, activities, hobbies, friends, and priorities but then so will you. Make time for each other but remember that your world does not revolve around your significant other and you have a life to live. Make friends, go out and have a few too many drinks, marathon a 22-episode show on Netflix, work out, take long walks. Experience things and then share them with your loved one. It'll make for great conversation.

 

3. The time difference is a bitch

Our time difference is only two hours but it still has a huge impact on our relationship and our routine. When he calls during my lunch break, I've already been awake for 6 hours while he's been awake for about half an hour. So 'how's your day going?' becomes a one-sided question. I will always fall asleep earlier than him, have meals earlier, and be the one to wait up if he's staying out later while he will be in class when I get off work. How to get around it? Patience, communication, and creating a routine to guarantee time for each other. 

 

4. People will still hit on you

Many guys don't bat an eye when I mention that I have a boyfriend who lives elsewhere. It's rarely taken seriously. The usual come back is "well, where is he tonight? I don't see him." Some people can be aggressive and sometimes take flirting a bit too far. Step away and know when to put your foot down. There are also going to be cases when you flirt, when you're out having a good time and a few drinks and some handsome guy catches your eye. You're in a relationship but that doesn't turn you into a horse with blinders. You're still going to be attracted to other people. Flirting isn't cheating. A little friendly flirtation is fun and good way to get to know someone better. Just know when to stop and call it a night. 

 

5. You won't always get the support you want.

While most friends and family will be supportive, there will always doubters. The uncle scoffing at my 'date night' and doubting if it's a real date. The aunt constantly suggesting other men I could be dating. The coworker that asks if my imaginary friend is ever going to show up to a company social. The friend that mentions there are so many pretty girls where he is. The person who is skeptical about my satisfaction in my relationship because he is my first boyfriend, who says 'wouldn't know better' or asks 'how do you know he's the one if you've only ever been with him?'

They don't know your relationship and how your arrangement works. They don't understand it and it doesn't fit into their definition of a normal, healthy relationship so they question its validity. What to do? Shake 'em off. This is YOUR relationship, not theirs. 

 

6. You will be asked a slew of stupid, invasive questions.

"How do you guys do it? How do you deal with the lust? Are you always horny? Do you have a lot of phone sex? Why don't you guys see other people? Do you let him sleep around? Aren't you worried he'll cheat on you? Do you trust him that much?"

I've heard all these questions and their many variations several times over the past two years and it can take all my energy and willpower to stop myself from punching people in the throat. Initially, it felt very awkward to have someone interrogate you about the state of your sex life or the trust you have in your partner but over time I've learned to roll with the punches. Yes, phone sex is great. Yes, I trust him completely. No, we do not see or sleep with other people. No, I'm not worried he will cheat. Yes, it can be tough like any other relationship. No, I don't appreciate your questions.

 

7. You both will change. Maybe subtly, maybe drastically but it's going to happen.

You are going to become more headstrong. He is going to be more demanding. You are going to start going out more and he is going to start staying in. You are going to have mood swings and he is going to tear his hair out as he impatiently tries to deal with them. You are going to get sick from work-related stress and he is going to be engrossed in his thesis. You are not going to be the same nervous, lost young woman he met three years ago and he is not going to be the same naive, painfully optimistic young man. But you will be stronger, braver, wiser, and hopefully, deeper in love. Growing and changing together is a beautiful part of the relationship. Don't fear it.

 

8. It's going to be expensive.

Flights, hotels, food, activities. It adds up. If you didn't plan a visit months in advance, tickets for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor day, and New Year can skyrocket and hotel rooms aren't cheap. Maintaining a long distance relationship requires some kind of light at the end of the tunnel: visits, vacations, goals, or a set end to the distance. Some couples go an entire year apart for a few weeks together. Some go six months apart while others see each other every other weekend but they all manage to fit in time to see each other in person. The keys are budgeting, planning, and buying tickets early. Visits are important at maintaining the relationship and while some people scoff at how often I travel to see him and how much I'm spending, it's frankly none of their business. My relationship is something I never regret investing in.

 

9. The relationship is going to be built on mostly promises

This is a painful truth. It is a bunch of 'I owe yous' about how wonderful and rosy things will be "when we're finally together". It's one promise after another, making plans and guaranteeing smooth sailing. And then that weekend visit finally arrives and we get too caught up in finally being together that those plans don't always happen and we realize we don't have enough time. Then come the dreaded goodbyes and the idea of smooth sailing vanishes.

Don't get too caught up in the illusion of what it's going to be like when you're finally together. Make realistic plans and learn from each visit how to manage time and make the most of the limited time you have together. Some visits are for touring and walking through the city. Some visits are for being with the family and bonding. And some visits, my favorite kind, are just for us and not leaving the house at all.

 

10. It won't get easier.

But you do get stronger.

On Long Distance Relationships

I have been in a long distant relationship for 703 days. That's over a year and a half. That's also more than half as long as Joe and I have been together. He lives in San Francisco, I live in Chicago. It's a 4 1/2 hour flight to visit, at least $300 per ticket, and roughly $400 for a hotel weekend stay. It's not cheap, it's not ideal and it's not easy.

I'm no stranger to long distance relationships. My parents have been in one for years and the set up is far from ideal. Due to soaring ticket prices, visits are restricted to once a year for roughly two weeks. Just imagine that. I don't know how they did it but I do know how it affected me and how it showed me what I wanted for my own relationship.

 

 

Take Off

 

Committing to the Commitment

It's easy to make promises, to boldly proclaim that your love is everlasting, true, and transcends time and distance. It's a lot harder to deliver on those promises once you've been apart for 6 months, and you're lonely, horny and chugging a bottle of cheap wine in bed on a Friday night.

As lovely of a sentiment as all those promises can be, it's going to take a lot more than that to make a long distance relationship work. You're committing to a relationship with barely any of the benefits of being together. You not only need to be committed to your partner but also be committed to committing to your partner thousands of miles away. Feelings fade, honeymoon phases pass, arguments are had, and distance strips away any facade we built to conceal the uglier bits of ourselves. What's left is the backbone of your relationship: mutual support, friendship, and trust.

 

Timeline

Setting a timeline was a non-negotiable for me. I've watched my parents endure distance for more than a decade now and I refused to be caught in a long distance relationship with no clear end. Even if you don't set a clear end date, it's important to discuss where the relationship is going and where you hope to be in the next few years. This is reassuring and starts everything out on hopeful footing.

 

Ground Rules

Everyone knows there are already unwritten rules laid out when in a relationship but oftentimes long distance pushes us to really draw lines in the sand and agree to the terms and conditions of being apart.

Exclusivity - Some couples opt to be in a long distance 'open' relationship, allowing partners to date and see other people. Some, including myself, choose exclusivity. Make sure you know where you stand before diving head first into it.

Courtesy calls - I get particularly anxious about my fiance's safety when he goes out late at night. I worry that if anything happens, I'm nearly 2,000 miles away and don't know anyone in the area. When he moved, we agreed to send courtesy calls and texts: little updates of where we are, when we get home, who we are with. It's not about being controlling. It's about giving each other peace of mind and making them feel like a part of your schedule.

Honesty - Emotions are going to be running high quite frequently. Agreeing to be upfront about how we feel saves us from building up resentment and tension. He is allowed to say that he doesn't feel like talking today and I'm allowed to blurt out that I miss him.

No low blows - Just as people can get bold in the comment section when hiding behind the anonymity of a keyboard, it's easy to get carried away and blurt out things we don't mean while on a call or chatting online. We forget that someone is on the other end. Agree to never use your inherent flaws against each other, to never use painful, sensitive, and particularly intimate information to break them down. They trusted you with that information to keep, not use against them.

 

Planning: Create A Schedule

A huge part of making long distance relationships work is planning. In the beginning, I insisted on planning couple activities, call times, and future visits. My goal was to create and maintain a sense of normalcy. When we were still in the same city, we watched movies, ran errands, and ask random questions. When we moved away from each other, that did not change. We talked while I went grocery shopping, we synced YouTube videos, and we continued to ask random questions.

You're far apart with thousands of miles between you but it doesn't always have to feel that way. Creating a schedule to spend time together makes the distance seem less and makes the loneliness easier to bear.

 

Turbulence

 

Dependency

In the first few months of long distance, it will become clear who is more attached in the relationship. One will call more, need more support, more reassurance. That's perfectly fine. The problems arise when it begins to suffocate your partner. It's one thing to need support and attention and another to be possessive and clingy. 

It's quite easy to over-communicate and forget that they have a life outside of your relationship and talking to you on Skype. I once called Joe 52 times and soon after, accepted the fact that I had descended to crazy girlfriend level. We talked it out, established some space, and got better.

If you happen to be the non-clingy partner, try to understand. People cope with distance and loneliness differently and usually just need time. Be supportive and gentle with how you approach the topic but put your foot down when necessary. As adults, you both should be able to sit down and discuss a solution.

 

Little issues become monstrous ones

Arguments are much easier to have when you aren't face to face. There is less regard for the feelings when you can't see them, when you are separated by a glass screen. Something as trivial as the tone used to respond or a nonchalant comment can snowball into an unnecessarily dramatic argument.

Sometimes, it's using your partner as a stress ball or punching bag after a long day. Sometimes, it's the frustration of distance making us snarky. Sometimes it's doubt and jealousy that sparks an argument. Sometimes they just don't seem as excited to talk. Sometimes they forget a detail you thought was important. And sometimes, it's just easier to be mad at him than to miss him. 

Take a deep breath. It'll be okay.

 

Words have to be enough

One of the biggest challenges is that words will have to be enough. A phone call has to suffice for a moment when a hug and kiss would be most appropriate. Birthdays, anniversaries, celebratory and sad moments are spent away from the one person you want to spend the moment with.

Unfortunately, the only way we've gotten around this is to deal with it, be as accessible and supportive as possible, send care packages, and get creative with the ways you show you care. It can be as simple as sending a card or as elaborate as ordering them lunch and having it delivered to their doorstep.

 

Communication & Conquering Social Media

In this day and age, there is no shortage of social media platforms and messaging services. With Viber, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter, Kik, Line, Google Plus, and Telegram, it can be surprisingly stressful to decide on one platform.

As Mary said in He's Just Not That Into You: "I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work so I called him at home and then he e-mailed me to my Blackberry and so I texted to his cell and then he e-mailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn't. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It's exhausting."

Jumping from Skype to Facebook Messenger to dabbling a bit on Viber then chatting briefly on Evernote then texting only to go back to Facebook Messenger at the end of the day is not only exhausting but pretty damn confusing.

Some apps like Avocado are made specifically for couples while Telegram provides a more intimate, private platform. WhatsApp allows you to 'star' messages to mark them as favorites for future viewing while Facebook messenger proves to be a great for chatting as well as have strong audio and video call capabilities. Try experimenting here and there to find which one suits you best.

 

P.S. Bad internet connection ruins relationships. Be wary.

 

Intimacy

Sex is a key part of a romantic relationship. There's no denying it. But intimacy doesn't necessarily mean sex. It's togetherness, closeness, affection. Distance is an immediate hindrance to those. Hugs and kisses? No. Hand holding? No. Sex? Nope. Physical touch? Gone. This promptly removes physical intimacy.

So how do you keep maintain the closeness?

Emotional intimacy is just as important as physical in a long distance relationship. The perception of closeness, the level of trust you build, and openness allows you to share thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Keep communicating, keep talking, keep spending time together investing in your relationship.

Also explore ways to improvise when it comes physical intimacy. The blessed technology of this day and age allows us to communicate in every way imaginable. Get creative!

 

Doubt

There are going to be moments of doubt, moments when you're not sure this is going to work. Is this going anywhere? Will we make it through? Is this worth it? It's perfectly normal to doubt and question but letting them paralyze you is not. There's a saying: 'Distance doesn't ruin relationships. Doubts do.'

Don't blame your partner for something that hasn't happened, something that you're simply afraid might happen. Do not accuse or attack them for imagined situations. It only builds resentment and distrust which, ironically, will bring you closer to the situations you dread.

 

In-Flight Entertainment

Among other things, long distance relationships are built on the ability to keep things fun and interesting.  It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and become creatures of habit. Here are some ways we keep the ball rolling:

Pet Names - Our pet names started with Facebook stickers we consistently sent. My favorite sticker set was of a fat bunny named Bun and his was a set of a rectangular bear named Opi. It became an inside joke of sorts and added some playfulness to our daily conversations.

Random Questions - When we were in college and just friends, Joe and I would chat online for hours. I looked for any excuse to extend the conversation so I started asking random questions. "Sunrise or sunset?", "zebra or giraffe?", "what do you like most about yourself?", "what do you like most about me?"...and so it progressed. Three years later, Joe and I still ask each other random questions and it keeps us on our toes.

"I Assume" - This little game was a result of running out of random questions to ask. At some point, I thought I knew everything there was to know about him so I said "I assume you like this" and he surprised me with a no.

Social Media - I've witnessed so many couples take their relationship into a very public arena and broadcast every development. Week-versaries, month-saries, arguments, and reunions. While I don't think all your business needs to be out on Facebook, I do like showing off my relationship and posting about big moments. It's fun to keep track of each others' social lifeand occasionally be a stage girlfriend. Bonus: It's just especially nice when your significant other shows you off.

Sharing Interests - I love makeup. He loves wrestling. I love romantic movies. He loves anime. I love watching makeup tutorials. He loves gaming. I love cooking. He loves food. We both have very different interests but make it a point to give each others' interests a chance. I've watched several animes with him and he watched Moulin Rouge. I now play Skyrim and he helps pick out my makeup. I am now subscribed to WWE Network and we share a Netflix account with mostly shows "similar to Mad Men" or "recommended since you watched The Holiday". Distance is no reason to stop bonding and sharing experiences and interests.

Snail Mail/Love Letters - Because who doesn't like mushy, handwritten, chicken-scratched, cologne-doused, random cards with puppies on the front? ♥

 

Prepare For Landing

 

Setting Goals Together

It is important to have goals that drive us to improve and bring us joy. In a relationship, your individual goals should align with your goals as a couple. Discuss your goals, your dreams, your dream house, how many kids you want, etc. Build a vision together. Build a life together.

"Setting goals in the first step in turning the invisible into the visible"
(Tony Robbins)

Long distance relationships are not for the faint-hearted. They are exhausting and they can be brutal. Goodbyes never get easier but we do get stronger. The key is to grow separately but not apart.

 
Our First Vacation

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
(Maya Angelou)

 

In the three fantastic years that Joe and I have been together, we never took a proper vacation together. We've done our fair share of traveling including La Union in the Northern Luzon, Iligan in Mindanao, and our back and forth visits between San Francisco and Chicago but they felt more like quick getaways instead of relaxing vacations.

On our trips to La Union, we were surrounded by his family and/or friends for most of the day, being carted from one tourist spot to the next. In Iligan, we stayed at my parents' house and shared a room with three of our friends. While it was all incredibly fun, it didn't give us too many opportunities to be alone together. Our SFO-CHI visits were weekend getaways, usually arriving on Friday night and leaving on Sunday evening or Monday afternoon for holiday weekends. These short trips left us emotionally exhausted, panicky about our use of the little time we had, and frustrated.

So this year, I was determined to go on a vacation with him, an 8-day vacation away from our daily stressors, frantic tourist schedule, and all the noise of the everyday grind.

 

 

 

San Francisco

I have fallen quite deeply in love with San Francisco. There's something magical about the bay, the hills, and the small town feel of such a beautiful, colorful, bustling city. The diversity and stark contrasts sprinkled all over gives the city character and also presents a grittier side. Tour guides do not shy away from pointing our the number of homeless or discussing the Tenderloin, a high-crime triangular neighborhood in downtown San Francisco (only blocks away from Union Square shopping center) known for its graffiti, drug trade, and cultural gems like theaters and restaurants.  Tour guides encouraged people not to be afraid of the area and simply keep their wits about them when exploring the area. This recognition and respect made me love the city even more.

For this trip to San Francisco, we went back to Pier 39 and explored the section I had not seen before. We also visited the Walt Disney Family Museum and walked around Union Square.

 

Las Vegas

I'm not quite sure how we decided on Vegas. Joe and I are not exactly sin city material. We are moderate drinkers, non-gamblers, and can barely stay awake past midnight. So when we booked our flights to Vegas, I began to research what we could do. There were shows, music events, clubs, buffets, and tourist spots to see.

We eventually settled on barely doing anything which I think was perfect. Our hotel, the Aria, was beautiful and we scored a king deluxe room. We spent most our 2 1/2 day trip walking in the desert heat, eating amazing food, talking, soaking in the tub with our bath bombs, hanging out poolside, and simply being together without pressure to rush or tone down.

Til our next adventure!