Technology, Remote Places and Long-Distance Relationships

For the most part, we are extremely lucky. I know a lot of people might see a long-distance relationship as a hurdle, an obstacle, a problem and maybe find little to be thankful for, but I am thankful.  I am thankful to have found a great guy, and am also thankful that technology rocks!

My boyfriend and I were lucky enough that the Peace Corps placed him in an area where he has electricity (with occasional blackouts) but it allows us keep in touch via cell phone or Skype daily, and most days it is at least twice a day.  We love Skype, it helps us connect, and see each other in person. It adds a much better layer to see each others’ face, than just speaking on the phone.  The question that we both get immediately after telling people we use Skype (or the question we can see in their eyes), is if we use Skype for more intimate moments, to connect on that level.  Sorry to disappoint, but the answer is actually, no.  Neither of us is really into that idea very much, and honestly I don’t trust technology enough to think that at some point something unwanted might end up on the Internet.  However, this is not to say that this isn’t a great thing for some couples, it’s just not our thing.  We are content to have a G or sometimes PG video Skype experience and leave those more intimate moments for in-person visits.

The funny thing with technology is that it spoils you, it makes you rely on it being there, on your partner being there.  The problem is that when there is a blackout or a travel day, or your partner is in a remote village, the withdrawal is a bit more difficult because you’ve become accustomed to daily communication.  This has happened to us numerous times, and sometimes is difficult to keep things in perspective and not take the absence of that communication as something personal.  Recently, my boyfriend was visiting a village, with extremely limited electricity, mainly solar powered sources, which meant no phone and definitely no Skype.  I’d like to say that since he has been gone almost year and this has happened several times, I don’t take it personally anymore, but I can’t completely.  I can’t help but wonder sometimes if he is trying hard enough to reach out to me.  In this particular instance, and in many cases when these little specks of doubts reach my mind, he magically finds a way to show me he I am still in his mind (a little text or email will show up), which makes me know he is thinking of and/or missing me.  So even though I am getting better at understanding that sometimes technology does fail in our long-distance relationship and I need to be patient, he has also made a bigger effort to maximize the technology available to him to reach out and connect with me, which makes me thankful.  Thankful that we are both learning, growing, and finding ways to connect and understand each other better in a time where we are separated by oceans and at times, technology.

My boyfriend’s grandmother told me a story about how after she first moved to America, her husband could not leave Italy for two years. Two years, the same amount of time my boyfriend will be away, BUT and the big one is that they relied on letters, no phones with great calling card plans, no email, no video Skype.  I can’t imagine that scenario, and how you can sustain a relationship, passion or friendship for that long with little communication. A few months before my boyfriend left to join the Peace Corps, I actually went on a mini-vacation by myself for about 10 days.  In that time, I wrote a letter every day to him, and while it was incredibly romantic and a great way to share thoughts that maybe I couldn’t do as easily on the phone, I think it would be extremely difficult to do that for two years.  Not to mention, in my 10 days away, we managed to sneak in a couple shorter calls.  I am definitely in awe of how couples survived before so much technology was available. Knowing that his grandparents (and other couples from the pre-Skype/phone era) not only survived, but actually ultimately flourished, makes me thankful and hopeful that with all the resources we now have at our disposal we will and can do the same.

  • Cyrus:

    Hi! I am a nominee and I am in the placement process. My circumstances almost parallel yours: my gf and I have been together for about a year and:
    “My bf and I were both clear with each other about what we’ve wanted from the beginning. We found each other (which doesn’t happen every day), we love each other, we have fun together, we help pick each other up and are stronger because of the other–and so with that kind of rare find, we knew we wanted to give our relationship every chance to succeed, which meant as much communication as possible.”

    My single greatest concern is I might be placed somewhere where there is not constant electricity or access to Internet. But my grandma told me when grandpa came from Taiwan, they were apart for two years. With no Skype! Reading your experience gives me renewed strength and I plan on reading more with her when we can snuggle up together and talk about our feelings, excitement, and apprehension!

    • admin:

      Cyrus! So sorry I missed your comment for such a long time! I hope all is going well for you both–I felt like the beginning and the end was the most difficult due to communication and schedules, so hang in there! Yes, my bf’s grandmother had a similar experience with her husband from Italy. Best of luck to you both, and remember to communicate (even if it’s in a journal that your partner may or may not read), it is incredibly helpful!! :)

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