In the first few years of my relationship, my partner and I lived 2 hours from each other, we were still lucky enough to see each other in person about 2/3 days a week. I have a job which from time to time means I have to travel around the state and only this week is the first time my partner has had to travel and it was my turn to stay at home and keeps things running. This got me thinking about how we maintain our relationship over distance.
I have recently seen a facebook group for women who are in long distance relationships and the tips they are offering each other to cope while apart but to also keep the intimacy alive when being in different towns, states, and sometimes even different countries. Some see each other every few weeks, some it is months, some have not even met in person yet, let alone had the space to be physically intimate with each other. Yet their love and desire grows despite the distances between them.
Unfortunately for some people the person who they develop feelings for, but have not yet met, ends up not being who they thought they were. They fall for the idea of a person which is not reality, they may pretend to be something they are not, from saying things they did not do or do not believe to even being someone completely different….watch out for catfish. But that is not what this blog is about, this is for those who are real online and for those who have met in person and have a real time relationship but due to circumstances spend time apart.
So how do they do it?
Physical intimacy is important in a relationship but emotional intimacy is more important, it is what keeps us seeking each other out, learning about each other and sharing our deepest thoughts, it keeps the desire to ‘know’ the other alive. But there is a balance between intimacy and desire, intimacy can overcome the mystery that desire requires and this is often why people who are apart can keep the desire burning for so long…..the old saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” can also work for maintaining the erotic flame……anticipation plays an important part in desire.
For my partner and I a daily phone call or sometimes Skype session allowed us to share our thoughts and sometimes erotic play, telling each other what we wanted to do next time we were together, sharing erotic stories and even cybersex online or via Skype. Now that we live together and our time apart is infrequent, we still touch base with each other every night and morning via text, there may be suggestive images sent via text or online, we also speak to each other every day, it may be a quick call to talk about our day (especially if we have a travelling partner and are not alone) or it may be something more intimate as we are alone in our motel room.
This maintains the emotional intimacy, the sharing, the caring, the wanting to connect with each other on an emotional level and sometimes a sharing on a more physical and sexual level as well, building the intimacy for when we are together again.
Technology has certainly offered us more ways to engage with others, but even though many of us do not send love letters any more, we can still partake in similar conversations via text and online.
So if you and your love cannot be in the same space, for whatever reason, be creative, utilise the technology that is open to us to stay connected. You might be surprised at how it can relight the spark you had in those early days, by increasing anticipation and mystery.
This week has seen many people I know in a state of shock, sadness, grief, horror, fear, frustration, anger, disbelief and desolation, but what I have also seen, is sympathy, empathy, reaching out, coming together, support, alliance, perseverance and strength. People who will not succumb to stigma, discrimination, fear and intimidation, people who will not deny or change who they are because others are uncomfortable or do not like it. People who have fought and died through generations to be who they are, to love who they love, to celebrate and join together to overcome ignorance and division.
LGBTI people are not the only ones who have faced stigma and discrimination because they are a minority, those who are from a minority culture or are differently abled have also experienced discrimination for generations. And the hidden communities of those that are alternative, live on the fringe, that live diverse lifestyles such as kink or BDSM or have diverse relationships such as open or poly also experience being ‘other’ than the majority. Along with this ‘othering’ there can also be secrecy to be safe, another type of ‘being in the closet’, due to lack of understanding by the mainstream. And don’t get me started on those who may be members of several minority groups and the layers of minority stress and stigma they face.
How do LGBTI people, those who enjoy a kink life and those who have unconventional relationships overcome the prejudice of the mainstream?
How do differently abled people be seen as being sexual, let alone sexually or gender diverse?
How do LGBTI people of colour or cultural diversity be accepted in their own culture and the LGBTI community and the mainstream society?
How do we as a society move from intolerance to acceptance and finally celebration of difference and diversity?
The last week has seen people divided, laying blame on culture, faith, societal expectations, and unfortunately has seen hatred raise its ugly head, but through the outpouring of grief I have also seen people asking for understanding, kindness and love. Do not let them divide us.
Maybe you don’t love people of the same sex as you, maybe you don’t have multiple relationships, maybe your kink is different to mine……and maybe we can just all accept each other where we are at.
My hope for the future is that the terrible happenings of the past breakdown some of the barriers to celebrating diversity and that people can practice being kind to each other.
This weekend was the 55th Queen’s Ball and LGBTI awards night, the longest running LGBTI event in the world and an opportunity to get glam and celebrate everything wonderful about LGBTI people.
I have attended this event since 2010, when I won the volunteer of the year award, and I love the chance to get dressed up, hang with my mates, dance, drink, dine and have an awesome night. I also love to see the people who have done wonderful things in the community in the previous year, social and support groups, volunteers, activists, events and venues, allies and the recipient of the lifetime achievement award.
This got me thinking about the things and the ways we celebrate in our lives, birth (then the same day every year), anniversaries of relationships starting and commitments made within those relationships (engagements, ceremonies etc.), culminating in death and a celebration of the person’s life. In many cultures other points along the life journey are also celebrated, menses, manhood, puberty, whatever is important in that society. There are also special cultural celebration days for celebrating nature and the changing of the season, special events of the past and for those who are in a minority culture in a more dominant one there are days to celebrate their ethnicity and place of origin.
When it comes to diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity or bodies, for people who identify as LGBTI or in any other way, June has been a month of celebration since the Stonewall riots in the 1960’s and the first PRIDE celebrations. This is celebrated in many countries around the world, not only in June but at other times as well, the Queen’s Ball started on the June Queen’s birthday long weekend back in 1961 and was part of the month long festivities. In the past few years the Brisbane PrIde month events have been held in September when the weather is better, but the awards and ball have remained on the same weekend, even with the Queen’s birthday long weekend moved to October the ball has stayed and only moved to the Saturday night instead of the Sunday (allowing for a recovery day).
So today my evening wear is packed away, I have recovered well from a night of festivities (more the late night than the alcohol), and I troll social media to see all the wonderful pictures of the evening. I ponder the opportunities to celebrate for my community, Transgender Day of Visibility, International Intersex Day, Pride month, and other days for individual sexual identities, like International Lesbian Day. Days that I swell with my own sense of pride in who I am and my community, days when I see others, often for the first time, seeing solidarity in their identity and celebration not only from other LGBTI people but also from our allies.
Many people don’t attend these events for whatever reasons they may have, and that is their choice. They may celebrate in other quieter ways, on a daily basis, in small groups, on their own, just by being who they are.
So no matter how you identify yourself, be proud of who you are, and celebrate yourself in whatever way works for you.
Last week I talked about some things to consider when creating your profile for online dating. In the days after I was talking about this with others and exploring how we work out what type pf person would be our perfect partner (in a dream world), the things we do and don’t want in this person and the choices we have made in the past, the types we have dated and how this has, or has not, worked for us.
Many people will talk about the ‘type’ that they are attracted to and wonder why all of their relationships have gone the same way, I often suggest looking at what are the similarities in those people and relationships that have not worked for them and to consider why they chose that type of person…….maybe it was time to reconsider the type that are attracted to.
Today I read some interesting tips about the people we choose as partners written by Bere Blissenbach, this resonated with me so and I will share it with you all:“Here are some ideas for how you can open yourself up to potential soulmate who may not be your type:
2. Explore what it is about your type that hasn’t worked for you in past relationships.
Often, a great strength in some circumstances can be a limitation in another. For instance, someone who can appear like an exciting first date, such as an emotionally unavailable person, may not be reliable and stable. If you feel a strong compulsion to be in a relationship with someone before you even know them, this may be reflective of projections, unhealed emotional wounds or trauma.
3. Check your preferences by going on a date with someone who is not your type.
If you always go for the same type (and haven’t yet found the love you want), it might be time to try something new. Think of it like being in a restaurant and ordering your favourite dish which looks good to you. If it also always causes you indigestion, you might eventually decide to try something else instead.
When you go on a date with someone who is not your type, you also have the potential to learn more about yourself. It’s possible that things you thought you didn’t like in a partner you actual do like now.
4. Pay attention to the subtle qualities in someone who is not your type as these can make a big long-term difference.
Things like a kind heart, deep listening skills, emotional vulnerability or reliability aren’t necessarily the things that make our heart race at first. And yet they are the qualities that can nurture our hearts in the long term. If your date is displaying any of these subtle qualities, it can be helpful to pay attention to that.
5. Keep your eyes on the prize—a person your soul can be happy with.
It’s also important to remember that the point of this exercise is not to find someone to settle with. It’s not to convince ourselves to end up in relationship with someone whose personality goes against our nature, just because they have some redeeming qualities.”
When we continue to do the same thing and expect different results we are really just fooling ourselves, sometimes it is important to step outside the box and try new things, that include a the people we choose as partners.
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.