.The Challenges and Joys of Long-Distance Relationships

Plus, Facebook breakups, and overcoming orgasm difficulties.

Reprinted with permission from Crash Pad Series.
We’ve launched an ongoing Sex and Relationship Advice column by the one and only Lyric Seal. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can also contact via Twitter (@FancyLyric), Tumblr, and Instagram (selkiesonthetide).

Dear Lyric Seal,
I have a sense that you might have some insight into the challenges and joys of long-distance relationships. How do you and your boyfriend cultivate a partnership when, so often, it is physically impossible to touch or help one another with the daily doings of life? I have done a lot of long-distance casual dating and have found it to be a delightful practice, with all that loveliness of mail art and occasional visits, but nurturing a seriously committed romance amid so much distance is really a different kind of project! How to manage the material reality that all of our “extra” time/money goes into our relationship, contributing to our respective financial hardships? What does one do when a relationship is so emotionally and magically fulfilling, yet persists in being HELLA stressful on a logistical level? — Albatross

See Also:
Satisfaction, Long-Distance Love, and Introducing Consent
How Do I Rebuild My Sexuality as a Disabled Transgender Person?

[jump] Albatross,

You asked me to anonymize you and I want to tell you why I have given you this name. An albatross — apparently already a popular hipster tattoo in the Northwest, potentially making any future tattoo my boyfriend and I want to get a woeful cliche — is a wonderful, beautiful bird that mates for life. But although this bird mates for life, this is where the familiarity of that story ends. Albatrosses maintain long-term and long-distance relationships. They often fly for miles alone above the sea. For months. Then by some pre-agreed upon terms, or ultra-sensory means, they meet the love of their life in a nest at the top of tree. There they make a nest with their lover, and again, they alight. Not only do they nest together but they meet on beaches to dance. Does this sound like you and your partner? The albatross wouldn’t dream of scaling back or moving to the same town. They are each other’s homes.

I must admit something: My boyfriend and I are planning to be in the same geographic location in the foreseeable future. I’m moving to Seattle in the summer of 2016. This is the first time I’m saying it publicly! I never would have thought I would move there, and now I really like the idea. It ended up being more physically possible for me to move than my boyfriend, but it wasn’t until we relaxed, and stopped thinking that either one of us had to move, that the real possibilities were able to surface. However, we have another year of long-distance to contend with, and more than a year under our belts already. So I empathize. Honestly, I think the most important thing is language. Speak with love and gratitude about your relationship as it is now, and not how it could be in the future. Never take it for granted, or speak with sweeping statements about the parts that are difficult. Cherish it. And see it as real no matter what setting you are in. And phone sex. When you cannot touch one another, find every opportunity possible to simulate TOUCHING one another is key.

My tips are:
  • Include your lover in mundane aspects of your life. If you’re not a big texter, become an emailer. It is nice for your partner, however far, to feel like they are a part of your day to day life.
  • Mix vacation with daily errands when you are having a visit. This helps ground your relationship, and makes both where you live, and where your partner lives, a real place that matters to both of you.
  • Reiterate to one another that you are each other’s home, and that you are grateful to be with your partner, no matter the challenging circumstances.
  • Do not censor yourself when you feel challenged by your situation. It is okay to say, “I know we can do anything, but I miss you! I’m frustrated! I’m broke!” Make plans with one another about how you can save money on your next trip, or walk the other one through something that is stressing them out over the phone.
  • Personally, my boyfriend and I are big fans of wallpapering our lives with photos of one another. It’s simple, and a little blush-inducing, but it helps. And then everybody asks you how your hot partner is doing! Even folks who haven’t met them yet!
  • Share “one day” dreams with one another. Find out where your dreams align or diverge. Meditate on the task of being cognizant of the blessing you are in one another’s lives RIGHT NOW. You do not have to have completely planned out your trajectory together or apart for this to matter. My boyfriend and I used to feel like we had to include every possibility in how we spoke about our relationship, like, “Well if we’re together in a year” or “If we’re in the same place in five years” or “I don’t want to fall in love with someone in the same place as me, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did.” Let all of that go! If you want magic, you have to believe in it. Your relationship is a suspension of doubt. And that has nothing to do with dichotomies, or typical relationship rules.
  • Send each other erotica, both by other authors, and self-written!
  • Practice visioning, manifesting, and magic with one another. Create a place that you meet up when you cannot be together. My boyfriend and I do a lot of romantic walks on the Star Bridge, a place that a dear witch friend of mine told me about. Tend to your magical place between worlds. When you get to be together, plant spells of love on one another’s skin.
  • Your relationship is real, and you are not foolish.
  • Things change. You might find yourself in the same place as one another one day, or you might not. If you don’t, it might not feel as stressful as it does now, you might feel that you have adapted in a different way to it. Or your financial situation may have changed. Or their living situation. You don’t have to give up just when it seems societally expected to give up. If it is a relationship that sustains and nourishes you and begs you to take it seriously, then take it seriously. You’ve got something good in your hands.
There’s more where that came from. It’s such a project. And try to be compassionate toward people who can’t help asking if one of you is going to move. Just answer them with something wonderful you two did when you were together. Lots of couples that live together don’t get to see their partner in such a beautiful, exciting, miraculous way as those of us who have to spend months sometimes separated. As long as you still spoon, and still meet on the beach to dance, then shared city be damned.

How does one break up with someone online, when even our circles on the internet are so intertwined? Advice on having space, over various different social platforms? — Unfollower

Ahh, the internet is so stressful, is it not? Sometimes I log on to Facebook with a hammering heart, hoping certain people will not have messaged me, or certain people will not be posting another griping, vitriolic status in all-caps. If it is Facebook that concerns you, the first thing to do is unfriend. It’s understandable that you share friends and social circles with your ex. Especially if you are professionally or artistically intertwined, you’re going to see their words, if not their face, everywhere.

My first question is: Are you on speaking terms with your ex-lover or ex-friend? If you are, but still need space, you might inform them that you are going to temporarily block them so that you don’t have to see their Facebook activity. You can do this on Instagram or Twitter as well. If there is someone who commonly tags you both in the same posts, ask this person not to do this, or unfollow people who tend to post about your ex a lot. It’s not offensive to ask for space, and there are ways to do this that are kind, firm, and boundary-setting. Your friends will understand!

If you and your ex are not on speaking terms, then I would still say block away! You can still warn them with a message, if you’re worried about it coming across as particularly hostile, but I’ve realized that blocking is not just for creeps and stalkers anymore. There are very few ways to set clear boundaries online, especially if you don’t want to do something detrimental and narc-y, like report their account, so sometimes blocking, hiding, or unfollowing are what you’ve got. Asking someone to not post to you, with you, or about you, works too, but blocking is solid, and can be undone when you feel more relaxed about sharing social media space!

My partner takes a very, very long time to climax. I’m afraid to say anything because I don’t want to exacerbate the (known) issue, but long nights are wearing me out! What can we do to speed things up a little? — Worn-Out Wanker

Okay, first some questions to consider: Does your partner take as long to climax when they are jerking themselves off? If no, then ask them to touch themselves, and watch exactly what they do. It’s also not bad or unsexy to do a combination of fucking and mutual masturbation if coming is the goal! If you come faster than your partner, they could masturbate or penetrate you until you come (whatever you like!) and then you can figure out something different for them. Coming at the same time should certainly never be expected — although it’s magical when you can sync up your breathing enough so that it happens.

Does your partner like vibrators or vibrating butt plugs? Could adding either one of these things to mix make things come along nicely?

And please, don’t be afraid to talk to your partner! If you know it’s a sensitive issue, bring it up sensitively. But you getting worn out is also an access issue that has to do with your health and ability to be present during sex. So please be honest with your partner about your needs, even if you’re afraid of hurting their feelings. There are so many things you two can try to help them come!

After you’ve considered all of this, my biggest tip — truly — is TEASING. Tease the fuck out of your partner before you even touch them. Makeout for a long time. Breathe together. Read erotica. Tell each other a fantasy. Watch porn. Perform a strip tease. Make them watch you as you jerk off. Rub just the head or outside of whatever kinda sweet junk they have. Brush by them wet or hard, or both. Wait until you have elicited some heavy breathing and deep groans of craving from them before you get on to the boning. I find that the more I am worked up before I actually have sex, the faster I come. I also come faster if I haven’t had sex for a day or two. So if you were feeling really nasty you could draw the teasing out for a whole day, but if you try that you might find yourself calling your own bluff.

xo Lyric


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