Sunday, August 22, 2010

Surviving a LDR (or PDX vs HK)

It might be useful, during the read of this blog, to know that my boyfriend is currently living and working in Hong Kong, China while I am currently living and working in Portland, Oregon. "Long Distance" does not begin to describe the physical distance we are currently separated. We are not merely in different towns, or different parts of the same state. We are not even in the same country - but opposite sides of the the largest body of water in the wold, the Pacific Ocean. 

To help better understand the vastness of what we're experiencing here are a few facts. 

Time Zone Difference: HK is +15hours
Mileage: 6,554 miles between Portland International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport.
Time of flight: 14-22+ Hours (depending on stops and the whole International Date Line thing)
Plane Ticket Costs (1-way): at least $1300.00-$1700 (US Dollars)

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Also, to give a quick understanding of shorthand that might be used during this blog here is a key to abbreviations.

Abbreviations Used: 
Portland (PDX)
Hong Kong (HK)
Long Distance Relationship (LDR)

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This is not my first LDR. However, just as with all relationships, you cannot compare one LDR to another. Sure there may be common themes, concerns, issues, struggles, etc but the challenges facing one couple are not going to be the same for another couple. In turn the things that keep these relationships strong, the forces that keep them going may be similar at times but once again what works for one relationship does not mean it will work for another. 

However, being caught between GenX and the Millennial Generation, I of course have looked to the internet for tips and suggestions on how to survive a LDR (often times finding websites called "Keeping the Passion Alive" and other such overly dramatic titles). Some of which I found useful and were things my partner and I do already and others...well let's just say they were less than helpful.

Top 5 Common Internet Tips for LDRs
1. Communicate every single day
2. Express your feelings
3. Send care packages
4. Spend time together when apart (i.e. date night, etc)
5. Plan regular vacations together

My Thoughts on these Top 5
1. I agree that communication is one of the most important keys to any relationship whether LDR or not. However, when you are faced with a 15 hour time zone difference talking EVERY DAY is definitely a challenge. He's just getting into pjs and drifting to sleep as I'm starting up my computer and getting ready for a days worth of work...or on the flip side....he's waking up and is checking his morning emails as I'm powering down my computer ready to leave work and crash for the rest of the day. (Phone calls aren't any easier either when we're talking International Long carrier requires a $3.99 monthly fee for calling internationally and then an additional charge per minute.) We try to talk as often as we can but we are also living our own lives and being independent - "every single day" just does not happen. 

2. Could not agree more. I'm a feeler and I'm a talker about feelings. This is not an area that needs to be worked on...if anything I need to pull back on the reigns some. I perhaps talk too much about feelings....if there is such a thing. There is a wonderful line in Eat Pray Love that goes, "I am the planet's most affectionate life-form (something like a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle)..."  I suppose I'd rather be a "barnacle" than a "leech". 

3. Sending care packages is wonderful - if you are a soldier stationed in a combat zone where you cannot get your favorite cookie (we used to send my cousin Molasses cookies when we was stationed in Afghanistan). Sending care packages is cute - if you are ten, at summer camp and forgot your Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy. Sending care packages from PDX to HK I'm just not sure about. What would I send? Sure pictures and thoughtful cards could be put inside....trinkets showing my love and affection. But all honesty....If it were me receiving the care package.... I'd much rather have him in person than a box with a postage stamp reminding me how far away we are. (Exceptions: My birthday, Valentine's Day, Anniversary....all of which take place in February so really we're talking one a year)

4. Date nights nearly 7k miles apart, I can only imagine, would be more difficult than just planning/coordinating an online chat date (see #1). Don't get me wrong. These are all super sweet and super cute ideas. I'm a romantic and love date nights with my beau. Would I prefer to snuggle up against him and watch the movie at the same time? Yes. Would I rather walk hand-in-hand along the river star gazing? Yes. Will I approach him on these (somewhat) silly LDR "date night" ideas? You bet I will! I'll take whatever I can get at this point. :)

5. Perhaps if there weren't already a 14-22 hour flight time between us this could work...not that there is much of a "meet in the middle" option for us. Perhaps if the Midway Islands were a luxury getaway and not just 15miles of sand and flora. I'd love to be able to just jump on a plane and *poof* land at the HK Airport - however it's not that easy (*see Plane Ticket Costs under Factoids). I do plan on getting my passport (no, I don't already have one) for that "just in case" opportunity....because let's face it, bankruptcy or not I'd jump on that plane tomorrow if I could!

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So here I am 6,554 miles away from the love of my life, struggling to keep the relationship from going stagnant, and no idea if I'm doing things right or wrong. No idea if I'm helping or hurting our relationship by being a Golden Retriever/Barnacle mixed-breed. So what am I to do? 

Turn to friends of course. 

Luckily I have some of the most open and willing to share friends possible. When I first sat down to write this blog I didn't know if I was being selfish...if I was going to be ranting and raving about something that was my problem and mine alone. Was I the only one who felt that LDRs are frustrating and hard yet make you love and appreciate your partner even more with every moment that passes by? 

So I reached out to a few amazing people in my life and here's the words of wisdom they had to share.

Words of Wisdom From Friends (who have been/are in LDRs)

“I do believe that long distance can work if both parties are more mature and are truly in love. Love can conquer all, no matter time, distance, race, religion, or age. I truly do believe that. Love is worth fighting for.”  - MSG

“Being separated from someone you love is always tough. And it gets harder the greater the distance, because it makes it that much harder to arrange visits. But on the other side of that, it makes the time you do get together that much sweeter. I think you appreciate each other more….I think people in LDRs sometimes communicate better and know each other better sooner than other couples because the relationship is necessarily so predominately verbal. ”  -GR

“I think long distance relationships, at least from my perspective, work when each partner is able to see themselves as an independent entity first, and having this somewhat peripheral relationship...peripheral meaning some type of either physical or emotional "compartmentalization." You have to be as ok with being alone, physically, as you are with being separated, physically. Those are 2 very different things. And emotionally, I think you have to be able to compartmentalize, I think particularly in your case with a huge time zone difference, etc.“-SS

I believe it takes a great deal of maturity and patience from both parties to truly achieve harmony. Communication is one of the most important things in a relationship -- we must build connections, we must build trust. it can be very difficult to establish those things without much face-to-face. Not to mention the physical intimacy!” – CA

“There's some quote out there, trite but with truth to it, ‘absence (or distance in this case) is to a relationship like wind to a flame, extinguishing some, enlarging others.’ Or some other nonsense.” – BC

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I suppose you are wondering what my next move is going to be? 
Am I going to jump on a jet plane and fly away to HK?
Am I going to insist on bi-yearly vacations, care packages and Netflix nights?

...I don't know for sure...

I can tell you one thing - I'm going to appreciate and soak in every moment I have with him; living each day like it's our last together...after all:

", having no geography, knows no boundaries" - Truman Capote


  1. Aw that's really sweet! Sorry you have to endure this distance Morgan but it sounds like you definitely have the drive that it takes to make it work!! I hope you get to see each other sooner than later!

  2. Love that you broke it all down and made us truely understand how hard that a LDR is. In all honestly, I dont think its the being apart that is the main problem... I would have to say from experience that we are just fine by ourselves. Although, we always tell people that we do better together. I think the biggest problem with LDR is not making is work while your gone but making it work after you get to finally be together. lets face it we grow and change all the time, althoght in LDR you arent changing together. Thus why they are so hard. If you are willing to say this is going to work and we will find a way, you'll be fine! ( i think that works with any relationship though) I hope that one day you do get to jump on that plane though!

  3. I loved the new blog. You are a great writer and are able to put into words what many feel and can not express. Just remember the true emotion of Love can conquer all barriers. Continue to Love with strength and with that you will find the strength to fight passionately against all barriers.