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Author Archives: TP4

How Far Is Too Far? LDRs and How To Make Them Work

I have reached that point in my life where a lot of friends are getting married. I have to be honest – this has been as difficult for me to get through as it has been exciting. No, it is not because I’m lonely and jealous and become a spiteful being every time I hear great news. In fact, it is the opposite. It is because I have been with an amazing man for two years, but we are in a long distance relationship (an LDR as I have affectionately labeled it). We met each other at a conference in San Diego when we were both in graduate school. Of course, we were in two different states for school, but that did not stop us from seeing what could be. What could be turned into what we have, and that is a great relationship. He has since transferred schools and I began law school, and we are closer now than we were before, but several states and four hours separate us on a daily basis. The past two years have been a lesson in patience, and I have come to realize that blessings are given to us in forms that we can handle.

What does this mean? So many people are terrified of long distance relationships, and I am an extremely vocal advocate of them. I am going to share some lessons from the past two years about what I believe has made my relationship successful. I do so in hopes of sparking a conversation about the fears of LDRs and hearing stories from others about what has made their LDRs work or fail.

1. Get some more minutes

Communication is key to every successful relationship in my opinion, but I think it is especially true in LDRs. When my relationship first started I can’t even tell you how flabbergasted I was at the hundreds of dollars on my phone bill! Luckily for me, my boyfriend had an extra line he wasn’t using so he got a phone for it (a free one of course), mailed it to me, and then we were able to talk for free for all the minutes we wanted. I realize this is not a normal course of events, so if you’re going to try out an LDR I strongly suggest upping your cell phone minutes for at least the first 6 months. Where most new daters would go out for dinner, people trying to establish a good foundation for an LDR talk to each other. Yes, I realize that this is the digital age and there are other ways to communicate (skype, Face Time, Google Talk, you name it) but I will comment on this later, and why I think that these are more useful tools down the road.

2. Set expectations early

I do NOT mean expectations about where you want the relationship to go. Like most relationships, LDR or otherwise, these conversations right off the bat can be scary for both parties involved. What I mean is set your communication expectations early. We talked about how often we wanted to actually speak to one another (which was everyday for us, but may not be for you) and we discussed what qualified as speaking to each other. We said that we wanted to hear each others voices at least once a day even if that was to say, “I’m too tired to talk to you right now, I’m going to sleep, and I’ll call you tomorrow.” That has worked for us. Admittedly, some people are not phone people. If this is the case, find a compromise that works for you on how often you want to actually call each other, text each other, or just generally keep in touch.
3. Be at a similar place in life

I don’t care how attracted you are to the person, if one of you is working and one of you is going to school, or if one of you is still in party mode and the other is in “I would like to have friends over for wine and cheese” mode, problems are likely to arise. As I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend and I are both in school. I’m in law school, he’s a PhD student. Our busy schedules help out on the days when we can’t speak to each other much. What’s great about both being students is that one of us is not tied up until 6:30 pm and expecting to come home to a phone conversation with the other. Being a student is a 24 hour endeavor. We have work to do all the time, and because both of us are in this position it makes us better able to understand why we can’t talk to each other at a certain time or for very long.

4. Visitation

I purposely said “visitation” as if it were a prison. Why? Because it takes a lot of time and energy to see each other in person on a consistent basis. So much so that when the time comes to visit your partner you may find yourself annoyed, frustrated, or even upset that circumstances in your life have changed and leaving where you are at is not the best idea. But, I promise you, it is a good idea. It is a good idea not only for the other person but you as well. What is the point of being in an LDR if dread taking time out to see the person you’re with? Seeing them will rejuvenate you and keep you striving towards completion of whatever is going on at home. Keep in mind, though, that LDRs require different face-to-face interaction than non-LDRs. In a non-LDR, face time is common. That means you can spend a bunch of time being next to each other while doing other things. He has work to do at home, she has an event to plan, he has to clean the house, she has to scrapbook, whatever the case might be. In an LDR, face time is fairly uncommon. You spend more time apart than you do together, which makes the time together all the more important. My boyfriend and I do our best to complete everything we possibly can before seeing each other so that our time together is just that, time together. (But see #3 above, we are both students and sometimes this doesn’t work). We have been pretty successful at this and it shows both of us that we respect each others’ time and effort that we put into seeing each other.

Tip: Though it seems obvious, use the cheapest transportation possible within reason. We use the Bolt Bus to see each other since we live on the east coast. It’s much cheaper than the train and doesn’t take much more time, if any, to get there; and it’s also better than renting a car and driving. It also allows us to see each other more often because we’re saving money each time we take a trip, and we get a free one-way trip after the purchase of 8 one-way tickets. I strongly encourage looking for ways other than airlines to see each other if you live close enough.

5. When visitation isn’t possible

We have now reached the portion where I talk about other methods of communication.  That’s right! You have to communicate more.  Sometimes visiting just isn’t possible.  One way to get through this is by using Facetime, Skype, video chat through Google, or any other program that allows you to see the other person’s face.  But, we all know this already.  It makes perfect sense.  When you miss someone, you want to see them, but when you can’t it’s best to use a proxy.  Okay, fine.  What I really wanted to stress with this point is why I think this is better later in the relationship.  I didn’t have the luxury of a camera on my computer when I started dating (I use that word lightly, as LDRs don’t lend themselves well to the typical “courting” that dating provides – See #6 below) my boyfriend.  I had a Dell Inspiron (remember those?) that I had since I was a freshman in college and those bad boys didn’t come with cameras! It forced us to talk and not get wrapped up in the appearance of the other person.  It forced us to become attracted to the other person’s brain, goals, ambitions, and history.  This does not mean that we weren’t physically attracted to each other , it just means that by the time we got to see each other again, we had already set a strong foundation for the things we loved about the other person and none of those things were related to physicality. While Facetime, Skype, and others are great tools, they can also distract and detract from establishing the basics.

6. Be open

Last but not least you have to be open to making it work.  Yes, this is obvious.  But do not force yourself into something when you are not willing to put in the work. LDRs are A LOT of work, and they are a different type of work than a non-LDR relationship.  People often start out without being in an LDR, someone gets a job offer and moves away, and the relationship ends.  In some circumstances, someone makes a sacrifice and the two end up back together. But we all know these are special cases.  That said, most of us cannot maintain an LDR forever.  This means both people must remain optimistic about the future and be open to where the two of you may end up in the name of being together.  It may not be where you want to be at first, but the love for each other should override the negatives.

Now that you’ve heard what I have to say, share your thoughts and skepticism below.  I’d love to hear your take on why LDRs do and don’t work.

-TP4

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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Love, Relationships

 

Gravity Night: Interracial Dating

Hey thREADERS,

Check out the replay of our second episode of Gravity Night, The Thread Radio Show. Feel free to leave comments so we can keep this controversial topic going.

Here’s the original post that inspired tonight’s show!

We’ll have another great show for you next Monday night at 10 PM Central. Thanks for your support!

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Relationships, Thread Radio

 

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The Mythical “Grind”

Grind (noun)

a : dreary, monotonous, or difficult labor, study, or routine b : one who works or studies excessively

Grind (verb)

DRUDGE; especially : to study hard <grind for an exam>

These are the Webster’s dictionary definitions of the word “grind”. Unfortunately, this word has taken on a new meaning that goes beyond what is normally considered to be a “grind” and has supposedly lowered the standard (or heightened depending on your take) of what the word should mean. We see and hear it everywhere. “It’s Monday! Back to the grind!” “Man, just woke up, bout to get on this grind!”

What grind? You sir, are unemployed. Are you on a job search grind? Are you on an applying to school grind?

NEWSFLASH: Waking up in the morning and having to live another day does not qualify you for being “on the grind.”

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Posted by on December 6, 2010 in Random, Social Life

 

The Unspeakable

 

So, we’ve all heard it. “Look, look, look. There she go. Why does she have to take OUR men? Doesn’t she have enough of her own to choose from?” …. “Oh no she didn’t go and get her a white man. What? Black men weren’t good enough?” Or some variation thereof. (If you’re saying “I never have” right now, you’re lying to yourself.) So, what? What’s the big deal? Well, let’s get down to it. As a product of an interracial relationship you might find what I have to say disturbing, and you might find it makes a lot more sense than you thought. So give it a chance.

I’ve been asked many times why I choose not to date white guys—and yes, it is a personal choice. My number two answer is that I am flat out just not as physically attracted to them as I am men of color. Hate if you want to, but it’s the downright truth. However, what’s most important is my number one answer: I just don’t feel white men can truly relate to what I deal with on a daily basis. There is a huge difference between sympathy, empathy, and understanding. What I, personally, need most is someone who understands; someone I can say, “Baby, you know what happened” to and not have to say another word; someone that realizes my challenges in life are above and beyond. For me, this means a person of color (usually black).

BUT, I understand the statements, “Oh, no she didn’t.” “Oh, yes he did.” “Has he lost his mind?” Given the history of race in this country and the unconscious ways in which racial, ethnic, gender, and other stereotypes manifest themselves (and I’m taking this as a given, so if you don’t like this statement you should stop reading now), is it any wonder that black men and women have these thoughts? Because it shouldn’t be.

Black men: Sometimes when you date outside your race we wonder if you really share the deepest bond with your woman, you just find something genuinely wrong with the sistas, or if you have a self-hate towards your race.

Black women: Sometimes when you date outside your race we wonder if you think black men aren’t good enough because they’re not educated enough or don’t know how to treat women, or if you really just had that many bad experiences.

Are all of these thoughts wrong? Yes. Are all of these thoughts warranted? Yes. We could go on for days on both sides of the aisle, but what it really comes down to is this: we all need to let it go. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t have those thoughts or reactions when we see an interracial couple. It also doesn’t mean that the first thing that should come to my (or your) mind is race. Trust me, nothing makes me smile like seeing a lovely black couple walking down the street. I also get a special feeling inside when I see two people interact that I can tell were MADE for each other, regardless of their race (like my parents).

Bottom line, you might be limiting yourself. Your idea of whom you’re meant to be with may be the complete opposite of what you have in mind. That doesn’t mean you can’t hold out for what you want, it just means that you need to keep things in perspective. If you can’t find what you’re looking for (or it’s not finding you) maybe you need to start looking in new places. That said, be up for the challenge. Recognize that society still hasn’t grasped the concept 100%. Your relationship will take more time and effort to keep afloat, but if it’s worth holding on to, the work won’t feel like work.

The final message: be happy. If someone you meet makes you the happiest woman or man on Earth, are you going to put it to an end because they don’t fit what you had in mind? Happiness is not easily found, and not easily kept. Cherish it.

 

-TP4

 
28 Comments

Posted by on November 22, 2010 in Relationships

 
 
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