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Based on a discussion held in the #D/s_Lighthouse

Long Distance D/s Relationships
Why They Fail, What You Can Accomplish
And How to Survive the Distance

by
jade


An Overview of LDRs

This generation has spawned a new problem in relationships thanks to the widespread use of computers.  Not since the "mail order brides" of the last century have there been so many people who have fallen in love from a distance, some without ever meeting.  On any of the well-known IRC networks and other chat clients, such as AOL and Prodigy, you can find literally thousands of couples who have online relationships and are seriously considering moving them off-line to real time.   Love is not always conscious of geography so these couples often have to try to maintain their relationships while being hundreds or thousands of miles apart. For most, many long months pass between visits so they are faced with trying to keep the relationship alive while waiting for the time when they can actually be together again.

We've seen a huge number of these "cyber" relationships in the D/s community online and know first-hand that keeping one from vaporizing into digital dust once you've met is no easy matter. The lifespan of most long-distance romances is very short, for many reasons. They seem to sprout, bloom and die much faster than their real life counterparts and are prone to all the same failures as conventional ones, plus a few more that really complicate matters.

Two Main Types of LDRs

There are two kinds of long distance relationships.  One is the couple who have met (or will in the future), are seriously planning a future together at some point, but due to geography, current obligations or complications cannot relocate be together immediately. The other is one where the couple may or may not have met and most likely will never be able to be together permanently due to their own personal situations or reasons. Both have their own sets of problems unique to their circumstances but both share many of the same reasons for failure or success.

Please keep in mind we're not talking about "cyber only" relationships in this article.  Although a virtual relationship can benefit from these suggestions, there are issues that they do not have to deal with and have special problems of their own. We don't deny the validity of the V/T relationship. Love is love, and there are many online romances that have flourished without having any goals of going to R/T, but that's a subject for another day and page. (You might want to read a warning about some of the risks and players involved in the virtual world of D/s on this page.)

The Temporary LDR: You met online, fell madly in love, met face to face and now are waiting out the time for one of you to make the big move to overcome the geography that separates you. The time can seem to drag and those miles can feel more like light-years at times. Waiting out those months can be a real test of endurance and many fail to carry it off successfully. There are things that can help make or break the bonds that brought you together in the first place. It's up to you and trying a few of these tips might help strengthen your commitment.

The Long-Haul LDR: This can be a real tough one. Most likely the couple involved in this type of LRD will never be able to spend a lifetime together. The most common reasons for this: 1) One or both of them is married to someone else, 2) Minor children are involved, 3) Family obligations and 4) Careers that are not conducive to relocation. Just as love has no respect for distance, it sometimes turns its head to previous commitments. We all need to reserve our judgments on these types of relationships. Only the people involved will have to answer for the problems they create or pay the emotional debt that results, if there are any to be paid. For whatever the reasons, there are going to be few visits with long periods of time between them, so some real creativity will be needed to fill the void.

Where Do We Start?

You have to start right in the beginning. You're going to be spending a lot of time online to bridge the distance so use this time to learn about each other. To do this, you have to overcome some real temptations to "alter" reality. Most of the time people don't lie. They just avoid the truth. Seems like a conflict in terms? Not when you consider how easy it is to smooth over a few bumps here and there. Your Master expects you to keep your home in order. You were busy and didn't have time. When he asks if you've accomplished your goals for the day that temptation is there to say, "Oh yes, Master. I've done EVERYTHING you said," after all, he can't see that the house looks like hurricane Zelda just blew through your living room. The same urge is there when your submissive asks, "Sir, is there anything that I do that annoys you?" You don't want to waste a lovely evening of chatting so the temptation pops up to say, "No, pet. There's nothing about you that I don't love" as you grit your teeth thinking about her irritating way of letting you sit and wait while she chats with her girlfriend on the phone for an hour at a time. When you are no longer sitting in front of a monitor or have your ear pressed to the phone, these things are going to be BIG issues. Start of right. Don't let it get started. Here are a few ways to do it.

  • Keep it realistic: Fantasies can be wonderful things until you try to live one. It's very easy to slip into the trap of living a "perfect" life online where you never have to deal with real issues. SuperDom knows every trick in the D/s Manual. He can do Japanese rope bondage that would win a prize, his flogger never misses its mark and he's always ready to "rise" to the occasion, no matter how many occasions there have been in a session. wondersub{SD} never has bad hair days, PMS or a yeast infection and just loves to wear nipple clamps for 4 hours. Neither of them ever have money problems, family members who drive them nuts or skeletons in their closets. Once the Camelot of their online life is gone and they're faced with living in the real world, they find they hardly knew each other as real people. Keep your online life as real as possible. Deal with the issues you both face everyday in your ordinary lives. Be honest about any lack of skills and seek to improve on the ones you have. Spend a portion of your time online as Bob and Betty and let SuperDom and wondersub{SD} take a back seat to reality for awhile.

  • Be yourself: Far too many people are not honest with their online love interest or themselves. You have to be who you are, really. Sooner or later, the frustration of trying to be someone or something you're not is going to end up making you miserable and destroying the chances of any kind of realistic relationship. Being who you are is what attracted the other person to you in the first place. While having things in common is nice, having differences is exciting. Don't be too eager to become a "clone" of your lover. Being you is what you do the best so rejoice in it. If you're the studious, serious type he shouldn't be expecting to live with Whoopie Goldberg when you step off the plane next month and if you're the witty, playful kind she shouldn't be waiting for Dr. Kevorkian to pull into her driveway. When you're no longer viewing each other at a distance, you're going to have to be who you are ALL the time so you better practice now.

  • Be honest: It seems to be a reoccurring pattern for submissives to try to be the "perfect" sub by always being agreeable to anything that's said or done. This might work for a short time, but it's never going to make it in the long haul. If you do not like spinach, say so. Don't pretend to love the stuff and then get indignant in a restaurant when your Master orders it for you the first time you go out to dinner once you move in together. Remember, you were the one who said you loved it when he told you he'd always dreamed of a sub who shared his passion for spinach. Dominants fall into this trap too by pretending to desire the same things their submissive seems to want. If you aren't into certain activities, then you better state it clearly before she hands you the branding iron and expects you to do something you don't have the stomach for. Fainting will not get you out of this mess.

  • Expect Some Rough Spots: NO ONE has a perfect relationship. There are ups and downs in all of them and in our daily lives. The things that happen to us at work or when dealing with a difficult family member affect how we react to things within the relationship. There are days when you just don't feel "domly" and need to barricade yourself in your cave away from the responsibility of dealing with the dynamics of a D/s relationship. There are times when the hormonal scale has been tipped to one side and you do not feel very submissive or very human for that matter. Give each other some grace and a lot of space when difficult times arise. Most of the time it's not how high you fly on good days that determines the success of the fight. It's the times when you hit the bumps that will decide if you crash or level off later.Be prepared to be "real" people who sometimes make mistakes or have bad days.

How can we make it work?

Surviving any long distance relationship takes work and a D/s LDR adds its own unique twists. Not only do you want the relationship to last, you want it to grow and deepen the bond between you. You also want to build your skills as dominant and submissive. There are some basic tools that can keep your relationship from stagnating and can actually enhance it while waiting for that big day when you reach out and touch each other, without a phone!

  • Share Things: Just because you are not physically in the same place doesn't mean you can't share things. Here are a few things you can try. Rent the same movie and watch it at the same time while you're chatting on IRC. Laugh together, share the parts that touched you. Give your comments about what you've seen or felt. You can do this with books or magazine articles also. Read and share what you got from them. Discuss the author, story line, short-comings or things that might be able to benefit you. Listening to the same music while you're spending time online is another wonderful way to close that distance. We own many of the same CDs and very often play them at the same time so we can share the mood they create for us. Share your meals together while online. A loving comment or even a Mmmmm.. while you're eating makes you feel less alone and a whole lot more intimate. There's no limit to the things that you can share while apart if you only make an effort.

  • Develop Your Own Rituals: Many of the things that we enjoy together are ritualistic in nature and there are ways to recreate them online. Go through a specific routine when preparing to go to bed or when greeting each other for the first time each day. If you're going to do this right, don't use popups, macros or copy/paste methods either. It might take a little longer to type it out each time but at least it's genuine. In R/L you're not going to hold up a sign that says "Kneeling...Greeting my Master" when he walks in the door. Show a little devotion and do it from your heart. Nothing is stopping you from doing, at least part of it, in real life either. I actually kneel when greeting my Master for the first time I see Him each day online or when I first come home from work. There are many things you can do to adapt your own rituals to long distance if you're only a little creative.

  • Work on Your Skills: The time you spend waiting can be very productive time if you allow it to be. A dominant might give his/her submissive some basic things to practice in their absence. Rehearsing the positions the dominant prefers, learning to move gracefully, developing a serving technique or studying dance or language lessons might be some useful choices. All of these things will enhance the quality of your life together once the move has been accomplished or you're able to spend time together. A dominant might want to practice his/her skills with some of the tools of the trade, such as flogging techniques or bondage methods and styles. Having your submissive keep an email journal is a good way to build her/his communication skills as well as your listening skills. Read it! Tell them the things that touched you or that you were concerned about. It opens doors to growth and strengthens bonds.

  • Learn Some New Tricks: The sky is the limit on this one. We can all improve our repertoire of useful skills. It can be anything from learning some gourmet cooking to building a website. As a point of reference, we built most of the Castle Realm while we were nearly 2000 miles apart and neither of us knew one thing about HTML or web graphics when we started. Our hope was to accomplish something good while we were not able to be together. (LOL...now you know why it got so large.) We've also learned a lot more about each other because we had to communicate and work together as a team. We've done other projects that produced similar results, such as learning about other cultures and sharing our past experiences to help expand the other's knowledge or skills.

  • Go on Internet Dates: There are some wonderful resources on the Internet and making a "date" out of visiting things can be a real breath of fresh air for a LDR. We've spent many long evenings shopping together at a wide variety of online catalog sites. We even decided on some furniture selections on one of these virtual shopping trips. One of the most memorable "dates" we had was going on a virtual tour of a castle that Master had actually visited while living in Germany. He'd provided links to different sites that pictured the castle and surrounding area. His descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells allowed me to experience what He had when He was there so when it was over I felt as though I'd really walked those same steps with Him. It was a wonderful evening of sharing and learning. The options are endless and only limited by your own mind.

  • Meet People and Interact: Being together online is great but spending all your time alone is not such a good idea. You both need to see how each other reacts with people and how you function as a couple in a group. Visiting BDSM or D/s channels can be a disappointment at times but there are some wonderful lifestylers out there if you take the time to find them. We've had some great discussions with other dedicated members of the D/s community and learned some new twists on old themes. There are channels devoted to almost any topic you'd ever care to discuss as well as some that are just plain fun. On the Internet you can find sites where you can play a variety of games with people from all over the world. We've spent numerous evenings playing Hearts with old friends and total strangers, not once failing to enjoy it.

  • Take Time to Show You Care: There's a million ways to say "I love you" or "I miss you and am thinking about you."  Online there are virtual greeting cards, flowers, candy, postcards and countless other little things that can express your feelings. Finding a special card on your lunch break and sending it off with a little note shows your mate that you have them on your mind even when you're not online together. Remembering those special days with a small token or letter says more than you think. A quick email message that reminds them of your devotion or a long letter that lets you vent some of those deep feelings of love touches hearts across the miles.

  • Make Each Event Count: Talking on the phone or online is an event and keeping it from becoming mundane is very important. Plopping down in your chair with your hair uncombed, dressed like a vagabond and waiting to be entertained is NOT the way to build on your relationship. Make an effort to prepare yourself to meet your loved one. Freshen up, put on a little cologne or perfume, fix your hair and make yourself look as attractive as possible. This not only shows your dominant/sub that they are special, it makes you feel good. When you're together face to face you'll want to look your best so why settle for less here? If nothing else, it's a good habit to get into for the future. Take a few minutes to plan something different once in awhile. Bring a topic you're interested in discussing or the URL of a site that you both might enjoy visiting. A relationship gives back what's put into it. You add nothing, you get nothing. Don't expect the other person to keep things fresh and exciting while you sit there waiting. How many days of "What do you want to do?" "I don't care. What do you want to do?" can you stand before you're bored out of your gourd and your LDR?

Summary

It all sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? Don't kid yourself, it IS a lot of work to keep any relationship working well. Add to this problem the distance and the special considerations of a D/s relationship and you have a difficult job ahead of you. But don't give up. It can and does work for many people. The keys to remember are Reality, Honesty, Growth, Desire and Love. If you keep those things foremost in your relationship you'll have a good chance for success. Keep your online life as real as possible. Don't get caught up into a cyber fantasy that can never be lived in the real world. Be honest about yourself and your feelings. Doing less is cheating you and your chances for happiness. Make the time apart a time of growth. Without it, the relationship is doomed to a slow death from indifference. You have to want it to work and that desire will spur you into a more fulfilling and creative ways of thinking and doing things to adapt to the distance. Love isn't always easy, but it's the thing that will keep you going when the others seems to fail. The least you might end up with is a very large website.

Copyright© 1998 by jade
All rights are reserved by the author.






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