Relationship is newly long distance -- online dates?
July 24, 2010 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Relationship is newly long distance -- online dates?

This relationship is long-term (i.e. not new), and all-of-a-sudden long distance. What can we do online to keep connected? We do not like video games.

Ideas so far:
scheduled Skype dates
screen-sharing a movie or tv show (using Skype or VLC, if it'll work)
play online chess?

Other non-internet suggestions are welcome, too.
posted by jander03 to Human Relations (13 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Skype sounds great. Watch the same show at the same time on hulu and use gchat to talk about it. Phone sex? Online chess is great - I'd also suggest Scrabble, if you like it.

Non-internet suggestion: When my gf went away for a summer, I gave her a small package of things to open every day. The envelopes contained things like a short note, pair of earrings, (used) books, photos, love letters, raunchy notes, favorite memories, etc. The package I gave her was not very large (she didn't have much room to take something with her), and it wasn't terribly expensive to put together. It was really nice to know that every day she would have something tangible from me. She loved it. Maybe something like that for a month?

Is this going to be long distance for a long time? That might help with the answers.
posted by studioaudience at 5:24 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Skype dates work, though timing movies to watch is kind of an issue for us. Usually we attempt to start it together, it's not quite right, and I mute my video and just listen to his audio.

We like to do crosswords together, too. Reading clues and already-filled-in-letters is uniquely challenging, and I have a text document that is full of things like _ _ O Y _ _ in an attempt to visualize the clue as he reads what he sees.

We play Scrabble online, and voice chat or video chat over Skype as we do so.

Once in a while, I'll read him a short story if I've found something really good.

Oh, and cooking. He's a novice cook and I like to teach, so I'll tell him what ingredients to get, and he'll bring his laptop in the kitchen. We go through step-by-step how to prepare a meal. Occasionally we'll both cook at the same time, though it's a little easier to concentrate on what you're making when you're not yelling, "Don't let the roux get brown!" at a video chat box on a laptop, while trying to chop onions with tears streaming down your cheeks.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:31 PM on July 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: What worked for us:

- Synchro-watching shows and sometimes movies. In more than a year of being long-distance, we got through all of The Wire, Deadwood, and Seasons 1-2 of Mad Men. We tried the phone and Skype, but ultimately it worked best through IM. YMMV, but hearing the double-looped soundtrack just got to us.

- Online chess. Probably twice a week at least. Beware that one or both of you may find it extremely difficult to play well online. My boyfriend just thought that this was a clever excuse, but lo and behold, now that we're cohabitating (yay!) and playing on a real board, I beat him at least some of the time. As compared to literally never online.

- Sending each other interesting links so we could have something new to talk about that wasn't just the old "how was your day?" and "I miss you!" stuff.

- Reading each others' local papers. More me reading his, because DC news tends to be national anyway. But, again, it helped with germane topics of conversation. Also, once I moved, it was nice to already have some knowledge about the city.

- Both of us had jobs where low-level g-chatting was acceptable. So we did a fair amount of that during the day.

Non-internet things:

- We tried to talk on the phone every day. We weren't always successful because there was a four hour time difference and he was out in the woods without cellphone reception fairly frequently, but I think we missed maybe 7 or 8 days out of the year and change. If that.

- We texted a lot. I think an average of 15 messages back and forth a day?

- Both of us sent a care package or two. He sent flowers a few times as well. Overall, we're not huge on material things so this is less important.

- When I was scheduled to go to Haiti for six weeks, I wrote a series of letters for a friend to mail every few days. But my trip ended up being scrubbed and I never sent them. Likewise, he wrote a few letters while away at various trainings, but never sent them. It was fun to find them later, though.

All of this might seem excessive, but we were very far apart (DC and Alaska) and couldn't afford to see each other often.
posted by charmcityblues at 5:44 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know you said you don't like video games, but: one of the most fun shared activities I've done with a temporarily long-distance girlfriend was to work through the entirety of a graphic adventure game together, conferring over IM. (I think it was "Day of the Tentacle".) The experience is quite different from the MMORPGs and multiplayer FPS games that you might have been thinking of under the heading of "computer games".
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:53 PM on July 24, 2010

Best answer: If you are in the same time zone, watching good t.v. (or bad) together is fun. I am in L.A. and my best friend is in Seattle. When it was time for Lost to come on, we would each place our laptops on our coffee tables, set up so we can see each other and the television.

I have also had parties that I 'invited' her to. I would host a party and have her set up on video chat on my computer so people could say hi to her or she could just watch the goings-on.

Lastly, we sometimes just both have our video chats on so that we are 'in the same room' together, but just doing our own thing (kinda like those live puppy cams, but with a best friend instead).
posted by Vaike at 6:07 PM on July 24, 2010

Best answer: For watching movies together, nothing so far has beaten Netflix. We share a single subscription (I shared my password with her) and we'll pick a movie, count down and hit play at the same moment. Then we'll usually hang up the phone and IM (the sound thing bugs us too) but call if something happens that we just HAVE to talk about.
We also text and call constantly through the day. It helps to have a good headset for phone calls; it's much easier to carry on long conversations if you can do dishes or cook or something at the same time.
One key thing for us: sometimes it's just not a good time to talk on the phone. Sometimes someone's mood, or something they need to get done, or just distractions, but it helps to not be afraid to say "hey, can we talk later?" It's better than getting five minutes into a conversation and realizing the other person isn't actually listening.
Best of luck! We've been doing the long distance thing for a year and a half and our relationship's better than ever. We just got engaged! (Do that in person; there's some things you just can't Skype!)
posted by raygan at 10:03 PM on July 24, 2010

Best answer: we sometimes just both have our video chats on so that we are 'in the same room' together, but just doing our own thing

This. My boyfriend and I are seven months into our East coast/West coast relationship, and these are some of our favorite times together because it reaffirms our comfort level around each other and takes the pressure off having to be on a "date" all the time. (These times tend to just evolve over an evening, but I love the idea of just plugging in like Vaike mentioned, too!) I just returned from a 10-day visit (my first) and it was great knowing I wouldn't have to be "on" the whole time.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is going on a real movie date. We'll coordinate the closest show times and then get together on Skype afterwards to discuss the movie.

During the last season of LOST we overcame the time difference by watching it on his time. He would just turn the computer around to face the tv and I'd watch it with him over Skype. This plan was constantly met with technical difficulties and a horrible picture on my end but it was always the highlight of the week for us. (Bonus points for getting to see it three hours before everyone else here!)

We both hate talking on the phone in general, but we text each other all day long. More in-depth topics go to e-mail, and it's not uncommon to have simultaneous e-mail and text conversations going on. Skype spoiled us quickly, so if we can't spend the evening together we'll at least try to hop on just to say goodnight.

One last thought: He always takes a moment to send me a "good morning!" text, and I love, love, love waking up to that every day. My advice would be to look for the little things that keep you connected to each other while you're apart.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:53 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Facebook's version of Scrabble, Lexulous, is fun and has a chat function built in. It also has an iPhone app for playing on the go.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:18 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: My long distance relationship ended pretty happily, we have been together for 10 years (married for 5.)

We usually had a pre-arranged time set aside for chat and could chat for hours. Often we would decide to continue the conversation over the phone.

We also sent each other care packages-- mostly books and snacks-- with follow-up reports. I sent him a stained glass window I made, he sent me roses-- both in the box with the books and also delivered by teleflorist.

We did mixtapes with recorded introductions to each piece. Listening to the tapes was a way to keep connected to the other person even when we were out and about on the job or running errands.

We sent letters and cards and pictures.

We sent unwashed clothes that smelled like ourselves. I used to wear his t-shirt when we were chatting-- it smelled so good to me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:55 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: I know a couple who would shop online together, like when she wanted a new backpack. It's a tiny thing of her life that didn't impact him, but it was just another way for them to connect.
posted by knile at 7:00 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: If you like the crossword puzzle idea, you should know that the NYTimes online crosswords has a "solve it with a friend" option. The letters that you type appear in your partners grid. It's part of the subscription package for $40 per year.
posted by CathyG at 8:29 AM on July 25, 2010

Meet up in Second Life. Allows for hugs/cuddles and exploration of interesting builds together, among many other options.
posted by moira at 11:38 AM on July 25, 2010

CathyG said, "Meet up in Second Life. Allows for hugs/cuddles and exploration of interesting builds together, among many other options."

While this is true--I met my RL bf there--it has to be said that Second Life is so 2006.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:54 PM on August 18, 2010

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