Nathan Strang

LDR 2.0 - Loving from afar in the digital age

Filed By Nathan Strang | December 22, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: gay relationships, long distance relationship, long-distance, relationships, social media, Twitter

I have dated my boyfriend John since February, 2008, and I feel closer to him in more ways than I have with anybody else. I also live farther away from him than anyone I have ever been with. How can I be so close, yet so far away?

It's the Internets baby

My relationship with John was cultivated directly from social networking. We met on BearCiti, a friendly and well designed bear niche dating/hookup/oggling community. I oggled, he oggled back, "you're My Type," "OMG Woof!" From there we'd chit-chat and IM, and bit by bit the urge grew to get on a plane to see a man I never met before, whose mother thought I could be a crazy person (a valid fear I think). We met, fell in love, and then the realization hit that I would still have to live in Buffalo, NY, and John (at the time) still had to live in Annapolis, MD, and neither of us liked the idea of being apart. We had to give it a shot though. Luckily, with us both being geeks, we have a few tools that we used to build a relationship, 400 miles apart...

  • Twitter - This is a lifestream spew of all my thoughts, rants, and aversions. John follows me on twitter and I follow him. We follow each others friends and have a comfortable network of people that share our thoughts. Twitter allows me to know whats going on with John, and vice versa. I know his thoughts in 140 characters. and he knows mine.
  • IM - God we talk a lot. Both of us use IM for work purposes, and all day we chitterchatter, rant and rabble rouse. Occasionally we get work done, but its good to know I have a link to him. IM is the good old standby.
  • Blogs/podcasts - I blog (duh), and John does occasionally, but this is more than just our content. Its the content of the web. So many of my relationships have fizzled because we have ran out of things to talk about. The web is a series of tubes and they go on forever. We share our web findings and our snark on a daily basis. From all this, I learn how John feels about things, his interests and opinions are a vital part of me feeling close to him.
  • Flickr - This was something I wanted, whether together or apart. I wanted dinner parties and flickr sets. I get it all with John, and even though sometimes we quarrel over who gets upload rights, flickr archives it all. There has never been a trip with out a flickr set attached to it. Flickr doesn't just benefit John and I, our friends and family see us in action (well, that set is private, actually) and provides a little validity, whether they need it or not.
  • PhoneSex - This one's a little bit archaic but its the absolute most important thing besides physical contact: hearing your lover's voice. John is the first person I talk to in the morning (I call and wake him up) and the last person I talk to at night. We have done this every day. I text a lot too, and with a smartphone I can manage and use all of the above social apps wherever I am. I admit to being a bit attached to my G1, but I'm also really attached to John. And as crude as it sounds, nothing is more fun than getting a dirty picture message out of the blue.
  • Video Streaming - Here's our most recent example: John and I aren't spending Christmas together due to logistics, but I still want to experience some bit of the Holiday Spirit with him. His present arrived a little early due to need, and he opened it last night over uStream. I watch and we talked as he unboxed it, smiled, and tried on his fancy new headphones. Sure it was a little weird, but you know what, it felt like I was with him. I got to see the look on his face, the joy of the gift, the appreciation. That's what Christmas is all about right? That and spiked eggnog. I will admit we use video for other purposes, too... just not over uStream.

I don't like long distance relationships, and neither does John. We do more than make it work, we thrive in it. All of it has to do with love, dedication, and a little web 3.0.

There a many other benefits of the web that can benefit long distance relationships. Think about finding cheap travel or job hunting. LDR's used to get a bad rap because they were difficult to maintain and communication was limited to phone, or letters (something about paper, and stamps.. don't know). If you have hesitations about getting closer to that person who's not so close, think long and hard about why you want to take the risk. Dating someone across the way can be heartwrenching, and no amount of twitter can help that. However, things have advanced in the ways of communication, and as long as you can maintain a strong connection, the miles don't suck so much.

P.S - Its totally OK now to date someone you met on the internet. Don't be a prude, update your snobbery book. kthx.

(Crossposted at:

Recent Entries Filed under Media:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

This is interesting, and of course takes the wind out of the older truth that long-distance relationships are doomed. However, I do think that sooner or later somebody will have to move south or north. The net makes the gestation period much longer.
PS: I've seen better pictures of you than the unibomber one that you have selected. Let the folks see how cute you are.
Your devoted Father T

What started as a minor flirtation on Orkut back in July has turned into an email courtship of sorts. Our time zones are 180 degrees out of phase and his internet access is behind a firewall. Other than that it has been quite a ride. I'm all for LDR 2.0.

@GregC - I have been involved with a design group of which every member participated in their own time zone, but my own. Though it wasn't romantic, I felt the desire to be available even though it wasn't to my circadian rhythm. For a relationship to thrive in that situation, there needs to be a common ground, like you waking up to his falling to bed... Also, remember that you never know until you go meet this guy.

That is the hardest part: the first visit. It can go three ways:

1. You meet, hook up whatever, and its ok. Not OMG Amazing, but ok. You both realize that you don't have to be together, but you can continue a flirty weblationship, maybe see each other again, but only if the stars align.

2. BUMMER! You meet and wow, that wasn't at all what you expected and the camera really does lie. Jesus Christ, after living through the most awkward experience ever you leave and for some reason both parties get blocked on AIM and no one speaks of each other again.

3. This one hurts the most.... You meet, you talk, you hang. WTF, this guy... he's exactly what you are looking for.. you relate. In the short time you spend with him you feel the strongest urge to kidnap him so he doesn't have to leave... But he does, and it hurts like shit... you both realize that you found a match, but those goddamn miles... From this comes the choice: to LDR and risk pain and loneliness and longing, or to not LDR and risk missing out on finding your penguin.

I found my penguin dude, and man... it hurts to go to bed alone. As Father Tony said, this has only prolonged the gestation period. As soon as I find a good job, I'm leaving everything to be with John in DC.

So Greg, I don't mean to bum you, but offer you advice: loving from afar has risks, and the ordeal will pain you. However, you never know when you will meet that "it." Don't let miles keep him away.

Red Bear Dave | December 23, 2008 2:29 AM


I've been doing the LDR thing for almost 8 years now, and let me give you just a couple of pieces of advice that I've learned:

1) It's rough finding someone you love and not being able to live with them, short and/or long term. However, communication's the key, and obviously, you've got that one down pat.

2) IF you can't move there to DC fast, don't sweat it. The visits and such will keep you going. Just keep communication lines open, and don't be afraid to say "look, I need you to come visit or I'm going to go nuts".

3) LDRs aren't easy. Don't give up on it, if you're certain he's the one. It's like any other relationship, just with more personal space than others.

Hope all goes well for you.

Rick Elliott | December 23, 2008 4:56 AM

I admit that I'd be included in the technologically challenged group. One of my fears recently happened: I lost my cell phone and haven't been able to get a moo out of its replacement. I was flabberegasted at the myriad ways to be in touch with someone. I admit there are many times when I don't want some one to "reach out touch me."
On a funny note--I was taking a survey about communications. I was told to check all that applied. There were a long string of things to be done with a cell phone, however, not included in the list was MAKE AND RECEIVE PHONE CALLS.
This tid bit goes right up there by a sign I saw in Laredo, TX a city on the Rio Grande border with Mexico. In big letters on a sign was written--ENGLISH SPOKEN HERE.
NATHAN STRANG--about your #2 that begins Bummer! I have a comment to make about your second line of #2--NAMEDROPPER! Think about it.

Is it still okay to say, "Jeebus," Rick? Because I'm big offender on that one too. I've gotten good at the writing vs speech, but speech loses every damn time. Whoops. I threw in a damn too. I'll just stop now.

Rodney Hoffman | December 23, 2008 6:40 PM

I have been in a monogamous relationship for more than 15 years. I am in Los Angeles, and my lover is in Yucatan, Mexico! He can not even get a tourist visa to visit me. I go to Yucatan twice a year, and together, we have also traveled to Costa Rica and Canada.

Please urge your representative in Congress to support the Uniting American Families Act