Tom and I had our 1½ year anniversary last Sunday. We didn’t have time to celebrate properly, and to be honest I’m not sure if either of us thinks half-year anniversaries automatically means celebration, but we decided to have a date tonight instead. The only catch is that, as people who knows us are well-aware of, we are in a long-distance relationship. Really long-distance. Different countries. I think that, despite the fact that it’s getting more and more common, a lot of people still think it is a bit outlandish. That’s why I wanted to make a post about “Skype dates”, both as fun information for those who have never been in a long-distance relationship and for those who are and want ideas.
Most of the people I’ve met seem to think that long-distance relationships in general are completely fine and not a big deal. The things that raise eyebrows is either when someone is in a long-distance relationship that started online and where the couple got together before they physically met. I can’t really speak for those couples, because I imagine it is slightly different. The second thing that strikes people as weird is the idea of “online dates”. I remember reading an article, just after me and Tom got together, about a guy who had “dinner on Skype” with his girlfriend. I told Tom and we both laughed about it and concluded “That must be pretty awkward”. I guess it is because the couple in the article went to such length to create the illusion that they were physically close when they clearly wasn’t. “How do you even have a Skype dinner?” I laughed and imagined a fancy table with a trillion pieces of cutlery and lit candles facing a computer screen.
Yet here I am, some year later, and I’m starting to find it hard to remember why I thought it was so odd back then. I think that to understand why people Skype date, you have to get to the bottom of why people in long-term relationship have dates at all. Why does a couple that sees each other everyday, who eats dinner together almost every night and share a flat together, still need to have evenings with candle-lit dinner or something equally cheesy? I really can’t answer that, but it seems like most of us have a need to have a special night every once in a while, where you have an excuse to say cheesy stuff, eat cheese, drink wine while eating cheese, and maybe surprise your other half with a gift (cheese, perhaps). The difference with normal dates are (obviously) that you can show your affection by stroking someone’s hair, giving them a peck on their cheek, murmur something naughty into their ear. Those are all things that I miss when we are apart, but they’re not the only reason for dates. I want to talk and I want to do some activity together, because that gives me a sense of intimacy.
It doesn’t have to be a dinner. We have never cooked the same dish separately, then eaten it on cam. A popular date night on Skype consists of both of us buying a bottle of wine, getting take-out and getting a movie that we watch together. If the internet speed allows it, we watch the movie on our TV:s while keeping the webcam window open, so we can watch each other laugh, react or comment on things. Eventually you stop thinking about the computer screen. I think if given an alternative, no one would chose to have a date on Skype over having a date IRL, but in the meantime it isn’t half-bad. Kind of like low-fat ice-cream; It’s not AS good but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it and it does make your craving for actual ice-cream a bit easier to live with.
Tonight is comedy night, which means we have prepared for a marathon of comedy shows, like Psych and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Tom sent me a bit of cheddar and crackers in the mail last week, which I plan on eating tonight. I hope he will find my letter in his postbox when he gets home, because there’s something for him there too. It’s only 2 weeks until we will be together physically again, by the time we won’t have seen each other for 7 weeks. Somehow it doesn’t feel that long.
Oh, and if you’re still really unconvinced about this Skype date thing, I promise you there’s much weirder things you can do on Skype. I have a friend who met her boyfriend online while he lived in Edinburgh. Before they even met for the first time, they had a habit of taking their laptops in bed with them and leaving their webcams on while they slept, so the other could watch them sleep. I have such a crap computer that if I ever attempted to do that I would not be able to sleep from the sound of the fan and it would probably end up setting the bed on fire, but even if I did have a good enough computer I’m pretty sure that’s not for me… 😉