Today is National Day of Unplugging, which I think is really stupid. If a person relies on digital tools so much that they cannot disconnect for a healthy amount of time each day without a fake holiday involved, how is it possible that they could do so for an entire 24 hours? Go outside for half an hour or more every day; don’t just miss all your important emails, conversations, documents and cat memes at once. And for people who are in long-distance relationships, going a day without technology would really suck for a whole other set of reasons.
Since last summer, I’ve been in a long-distance relationship with this guy who has a cat head. He lives in Southern California, where we both went to college, and I live in New York City. We were lucky to start off with lots of frequent flier miles saved up, as I went to school on the West Coast and he is from London, so there was lots of traveling in our pre-dating life. But we still see one another relatively infrequently and that is a frequent source of stress and contention.
Long-distance relationships are not easy; they take effort, time and constant maintenance. You need to keep up with one another’s lives and be innovative in a way that isn’t as much of a requisite when you reside in the same town. Fortunately, 2014 is a great time to be dating somebody who lives across the country (or across the globe, even). Technology has come a long way, so check out these digital tools that might just help make your long-distance relationship a little easier.
Viber is a service that allows you text, send photos to, and even call other Viber users, making international communication much easier. Plus, whether you use Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry or a computer, you can use it.
I talked about these almost exactly a year ago, so I’m pleased to see they’re still going strong. LovePalz are advanced sex toys that works with his and hers devices, allowing one partner to control what’s happening via the other’s genitalia-simulating toy and vice versa. For the adventurous couple with some money to drop.
Let’s start off with an easy one. Skype allows you to chat face-to-face with your significant other. My boyfriend and I talk this way every night, often falling asleep on it. Given that we started out our relationship on Skype (we were friends in college, but didn’t start getting all ~*into each other*~ until after I’d already moved here), we might not be together right now if not for this communication platform.
Why would I put Skype and Google Hangout on the same list? Well, I personally dig the way Skype works more, but Google Hangout is great because it allows you to chat with multiple people at once. This way, you and your significant other can also hang out with your friends in other cities, which makes you feel more like you have a “real” social life together, if that makes sense.
If you and your partner are in different countries, WhatsApp allows you to text without spending about a billion dollars in fees.
I use Kayak for the majority of my trips unless there’s an airline-specific sale I need to book via that company’s site. Kayak allows you to book flights, cars, hotels and more, helping you get the lowest rate on each (which is so important if you’re on a budget but don’t want to go six months without seeing each other IRL).
7. Netflix, Hulu+, HBO Go…
For the past week or so, my fellah and I have been watching The Wire nonstop, but we also watch a lot of movies together on our computers while keeping Skype up. We start at the exact same time, then just put each other on mute and occasionally write commentary. It’s hard to keep your conversation going every minute you’re online together–after all, you don’t talk to your partner in person nonstop–so this allows you to hang out in an easy, effortless way.
8. Online games
Whether you two like online poker, Words With Friends or just comparing your progress in Skyrim, playing games on your phones or computers at the same time can be really fun.
Everyone loves getting mail, but I personally seem to lose any stamp I come into contact with within a day so I never have any (until I’m in the process of moving that is, when I seem to find everything I’ve ever needed). TelegramStop allows you to pick a card, write up a message and get it sent to the mailbox of your snugglemuffin–all without taking a trip to the post office. And no, I am not sorry for saying snugglemuffin.
If you can’t spend your anniversary together, order a few handmade gifts on Etsy. Items like this heart-shaped map in a frame hold particular significance.
11. Pillow Talk
This one technically isn’t out, but it does look really cool, albeit intense. Basically, you both get wristbands that keep track of your heartbeat, and those send your pulse to your partner’s app and headphones.
12. Bold Loft
This online retailer has tons of sweet couple-y gifts that would make Single Me roll my eyes so far back in my head, I’d finally learn brain anatomy. And yet, their long-distance section is actually pretty wonderful. For example, this adorable Spiderman web pillowcase set would be great to order and surprise your sweetheart with.
Okay, I haven’t decided if I love or hate this idea yet: with Memeoirs, you and your partner’s emails and Facebook messages are turned into printed books. I suppose if you guys send one another lots of cute messages, then this is perfect, but if you’re like my boyfriend and I, then you probably just shoot one another links to dumb GIFs from Reddit.