Long distance relationships seem to be commonly accepted as intolerable. Many believe that they just cannot work. If you believe that, today’s guest is here to prove you wrong … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: CREATING A SUCCESSFUL LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
Speakers: Christina Kharbertyan
Date: June 17, 2013
Frank: Long distance relationships seem to commonly be accepted as intolerable. Many believe that they just can’t work. If you believe that, today’s guest is here to prove you wrong on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.
By my side, I’ve got psychology doctor extraordinaire, Dr. Gayl. Greetings.
Dr. Gayl: Wow, greetings to you. You gave me that great introduction after last week?
Frank: I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what we were talking about last week. It’s a passing memory. Thank you.
Dr. Gayl: Right, right, right.
Frank: Many of us are looking for that special someone. We’ve got our criteria and checklist ready to weed out those that don’t measure up and on many of lists, long distance relationships seem to be a no-no, a no way or an absolute impossibility. But this isn’t the case for everybody. In fact, there’s an individual in our mist that is willing to teach you how to do it, if it’s of interest. Just in case that special someone lives out of state or simply far away.
We’re joined by a woman who is not simply spouting expert gobbly gook, she knows the deal. She’s actually been in and managed a long distance relationship. We are joined by Ms. Christina Kharbertyan. Welcome to the show.
Christina: Hi, thanks for having me.
Dr. Gayl: Good morning, Christina.
Christina: Good morning.
Frank: Why in the world would anyone want to be in a long distance relationship?
Christina: Sometimes you just fall in love with someone that’s probably maybe you met while you were far away and you fell in love just by talking to them. Or you were together in the same city and then the other person had to move away or you had to move away. So, that circumstance prevented you from being in the same city. But you love each other enough to make it want to work in the distance.
Frank: And what would stop someone for just not saying, “Hey, look it’s just not our time right now?”
Dr. Gayl: “Let’s just hook up when we’re back in the same city?”
Christina: Because you just like talking to each other too much and you don’t want to give the other person the chance to meet someone else, because you can see your future with them. And maybe if they do meet someone else then it’s not an opportunity for you to be together and you want that to be an opportunity.
Frank: Dr. Gayl is looking at me cross-eyed already, about the meet someone else. What if you had a relationship in the city where you lived or you had a little something, something and you had–
Dr. Gayl: Well Frank, would have a little some, some whether he was in the same city or not.
Frank: I can’t demonstrate the rolling of the eyes on radio, but that’s exactly what I just did. Thank you.
What would happen if you just had someone to tend to your physical needs or whatever have you, in the same city and you also had someone who you were cultivating what would be considered a long distance–
Dr. Gayl: Emotional relationship.
Frank: Long-term relationship?
Christina: I believe that physical and emotional are both tied together, especially for women, because we release oxycotins when we have an organism.
Frank: Oh God. Women are special. Is that what you’re telling me, women are specialer than men?
Dr. Gayl: We are specialer.
Dr. Gayl: I don’t know if we’re specialer, but we are more special.
Frank: Excuse me. I didn’t mean to–yes I did. I meant to interrupt, but go on with what you were saying.
Christina: That’s about it. That we don’t work the same way that men do. Men can probably go off and have a physical relationship and not get attached to the person, but women are wired differently and we can’t do that.
Frank: So, why would the guy that you might find yourself in a relationship even commit to doing that if he’s not wired that way and only the woman is?
Christina: Because it’s his choice if he chooses to be with this woman for maybe the rest of his life then he’s dedicated and loyal to her.
Dr. Gayl: Christina, have you found that some women are repeat long distance relationship offenders?
Frank: Well, that’s a loaded question? Offenders? Not just they do it?
Christina: I think so. Some people like not being in the same city, because they can do whatever they want and they don’t have to really be accountable for their actions.
Dr. Gayl: And not only that, one of my best friends who would fall in that category. She’s been in several long distance relationships and it doesn’t seem like by choice initially, but she moves a lot, school has gotten her in different cities with the person she’s been involved with. And she stated that, because she’s so busy, she works, she works out, she has a lot of things going on, it’s actually better for her to have someone that’s long distance. Would you agree?
Christina: Yes I would, because when I was in school, I couldn’t even imagine having a boyfriend in the same city. I was so busy going to class, doing my homework, going to work afterwards, internships and I barely even had enough time to hang out with my friends, let alone try to foster some kind of relationship.
And personally going out on dates or seeing each other everyday, I can’t imagine how that would have been possible.
Frank: When I hear you discuss no accountability, I hear it as possibly a bad thing. Like no accountability is something that irresponsible people do. Is that what you’re really saying? Or is no accountability a way of being a little looser in a relationship and not dealing with the norms and the commitments “that a lot of people” think that you should be in?
Dr. Gayl: Did commitment just come out of your mouth?
Frank: I said, quote unquote. I was quoting you. Thank you.
Christina: Yes, I think that’s exactly what it is. You can go out somewhere without having to tell someone where you’re going. You can be out late without having to really get in trouble for it by your partner and–
Frank: But can’t you–
Dr. Gayl: You can even say, “You weren’t here, so I have to go out with my friends” or “You weren’t here so what am I supposed to do with my spare time since you aren’t here to physically hold me or go out with me” and things of that nature.
Frank: Or in your case physically restrain me. Excuse me, I regress.
Dr. Gayl: Right.
Frank: Please bear with us. We annoy each other from time to time.
Frank: Now, if you are one of those people who are in the same area, who want space, who does not want to have to check in with your partner to tell the person where you’ve been this evening or where you’re going this evening, that’s a similar dynamic to when you’re in a long distance relationship. Do you really need to be in a long distance relationship in order to have that level of freedom or to get away with it as Dr. Gayl might say?
Dr. Gayl: Don’t project your feelings onto me. You sound like you probably want a long distance marriage, don’t you?
Frank: I have one. My co-host lives approximately 20 miles from where I live. Thank you. So that particular marriage is–
Dr. Gayl: And a weekly face-to-face is good.
Frank: Yes. We come together to do the show and then we’re out of here. Thank you. Christina?
Frank: What you got?
Christina: I don’t think it’s necessary to be in a long distance relationship to get the space that you need, but it does make it much easier, because I guess you don’t have to talk about it. But when you’re in a same-city-relationship you have to have the conversation of saying, “I need space to do what I want,” whereas in a long distance relationship it’s a given.
Frank: I like that. So a long distance relationship is–
Dr. Gayl: I knew you would love it.
Frank: It’s a way to kind of avoid having some conversations. It’s a way to get what you want without even having to really run your mouth about it, because some of its assumed. Is that about right?
Dr. Gayl: But at the same token, I would assume that you have to communicate more though, because when someone is here and you have access to them and they’re tangible, you’re able to spend more time together and the time spent you don’t really have to fill it up with talk or conversation as much as you would if it’s long distance.
So when you’re long distance you have to talk on the phone, you have to Skype. Maybe communication is improved, so you do have to talk more, Frank, but maybe you don’t have to explain your whereabouts as much.
Dr. Gayl: So which would you like? Would you like me yapping in your ear or twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week?
Frank: I could not possibly handle it. Thank you, which is a perfect entrée into your article. You wrote an article called, The Five Secrets of Long Distance Relationships, and the very first tip you give was “be clear about expectations upfront.”
Frank: Let’s hear it. Tell me about it.
Christina: You have to make sure that your partner wants the same thing as you. You have to make sure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to if you want to be in a long distance relationship or not. If you see a future with this person and how often you want to talk to each other, how often you want to see each other. Make sure you guys know exactly what you’re getting into before you get into it and you realize maybe a year or two years down the road that this is not working and you have to give it up.
Dr. Gayl: Now Christina, even with a face-to-face or relationships that you’re in the same city or the same area, at what moment would you say or what length of time would you say you talk about is this going to last, is this really a relationship? And even in your article you mentioned how long distance relationships occur.
Maybe you start off in the same city and one person has to move, maybe you start out in different cities and you come together, especially today in our time. We have Facebook, we have Twitter, we have Instagram. We have all these things available to us. At what moment do you say, “This might work” or “This may not work” or “I want to go further?” Six months, two months, a year? How far do you let this long distance thing go before you state what your goals are?
Frank: Before you answer that Christina, I got to weigh in on what I heard her say. And what I think she’s said was, when can you start imposing what he needs to be doing–
Dr. Gayl: That is not what I said. Can you stop?
Dr. Gayl: Really.
Frank: When can you tell him, “Look I want you home at one in the morning, if–”
Dr. Gayl: That’s not what I said.
Frank: “You went out with your boys? When can you reasonably tell him that?” But that’s just me. Alright, you can go on an answer the question.
Dr. Gayl: It’s sad what your mind thought at that moment.
Dr. Gayl: How your mind translated that question.
Frank: The good thing is at least I can admit to when I am skewering a question. You ask questions that are so loaded, Like “Are they regular offenders,” that you don’t even know it. But that’s alright. We’ll air our dirty laundry.
Dr. Gayl: You are so touchy, touchy, touchy.
Frank: We’ll discuss this after the show, when we get our gloves on, our real gloves on. Okay, go on Christina.
Christina: For some people it’s a set amount of time that they have to wait. The spouse is going out of the country for maybe a year for business then you have to wait a year for them. But if you’re not married, I think six months to a year is a good time to see if you guys are good long distance or if it’s time to maybe talk about living together, if it’s possible. And if it’s not working, if you’re having too many arguments or if you’re not feeling satisfied, I think one year is a good amount of time.
Frank: You don’t think you can get a good idea of how successful the relationship is if it’s long distance in a month?
Christina: I don’t think so, because at that point you’re still getting over the fact that you’re not seeing the person as much as you were before. You have to get used to not missing them as much. Getting over the fact that you’re torn away from this person and then you have to get into the routine of your own life without them. And then you have to start figuring out how to be in a long distance relationship.
Dr. Gayl: And how to be a couple. Right, Christina?
Dr. Gayl: And with women, I will say Frank, you may or may not agree, I don’t even know.
Frank: I don’t.
Dr. Gayl: But we do need more time. We do need more attention than men do. It’s difficult for us to really–within a month, because in a month you’re still in the honeymoon phase and you’re probably still putting a little be more effort and time in the calling or texting or whatever it is that you guys do. So, with the longer time frame–it sounds like what Christina’s saying or may be I’m projecting this, I don’t know Christina–but with the longer time frame, maybe that is the time that you can say, “Okay, is each person keeping up their end of the bargain. Is each person putting as much effort into it as they were in the beginning? What’s going on? How is it going to go from here?”
Frank: Tell us about your relationship prior to it being a long distance relationship.
Christina: Me and my boyfriend Steve. We met in high school in the 10th or 11th grade and we were very close friends. And I really liked him and I wanted to go out but he didn’t want a girlfriend at the time. So, I waited and then I finally convinced him to go to the prom with me.
So, we went to the prom and then we just started going out after that and we’re together for about three years until we had to move away for school. And I had to move up near San Francisco and he was going to school near L.A.
And so, we decided that we wanted to stand and go a long distance relationship, because we had fallen in love over the summer and we weren’t expecting to do that. But it’s just something that happened and we didn’t want to give it up when we moved away to school.
Dr. Gayl: What was some of the rules that you guys had?
Christina: We really didn’t talk about it before moving away, but as the year progressed, some things became very obvious. We would do things without knowing that it would hurt the other person.
Dr. Gayl: Like what?
Christina: One night I went dancing with my friends and I was dancing with a couple of guys and I didn’t think that was a problem, but when I told him, it made him a little angry. We had a talk about what was okay and what wasn’t. So we figured it out like that.
And a couple of other things that happened that we had to talk about, if one of us isn’t calling enough, then we would say that we wanted talk more or we would figure out when to come visit each other, but we didn’t really set ground rules in the beginning. And I feel like maybe we should have, because it would’ve made things a lot easier and it would’ve prevented some arguments.
Frank: So did one of the rules become, “You can’t dance with other guys?”
Christina: Pretty much. I didn’t really need to dance with other guys. It was just something that I didn’t know was a problem. And if it was making him upset, I didn’t want to do it anymore, because I didn’t care about doing it that much to begin with.
Frank: And if you did want to dance with other guys, would you have said, “Screw you. I like shaking a tail feather and you’re a couple hundred miles away.”
Christina: I could have said that, but things wouldn’t have worked out, maybe as well as it had.
Frank: Yeah, I can imagine.
Dr. Gayl: Did you have rules on how often you guys communicated, talked on the phone, Skyped, texted, whatever?
Christina: We didn’t necessarily have rules, but we tried to talk to each other at least once a day, even if it was just to call and say goodnight, if we were really busy that day. And we tried Skyping probably once a week, maybe a couple of times a week.
Frank: So, you weren’t one of those people that just turned the Skype on and left it there and you could see him walking around in his apartment, he could see you walking around in your apartment, all of that good stuff?
Christina: Oh, that’s funny, because we never did it with Skype, but for one Valentine’s Day, he gave me a present and it was the flash drive and it had a bunch of videos that he made for me on it and one of them was just him sitting there for five minutes doing nothing.
Frank: And you appreciated that gift?
Christina: I did. I loved it.
Dr. Gayl: That is so special, Christina. Frank would never appreciate something like that.
Frank: Did he have his shirt off or something that was really interesting to you or you just appreciated seeing him?
Dr. Gayl: She just appreciated seeing his face.
Frank: She didn’t say his face.
Christina: I think he was looking at the camera.
Christina: He was just playing video games.
Frank: Alright. Tip number two: express yourself.
Christina: Yes, you have to make sure that you tell the other person how much they mean to you, so you can stay in love and stay dedicated to the relationship. And I believe that’s one of the tips on keeping the romance alive too.
It has a lot to do with communicating and talking and talking about your feelings. And you have to make sure to tell the other person how you feel, just so they know how–did I say that already, probably?
Whether it’s through texting or phone calls or through love letters, you have to let the other person know what you think of them and how you feel about the relationship and where it’s going and how much you love the other person.
Frank: Was there ever a time when you all complained to each other, “Hey, I didn’t get a compliment today,” or “I’m not happy with the amount we’ve communicated?”
Dr. Gayl: Or haven’t?
Christina: I do think we’ve had that kind of conversation before. There was a time when he was really busy with school. We went a few days without even talking to each other and that was a problem.
Frank: Who ended up having the higher number of complaints? So you noted earlier that women are–
Dr. Gayl: Talk about a loaded question, Frank.
Frank: Well no, no. It really isn’t. You noted earlier that women have certain needs or certain responses that are different from men, but based on what you’ve said so far, it sounded as though he certainly weighed in on things that he had issues with. So, I don’t get the impression that it’s one-sided, but I like to hear your interpretation
Christina: It definitely wasn’t one-sided and I didn’t keep track of the number of arguments we had, but I think we had an even number. Sometimes I would get annoyed that he wasn’t calling me as much as he was before, but then he had a reason.
And Sometimes I wasn’t calling him as much. We both are pretty good with telling the other person what bothers us right away, so it doesn’t build up and lead to some kind of bigger argument.
Dr. Gayl: Christina, it sounds like you guys stayed together during college years. Correct?
Dr. Gayl: Do you feel like you missed out on anything or do you feel like you missed out on dating other guys and the college scene and the college life, because you were in this long distance relationship?
Christina: Some people think I do, but my point of view is that you’re dating to find the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with and what’s the point of that, if you already found the person that you wanted to do that with.
Frank: Some people’s point of view is you date to have fun. Do you just completely reject that way of looking at it?
Christina: No, I think I had plenty of fun in a long distance relationship. We got to visit each other every once in a while. We got to have new experiences. We got to show each other around the cities that we lived in and that’s not necessarily something that you get to do with someone that’s in the same city as you, because you already live there and you already know a lot of what’s going on.
Dr. Gayl: What did you feel like you missed out on?
Christina: I don’t think I missed out on anything. I still got to go drinking with my friend. I still have the college experience, I just didn’t go out with a bunch of guys, I guess like other people did. And a lot of my friends didn’t do that anyways.
Dr. Gayl: Well let me rephrase my question. With regard to your relationship, what do you feel like you’ve missed out on with you guys being long distance? Because in my mind, I would think that when you’re long distance, you have this one weekend out of I don’t know how many months that you guys are able to spend together face-to-face and I would think you have to pack everything into that one weekend.
I’m an active person, so I would want to go to the movies, I would want to go hiking and biking and let me show you this and let me show you that. So, what do you feel like you missed out on with the long distance relationship verses being able to see someone during the week and not have to put everything into one weekend?
Frank: And was it one weekend a month or was it two or something else?
Christina: It was probably one weekend. Sometimes it was two or three weeks during winter break and sometimes we have that whole summer together. But during the school year we saw each other one weekend a month or one weekend every two months.
Frank: And what’d you–
Frank: Go on.
Christina: What were you going to ask?
Frank: What did you feel you missed out on as she asked, as Dr. Gayl just mentioned?
Christina: Sometimes there were some things that I wanted to do, that my friends weren’t available for like some festivals or some kind of movie that I wanted to see that nobody else wanted to see and it would’ve been nice to have somebody to do that kind of stuff with instead of just not being able to do it. And I know a lot of couples when they’re in college and they’re dating, they like to study together and I never really got to do that.
Frank: It’s assumed by most folks who are talking to college age students or individuals who were in college at a given point in time that they were not celibate when dating. Were you all intimate or were you all just doing the celibate thing?
Frank: And when I say intimate, I didn’t say that correctly.
Dr. Gayl: He said that very loosely.
Frank: Correctly. Yes, did you all have sex?
Christina: Yes we did, but we didn’t do it very often, because we only saw each other every so often. So we did use Skype every once in a while, but that was about it and then of course when we saw each other during the breaks and over the weekends, that’s when–
Frank: The rubber hit the road.
Dr. Gayl: And Christina, did you feel like because you guys were long distance every time you saw each other you had to have sex?
Frank: That’s such a women question? Did you feel like you had to have sex?
Dr. Gayl: That is not a women question.
Frank: I don’t want you to want me just for my body.
Dr. Gayl: Right, what’s wrong with that? Jesus.
Frank: What if he felt like he had to have sex. Would you ask him that?
Dr. Gayl: Yeah.
Frank: Okay, go on Christina. Excuse me.
Christina: It’s not that we had to, but we wanted to.
Frank: Thank you. Do you have outsiders that doubted you and your boyfriend’s ability to sustain a long distance relationship?
Christina: Yes, there were a couple of people. There is my mom’s co-worker there and every time she would see me she asked me or if I was dating anyone or if Steve was dating anyone (my boyfriend) and I told her no. And then she asked me if I was tempted by any of the boys at college and I told her that I wasn’t.
Frank: Was that true? Were you absolutely not ever tempted to date someone else?
Christina: I truly wasn’t.
Dr. Gayl: Come on, Christina. I don’t even believe that.
Christina: There were a couple of guys that I thought were cute, but it didn’t necessarily want to have a relationship with them.
Frank: Were you discouraged by the opinions of the folks who said that they doubted whether the relationship would work?
Christina: No, I didn’t. One time when my college roommate asked me, it was about six months into the long distance relationship– she asked me if I could see myself doing that for four years. Because at that point, I was planning on transferring to a school closer to Los Angeles to be closer to my boyfriend, so I told her that I didn’t think I would be able to do it for four years, but I surprised myself. And we did it for about five years.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Christina Kharbertyan, about long distance relationships.
Tell us a story where either you or your boyfriend violated an agreement that you had and how did you handle it?
Christina: We didn’t really have an agreement, but when I went dancing with some guys and he didn’t approve of that, we just talked it out and told the other one what we expected of each other. And we promised to be more courteous of the other person and respect their wants and needs in the future and not to do what hurt the other person anymore.
Frank: Tip number three: enjoy your independence. How do you do that?
Christina: I did a lot of things in college that I wouldn’t have necessarily have done if I was in the same city. I pursued a lot of my own interests. I took a sailing class one time. I started my own cooking blog. I hung out a lot with my friends more than I would have. I watched the entire series of Friends.
Frank: A whole lot of television.
Christina: There’s a lot of stuff you can do.
Dr. Gayl: Now Christina, did you guys ever move closer to be with each other to live in the same city?
Christina: Yes. After I graduated college, I moved back to Los Angeles and he was still going to school in Riverside.
Frank: Which is where compared to Los Angeles?
Christina: It was about an hour, an hour and a half.
Dr. Gayl: So you guys still are kind of long distance, it sounds like.
Christina: Yes, we were. We really didn’t get to see each other that much, but may be around once a week, we tried to see each other. He would come home on the weekend.
Dr. Gayl: And what changed once you moved back?
Christina: We had to learn how to–
Frank: To be around each other.
Christina: Yeah. We had to learn what the other person liked to do. We had to learn how to talk to each other with body language when we didn’t have to do that before. And we just had to learn how to exist with each other.
Dr. Gayl: And how was that? Was it difficult for you? Or was it difficult for him?
Christina: Yeah, it was difficult. It was difficult in the beginning, but you get used to it, like with everything else.
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Going back to how you all established the long distance relationship, how long after being together and being long distance, did you begin to really get comfortable with being apart?
Christina: It was probably three months into it. In the beginning, I was just really heart broken that we didn’t get to see each other. And then, once I started getting really into my classes and I had this new group of friends that I got to hang out with and do stuff with, then I started getting more comfortable with not being around him so much. And we had set up a schedule with each other. We would call every day or Skype and–
Dr. Gayl: And how important was that schedule, Christina? Or how important is a schedule to a long distance relationship?
Christina: It’s pretty important, but if you break it, I don’t think it should be that big of a deal. There are circumstances in which you might be really busy or if you accidentally forgets his phone at home or if you’re at a friend’s house or something had prevents him from calling you, then it shouldn’t be taken out of proportion.
Dr. Gayl: And it also sounds like you have to be a pretty open person yourself to be willing to participate or agree with the long distance relationship.
Frank: So this would never work for you?
Dr. Gayl: Don’t.
Frank: Okay, alright, alright. Go on Christina.
Dr. Gayl: For you I would have to be on you like a hawk, Frank. But for someone else, that’s a little bit more trustworthy.
Frank: I don’t know where you get trustworthy being an issue for me from. I am one of the most people you can trust ever. I tell you upfront, what’s up with me, my thoughts–
Dr. Gayl: Right, upfront, upfront.
Dr. Gayl: I’m going with this person and that person and I might sneak over to so and so’s house.
Frank: I never said anything like that.
Dr. Gayl: I’m telling you this upfront. Go ahead Christina.
Frank: No, hold on Christina. We’ve been together for all of this time and you still don’t know me. I’m devastated.
Dr. Gayl: Takes years to know a person.
Frank: Now go on Christina, please.
Christina: What were we talking about?
Dr. Gayl: Right. She probably forgot. I was saying Christina that it sounds like it takes a pretty open person to agree or participate in a long distance relationship.
Christina: Yeah, that’s definitely true. You have to make sure you don’t get too worried and you don’t freak out about every little thing, because I know a lot of women that are in long distance relationships and they’re always really paranoid about where their boyfriend is or what he’s doing.
You just have to relax sometimes and let that other person live their life on their own, because if you can’t necessarily be that bigger part in their life, because if you’re not there, all you’re doing is talking and you have to accept that they’re out doing things, that they’re hanging out with other people.
They get busy, they’re working. So you have to not sweat the small stuff so much, like if you don’t talk to them for a day, maybe something happened out of their control and you shouldn’t get angry about it, because that just puts a strain on the relationship.
Frank: What’s interesting, and you haven’t said it, but I’m getting it, is at some point, it seems as though a long distance relationship can help a person like Dr. Gayl, get more comfortable with being less–
Dr. Gayl: Choose your words, choose your words wisely.
Frank: Yeah, being less hard or nosy or harsh–
Dr. Gayl: Or may be less attached. I’ll take less attached.
Frank: To your partner, where you don’t feel as though you have to know as much, where you can actually relax and enjoy the time you have together, instead of worrying about where your partner is, what they’re doing, that sort of thing.
Christina: That’s the ideal scenario, but a lot of women don’t feel like that. They get really worried. They get even more attached, because they don’t know what the other person is doing and they’re not okay with that. And I think you just have to be okay with it.
Frank: I don’t think you’re being fair by saying that it’s a lot of women, because a lot of men do the same thing.
Dr. Gayl: What? I can’t believe you just said that, Frank.
Frank: No, a lot of men that are nuts and that are, well–
Dr. Gayl: You do. I didn’t want to say it, but you do. But since you said it, you do have a lot of men that are nuts and checking in and they want to know where you are, what you’re doing, what you’re doing it with. “Why haven’t I heard from you? Why haven’t you called me, why haven’t I–”
Christina: They get jealous.
Dr. Gayl: Yeah.
Frank: So, do you agree that it’s not just women that it’s also men?
Christina: Yes, of course. My boyfriend, he would call me sometimes, like if I hadn’t talked to him for may be a day or two. He would get really worried too, because even if you are relaxed about it, you still want to make sure that the person is okay and if they’re doing well. You don’t want to have them going off with somebody else.
Frank: How do you determine when your partner is just simply being a partner and checking in to make sure you’re healthy verses–
Dr. Gayl: Nagging.
Frank: Interpreting it is nagging or checking up on you to see if you’re where you said you would be, because they may not believe you?
Christina: Well, the circumstances of the cause is definitely a factor. If we’re calling you every hour or every couple of hours, I think that’s a problem, because you can’t really do anything. You can’t go anywhere without having to talk to somebody and it depends on the content of the conversation.
If you’re just calling to say, “Hey, what’s up” or if he’s really pushy about his questions and he sounds like he doesn’t believe you, then I think that’s a problem.
Frank: Any suggestions on how to manage that problem?
Christina: You could just talk to him about it, be like “If you like you’re not trusting me and I feel like you’re calling me a lot and you have all of these questions and I don’t think they’re warranted,” and talk about your trust issues and if you’re feeling jealous, you should tell the other person.
I think it’s really important to have open lines of communication to tell the other person how you’re feeling. And if it doesn’t come to an end, if he’s still calling you, a hundred times a day, then you should be like, “You need to stop calling me so much. You have to trust me. You have to know that I’m not doing anything wrong,” and you just have to go on with your day.
Dr. Gayl: Did your boyfriend ever mention that he wanted to date someone else or he needed a break from the long distance?
Christina: No, he never said anything like that. There was something in the beginning, before we had set up any ground rules. He had this one friend that was a girl and then they were talking a lot, hanging out a lot and he doesn’t think that she was interested in him, but then one day out of the blue, she kissed him. And then he was like, “I can’t do this. I have a girlfriend.” So, then he stopped being friends with her.
I don’t think he wanted to date other people, because he had his opportunities and he just didn’t go with it.
Frank: How’d you guys handle long distance arguments?
Christina: When we had arguments, I know that everyone says that, it’s not okay to go to sleep angry, but I think it’s very important to go to sleep when you are angry, especially if it’s 2:00 A.M. and you have to wake up for a class the next day or work and you guys are still going in circles about the same thing.
You lose your train of thought. You don’t know what you’re arguing about anymore. You don’t know what’s important to say, what should be left out. You accuse each other of things that happened years in the past and you just bring up old arguments.
I think it’s really good to go to sleep when you’re angry, because you wake up and you’re refreshed and you have a clear mind and you actually know exactly what you want and where your mind is at, so you’re not going around in circles forgetting what you’re arguing about.
Dr. Gayl: Christina, did you guys try to handle your arguments before you saw each other, so that during your visits it would be pleasurable and you wouldn’t have to focus on anything negative?
Christina: Yes, definitely. We tried to resolve our issues at least within 24 hours. Sometimes we would even text during class, because something was bothering us. And I don’t think we had a problem arguing before the visits, because we were always so happy around that time, that we really didn’t see any problems arise.
Frank: Another tip in your article was, spice up the long distance loving. Tell us about that.
Christina: I think what you’re referring to is that, just the romance or with Skype and the Web cams.
Frank: Oh, so–
Christina: Because I think both are important.
Frank: Tell me about how spicy it can get on Skype?
Christina: It can get pretty spicy, I guess, especially if your roommate isn’t there. If you’re roommates there all the time, it can annoying. But it’s hard to make it too intimate, because you are so far away, but there are a couple of new gadgets out. There’s the Durex underwear that they just invented and you guys wear it. It’s like underwear and then the person controls it with the remote control, no matter how far away they are and then it vibrates your body parts.
Frank: Very interesting. You’re schooling me, Christina.
Dr. Gayl: And Christina, have you heard of this? I was reading an article about long distance relationship with regard to pillow talk and they said that each person has a ring sensor that they wear to bed at night and a fabric panel with slots inside their pillow case. The ring wirelessly communicates with the other person’s pillow. When one person goes to bed, their lover’s pillow begins to glow, indicating their presence. Placing your head on the pillow, allows you to hear the real-time heartbeat of your love one.
Christina: Yeah, I have heard of that and I think it’s amazing. Is it out yet? Do you know?
Dr. Gayl: Let’s see. It’s–
Frank: Someone invented that?
Dr. Gayl: Yes. It sounds like it is out.
Christina: I think that’s amazing.
Dr. Gayl: Yeah. A designer created the long distance pillow.
Frank: Okay. I’m in the wrong business. I need to get–
Dr. Gayl: Long distance panties and long distance pillows.
Frank: Yeah, and finally keep the faith; number five in your tips for the long distance relationships. Let’s hear it.
Christina: So you have to not lose hope that your relationship is not going to work out, because there are going to be hard times that you have to go through. You’re going to fight about stuff. You’re going have times when you don’t feel as loved as you want or as it used to. And you have to just keep talking to the person, just make sure that there’s an end in sight and a time where you guys can be together again and not long distance. Because if you have that moment to look forward to, then it’ll be easier to get through all of the hard stuff and you have to make sure that you don’t forget a love that’s there.
Dr. Gayl: So don’t throw in the towel, huh?
Christina: Unless you’re arguing too much or you’re just extremely unhappy and you don’t see any happiness in the relationship whatsoever. Then I think it’s time to give it up.
Frank: Were there any holidays that had any special significance? Of course you can say Valentine’s Day. But did you all have any particular days or times where you definitely came together and you just saw stars?
Christina: There was one time. I was April, I think. We just ran away to Arizona and we took a road trip to the Grand Canyon. And then we went camping. All the stars are so beautiful there. And we went to see a concert out on the field and it was one of the best weekends ever.
Dr. Gayl: That’s nice. And do you guys have other holidays that you are together, specifically? Like, this is your day. This is your time. For instance, Christmas; do you always spend Christmas together? Is it with his family? Is it with your family? How does that work?
Christina: We spent all of the holidays together, because we get time off for Thanksgiving. So for Thanksgiving we would go to his family dinner first, because they eat early and I was in a Mediterranean household, so we eat much later. And so, we did Thanksgiving like that. And for Christmas my family celebrate on Christmas Eve and his family celebrates on Christmas day.
Dr. Gayl: So, that works out well for you guys?
Dr. Gayl: And where is your relationship now? Are you guys still moving forward? Do you live any closer to each other?
Christina: We live about five minutes away.
Dr. Gayl: Okay, so how is it now? How is it working for you now?
Christina: It’s good. We get to see each other everyday, but I do feel that we’re getting into that comfort zone of doom where as you just sit in front of the TV and eat dinner. It’s much more work to get the excitement into the relationship when we’re seeing each other all the time, because you just get really comfortable so you have to make a lot more effort to go out on the weekends to try new things. I feel like it was quite a bit more romantic in a long distance relationship, because we didn’t see each other a lot. We had a lot of stuff to do when we were together.
Dr. Gayl: Which would you prefer? Would you prefer the long distance or would you prefer–you guys, like you stated, five minutes away now. Which makes for a better relationship and spicier and things of that nature?
Christina: They both have their downfalls and they both have very redeeming moments. In a long distance relationship I felt like I did a lot more of what I wanted to do, but now–
Dr. Gayl: So he wasn’t down your back and hounding you, huh?
Christina: Yeah. I got a lot more time to myself and now he comes over after work and we hang out, so I see him everyday. And I feel like our relationship is closer now, because we do get to be there for all kinds of events that we want to go to and for birthdays and different parties that we weren’t able to go to before. So, each one has its positives and negatives. So it can go for either of them.
Frank: Are you interested in marriage at this point? You said before that you believe dating would be the step towards spending a life together, yet it sounds as though when you all had the opportunity to move in together, because you came closer from your respective sides of California, you didn’t do it.
Frank: So why didn’t you get married and are you planning to?
Christina: Yes, we just graduated a year ago. So, it took me quite a while to find a job. Now that I’m working and he’s working, we’re trying to save up money. We’re living at home so we can get a significant amount of saving so we could be able to get married and move in together. So that’s in the very near future, hopefully.
Dr. Gayl: Right. That’s what I was going to ask you next. Christina. Either in your personal life or research you’ve done, what’s typical? When people move to the same cites, do they typically move in together? Do they find their own place? What do they do?
Christina: That depends on what their options are. If they have the option to be living together, I’m sure that they would. But some people do are raised in different cultures that don’t believe in that living together before marriage and so they wouldn’t together for that reason. Other people don’t–I guess if they have a chance, it would be more affordable to live together, but I guess you could do that too.
Frank: You’ve put a lot of time into this relationship. Do you ever think about it not “working” out or you all breaking up? And if you did break up, would you absolutely be devastated or would you see it as just a part of a relationship cycle?
Christina: I would be incredibly devastated in the worse case scenario, if we don’t end up together. I would not necessarily feel like I wasted my time, but feel like I wouldn’t gone through a lot of heartbreaks for not much to get out of it. Like even before we even went on a long distance relationship we had talked about our future and that we wanted to get married to each other, so I feel like that’s something that I’ve always wanted with him. So, if it didn’t work out I would be very, very devastated.
Frank: Doesn’t that put a bit of heaviness on the relationship? I mean doesn’t it–don’t you feel as though–
Dr. Gayl: Loaded.
Frank: Yeah, that is loaded. Okay, go on and answer, even though it’s loaded.
Christina: It’s not like I’m going and putting pressure on it, but I feel like our promise to each other in the beginning, that we would end up together has helped us through the four years of long distance, because we knew that we wanted to be together forever. I would feel like it has made our distance easier and it has kept us together. I don’t think it’s putting pressure on the relationship now, because it’s something that we’ve always talked about and it’s something that we both wanted.
Dr. Gayl: Right. And it sounds like you both have a common goal. It’s not like you want one thing and he wants another.
Christina: Yeah, exactly. Don’t a lot of couples do that? They talk about marriage and it’s not putting pressure on the relationship.
Frank: But isn’t–
Dr. Gayl: Most normal people Christina, not Frank.
Frank: But isn’t unfair–yeah that’s another loaded question.
Dr. Gayl: Another–right.
Frank: Yeah, okay. I got it. But isn’t it unfair to make a promise to each other and four years ago that you expect the person to still be with you or you expect the relationship to still be together in four years, when if the relationship is working, you will be together in four years. What’s the point in making a promise?
Christina: We didn’t make a solid promise, but we did know that we were going to end up together. And we didn’t go into it with unrealistic expectations. We knew that there was a possibility that it might not work out, especially in the beginning. But somehow we made it through all of the years and we’re here now. I guess it wasn’t for naught.
Frank: My book is, How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship, and one of the things that I discuss in it is making sure both of you all understand that you might break up.
Some of my questions–the last few questions have definitely been to that point. I think it’s important in terms of how you deal with each other on a day-to-day basis, how you look to the future, to understand that break-ups are a natural part of the relationship cycle.
Most of us are going to experience those break-ups and most of us actually have significant break up in our lifetime and it helps to minimize the devastation of a given break-up when you realize it can happen. Anything you want to add to that?
Dr. Gayl: Before you answer that Christina, I want to add that just because you understand that a relationship can end, that doesn’t mean you have to plan for it to end. Just because she can understand that yes, it’s possible, but this relationship may not last, that doesn’t mean you go into it planning to end the relationship.
Frank: You’re not plan–you’re planning for the possibility–
Dr. Gayl: No, you’re planning to end the relationship.
Frank: You’re demonstrating an understanding that it can happen to yourself and to your partner.
Dr. Gayl: Right. Having an understanding, yes. “I understand that this may not last, I understand that it may not go on forever,” but I’m not going to plan for it to not go on forever. I’m not going to have an option two. I’m not going into it with a plan B. This is my plan and this is what’s going to work. Because it sounds like with Christina, they both agree that it’s going to work. Unlike you coming into it with a–what do you call it?
Dr. Gayl: Agreement, handbook in five years, we’re going to come to the drawing board and see what happens. That’s just unrealistic in my point of view.
Frank: You’re not planning for it not to work. You’re planning for life to be life. We don’t have to lock each other in. We don’t have to act as though it might not–
Dr. Gayl: Christina, let’s be clear, okay? Commitment is a curse word in Frank’s view, in his world, okay. Monogamy, commitment, lifelong relationships, that’s like cussing him out and talking about his mama or something.
Frank: None of that is true. That’s all Dr. Gayl’s stuff.
Dr. Gayl: No, that’s true.
Frank: Okay, Christina, but somewhere along in there, there was a question to you and we just never let you get it out. So weigh in, please.
Christina: Well, I think first of all, everyone is different. The long distance might not work for people like Frank who don’t believe in monogamy, because it is a lot about trust and you have to make sure that you’re loyal to that person as you can be and–I forgot your first question, because–
Dr. Gayl: We went on a tangent.
Frank: Don’t worry about it and it happens all the time. And it’s Dr. Gayl’s fault.
You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Christina Kharbertyan, about long distance relationships. Along today’s journey we’ve discussed the rules of long distance relationships, spicing up the long distance loving and dealing with the naysayers.
I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had swapping opinions with Christina. I’m certainly grateful for the opportunity and the information.
As always it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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