Red and I share an unusual relationship.
The fact that I come from a traditional Asian family explains why I’m in my mid-twenties, have yet to move out (and don’t hope to anytime soon) and have never had a boyfriend spend the night at my place. And I’m past my prime for partying, so it’s off home before local transport ceases running and taxis begin charging at cutthroat prices. What’s a girl to do to stay close to her loved one when physically apart?
Most probably hold long phone conversations with their significant halves, before bidding each other goodnight and hanging up to hit the sack.
But Red and I go to bed side by side, and awake to the sight of one another each morning. Thanks to one of the greatest applications to ever be created – Skype. Video is the next best thing to being literally together, despite Red and I staying on opposite ends of this tiny island. And it’s been approximately 10 months since our first overnight Skype session – plus hundreds of dollars’ worth of electrical bills – since we’ve been habitually ‘hanging out’ with each other on-screen, day and night.
Besides having the usual “What did you do today?” conversations and dramatic couple arguments, there are plenty of (clean) ways to add spark into a relationship through video-calling.
1. Watch a movie ‘together’
With quick and easy (though sadly not legal) methods to download a film over the net, my partner and I get a film ready on our computers before we countdown together and click the play button almost simultaneously. It’s an enjoyable way to enjoy a flick together – almost like sitting side by side in the cinemas. Remember to time your toilet breaks and whatever breaks you have to take so that both of you remain more or less on the same minutes of the movie. End film, and discuss just like you would while walking out of the theatre.
2. Smiley toes
On days when Red and I aren’t feeling especially conversational, we draw smileys on the digits of our feet and let them do the talking. It’s sick and silly, but will definitely ring in minutes of laughter. The novelty wears off after a while, but a sudden smiley toe has yet to lose its ‘surprise’ element when presented in the midst of a ‘face-to-face’ chat.
3. Sing for the moment
It’s endearing when you and your partner break out into a song you both know and it unknowingly becomes a short, impromptu duet which ends in a fit of giggles. Though Red can’t carry a tune in a bucket for his life, I love it when he chimes in and we mumble the lyrics to tunes that come to mind. Put us together in real life and we’d do a little dance together as well.
4. Bear hugs and kisses
Stretch your arms out wide and pucker up at the camera. Physical touch is the language of love, and when it’s not possible due to geographical distances, you can always play pretend. It warms up your heart a little just to bear-hug some air at the sight of your guy doing the same.
Looks like we aren’t the pioneers for the already-coined terms Skype-sleeping and Ambient Skype, but we were the first to come up with this regular routine among our friends prior to knowing that others do it, too. Waking up in the middle of the night is comforting when the first thing you see is your partner in bed, wrapped up in his comforters and softly snoring away. But be prepared for interrupted snoozing when other sounds invade the speakers of your laptop or smartphone: loud family members, construction and traffic from beyond your partners room, but whose noise gets picked up by the evil mic nonetheless. Another tip for Skype-sleeping would to leave a night light or a bedside lamp on so you don’t appear as a black block on the screen. Those with thin eyelids probably need some time getting used to this.
They say that technology is often a driving force behind social isolation and what-not, but video-calling has definitely given me a taste of what co-habitation with Red could be like. A steady Wi-Fi connection, sufficient lighting and a good interface for Skype (I normally use my iPhone as its camera is much more light-sensitive than my laptop) is all you need for that almost-together experience with your partner. And I believe lovebirds in LDRs would all the more appreciate the habit – I can safely say that half of my relationship with Red is sustained by this alone.
So turn up your speaker volumes, keep that ‘pop-up’ screen out while you’re attending to your e-mails and Facebook messages, and share a meal or snack with your partner over a camera-date if circumstances prevent you from indulging in the real deal.