Episode 7: Why should we listen to Ally, Our Host?

 

In our new episode of Long Distance Short, we answer such a vital question as “Why should we listen to Ally, our host?” Be the first to learn the touching LDR love story that crossed an ocean! Discover how to overcome the biggest challenges and recognize true love and what the pros of a long-distance romance are (yes, they exist!). Together with our frequent guest Sempronia, Ally opens up her soul and shares the experience with her beloved listeners. Don’t miss such useful information, who knows, maybe it will turn your world upside down!

SEMPI

Ally, thank you so much for having me back, and kind of agreeing to do this impromptu, sort of, inquisition here! (laugh) Figuring out what makes you qualified to host this “Long Distance Short” podcast — I’m dying to know… You know, you’ve interviewed me — we’re flipping the tables today. How do you feel about that?

 

ALLY

Well, you’re doing great, so don’t worry about it! Yeah, I’m also so… I’m nervous about being interviewed a bit, because that’s not the way I’m used to talking to people — we’re in the same plate here, we have the same challenges, but I hope it will be fine. Yeah! How are you doing, Sempi?

 

SEMPI

I… I’m doing okay — I think we’ve figured out qualification number one: it’s, you’re better at asking and interviewing people than I am. So we tick that off, we’ve found out your first qualification.

 So, you’re in a long-distance relationship now — we’ve talked about this a little bit, which, I guess, makes sense, your hosting this podcast. But is this your first long-distance relationship, is this the first time you decided: I’m gonna take a chance here?

 

ALLY

Oh, you know, I’d had one! I really had one — I didn’t realize it. I would not call it a big, serious relationship, but it was an attempt to go in a relationship. Because we were chatting, it was a man and he was in the army, and I was where I was, in the university; it was for maybe four months, and it didn’t go well. But still, it was an attempt; it was unsuccessful, but I decided… to jump into it again! (laugh)

 

SEMPI

So when you… Okay. So you had this first… not-quite relationship. And that didn’t go well. So I’m kind of surprised you decided to do it again — what made you decide: you know what, maybe that was just a fluke, can you give your current partner a chance. What was the thought process there?

 

ALLY

Oh, you know, I didn’t concentrate much on the way it went, I mean, on the way we communicated. I just concentrated more on the person; I didn’t have a priority to meet somebody in real life.

 

SEMPI

So it sounds like you tripped into it; like this person was just so… You connected well, you had a good friendship, and this developed organically, it wasn’t the goal.

 

ALLY

Yes.

 

SEMPI

Okay. That’s the best way, I think.

 

ALLY

You know, I started this — again, I mean talking to people and communicating with them online — just because it was interesting for me; I was invested in this idea that I would like to talk to people all over the world, really; I think it was 2015 when I was in the third year of my studies, and I since I learned English, I was at shocked at how many borders were open. That’s how it started. I went to a website where I could just have language exchange, and I didn’t look for the person I would like to date, I just wanted to practise — that’s how it went. But I think that this online mode, this online thing was okay for the communication, because it was the only way for me to meet foreigners, online.

 

SEMPI

A lot cheaper than just flying somewhere.

 

ALLY

Certainly, of course! This is how you start.

 

SEMPI

Right. Okay, so you met them, you were doing this language exchange, and grew everything organically from there. Since you started dating, since you decided, you know, I’m gonna take a risk on this person, how long has that been? How long have you two been official, been an item?

 

ALLY

I think we started dating since December 2015, so I guess it will be five years this year.

 

SEMPI

Wow! So, is that five years straight, or there any sort of breaks, maybe you had second thoughts, wanted to hit the “pause” button for a minute?

 

ALLY

It was straight. So yeah, it was five years of a long-distance relationship. Oh my God — I don’t believe it myself! (laugh)

 

SEMPI

Okay! So, five years. That’s impressive for any relationship.

 

ALLY

This year, it will be five years, basically.

 

SEMPI

Well, сongratulations. I think I’m not the only one who’s curious: what were sort of the biggest hurdles, the biggest challenges that you two had to overcome, to make it this long?

 

ALLY

Well, first of all, it was my boyfriend’s birthday, and I wanted to impress him, and I drew a little manga where I drew me and him doing some things, but kind of in real life: for example, we were discussing some anime, or there were some interesting situations, or maybe some phrases that we learned from each other. And at the end of this manga, I was coming out of a refrigerator, because we’d been joking about it, and I went to him and kissed him on the cheek. And then he was so astonished, he asked me: will you date me? I was like, what? And he was like, what? (laugh) We are, like, 8,000 kilometers away, and he’s asking me: will you date me?

 

SEMPI

So this is how you broke the first hurdle, when you were just starting the relationship.

 

ALLY

Yes…

 

SEMPI

That’s so cute! Okay.

 

ALLY

But it was so uncertain! I mean, this is the first thing; what will be the next? Okay, I agreed, we are kind of… We promised each other that we would be dating, that we would be together — what is next, I mean, what is the next step? And this is the biggest challenge.

 

SEMPI

So, sort of figuring out what even dating looks like for you two, and how you two will grow together as a couple.

 

ALLY

Yes! And, of course, I certainly wanted to meet, as well as him.

 

SEMPI

So, sort of setting your long-term goals was the next step.

 

ALLY

Yes. I understood that it’s not so easy to arrange: I had my studies, he had his studies. So the first challenge, yes, we had to meet — any way, either just seeing each other while traveling, or visiting… And of course, those questions were asked by my family and friends: what’s next.

 

SEMPI

So, how did they handle — you’ve brought up your family and friends — how did they handle it as a whole? Obviously, no mom is out there going, “I hope my daughter finds a nice long-distance boyfriend!”

 

ALLY

(laugh) Yeah!

 

SEMPI

So how did they take it, and have their opinions changed now that it’s lasted five years?

 

ALLY

My parents didn’t even consider it anything serious; I cannot judge them because they have always been together: they started their relationship, like, twenty years ago, and they met in real life, and they never separated, so they just couldn’t come up with the idea. Like, “What are you talking about? Are you serious?” And I was like: “I don’t know, we will see, but that’s what we are doing, and yes, that’s how it works.”

 

With friends, on the other hand, I was very lucky because my best friend had the same type of relationship as me: she had a boyfriend that she met on the same website! And we were developing our relationships almost at the same time, they were going simultaneously. And we always could talk to each other and support each other, so I was lucky, because that was the person… We gave each other hope that this is working.

 

SEMPI

I think that’s such a good point that, when everybody’s against you, even when it’s an in-person relationship, with all your friends and family saying: “Uh, I don’t know about this one…”, it’s really hard to feel secure, so I’m so glad that early on, you had a friend who was like, “Yeah, you should try it, I’m trying it, too, we’ll get through this together.” Now that it’s been five years, does your family maybe take this a little more seriously, have they maybe decided they’re gonna support this, too?

 

ALLY

They were shocked when they found out we’d actually met in real life, and we liked each other. They were thinking, like: “Oh, maybe they will meet and they will understand that they are different people,” blah, blah, — not because they didn’t like somebody, but just because they couldn’t handle the idea that somebody can love somebody without touching, without smelling, without hugging, kissing, and so on.

 

SEMPI

Right.

 

ALLY

When they found out, they kind of accepted this fact, and when they met my boyfriend in real life, then, I think, that was the point when they admitted to themselves that it’s basically okay and that it works. But so far, as long as they see that we’re moving in the same direction, they don’t ask such questions. They accept this, I guess, and they live with it right now, and that’s what is a good thing about it.

 

SEMPI

I think it’s also a generational thing. I think we’ve grown up with this technology and having long-distance friendships and whatnot; it’s a little more normal for us that it was for our parents, so it’s nice to see them sort of coming around as they see proof; as they see, oh, wow, it’s lasted five years. Okay.

 

ALLY

Yes!

 

SEMPI

So, with you, right — I mean, obviously you didn’t grow up with these images of “I’m gonna meet a fantastic boy online.” Now that you have, and you’ve been in a long-distance relationship that’s successful, how does that change how you think about love — or has it?

 

ALLY

Although you may consider me an expert, I am still considering myself only learning this kind of… profession of love, if we can call it so. (laugh) What I understood from my experience in a long-distance relationship, I was afraid that when we’d meet he would, indeed, be a totally different person, he would not be the person I loved, or the person I considered I loved. I really was afraid of it. But then, after maybe two hours we spent together, I asked myself: “Can he be a person who’s absolutely different from the person you met?”

 

I mean, with whom you’d chatted for three years, and with whom you’d been through some difficult situations — and, although some people may think: “What situations can happen?” A lot of them; really, a lot of them. And you can test a person, you can see their reaction, you can challenge them; you can dare them to do something for you!

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SEMPI

So it sounds like it didn’t really change how you think about love — you sort of just evolved together. I mean, we all, as we grow, we have this more mature, broader definition of love…

 

ALLY

Yes!

 

SEMPI

So it sounds sort of the norm, then: even though you were long-distance, you had this growth and discovery of who you two are as a couple, of how you two mesh…

 

ALLY

Yeah.

 

SEMPI

Sort of like anyone would do, dating in real life; I don’t want to say “in real life” as if online was fake, but… (laugh)

 

But it can be! It can be — that’s the concern, right; so you were lucky enough to find somebody who was genuine both on and off the computer, and so you sort of got the same experience, even though you were far apart, of still growing together.

 

ALLY

That’s just another level; we had situations that we experienced over distance, and then we had different situations that we experienced being together in real life. Of course, these are different situations, and I think in the long-distance relationship we had bigger goals, and we had bigger challenges than when we are together, because when we are together, we understand that we can overcome this together, that we are here.

 

SEMPI

So, being this long-distance relationship, do you think that made you better or worse at communicating?

 

ALLY

Certainly better — if your partner is also trying to make a step towards you, so you both need to move towards each other; specifically, talking about the time zones, we had six or seven hours between us, that’s six in the summertime and seven in wintertime. And when it’s only 4 PM here, it’s already almost midnight in Japan, so Yoshiki often came to me saying: I would really love to talk, but I’m so sorry, I’m so sleepy, and can you please let me sleep. (laugh) And, although I’d been waiting to talk to him for the whole day, I would realize that, well, he has his needs, and sometimes the circumstances are against us, so I’d say, of course, you can go.

 

Did it help me improve my communication skills? — I think I became a bit more patient about things. I think sometimes we need to resolve some conflicts, and we need to be polite, because if you start being toxic, the person just goes off — I mean, offline, right? Because it’s understandable — I did that myself. And, as I’ve said, a lot of depends on the partners, because he’s also pushing me to be patient, to be communicative, to be honest.

 

SEMPI

Right. And, you know, those things like stepping away from arguing — when you do that in real life, the person is just in another room. When you do that digitally, you see that “offline” button — and you’re just like: “Uh-oh. Well, the door’s closed.” Not only closed, but you just don’t know when it’s gonna open again. And that, I think, is something a little more scary; and you’ve made it five years, so, clearly, you two have done better, more effective ways to do that.

 

ALLY

We both were quite knowledgeable and I’m really lucky to have met a person like Yoshiki because he knows how to hear, how to listen, but I can do it as well. Sometimes, emotions go over, and our levels of toxicity, if you can call it that, became different. And we often went off! For 30 minutes, for 40 minutes, for an hour — just to calm down. But in the end, we returned again, and we started to speak, and we started to listen. And we had to come to some point when we’d say: “I’m sorry, let’s move on!” — “Yes, I’m also sorry, so let’s move on.”

 

Yes, I mean, it’s very helpful now, because I understand that, although we can be impulsive, although sometimes we cannot see the other side of the coin, in the end, we understand that we both want the same thing, we want to make up, we want to keep going. And that helped me and him understand how this should be done.

 

SEMPI

That’s… I think that’s so important for, again, even for couples who are living together in the same setting: it’s that you realize, even when you’re fighting, or even when you don’t agree, or you’re having to compromise, that at the end of the day, you’re on the same side.

 

ALLY

Yes.

 

SEMPI

Right? Like, you’re two people fighting for the same relationship, and it’s really impressive to me that you two were able to discover that digitally — the largest part of your relationship.

 

ALLY

It’s a really interesting point; some people ask me: “I’ve tried it, and it didn’t work for me” — well, there are a lot of different things to consider, right? But I often heard sad stories about: it’s a Western man who wants to meet, to date Russian women — or Ukrainian, or Belarusian, whatever…

 

SEMPI

Ideally, a swimsuit model.

 

ALLY

Yes! Okay, the clichéest cliché we could come up with, right? Why sometimes it doesn’t go well: it’s not because the Russian women are bad, no; they can be bad, but they also can be good. But the interest that they have in you is the determining point; if you see that the person you’re trying to date, the person you’re trying to communicate with online, is asking you questions, is interested in who you are, what you like to eat, what you like to watch, when they try to get to know you, when they show genuine interest in you, that is everything. That is the thing that we need to consider first. Because it’s always two sides, it’s a two-side thing: you can be interested in this person, you can be in love with her appearance, with her temper, with whatever, but if she doesn’t want to show the same interest on the same level, that’s a bad thing.

 

SEMPI

That’s a bad sign, pretty universally: if it’s a one-way street something, something’s not going well.

 

ALLY

And we need to learn to notice it. Because many do not notice, right? Simply because we think: oh, maybe she will love me. Like, we need to meet, maybe, or we need to chat a little more, and she’ll see that I’m a great person. Yes, but it should be from the very beginning.

 

SEMPI

Right. And I think that a lot of people use the excuse of: oh, it’s online. They’re uncomfortable, or…

 

ALLY

Yes! They’re like: when we meet, it will be totally different. No. You probably won’t even meet, unfortunately.

 

SEMPI

Right. So, with this in mind, — you’ve sort of ticked all the boxes with your partner: you’ve had the chemistry online, you’ve had the chemistry in person, you’ve made things work; but obviously, you still have those special moments, those holidays and things that you two have to spend apart. How do you make those work, how do you make those feel special, when you can’t do something in person?

 

ALLY

That’s a good question. If it’s the New Year, we celebrate it first in Japan, then in Ukraine. Right? (laugh)

 

SEMPI

So you get two! Because of the time difference.

 

ALLY

Yes!

 

SEMPI

This is a perk.

 

ALLY

As for February 14, which is basically the most…

 

SEMPI

Ooh. That’s a big one.

 

ALLY

Yeah, that’s the most romantic thing for couples ever made by humans — which I, of course, doubt, (laugh) but — well, our first Saint Valentine’s Day was, like, Skype with wine. I was sitting with all my make-up, hairdo, and my best clothes, and we tried to… We drank online, basically, and maybe that was the point when we could share our… We said some things to each other, because we were a bit more courageous with the alcohol. (laugh) Was it really special? — Well, we could do it every day, but this feeling that it’s our holiday, that we can actually be together during this holiday — that was special.

 

SEMPI

So you have — what are, sort of, the tips that you did for Valentine’s Day to make that romantic, how can you use them for regular date nights? What makes just a typical date night, rather than an all-out Valentine’s Day?

 

ALLY

Basically, first of all, you need to dedicate this time, and you need to let everybody around know: “Look, I will have a date with my partner over Skype. You can try to ask me to help you with something, but please don’t — just think I’m away, I’m not at home.” And that’s the first thing: you need to set boundaries, maybe lock the door, so that nobody interrupts you. You can think about anything that’s of interest to you, really: if we like anime, we can have watched some anime before, and then we like to discuss it together. We have a really, really hot discussion about something. Also, it can be music, it can be…

 

It always depends on what you like to do. I don’t think I should give any advice on what the best way is, because you and your partner always know best what you like to do together. It’s just the way you set this up: you give importance to that, you let everybody around know that you are on a date and you shouldn’t be disturbed; you dedicate one or two hours, three hours — whatever you like, whatever works for you.

 

SEMPI

Right. And I think that’s so important to remember: that your date nights don’t look like everyone else’s. Right?

 

ALLY

Yes!

 

SEMPI

…And there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you’re spending quality time together, doing whatever. Maybe you’re talking during your workout. Congratulations, if you can do it while working out, that’s… power to you. Or you’re watching a movie together and maybe texting during it.

 

ALLY

Yes! Yes. I know a couple who liked watching movies at the same time, and they really make an effort to set it on the second, so that they don’t laugh earlier than needed. (laugh)

 

SEMPI

Right. No, and that’s so, that’s so important — and I think that’s something that people forget, it’s that… just because you’re not physically in the same room, it doesn’t mean you can’t share a moment; you just have to be a little more creative about, which is, I think, great, that you and your partner have…

 

ALLY

Yes! So, it depends.

 

SEMPI

So we’ve talked a lot about the cons of a long-distance relationship, I think those are the things the people most think about is: “Ugh, this is gonna be hard!” And you know it is, but you know, you can make it. Do you think — the flip-side to that, do you think there are any perks, is there anything you’re getting out of a long-distance relationship you think you just wouldn’t’ve had if your relationship was in person?

 

Obviously, there’s space: you get all the personal time you can want; I think that’s the most obvious one, but are there other things that are maybe enhanced because you’re long-distance?

 

ALLY

Yes, sure. You have a lot of room for self-development, and also for working on yourself to build a better relationship in the future. You can, as I’ve said, test and challenge the other person, and basically, you also grow. You have these long-term goals — you should know what you’re striving for, and this gives you the idea of: oh, maybe I need to learn a language. Or: I think I need to look for a job abroad. Or maybe I want to study at a university abroad to have this common thing. And you know, when it’s not typical, you need to make an effort, you need to find this… courage to understand that it won’t be as easy, and this gives you a big, big room for self-development. I honestly grew so much since we started dating, and I’m so thankful for that.

 

Also, the cultural differences. This is my favorite topic. Oh my Gosh. How — I mean, how narrowly I thought in terms of how other people can live! You cannot imagine.

 

SEMPI

So this makes your world larger: you had your point of view, and now you’re dating someone from across the world, and you’ve got this whole other lens to see through, these experiences and things to talk about.

 

ALLY

And I think, even if I dated someone from Hungary, or Poland, or whoever, even closer to my country, from maybe a Slavic nation, it would of course be a different culture. And it would give me a lot more room for growth. I would like to talk about ambiguity tolerance: it’s how you kind of accept another person’s opinion, which is different from yours. If you cannot accept another person’s idea that contradicts yours, it means that you’re not really tolerant. And it’s a big thing in communication: that is how you struggle, that is how you don’t match.

 

But if you try to accept the point of view that is different from yours, that makes you go: “Oh really?! It’s not really so!”, and try to understand other people, it makes things so much easier for both of you — for accepting everything around you, basically. And I think that’s the best thing about having a long-distance relationship with a person who’s from a culture that’s different from yours, or who’s living in that different culture, right?

 

SEMPI

Right! No — that’s a really, really good and interesting point. And I know that we didn’t talk about this question in advance, so if you need to tell me to back off, you can, but: has this made you better at having long-distance friendships? I mean, I think we’re friends, right, we’ve talked about way too many things to not be friends. But do you think that was made easier, you know, befriending this weird American chick with purple hair? Was that easier because you had already developed this sort of open-mindedness, coming to love and accept and appreciate your partner, even for your differences?

 

ALLY

Yes. Absolutely. As I’ve said, since I started accepting other cultures, other views, I became more patient about all of that, I started to see the world from another side, another angle, another point of view. And that’s so great — I mean, I really enjoy it. I really enjoy hearing some people say: no, you’re not doing it correctly — I’m doing it this way. And I say: wow, show me! How do you do it? Then I apply it to my life — and: wow! It works.

 

Or, vice-versa — in the past, I’ve said: oh no, this is not for me, this is awful; but then somebody told me: you know this works, — and look at this, it has a lot of benefits! — And, you know, it does. It’s not about me accepting fully, for something entering my life, but I can kind of sympathize. I can show this empathy to another person, and it’s really important — it’s the key to communication.

 

SEMPI

So maybe this is part of the reason — I was curious, you’ve been in this long-distance relationship, you’ve done it for five years and you’ve done it successfully, — you don’t need to come talk to other people, right? You’ve sort of figured you and your partner out, I think you’ve won at this point. So what made you decide that you wanted to not only share your long-distance journey, but sort of… make this podcast, all about long-distance education, and helping others, and talking about relationships and giving tips?

 

I think part of this can be this ambiguity tolerance that you brought — from your partner, right, you’ve learned to be more empathetic and see things from a different point of view; but are there other reasons that you decided to start doing this?

 

ALLY

Honestly, it is getting more and more popular every day, and I see many people struggling with it, I see that some relationships didn’t work, and I think that it’s okay. And I don’t mean to make all kinds of long-distance relationships work, because maybe not everybody even needs that, but if somebody really needs it, I’m happy to help. I mean, at least I can share my experience, at least we can talk honestly, at least we can share ideas.

 

And, as it was with me previously, when I had my best friend who supported me in that, it was much, much easier. And maybe somebody is moving toward the biggest and most important decision in their life, to really start living and move in with the person in their long-distance relationship, and if they need this support, this advice, here’s our podcast! And we are just telling people: look, it works — and if it doesn’t work, let’s try and figure out, let’s figure this out together — whether you need it or don’t need it, or maybe there’s just room for improvement.

 

So I think it’s the future of relationships, and I don’t think we will all move towards long-distance relationships — no; but it will 100% survive, and I think in the nearest future, we will even have some long-distance relationship therapists. (laugh) I really believe it.

 

SEMPI

I think we’re already getting there — we already have therapy that’s done digitally, so the next step is to do long-distance relationship couples therapy; I think…

 

ALLY

Why not? (laugh)

 

SEMPI

In the spirit of just wanting to generally better the impression of long-distance relationships, and just generally make it easier, and create an open dialogue — I think that’s great, so in the spirit of that: what are the top three things that you wish you knew before you jumped into this long-distance relationship? What do you think the three tips were that would have made this easier, or made you more prepared?

 

ALLY

Sure. So, first of all, there can be a lot of cultural differences — really, a lot of them. A simple example: you know that, in my case, the Japanese people are quite restrained, and they do not quite show their emotions in public, as well as not showing some romantic emotions, because they simply think that other people can be uncomfortable with it. And it makes sense, right? But to me, being raised in a society where everyone is okay with emotions — I am also a very emotional person, — and it’s okay if you hold my hand in public or you touch my waist, or you maybe hug me a little bit, just to show that you’re so proud to have such a beautiful lady.

 

And I understand why I can’t share this with my partner, but I cannot really hope for him to change dramatically about it. He can listen to me, he can try to do a little bit more, he will, again, work on himself; but I also need to realize that it won’t be 100% as I wanted it to be. It will be something in between. And I have to, really, live with that.

 

Yes, that was about cultural differences. Well… (laugh) It was quite long. Of course, another thing is that you may understand at some point in time that if you want to move in, if you want to live together, if you want to have children, you have to learn the language of your partner. Usually, maybe, it’s even harder for women who are usually following their men; but it can be vice-versa. So you also have to understand that this is a big struggle, and this is big work on you, again, — that’s the second thing.

 

And to make it easier, just set some boundaries, set some goals from the very beginning, set these goals and discuss your future. Like: do you want a girl or a boy; do you want blue colors over your house, or do you want green ones; do you want a dog or a cat; or maybe you don’t want anything. And be as honest as you can. To make it simpler: discuss everything honestly. And if you cannot see yourself together — I mean, your respective dreams and your understanding of the future are absolutely different, — you need to either work on that, or maybe you need to reconsider what is good for you.

 

SEMPI

Right.

 

ALLY

And first of all, for you — not for somebody else. Because at some point in time, if you sacrifice too much, you will be left with nothing. Right?

 

SEMPI

Right; and I think that’s probably the scariest takeaway. It’s that when you’re trying to reach these compromises and understanding this long-distance partner, you want to make sure that you still are yourself at the end of the day. I mean, you grow and you have these experiences, but you still have your core values and your core identity intact.

 

ALLY

Yes! And you shouldn’t really be scared to talk about it. And if your partner is open to you, and he or she really wants to be with you, you will compromise, 100%. You will be somewhere in the middle. But it can be too late if you don’t speak up.

 

SEMPI

Right.

 

ALLY

Yeah, communication…

 

SEMPI

You don’t want to be five years in, and suddenly find out there’s a deal-breaker.

 

ALLY

Yes. And you won’t be killed if you stress your desires and your needs, nobody will kill you. The worst thing is that these needs, these desires would just be ignored. That’s the worst thing.

 

SEMPI

So… to the three tips, right: just remember to keep yourself in all of this; to know, going in, that you are probably going to have to learn a different language, unless you really, really luck out; and that you need to be mindful of cultural differences, even if you can’t accommodate them in your life — you can respect them. I think those are really good, key points — especially for you, going into a relationship with somebody who speaks Japanese.

 

So, what would you say out there — I’m just assuming people are listening to this; maybe they’re not, we’ll pretend — what are the most helpful tips that you could give for somebody who’s on the fence right now: who maybe has a crush online, either in online video games, or websites, or whatever; they’ve found someone they like, they may be thinking: maybe, just maybe I’ll give this long-distance relationship a shot. What would be your advice to them?

 

ALLY

First of all, I think it will be a crucial point: discussing your future, and the first thing in this future is to meet in real life. No matter if it takes one year, three years, or five years, it should be clearly discussed and negotiated. Not because it won’t work or anything unless you meet — I mean, at some point in time you would have to meet, right? — and at some point in time, you would have to set goals. So this is the first real goal that you can set: if you are really shy, or you’re really unsure about moving to another country, or learning another language, or meeting with their friends or parents, this is the small goal.

 

And, just going from this goal, you can then test your partner, to track whether they’re also as serious as you about everything. And I’m really talking about being serious: if you don’t fully commit yourself to this relationship as a real relationship, why would your partner do this? So it’s really important to be really committed about it. For both of you, at the same level.

 

And, again, you set your goals and you test your partner in different situations. Don’t be shy to do it, make it fun for yourself — of course, without hurting anybody. But just, you know, try to see how the person is reacting. Try to — again, without hurting their feelings, because this is important. Also, don’t be afraid to make a mistake; don’t be afraid to be honest. And this is what I mean by testing: be honest, and see their reaction. You don’t need to create any difficult schemes on how to test your partner, through their friends, or dog, or whatever.

 

SEMPI

(laugh) Right.

 

ALLY

Just be honest, and see how they react.

 

SEMPI

So give them kind of “what if” scenarios: you’re not saying to trick them or to create a false situation, but ask them: “Hey, if you were to meet my friends, what would you do, or hey, if I wanted you to meet my parents, how would you react,” or let them know: “Oh, our religions are different — how do you think you’ll respect mine?” Right, so, ask those tougher questions that may be uncomfortable, but are really important to know — in any relationship; they’re just a little bit harder to figure out, because they won’t wander into those situations naturally: they’re not gonna stumble on you and your friends in a coffee shop. Unless they surprise you with an in-person visit.

 

ALLY

Yeah.

 

SEMPI

But, I mean, that’s something that an in-person partner might find that you’re just gonna have to ask your online relationship about.

 

ALLY

Yes, exactly! And, for example: “What do your parents think of our relationship? Or are they okay with you going abroad with me?” And if your partner says: “Well, I don’t know, maybe they’re okay…” — you say: “Go and ask them. Right now.” (laugh) And really, your partner needs to go and ask! And that’s how you understand the real state of things, really. I mean, it is clear because you cannot get it from any real situations, as, Sempi, you said. Exactly.

 

Also, sometimes you can break a promise — it’s okay, just see their reaction. Again, ask them to do something — maybe they will break a promise, and maybe they will test you. And that’s okay. So, it won’t go smoothly — it won’t, and it’s okay, because all our relationships, they are not ideal.

 

And moving towards the last tip, I will say that it is total and 100% openness and sincerity. Really, if you smoke, tell them that you smoke — don’t be afraid! I mean, they will live with this idea, they will accept it, but you need to say it. If you don’t like their dog for some reason, and you don’t want to move in, tell them, be sincere, be open. And, first of all, we are not talking about hurting people, but about our needs, our wishes, about our feelings. “Look, I don’t like when you treat me this way. I want to step away from our meeting right now.”

 

So, you share emotions — because they cannot see how you react, they cannot see your body language, maybe they’re missing the fact that your legs are shaking right now, or maybe you’re about to faint, or whatever. So, tell them, let them know, share everything you feel, and if you think you’re too nagging, they will let you know. Again, if they’re honest with you.

 

But this is how it will work. Your life should be open to them, and of course, you would expect them to open their life to you.

 

SEMPI

Right.

 

ALLY

So you get it — you give it, and you get it back.

 

SEMPI

I… No, that’s definitely so important, and I think it’s just great that you’ve created this “Long Distance Short” podcast, and been so open and honest about your relationships — with total strangers, people you’ll never talk to, people you’ll never meet. I think that it is so important that they have just one more resource to look at and go: “Well… Ally did it.” Right? And then, of course, the guests that you bring on — I’ve talked a bit about mine, you’ve had other experts out here, you’ve had people who’ve had military lives and long-distance relationships that way…

 

And obviously, you’ll have more, and I think that that’s something that is making long-distance relationships so much more viable, and so much more healthy. It’s just this dialogue that you’ve jumped into, that other people have created, that you are continuing — and I just, as somebody who’s made a couple of appearances, as somebody who regularly consumes your podcast when I’m not appearing, — I just want say thank you. And this has been awesome, and I’m so excited to see this continue and grow.

 

ALLY

Thank you so much, Sempi, for interviewing me, and it’s always a great pleasure to have you on my podcast. And I would really, really, really love to have you here — always!

 

SEMPI

(laugh) Your podcast – your rules. I’m sure I can come back. (laugh)

 

ALLY

Great! I’m glad to hear it. It was also a real pleasure for me to share my experiences with our listeners, I do hope that they will be helpful — and I’m sorry if my tone sounded to someone as if I am the CEO of long-distance relationships. (laugh) I didn’t mean it! Yeah, it’s just acting.

 

SEMPI

It’s all false confidence and bravado.

 

ALLY

Actually, yeah — I tried to be as sincere as possible.

 

SEMPI

I think you definitely have been with me, and, like I said, I look forward to hearing more from you, and the people that you’ve managed to bring on here.

 

ALLY

Yeah! Thank you, and if our listeners would like to share some stories with us, and would like to discuss the topic, you’re most welcome, you know where to write us, so, welcome to our community.

 

SEMPI

Yes.

 

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Thanks for listening to “Long Distance Short” — GiftBasketsOverseas.com’s podcast with real people in real long-distance relationships. Make sure to subscribe, and keep tuning in for a new episode every month. If you have any questions or ideas for a future podcast, make sure to drop us a line at [email protected] — that’s [email protected].