What happened when I met my online boyfriend for the first time.

5th December 4

Our second meeting, when I went to him.

 

Meeting your partner for the first time is nerve-wracking for anybody, but for me – meeting my boyfriend for the first time after already having been dating for a year – was something else entirely.

I started talking to my boyfriend online three years ago. We became friends pretty much instantly, and we’ve spoken every day since then. It didn’t take long before I realised that I was starting to have feelings for him. There was only one problem – he lived 10, 236 miles away.

Before three years ago, a long-distance relationship was something I’d never really considered, never mind one that started online. Everything that I’d ever heard about online relationships left me feeling generally quite sceptical. We’ve all been told about the dangers of talking to people online – creepy old men, fake profiles, catfishing – but what about when you know that the person on the other end of the screen is who they say they are? Can a relationship that starts online work in real life?

After the initial happiness, these thoughts were all that went through my mind when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Because as much as I wanted to say yes, I had no idea how an online relationship was going to work, especially being as far away as we were. So I did what any reasonable girl would do – I told him I needed a few days to think about it.

Two days later – after very little deliberation – I said yes.

Over a year later, I was standing at the airport waiting to meet him for the first time. Our first year together was good – although slightly rocky – and the build up to him coming to visit was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life. And although those around me were concerned – what if we didn’t get along in real life, what if we weren’t attracted to each other, what if somehow he wasn’t who he said he was after all – we knew that it would be amazing.

With my family patiently waiting in the cafe behind me (just in case), I stood at the barrier waiting to see the face that had appeared next to so many messages. And then the thought crossed my mind – what if I didn’t recognise him? Despite all the snapchats and exchanged picture messages, the countless hours spent sat on Skype together, was there a chance that when it came to real life, I wouldn’t recognise the face I’d spent so many hours memorising?

After what felt like hours –  although 40 minutes is probably more accurate – this was starting to seem likely. Every possible thought ran through my mind. Maybe he hadn’t gotten on the plane after all, or maybe he was lost. Maybe he’d already walked past and I hadn’t seen him, or maybe I was at the wrong gate.

But before any more extreme thoughts could emerge – images of him being detained in airport security or the plane exploding – I saw a hand raised in a nervous wave and a familiar grinning face.

I felt like I was going to pass out with nervousness, but as he came towards me and puts his arms around me in what was our first hug, I was struck by how right it felt. My heart slowed and the shaking of my hands that had somehow escaped my notice subsided.

“Long time no see,” he whispered, and I laughed, relieved. Everything was exactly the way I’d imagined – albeit I was significantly more nervous.

I waited for him to walk round to the open section of the barrier, where I grabbed his hand and prepared myself to introduce my boyfriend to my parents after having only just met him myself seconds earlier.

And although the next month and a half passed by quickly, they were even better than either of us had anticipated. Our connection was even stronger in person, and only reaffirmed our commitment to each other.

We’re both aware that we’re extremely lucky, and that perhaps our situation may be rarer than we think, but after nearly three years together and another trip planned in just two months, I think it’s safe to say that it worked out.

Long Distance Relationship FAQ

 

1. Is it hard?

If there’s one thing that anyone in a long-distance relationship can tell you, it’s that it’s hard. Being apart from anyone that you love for a prolonged period of time – whether they’re a family member, a friend or your significant other – is difficult. And although there’s an ever-growing amount of technology available to make long-distance relationships easier and create more communication, it’s never going to be easy.
And this applies whether you’ve met the person that you’re in a long-distance relationship with or not. If you have, then your time spent apart is spent missing them significantly, which is always hard. But if you haven’t, and meeting in person is something that you’re working up to, time spent apart is still just as hard. You’re left wondering whether or not the connection in person will be the same, and whether you’ll discover things about each other that you haven’t online – it’s uncharted territory.
And it’s not just the physical side of things that are missing, but emotional as well. There are some conversations that you’d just prefer to have in person, and sometimes you would just like to share a day out together or go out for dinner.
There are so many different aspects that make a long-distance relationship difficult, but this doesn’t impact your feelings for that person.

2. Why not just go for someone who lives closer?

This gets asked a lot, and I think the best answer that I can give is that – as with any relationship – your partner is the person that you love, and you can’t change that. It’s not just a simple case of choosing not to feel that way about them anymore, and picking someone who lives around the corner instead. You can’t choose who you love, and long-distance relationships are no different in that respect. Yes, the circumstances may be unusual and it has to be considered with a lot of serious thought, but even if you don’t end up in a relationship, you can’t change your love for that person.
And most people, even if they could choose to love someone who lived closer, probably wouldn’t choose to, as they’re thoroughly committed to their partner, and long-distance relationships can often teach you a lot not just about another culture, but relationships as a whole.

3. How do you know they haven’t cheated on you by now?

Cheating is one aspect of a long-distance relationship that is no different to any other. While, yes, if a long-distance partner did cheat, they would perhaps be less likely to be found out, people are no more likely to cheat in a long distance relationship. There is no evidence to suggest that those in long-distance relationships are more likely to cheat, other than pure speculation.
And as with any other relationship – there has to be trust. It doesn’t matter if your partner is 1 mile away or 10,000, if you don’t trust them then already you’re lacking the most basic foundation for any relationship.

4. But…how does it work?

The same as any other relationship, just without the physical stuff. A long-distance relationship relies a lot more on social media and video chat services such as Skype and ooVoo. Sure, long-distance couples may not be able to see each other face-to-face and go on dates, but the general idea is the same: two people are in love, and they decide they want to commit to that and try to make it work. It’s no different to any other relationship in that respect.

5. What if they’re a catfish? (of course this doesn’t apply to long-distance couples that have already met in person)

From a very young age, we’re all taught that talking to strangers on the internet is bad. You never know who’s behind an avatar, especially as it’s becoming increasingly easier for people to create fake profiles online. But as the risk of being ‘catfished’ increases, as does the awareness of young people. There’s a very basic checklist that can be referred to in these situations that will often determine whether or not somebody is portraying a fake identity online:

  • Do they have a suspiciously small/large number of friends and/or followers?
  • Do the majority of their pictures look too professional?
  • Or is there a significant lack of pictures?
  • Are they willing to talk to you on the phone?
  • Are they willing to video chat with you and show their face?
  • Will they send you a picture of their face – maybe with a specific request?

The answers to these questions make it relatively easy these days to identify a catfish – however, many people unfortunately are still manipulated by such people.

6. You know it won’t last, right?

According to longdistancerelationshipstatistics.com (which, admittedly sounds like a biased source, but was the only one I could find with the statistic I needed), on average, 60% of long-distance relationships do not result in a break-up. However, whether you believe this or not, a long-distance couple is no more guaranteed to break up than any other couple. Couples break up all the time, for various reasons, and with long-distance couples, there can be many more reasons for them breaking up than distance.

A Monster Calls review

Image result for a monster calls posterAt first glance, A Monster Calls appeared to me a sentimental fantasy film about the charming friendship between a boy and a fantastical monster. And honestly, if it weren’t for the incredible animation, I probably never would have watched it. But I’m glad that I did.

Because what A Monster Calls really is, is a heart-rending and compelling story about coping with grief and learning to let go. It stars Lewis MacDougall as 12-year-old Conor, a creative young boy caught between school bullies, an indifferent grandmother and his mother’s terminal illness. It is only when he begins to realise that he may be losing his mother – the only person he has to turn to – that he finds an unlikely friend in the Monster (Liam Neeson).

MacDougall shows a remarkable sensibility for his age and is a remarkable talent, a real credit to the film. He tackles some truly difficult subjects and handles them with incredible maturity, resulting in a thoroughly believable and raw performance. But I think what strikes viewers the most is the woeful honesty that he brings out of the character. And this is not only down to MacDougall’s impressive acting, but also the astonishing writing of Patrick Ness.

Having never read the novel, I can’t compare how it translates to the screen. However, as a movie the story is flawlessly carried through, with moments of unbelievable tension and some very poignant scenes. Although the writing has been said to be too dark by some, to take that away would remove the rare honesty that these scenes give. And overall, the message of the film is one that, although not altogether lighthearted, is powerful. But where it falls in terms of recommended audience is difficult to distinguish. Too dark for younger audiences and perhaps too rooted in fantasy for adults, it falls in a strange in-between.

What it is, however, is an extremely tough watch at times. Although there are some heartwarming and charming moments, the overall themes of the film are a lot more sensitive than they first appear. And while it is a highly recommendable film – despite its lack of huge success – it is still to be viewed with discretion.

Having said this, A Monster Calls is a stunningly beautiful film. It shows us familiar relationships, problems and hardships through a unique friendship and a world of fantastical stories. It is emotionally charged and in many ways inspiring.

★★★★

Gift ideas for a long-distance relationship

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it can be difficult looking for gifts for the person you love. And when that person lives far away, it opens up a whole other abundance of problems – what if it’s too big or too heavy to send? Are these classed as a prohibited item? What if this doesn’t fit them?

After nearly three years in a long-distance relationship and with plenty of Pinterest boards, previously sent and received presents and potential future ideas, I decided to share some of my ideas with you. So I have compiled a list of either presents that me and my boyfriend have sent each other, or ideas that I myself have come up with or like the sound of.

 

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I bought these Game of Thrones inspired keyrings for me and my boyfriend, however, Etsy is useful for long-distance relationship keyrings.

Matching keyrings

This idea is incredibly simple, but can be really sweet if done right. Perhaps you could find matching keyrings that hold some significance to the two of you, such as a quote that means something to your relationship, or with your names or cities on them. This makes what can sometimes be a bit of an ordinary gift into something more personal and meaningful.

A scrapbook

For a couple that spends a lot of time apart, a scrapbook is a perfect reminder of your time spent together and can feel a lot more satisfying than just flicking through pictures on your phone, as you can see the amount of effort that your significant other has put into it. And for the person making it, it can serve as an enjoyable project that can take your mind off the distance and allow you to reflect on some of your best memories.

However, if you and your significant other have not met yet, you don’t necessarily have to rule this out as a potential gift. Instead of filling the scrapbook with your pictures together, perhaps you could fill it with places that you want to go together, or hobbies that you share. You could also maybe combine individual pictures of the two of you, to see what it will be like when you do finally meet.

A book of things that you love about them 

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Can also be bought on Amazon.

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Can be bought on Knock Knock’s website, as well as Amazon.

If you wanted to make a more personal gift, then this idea would be great. You could either buy a blank notebook and fill it will things that you love about the other person, or if you wanted a little prompting you could buy a book that gives you topics and questions to answer about your significant other.

Both these ideas can be equally as fun and will show the other person their lovable qualities.

Matching pillowcases

Now this may sound cliche, but can actually be sweet when it’s done right. Rather than buying the terrifying “boyfriend pillow” that no doubt every person in a long-distance relationship has had suggested to them at some point, perhaps you could find two pillowcases that when put together, make a picture? That way you will each have one half of the picture and something that will remind you of the other person.

Both pillowcases seen here, and others, can be purchased from BOLDLOFT’s Etsy page.

 

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I bought these adorable prints from MissSDesigns on Etsy.

Matching pictures

Similarly to the last suggestion, matching drawings or pictures that when put together make a whole picture can also be a nice gift idea. Having something that can be completed when put together makes you look forward to when you and your significant other will be reunited, whilst also giving the two of you something to share.

A message in a bottle 

These can be purchased online from multiple sites, and are an affordable gift that is easily sendable through the post. You can write a heartfelt message for your significant other on a piece of paper, which is then sealed in beautifully crafted bottle ready for them to open whenever they need to read your words.

And if you’re feeling particularly creative, you could even make your own adjustments to this gift, by buying some decorative ribbon or glitter to make the bottle itself more attractive. Although what really matters is what’s written inside, of course.

Vouchers/coupons 

Rather than buying couples coupons from a shop or online that may include things that you and your significant other are unable to do due to distance, maybe you could make your own? Writing your own coupons makes it more personal, and also more fun. However, if you know that you and your significant other are going to be seeing each other soon, perhaps buying a regular couples coupon book would still be a good gift, as it gives you both things to look forward to.

A video

Whether it’s a slideshow of pictures or videos of the two of you, or a video message recorded for your significant other, although this gift effectively costs you nothing, it requires an immense amount of effort, and – like the scrapbook idea – serves as a mini-project to distract you from the distance. You could play a song in the background that has some meaning to your relationship, making it more personal.

And if you happen to be particularly talented, perhaps you could incorporate this into your video. You could sing and/or write a song for your significant other, draw an animation for them or play an instrument for them. Using your talents to show them how much you love them is incredibly special, as they will no doubt be supportive of your talents already and will see the amount of effort that you have put in.

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These can be bought on OpenWhenLetterShop’s Etsy shop

‘Open when’ envelopes

These are becoming increasingly popular online and are especially nice gifts to give in a long-distance relationship, as time zone differences may often mean that you are unable to always be there for your significant other. However, if they have access to your words when they are feeling upset or even when they want to celebrate something, then it can bring the two of you closer.

You can buy a selection of these envelopes to put your own letters in if you’re short of ideas, or write your own if you’re feeling more creative. It might be a nice idea to also put other things in the envelope with the letters, such as nice pictures or small gifts to cheer them up.

Here are some of my ideas for “open when” envelopes:

  • Open when you’re feeling sad.
  • Open when you’re missing me.
  • Open when you need to celebrate.
  • Open when you need to laugh.
  • Open when you’re bored.
  • Open when you’re feeling happy.
  • Open when you’re mad at me.
  • Open when you just want to talk.

 

Your favourite book

Although not an expensive gift, it can still be nice to share your favourite things with your significant other. Since you’re apart and can’t participate in your favourite activities and hobbies together, a nice idea would be to share things you enjoy with them in any way that you can. Sending them a copy of your favourite book is a very personal thing and will help you to learn more about each other. Perhaps you could even underline or point out your favourite quotes, or even reading the book together, a chapter a day and then discussing it with each other.

Other possible ideas:

  1. Personalised jewellery
  2. A dual time-zone necklace.
  3. A promise ring.
  4. A personalised jigsaw.
  5. A heartbeat or sound wave necklace/bracelet.
  6. A custom notebook.
  7. Get flowers delivered to their house.
  8. Name a star after them.
  9. A pair of matching/personalised mugs.
  10. A jar of love-notes.
  11. A mix CD.
  12. A collage.
  13. Mini love-letters.
  14. A custom phone case.
  15. A care package.

 

Why I’m leaving my insecurities in 2016

Normally, I’d be the first person to say that New Year’s resolutions are pointless. Why should another turn of the earth around the sun change who you are as a person, or how much you exercise, or whether or not you’re allowed to eat a bar of chocolate? This year’s no different from the last, so why the need to make any great change? You can start a resolution at any time of year, you don’t need to start being nice to people or eating better just because another year has passed.

And really, it doesn’t matter when you decide to make that positive change in your life, whether it’s a rainy September afternoon at home, or the turn of the New Year, surrounded by celebrations. But for me, 2017 just felt like the right time. It’s my last year at college, my first year at university and I learned a lot of things in 2016 that I wanted to carry with me into 2017. However, there’s one thing that I’ve decided to leave behind – insecurity.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been insecure, whether it’s about the way that I look, the way my voice sounds, my talents, my relationship or anything in between. And it’s caused so many problems not just within my friendships and relationships, but also just within myself. It’s exhausting to always worry about what other people think and whether or not people are being honest with you.

And it’s taken me up until now to realise that the majority of my insecurities stem purely from off-hand comments that somebody has made to me, some even going back to primary school. And while to them it may only have been a passing comment for them, I have carried them with me for years. “You look weird with your hair tied up”, “she has a great body but her face doesn’t suit it”, “your boyfriend’s probably cheating on you”, “your voice is boring”, “girls don’t have body hair”.

All of those comments adding up to a swirling mass of insecurity that lasted for years.But when I thought about it – what did any of those people really mean to me? The only people that had ever made these sorts of comments were friends of friends or people that I only had to see a few times a week because we went to the same school. Why should their insubstantial comments and snide remarks affect how I felt about myself, when in my mind they themselves were little more than names to attach to derogatory words?

I spent so long wishing that I could be other people, unable to see the things in them that so many other people seemed to see in me. They didn’t have weird hands, or messy hair. They didn’t have bushy eyebrows or ill-fitting clothes that didn’t suit them. People didn’t criticise them or make comments that made them feel insecure. Or so I thought.

But in reality, everybody gets criticsed and everybody has things said about them that are hurtful or embarrassing. However, it’s where you choose to go from there that’s important.

Because when you think about how well those people really know you, how much does a passing comment from them really mean?

Although its going to be hard, my new year’s resolution is to shed the insecurities that have held me back for so long. I’ll wear a cute dress every day if I want to, whether it suits me or not. I’ll wear my hair tied up if I want to. I’ll remember that my boyfriend loves me, and that our relationship is our own and not up for the debate of anyone else.

And I’ll do whatever the hell I want to do, without worrying about what others will think. Because despite the past, I love the person that I’ve become. I’ve learned to embrace my body and the way it looks, I’m comfortable in my abilities and happy with my relationship. So why should anyone else make me feel any different?