Author - Chris Martin

The Waiting Game

Waiting is a normal part of life. We spend much of our lives waiting. Waiting for a train, waiting for the weekend, waiting to see what life will bring next. But waiting becomes a much bigger part of your life the moment you enter into a Long Distance Relationship. You will find yourself waiting months at a time for the next opportunity to spend time with your loved one. And then, after those short, fleeting weeks, you have to start waiting all over again.
It is definitely not easy, and perhaps one of the biggest challenges that Chelsea and I face. As I write this now, I am waiting, counting down the next 10 days until Chelsea visits me in Lancaster. At times you can find yourself being impatient, wishing you could close your eyes and wake up the moment they arrive. But, unfortunately,  that’s not the way the world works. So for the next 10 days, I’ll be counting down with excitement and anticipation until Chelsea does arrive. Of course, as difficult as the waiting is, it also sweetens the time you have together.

After the Waiting is Over

I know that the moment Chelsea arrives, that I pick her up from the coach station at 2am in the morning, I will be making the most of every single moment we spend together. Whether it is simply sleeping side by side, enjoying each other’s company, or going on adventures. I know that not a single moment will be wasted. It means that we have a lot planned out for this trip too. I want to make the most of our time together not only because our time together is limited and precious, but also because it will be the first time Chelsea has seen Lancaster, and I will want us to be able to experience it fully, together. Usually our trips revolve around me visiting her in Bellingham, WA, or her visiting me in my hometown of Plymouth.
Exploring together in Plymouth, after a lot of waiting

Exploring Together in Plymouth.

This will be the first time that she will get to experience a completely new and different part of my life. That’s not to say that I’ll be any different, or anything between us will have changed. But it means that finally, she will be able to see where I live, meet my housemates, see where I study during term times, and start to put places to names. This is something that it important in a Long Distance Relationship. And one of the reasons that we both maintain the idea that visiting your partner is a hugely important aspect.
Because no matter how many times you see something through a webcam, or see pictures of places, nothing compares to actually being there. Being able to connect the dots, see the bigger picture, and get an overall better insight into the life your partner leads. I am extremely excited to share this with Chelsea. I talk often about where I am on campus, or in town, and what I have been doing. But until she sees it for herself, these are still just words, slightly too abstract to fully imagine. So I consider myself lucky that I am able to share this part of my life with her.
And, obviously, I am excited for us to discover new things together too. We try to explore, and have new experiences together as much as possible. And this time there will be plenty. We have day trips booked in advance to places that neither of us have been before. This kind of exploration is a great way to get to know someone, and I am glad that we do it, because it really allows us to strengthen the bond we have together. We’re always looking for new things to do, and with trips booked to Manchester, Windemere, Warton & Morecambe, we will have plenty to do!
The City of Lancaster.

The City of Lancaster.

The Difficulties of Waiting

But, of course, the downside to all of this excitement is that it drags out the wait, and makes it feel as if it is forever. I have been busy with exams and work over the past 9 weeks, and Chelsea has been busy with dog training. But even keeping busy doesn’t do much to make the wait feel any shorter. In fact, the more we plan ahead, and the more we look for exciting and interesting activities to do together, the more torturous the wait. Because we know just how much we are looking forward to it. And it isn’t now. That is what makes this the difficult part. Knowing how amazing those two weeks at the end of June will be. Knowing that neither of us will have to work, that we will both be able to enjoy each other’s company without distractions. And of course, the day trips too.
It might seem like a difficult wait now. But it is only difficult because we are aware of just how extraordinary Chelsea’s visit will be. So, in a roundabout way, I am glad that the wait is difficult. If waiting was easy, I wouldn’t be looking forward to it as much. If the wait was easy, I wouldn’t care about the trip. But it is because I care about it, and I want it to be now so much, that the wait is so difficult. And, although I cannot speak for Chelsea,  I imagine she feels the same. So, the waiting game, difficult as it may it, is also rewarding. Always remember that the wait is difficult because you are looking forward to it being over. It is difficult to hate the feeling, and justifiable too. But it makes us appreciate the days we do get to spend together more. And cherish them always.
That said, I cannot wait for the day where we don’t have to say goodbye. Where there will be no more waiting. But for now there is. And, I am sure that on that first day of the rest of our lives, where we finally do not have to let each other go, it will be made even sweeter by knowing that we made it through the wait. And if we can do that, we can do anything.

The Art of the Skype Date

In a long distance relationship, one of the most important things to master is the Skype date. As often as you want to see your partner, the chances are you will be able to only a few times a year. We see each other on average every two or three months, and we consider ourselves to be relatively lucky to be in a position to be able to see each other that often. The rest of the time however, is spent communicating via internet messaging or Skype.

The Skype Date

But what separates simply Skyping from a Skype date? Honestly, not much. It’s pretty much the label you place on it. We tend to have Skype dates on Wednesdays and Saturdays, because, for the most part those are the days we are both available on. But the most important aspect of setting a Skype date is setting it advance and sticking to it. Treat it as you would a physical date – a time set aside to spend solely with your partner.

The Skype logo.

Learn to master the art of the Skype date.

Of course, then there is the issue of what to do on a Skype date, what will mark it as special among all the other times you will Skype. This one is a little trickier, and a simple Google search will give you plenty of inspiration. We have tried a number of different suggestions, some of which work for us, and some of which have not. Do not worry if not every date idea does not work for you, every relationship (and time difference) different.
So, without any further ado, here is the list of Skype dates that we have tried, have yet to try, and even those we probably will not try. Try making your own list, or cherry picking favourites from the ones below. A lot of these can be used multiple times, or even combined with others, but it probably is not a completely exhaustive list.

The List

1) Cook the same meal together (Tried: can work very well if your timing is good)

2) Send each other recipes to cook (Tried: the hardest part of this will be trying to think of a recipe you are confident your partner will enjoy)

3) Watch TV/movies together: (Tried: good fun if you are into the same things, although be sure to use the sound from one of your computers only)

4) Make a Pinterest board together (Tried: always a winning idea)

5) Online couples quizzes (Tried: a good way to see how well you know your partner)

6) Ask each other questions (Tried: a great way to get to know your partner better)

7) Plan a holiday together (Tried: often you will find yourself doing this without even realising)

8) Go on a virtual tour together with Google maps (Tried: amusing for a one off)

9) Send each other a box & base your date on what is in the box (Not tried yet: we’re saving this one for a special occasion, but looking forward to it)

10) Watch each other fall asleep (Not tried: for the short time differences only)

11) Stargaze together (Not tried: again, short time differences only)

12) Have a picnic (Not tried: good luck getting the internet connection for Skype in a park)

Skype Dates

Food is like the bread and butter of the Skype dating.

As I said before, this is not an exhaustive list of ideas, there are plenty more potential ideas, and don’t be limited by that. If you are creative enough to come up with your own, be sure to try those out too. But most importantly, so long as you set the time aside for each other, stick to your plans and enjoy each other’s company, you can’t go wrong. Happy Skyping!
– Chris

Finding the Perfect Gift: Part 1

The Strokes
Finding presents is hard, as any guy will tell you. You need to know what your partner wants, and also is not expecting. I found this repeatedly as I searched for Valentine’s, birthday and anniversary (well 6 months) gifts this year. It really is a test of how well you know someone. Despite how well I knew Chelsea, the broad term of “a gift” is huge and the possibilities were endless. I had no idea where to begin.So I started with what I knew.
What did she like? Well, that was a fairly easy question: dogs (dachshunds and beagles in particular), The Strokes, The Vines, jewellery, video games, candles and LDR related items. Okay, so, that is quite a list. But a little random, and still did not give me very much to go on, if I wanted to get something special and unique. Unless I wanted to get a beagle puppy… but that one is still on hold for now.

Pairing Items Together

So with that list, I began pairing items together. It took a while, but one of the first pairings I settled on was jewellery and LDR gifts. This seemed like a sweet idea, and would be a little reminder of me wherever Chelsea went. And, fortunately enough, she had even sent me a link to a “build your own charm” website. But it still did not feel personal enough.That is where Etsy came in. Etsy is a great site, like an Amazon or Ebay but for craft and hand made items. And there was plenty of inspiration to be found there. After a little searching, I came across a necklace that, above all, just felt right. I knew Chelsea would love it the moment I saw it. And within 5 minutes it was ordered – a beautiful birthstone necklace with both our names and gems.
A personalised birthstone necklace gift.

A personalised birthstone necklace from Nestled with Love.

The next pairing I thought of, I can’t really take credit for. It was something that caught my eye as I was searching jewellery on Etsy. That said, I still think it was a great (if lucky find). And that pairing was: The Strokes and Dachshunds. It might seem odd at first, but it clicked perfectly in my mind. And before long I was searching for vinyl cut clocks. These are clocks laser cut out of old vinyl records into nearly any shape imaginable.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a shop which would allow vinyl requests, as they were probably a little difficult to come by. But the Dachshund cut vinyl clock was still something I was pretty set on. It was just, again, that feeling, knowing that it was right.
A Dachshund vinyl  clock gift.

A Dachshund cut vinyl clock.

So that was the birthday presents taken care of, but what about Christmas. Chelsea’s birthday falls on January 6th, pretty close to Christmas. So I was searching for the gifts around the same time. In my mind, these two were perfect for her birthday, and were something I wanted to see her open in person, to see the look on her face. Which, being over for New Year’s and the first few weeks of January gave me the perfect opportunity to do.

Striking a Balance

But that still left the Christmas present. It fell before Chelsea’s birthday, so I didn’t want something that would outshine my plans for her birthday. But it still had to be personal, and something I would be proud to give her. Which led to my next pairing: candles and LDR gifts. Candles were a favourite, Chelsea loved them, her family knew she loved them, and I knew she loved them.But for all the candles she had, there didn’t seem to be any that would remind her of England.
I’m sure anyone from England or the UK is familiar with the English Rose (or Lavender) garden scent. And I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to give Chelsea something that, while it might not last forever, would give a sensory reminder of our time spent together.And, fortunately for me, Etsy once again obliged. The Jump for Joy shop sold English Rose Garden scented candles complete with gift box and personalised message. It was exactly what I was looking for, a perfect fit. Once again, it was only about 5 minutes and that too was ordered.
A scented candle gift.

The English Rose Garden scented candle.

That was it. Christmas and birthday presents ordered. All I could do now was sit back and wait for them to be delivered, and hope Chelsea wouldn’t guess what they are. That’s the difficult part of gift giving in a LDR, you always have to order it to their house. And customs have a knack of writing exactly what’s contained in the package on the front. But fortunately for me, this was not the case (this time at least).
So that concludes part one of my (maybe useful) guide to gift giving in a LDR. I hope my thought processes give someone out there an idea of how to connect with their significant other, no matter how far apart you live. Part 2 will be about my search for an anniversary and Valentine’s day gift, when I get round to writing it!
– Chris

How Our Relationship Started

Seco Lounge
The story of our relationship began back in July of 2013, a hot English summer in the small town of Plymouth. For those who don’t know, its in the South West of England close to the popular holiday destination. Chelsea had come to the UK to visit Jodie, a friend of mine in Plymouth. Jodie was hosting Chelsea for two weeks as a thank you for helping her get a placement at a dog training facility in the US. And it was not until the second week of her stay that I met Chelsea.We met at a bar called Seco Lounge during it’s popular Monday night quiz. As Chelsea loves to remind me, I was incredibly shy that night. I was blown away by her, and barely spoke a word to her the whole evening. In fact, the rest of the week was pretty similar. It was difficult for her to get me to talk. And, of course, I didn’t pick on the hints she was dropping that she liked me.
Where We Met - The Blossoming of a Relationship

The Seco Lounge Quiz

The First Night

Until Saturday that is. The penultimate day of Chelsea’s stay, and we had a night out planned around the student area of Plymouth. It began as any ordinary night (me completely oblivious still). Chelsea tried to beckon me over to her near the start of the night, but still I wasn’t picking up on her hints. When I eventually went to see her, she leaned in close and told me she liked me.
Chris Still Not Picking Up on Hints.

Out With Friends.

My heart stopped. I stood motionless for a minute, I could barely believe it. It was a nervous moment for Chelsea too as I had not given much of a response. She left me standing there and waited patiently. I was still in shock. After a few minutes, I went and sat with her. The rest of the night was an extraordinary blur of dancing, kissing and good times.
Of course the time came to say goodbye, and we did so with heavy hearts. Although a goodbye meal was planned for the next evening, it was still a difficult moment. But, of course, it was not long before the meal rolled around. I wasn’t sure how she would react to seeing me again. I dearly hoped she still had feelings for me. And sure enough, she did.

The first of many photos together, taken on the evening of the goodbye meal.

Farewell, But Not for Long

We stole a passionate kiss or two that evening, aware that time was slipping away from us. It was bittersweet: happy, tinged with sadness. When I finally said goodbye to Chelsea, it took me a while to realise she was really leaving for America. I couldn’t believe it, and I definitely could not let someone like that just walk out of my life.
We messaged as Chelsea traveled back through England and into the US once again. They were the first messages of many, what began small turned into our main way of communicating. We gave it a few days, to settle back into our day to day lives. Then we had our first Skype date. I was nervous! How would it work? Would it be the same? Would she still feel the same about me?But the instant I signed on, it felt right, natural even. It is off for a first date to be via Skype, but we did what we had to. And I was still head over for heels for this girl. It was all the confirmation I needed. I mustered up all the courage I could, and asked if she would go out with me. And, of course, she said yes. The rest, as they say, is history.We started dating on August 4, 2013. And haven’t looked back since.
– Chris