New Horizons: Long Distance Relationships and Technological Advances.

Although I am not a firm believer of New Year’s Resolutions, for a while now, I have been trying to curb a certain addiction of mine: my phone. It’s something the majority of us struggle with nowadays. Even if we weren’t bothered about how many likes our new selfie was getting on Facebook (or Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr – you name it), we would find it hard to completely unplug ourselves from the world of digital communication. “I’ll just check my notifications”, “I’m waiting for a delivery” or “There might be an emergency” are the regular excuses we give ourselves daily as we end up wasting what’s probably hours on social media. However, unlike a lot of my friends at University, I must admit I have another reason why I can’t ever seem to put my phone down.

I have been indebted to my phone and laptop for just over a year now. I am one of those lucky people who browsed Tinder “for the banter” and actually ended up with a boyfriend – a long distance one at that. I remember when we initially started talking and out of curiosity, we decided to look up the distance between Durham (my soon-to-be home) and his location, Southampton. As a sceptic of LDRs, seeing ‘300 miles’ and a 5 hour train journey was more than enough to convince me that this would strictly be a casual flirtation. After all, my dream had always been to meet a boy at Uni, go on romantic dates weekly and fall deeply in love (you can tell I’d been very single prior to this, can’t you?). Who knew that three months later we would have talked so much via text, Whatsapp, calling and Skype that we would meet over Christmas and be dating by New Year? I certainly didn’t.

I struggle with the distance sometimes, but I know there are many who have it worse. One of my friends for example is dating a girl who lives in Lebanon and I admire their constant love and support for each other. However, fortunately for our generation, we can constantly be in contact. Thanks to technology, rather than waiting for a hand-written letter for weeks, the world of instant messaging is at our disposal. It is easy to take it for granted since mobile phones have become a basic commodity in the Western world, and we forget that this is actually a luxury invented only 40 years ago. Even then, we’re talking about those brick phones from the 70s, not your standard iPhone, which incidentally was only released in 2007. We are therefore truly the only generation to have constant communication at our fingertips. According to Ofcom, 93% of adults in the UK own a mobile phone and 66% own a smartphone. If we take this figure and consequently apply it to the world of online dating, that could mean that there are over 42 million ‘fish in the sea’, and that’s not including if you’re looking beyond into other oceans!

It makes sense therefore, that many people of all ages have come to embrace this potential landscape for love, and that can boast that 1 in 5 relationships now begin online. Despite having scorned it once before, I’m glad I gave it a go. I had to realise that if I’m willing to give apps such as Tinder a try, and I don’t think I’m (too) weird, I can’t expect everyone else to be either. Ultimately, it has brought me a lot of happiness and I would rather be with the right person far away than with the wrong one at close proximity. Even though distance is never easy, a simple ‘I love you’ text can go a long way, and because of technology, messages are never that short anyway! Distance just means that when you’re actually with your loved one in person, you genuinely make the most of every second that you have together. I could therefore be angry at how much I use my phone, but honestly, it’s a small price to pay for being in the most fulfilling and loving relationship I’ve ever had.

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