LDR Story #1 - How covid saved my long distance relationship

This LDR Story begins in March 2020.

The world is in the grip of a global epidemic. Covid-19 is spreading at an astonishing rate

Much too fast to anticipate.

Countries are closing their borders one after the other.
More than 160 countries in the world have completely or partially banned the entry of foreigners on their territory.

It is a total chaos:
The rules of each country change every day and the information circulates badly (when it is not false)

Image from the first LDR Story.  The covid has separated couples in long distance relationships because they can no longer travel or make the first meeting

All couples in long-distance relationships are worried:

  • Those who have not yet met physically
  • Couples who had bought their plane ticket and had to cancel everything
  • LDR couples who were together when it all started, and had to be rushed back to their country (spoiler alert: I’m in this category).

The worst part?

No one how long this will last, and that brings two issues to the table:

LDR couples need to plan ahead and always have the date of their next reunion in mind

This is crucial to the couple’s well-being. At least know this date within a few weeks.

Why?

Because distance is only a stage in a LDR story. It is an inevitability. It is something that will inevitably end. I don’t know of any couple that wants to stay apart for life!

While playing the LDR game Truth or Dare, I asked Kyomi the question N°5:
« If I told you that I wanted our relationship to stay long distance forever (seeing each other at regular intervals, a few times a year), could you accept it? »

She answered me in less than a second: « Impossible ». And I agree with her.

It’s like in school, when you’re in math class and you’re bored to death. What keeps us going is knowing when the class is over. That there are only 5 minutes left. If we don’t have this information, hello to the teacher’s remarks and yawns!

Hugging your partner, feeling the warmth of his hands on your cheeks when he puts his lips on your forehead, is the consecration of all your efforts

It’s what reminds you why you decided to start a long distance relationship.
Why you make the sacrifices that 90% (if not 100%) of your friends couldn’t.

It’s the ultimate reward after months of effort.

It’s the big school break after a hard year of studying.

Taking away the reason for all our efforts is devastating. Horrible.

« Hey, you’re going to keep putting in the time and effort to make your relationship work, but no one knows when it will pay off. In the meantime, keep going. »

And to drive the point home, love is not seen as an exceptional reason to travel. The whole world thinks that we travel for tourist reasons.

Hard to keep hope alive, isn’t it?

Almost impossible if you’re not prepared.

Yet Covid-19 helped my couple survive the distance.
In a way, it even saved it.

That’s what I’m going to explain to you now. To do this, you need to understand how we built our relationship. Are you ready for this LDR Story #1?

Then let’s take a little leap in time.

Our relationship before covid (December 2019 - March 2020)

Meeting and heated discussions : the beginning of our LDR story

If you’ve read the « Our Story » page of the blog, you already know the basics of how our relationship began.

Here’s a quick look at how Kyomi and I met.

It is essential to know our state of mind to understand this LDR Story.

  • I was finishing my studies in September 2020. One of my dreams for the past few years was to take a trip to a part of the world for several months, alone.
  • I wasn’t sure yet where to go: Latin America or South Asia
  • To prepare my trip, I downloaded a language exchange application (Tandem) to talk with native speakers and help me choose a destination.
  • I came across Kyomi’s profile after several weeks on the application.

From her side, here is how it went:

  • Like me, she had travel desires (and was a little bored).
  • She also wanted to learn a new language, or at least learn more about a European country.
  • So she downloaded this language exchange application by searching on the Play Store. So much for mixing business with pleasure!
  • She discovered my profile after 3 days

Tandem is an excellent application to improve your language skills. The people are caring, altruistic and open-minded.
If your partner is not jealous and you want to improve your level, I advise you to download it to improve your level.

But let’s get back to this LDR Story.

I’d like to ask you a question, for couples who met through the Internet:

When you met your partner, how much time did you spend talking to each other the first three days?
Hours, I imagine. I’m sure you can’t even count them.

For us, it was from morning to night. It’s like my hand is merging with my phone!

Image from the first LDR Story.  A phone and a hand merge as long-distance couples spend all day talking, during the first meeting

It was like an instantaneous feeling. It’s impossible to put it into words. You have to live it to know what I’m talking about.

That’s why most people don’t understand people in long-distance relationships.

You have to experience it at least once to understand our point of view. Otherwise, it’s like convincing a vegetarian to eat chicken and French fries.

We started talking a little before the Christmas holidays. It was a good way to learn about the cultural differences between us, our families and our countries. It was absolutely incredible.

By the way, I open the debate:
Do you open your presents at midnight or do you wait until the next morning?

We quickly made our first video call. I’ll say within a week, but we don’t remember very well.

It was a pretty strange moment for me:

  • I was definitely not used to doing video calls. Maybe one every year to tell you!
  • It was my very first one with someone I had never seen in real life
  • I have always been very careful about what I share on social media and the internet in general. It was really out of my comfort zone to make that first call.
  • I didn’t speak my native language, so it made it difficult

But I did it anyway.

I’m not going to hide it from you: it was pretty embarrassing. Maybe even a little ridiculous.

The second one was a little less ridiculous.

The third one was a little less so.

Then it became a habit.

During one of our discussions, we wondered if we were making it official. We were both couples that idea.

Why it's a bad idea to consider yourself a couple before you physically meet

The notion of a couple is very subjective.

Fortunately, Kyomi and I agreed on one thing:

We both found it weird to consider ourselves as a couple without having seen each other at least once physically. Even a little disturbing.

Why?

  • The feeling can be completely different on the Internet and in real life
  • We didn’t want to take the risk of being disappointed when we would see each other
  • We would have felt like we were lying to ourselves
  • I would have had a hard time assuming it with my family and friends
  • It was a bit like « teenage love ».

Attention, I am not criticizing those who do not think this way. It’s just our vision of things.

I remember we used to say to each other « If you find someone in your life, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity because of me. We have no commitment to each other. »

We were still very close and feelings started to develop.
When you spend several hours talking to someone every day, nothing is more normal.

What did it change between us to not pair up until we saw each other?

  • No « I love you »
  • No constraints related to the other
  • No high expectations and hopes
  • No internal conflict to announce or hide the relationship

And we were fine with that. We knew in advance that a long distance relationship was difficult. We didn’t want to miss the boat.

Rest assured, we are not stone golems! We both have a heart.

Just very (a little too?) pragmatic.

For both of us, it was clear: let’s wait to see each other before making anything official!

The first meeting of this LDR story

When I posted my article about the pros and cons of LDR, a reader messaged me on Instagram:

Image of the first LDR Story. A screenshot of a question a long distance couple asked me

This is a question that comes up quite often. Especially among younger people.

But there are no right answers! It’s first and foremost a feeling and then an organization: money, time, availability… these are a lot of criteria to take into account.

In our case, we waited three months before seeing each other.

In general, the people to whom I say this find it early, knowing that there are more than 10,000 kilometers separating our two countries.

I totally agree.

But it was the best decision I could have made, when you know what happens next.

I took two weeks of vacation in order to travel to Peru. Kyomi was on vacation. Everything was perfect!

I took my plane tickets at the beginning of February. Trip planned from 07 to 21 March.

At that time, we start to hear about a strange virus, coming from China. The first cases appeared in Europe.

Nobody took it seriously, quite the contrary. Those who didn’t really care were making jokes about it. I was the first one.

So I took the train to Paris confidently (and a little nervous).

To be honest, I was more stressed to fly alone for the first time in my life than to meet Kyomi! I was confident about it. We had taken our precautions.

  • Then a 12h30 flight to Lima
  • An ocean to cross, a change of hemisphere
  • 7 hours of time difference.
  • I was going to go from winter to summer (that was cool)

When I got out of the plane, I was impatient!

I still had to wait several hours to go through customs. It was endless… Kyomi had been waiting for me for at least 5 hours in total, I think. She didn’t have any nails anymore, because she was biting them!

Fortunately, we had the free wifi of the airport. So I could keep her informed.

And finally, it was my turn! I finally got my precious sesame: the stamp on my passport! Since I didn’t have a suitcase to pick up (remember this detail, it’s crucial for the rest), I didn’t have a minute to lose.

Image of the first LDR Story. My passport stamped when I arrived in Peru, when I met my girlfriend from a distance for the first time

I had two adrenaline rushes once I was « officially » back in the country. The hair-raising sensation on my arms:

  • When the automatic doors opened and I saw the crowd of people waiting with their signs, at the arrival area. I felt like I was naked in front of 50 people. It was very surprising and quite unpleasant, I admit.

It looked a bit like this with a LOT more people:

Image of the first LDR Story. The crowd of people waiting at the airport when I joined my girlfriend and started my long distance relationship

And believe it or not: Kyomi didn’t see me!

So I started to do a little tour of the area. What triggered the second adrenaline rush was simply when I saw her.

It’s a very strange feeling: everything that was virtual until now becomes concrete, real. I saw her first. She was from behind.

When she turned around, I was paralyzed. I was very embarrassed at that moment. Fortunately, she was much less embarrassed.

But if I had been asked if I wanted to change anything in that first meeting, I would have said no

A hug, smiles (despite the 22 hours without sleep for my part) and especially a huge relief.

We had already planned what we were going to do after: to eat! A good way to be directly immersed in the culture of the country, to spend a moment in head to head and to discover ourselves for real.

We didn’t take very long before making our relationship official: I arrived on the 7th, we did it on the 8th of March.

The first meeting is unique: you won’t have two. So live it to the fullest. Do not try to control your emotions, you will not succeed. Plan what you’re going to do after you leave the airport, before you even leave your country (like us with the restaurant) and let yourself go.

The trip (and big problems)

I had two reasons to come to Peru:

  • To meet Kyomi, obviously
  • To travel

Quite honestly, if she had told me that she couldn’t travel, I wouldn’t have come. Or I wouldn’t have stayed in Lima for 14 days to be with her.

We had pretty much planned our itinerary. A few days in Lima, then down south to Arequipa, stopping in several small towns. A classic circuit recommended by an incalculable number of travel agencies and tourists.

I will not go on and on about the trip, we are not here for that. Here is a summary:

After 3 days in Lima, we take a bus to arrive at the first stage: Paracas. A small coastal city very charming known for its desert natural park and the Ballestas islands. Our LDR Story was perfect!

Image of the first LDR Story. The red beach of Paracas, a city in Peru where we traveled as a long distance couple

It was incredible: breathtaking landscapes. We were far from everything (especially me for the blow). Just the two of us, enjoying the little time we could spend together.

In the evening of March 13th, Kyomi’s parents call her to announce that the Peruvian government decided to close its borders at the end of the week. The covid had not waited for us.

That is to say on March 15th. In less than 48 hours.

At first I thought it was a good joke before doing some research by myself.

The shower was freezing. We went through all the stages of grief.

Image of the first LDR Story. Stages of grief we went through when we learned our trip was cancelled

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention:

I had my phone stolen a few days before. It was all the more complicated to contact my family, find all my papers, phone numbers… This LDR story wouldn’t be funny otherwise!

Before I left, my mother told me, « If you have a problem, call. It doesn’t matter when it is. »

I’m pretty much a do-it-yourself kind of person. I don’t like to call on others to solve my problems. Even when it’s family members. But sometimes there are exceptions.

She was happy to answer me at 3am ahah

That’s how I learned that my return flight was cancelled. It was obviously impossible to get Air France on the phone or to change my ticket online. Everything was blocked.

I can’t imagine what a mess it must have been for the airlines at that time.

It was my family that helped me get out of denial. And to understand that our trip was over. We had to take the bus the next day to change cities. We finally took it to return to Lima.

We did not spend a very good night. Me because I did not know if I was going to be able to return, Kyomi because she knew that our separation was imminent.

The separation worthy of a (bad) Hollywood movie

Everything went very fast. The next day, we took the first bus to Lima which passed in the beginning of the afternoon. His parents were waiting for us at the bus station, by car: my only chance was to rush to the airport to find a solution.

You may be wondering « But Leo why didn’t you stay in Peru? »

I thought about it. His parents had even set up a makeshift bed just in case! But I was on vacation at the time. I couldn’t afford to stay because of my job. And especially because at that time, nobody knew what covid was.

We heard everything and its opposite.

When we arrived at the airport, no one could give us any information. The agency in charge of transmitting the information from Air France knew less than we did about the situation.

I might as well tell you that I was not well. I was sweating a lot, my hands were clammy. Kyomi tried to reassure me, but it was hard to be rational at that moment.
It was similar to waiting to see the official results of the exam of your life, but to the power of 1000.

On the way back to the parking lot in complete despair, I saw that people were checking their luggage for a flight to Amsterdam with KLM. For those who don’t know, Air France and KLM merged a few years ago. So the airlines are affiliated.

This was my last option.

1 hour waiting. It was endless. Kyomi was trying to relax me as much as she could. I’m usually in a good mood, but it was impossible to be in this case. The only smile she managed to get was when she took this picture (which will be the last one of this trip, by the way).

Image of the first LDR Story. The last picture we took before we broke up and officially started our long distance relationship

Everything went very fast. 24 hours before, we were still in our trip, without any worry. In our heads, the covid didn’t exist anymore. Now, we have to go back. At least, try to go back.

When it was our turn, we explained our situation.

Here’s how the end of the discussion went:

  • « Do you have a checked baggage item sir? »
  • « No, just a backpack »
  • « Very well. The last plane to Paris for the weekend leaves in 20 minutes. I’ll tell them to wait a little. I’m changing your ticket. The gate is here. Don’t waste a second. »

The biggest emotional elevator of my life

The shock in the body is more violent than any amusement park or a victory of his country in the world cup.

Oh yes, there was one more problem. My backpack was in Kyomi’s parents’ car.

We ran like crazy.

Fortunately, the parking lot was close
Fortunately, we remembered where they parked
Fortunately, she knew the airport of Lima very well

The separation was very difficult because brutal. At no time did I think I would catch a flight at that moment. About 20 minutes.

It’s simple: we didn’t have time for anything. A meager kiss, a hugs sent. That’s all.

No gifts, no surprises, no exchange of clothes, no memories. No last real discussion.

Nothing. As if the first meeting had never existed

All she had of me was one of my sweaters that had ended up in her suitcase by chance. At this moment, everything is jostling in my thoughts. Everything goes too fast. Impossible to make a rational decision.

The return trip was horrible. 12 hours of plane to cogitate.

I was glad to be home, but with the bitter feeling that I had not done enough. Guilt filled me from head to toe. And even though I suspected that Kyomi would tell my family that I was flying to Paris, there was no way to be sure. I didn’t have a phone, remember.

Looking back, it was really worthy of a movie scene for a LDR Story…

Kind of a lame movie, not going to lie. Running into an airport to leave for the other side of the world, leaving as quickly as we met, not being sure of anything, having no time for anything… I’ve had more pleasant departures

I hadn’t even left and I was already thinking of only one thing: coming back.

How we managed our ldr during the pandemic (March 2020 - January 2021)

As I said in the introduction of this first LDR Story, the impossibility of knowing when we will be able to meet again is a burden for long-distance couples.

And that’s what we’ve been dealing with. At least at the beginning of our long-distance relationship.

Because looking back, Covid-19 had some significant benefits to our long-distance relationship.

 

The benefits of the Covid in our LDR Story

1) A huge sense of incompleteness

Imagine yourself at the movies. The movie you’ve been waiting for years is finally out.

Image of the first LDR Story. A cinema with spectators that represents a metaphor for our history

You sit comfortably, popcorn in hand. You are shaking with anticipation!

The movie is on. It’s incredible, living up to your expectations. It is the opposite of the last Star Wars trilogy. You sink deeper and deeper into your seat because the tension is so heavy.

And suddenly, after you are completely immersed in it, that nothing exists around you anymore, bam! All the lights come back on. Someone shouts that we have to evacuate the theater immediately because a fire is in progress.

No choice.

You walk out, relieved that everything went well, but damn you didn’t see the end of your movie!

Now I’d like to ask you a question:

Wouldn’t you do everything possible to see the end?

I already know the answer.

All that energy you would be willing to put into finding an alternative solution. That’s what we used in our long distance relationship. Because our frustration was immense. That feeling of incompleteness… it sticks in the craw. It settles in comfortably and refuses to leave.

There was no way we were going to end this relationship on such a rotten note.

2) We wanted to finish our trip

This point is directly related to the previous one. Beyond this feeling of unfinished business, we also had a trip to finish!

The covid shortened our journey of one week. We still had so many things to see and to live. The reasons to see each other again were not only our couple and the lack of the other one.

We already had a common project to finish. And a pretty cool project! We speak about going to observe condors in the canyon of Colca or visit one of the 7 wonders of the World, the Machu Picchu.

3) I was able to put more money aside.

Covid-19 saved me money in two different ways.

  • Our trip was premature. So I didn’t spend all my budget, and except for the bus tickets, we were able to get a full refund.
  • I returned to my parents’ home for several months. I had fewer daily expenses and my landlord agreed to lower his rent since the apartment was empty.

This money, I reinvested part of it in gifts for Kyomi, for my next trip. In short, to make her happy!

4) It was an ordeal that strengthened us considerably

It wasn’t easy every day. You know this as well as I do. Most couples stay away from each other for more than a year.
I laugh when my friends tell me « the confinement was too hard, I didn’t see my boyfriend for 2 months« . If you only knew…

Honestly, being in a long distance relationship in 2020 has not been easy.

Neither was starting one within a week of a global pandemic.

But we’ve stuck it out.

And so did you!

Imagine how much stronger your relationship has become, surviving this ordeal. All the other problems will seem insignificant. Always be optimistic, even in difficult times.

The covid-19 is there, there is nothing you can do about it. It does not depend on you or your partner. So stick together and face the problem together!

Image from the first LDR Story. Represents a couple in a long-distance relationship who remain united in the face of a problem encountered

5) I was able to extend my trip by 5 months

As I write these lines, we are both together in Lima. I came with a tourist visa. I should normally have stayed only 6 months maximum.

But Peru is in a state of emergency since the beginning of the epidemic.

Translation: all visas are frozen, and foreigners can stay legally until a normal return. My initial trip of 6 months turned into almost 1 year, thanks to Covid. A small detail that was not foreseen but that makes me happy!

 

when will be the next reunion?

Each LDR Story is unique, and we knew that not having a reunion date was a problem.

But how to plan, knowing that all countries close in on themselves, and that the rules are always changing?

Initially, I was supposed to return to Peru at the end of my studies. This should have been done between September and October. And that for a duration of about 3 to 6 months.

What we did was to make assumptions. But realistic assumptions!

We set the date of December 31, 2020. To spend together the passage to the new year.

Image from the first LDR Story. New Year's Eve Party

We had no idea if this would be possible. But the fact that we did « as if » helped us considerably. It allowed us to pretend that the covid had never existed, and the big advantage was that it gave us time.

In March, it was impossible to have a clear vision of the situation in December. But as the months drew closer, it was easy to know if it was going to be possible. Time has passed since the first meeting. But one thing was certain: we wanted to continue our LDR story

And unlike our separation, it was a good way to see the bad news coming from a distance. We were like soccer fans waiting for the 80th minute to bet on the outcome of the game.

Anyway, we took our precautions!

Spoiler Alert: we finally met again on January 11th. But these adventures will be the subject of a future article!

The inevitable routine and the 26 Challenges

Have you already had several international long distance relationships?

Personally, this is my first. And it’s like anything else. There is information to know, things to put in place for everything to go well. Of course, we were « lucky » to still be in our « honeymoon » phase. But that didn’t stop us from making mistakes.

The worst thing about this pandemic is the boredom.

Since we were both homebound, all our days were the same.

Always the same conversations. Always the same activities.

I worked from home. The same for her with her studies.

Image from the first LDR Story. A couple in a long-distance relationship faces routine and boredom.

Nothing new to look at. It’s like watching a fire go out, little by little.

I quickly realized that Covid was going to last, and that if we didn’t find a solution soon, we would eventually get tired of it.

So we set up several activities:

  • Watching Better Call Saul (we are both big fans of Breaking Bad)
  • Learn Spanish, at least the basics
  • Playing sports on our own, but having discussions about it

It was cool, it lasted for a while. But the problem of the routine was always there: we just delayed it.

It was a nightmare! Some days it was fine, and other days we wondered how we were going to make it.

We often thought about how we left each other. It destroyed our morale because we both had regrets about how it all went down. But it also gave us strength to not stay on such a bad note.

So I thought of a way to always renew our activities, and always have the excitement of doing a new one. We had to keep it simple, diversify, and not give up after 10 minutes.

After several hours of racking my brain and filling out Word documents, I had found the solution.

Image from the first LDR Story. A couple in a long-distance relationship found the solution to avoid boredom and routine

A solution that would keep us busy for 6 months. Without seeing the time pass, and without the slightest weariness.

There were several criteria to respect:

  • The activities had to be always different, not to fall into a routine
  • One of us should not know them in advance, for the surprise effect
  • We had to do them spaced out, so as not to get disgusted
  • Have an end date and a gift, to stay motivated over time
  • To be the least restrictive possible, so as not to make excuses

Yes, that’s a lot of constraints. I never said it was simple!

The solution?

A list of 26 Challenges.

You can read the dedicated article, download this list and learn how to use it well to say goodbye to routine and boredom.

Why 26?

  • Because a year has 52 weeks.
  • 1 challenge each week = 6 months of activities.

This list saved us. Kyomi tells me about it at least every week, and begs me to make another one. And when I see her smile and the emotion in her eyes every time we talk about it, I am moved.

That’s why I insist you use this list. It’s a powerful weapon against distance and routine. It is the ultimate weapon. The one that will make distance your ally, not your enemy.

 

Boring of the routine ?

Download my 26 LDR Challenges and Activities

One idea done every week
= 6 months of activities

LDR Story: What now? (July 2021)

Where we are today

We are together physically, in Peru. Most of the time we are in Lima or traveling to other parts of the country.

For how long? At least until the end of the year 2021.

Sometimes, we talk about the first meeting. We laugh until our ribs hurt so much it was improbable and how lucky we were to do it just before the beginning of the epidemic.

Financially, nothing alarming for the moment. I’ve been able to save enough money not to worry about it for now, and I have a little bit of money coming in from time to time. Kyomi works remotely in an advertising agency.

I’m very involved in My Sweet LDR. It’s a beautiful project that takes me a lot of time! It’s my baby, my work: no question of offering you shit.

What would be the point, otherwise?

And if you’re wondering: we’ll soon be able to finish our initial trip! We’re revising our itinerary, but it should all be done in September. I’ll share photos on my Instagram, if you want to follow our adventures.

Next step: France!

Image from the first LDR Story. The Eiffel Tower, which represents France, Leo's country, who is in a long distance relationship

Our LDR story is far from over. This is the next logical step!

I came twice in Peru, I discovered her life, her culture, her friends and family. Now it’s her turn.

And I know she will love it. You can’t imagine what I’m planning for her.

So we should be back to being long distance for 5 or 6 weeks. I might as well tell you that these weeks will be a formality. I have no doubt about that.

I can’t wait for her to discover Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux, my remote village, to learn French and to talk with my family…

It’s going to be an intense stage for both of us!

Did you like this LDR Story? Tell us in comments!

This is the first article (and first LDR story) that I write in an intimate way, and quite personal. I didn’t think it would be this long. I was inspired. To read other LDR Stories (either about our relationship or another couple’s long distance relationship)

I hope you enjoyed it!  Please share it in the comments. And how was your first meeting? We want to know!

I’ll be doing updates on our relationship from time to time.

To inspire you, to give you strength, to show you that not everything is perfect in our relationship and that, like you, we learn with time.

We learn from our mistakes, we resolve conflicts, and most of all we move forward together.

Boring of the routine ?

Download my 26 LDR Challenges and Activities

One idea done every week
= 6 months of activities

If you liked this article and want to help other couples in long distance relationships, please share it !

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Presentation

presentation of the remote couple leo and kyomi in a long distance relationship

Hello !

We are Léo & Kyomi, a French-Peruvian couple in a long distance relationship since 2019. Welcome to this blog entirely dedicated to this way of life.

We decided to create
My Sweet LDR
to help people who want to live their relationship serenely and who don’t know how to do it.

To read our entire story
you can click just here !

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