Spacetime: together/separate/long distance and all that

Living apart is hard. Living together is hard. Long distance is also hard.
Or not: they are different kind of hard, and easier for some than for others.
Or maybe there are tricks, or techniques.

This is a bit of an experiment: I generally take LOTS of notes during events, but they are notes for myself, or “I will one day collect this stuff in an actual cookbook”.
They tend to be lists and bullet points. Some get transcribed the following days, lots just stay in scrap paper.

I’ve been often requested “can you share what has been discussed?”.
Now: making it really readable would take forever. And it would require lots of editing, and… well, it would really end up being what I (Alex) feel it’s worthwhile.
That can be interesting. That could even happen.

For now, I will try to transcribe my crib notes in a way that COULD be useable, at least to the people that were present.
So here it is, from our last event:

Spacetime: together/separate/long distance and all that

Living apart is hard. Living together is hard. Long distance is also hard.
Or not: they are different kind of hard, and easier for some than for others.
Or maybe there are tricks, or techniques.

The conversation:
We started with the following topics:
1) sharing experiences on reasons to move together
2) how to keep it fresh while living together/close,
3) how to keep it close when living apart/far away.

Reasons to move together:

  • some people moved in after a few weeks of knowing each other.
    • it worked quite well, with taking care of having separate spaces from the start
    • such spaces were rarely used
  • others moved in directly after leaving their parents’ place
    • also with separate spaces (it was the old Berlin)
    • moving again to smaller places, learning to live together
  • moving in for convenience (cheaper rent, I need a place to stay) seems often disastrous
  • moving in as a choice, testing the waters, because we want: seems to work out
  • learning to live together is a step by step process
  • consider the possibility of testing living together, eg: “2 months and then we move out”
  • moving in where someone is already settled can be kind of hard
  • living as a couple in a shared apartment/space with other non couples can be problematic (we didn’t follow through on the topic)

Keeping it fresh:

  • “in this group, it seems the norm to need space: what about the ones of us that just want to be together all the time?” was a question.
    (I personally always felt it was the opposite, that I was weird for wanting space. Maybe we are all hearing the wrong messages, or we’re biased in feeling wrong)
    • what is considered “the default”, “the norm”?
    • Berlin can be a quite anti-couple culture
  • being an introvert and having to request “me-time” can be hard
    • even if agreed when moving in
    • could be hard if the agreement is “I need me time, you need to sleep somewhere else”
    • how not to feel you’re rejecting someone?
    • “being clear in your needs” can be hard
  • having an agreed number of “nights separate/alone” can make it easier, you don’t have to request them
    • easier than noticing you need space/asking for it/feeling rejected
  • if you live together, consider doing lots of activities outside the house
    • no “just hanging out” by default at home
  • if you’re poly, having dates with others, outside, helps
  • sleeping in different places at home:
    • mattress in the kitchen
    • on the terrace
    • etc (you get the idea)
  • adrenalize together:
    • skyjump
    • do new/weird/strange things
    • keep the mystery

Keeping close when afar:

  • old school/the obvious
    • lots of letters (the paper kind)
    • long letters
    • lots of phone calls
  • it can be almost exciting
  • channel your inner “19th century romantic poet” with letters, poems, thoughts
  • shared skype masturbation can be fun
  • send each other artistic videos
  • sharing adventures (sexual/romantic ones)
    • if you’re not feeling threatened, it’s easier to have compersion since they’re not taking anything away from you
      (it’s not like you could have a date and they meet someone else)
  • if anxious/prone to fear: stock up on good experiences when together
    • really concentrate on the good, and remember it
    • go back to it
    • even verbalize it when together, “I am loving this so much”, “this is great”…
  • share pictures of daily life (and audio, and videos)
    • picture of food/etc
  • choose together a book to both read
    • then know you’re sharing that experience
  • there are websites to be watching the same video/movie together when apart, at the same time
    • “Game of Thrones”
  • deciding what/how much to share when in touch
    • how many details are important/taking time apart
  • be on the same page on how much contact is expected needed
    • how to find out and/or adapt?
  • “I normally need lots of contact, but in one relationship I don’t… it’s great hearing from others that had close relationships without daily messages!”
    • long term, committed relationships with 3+ weeks gaps in exchanges of messages
    • “is it OK that I don’t need much contact in this relationship?”
  • “I am very independent, I don’t need lots of contact/reassurance”
  • have rituals/agreements on what to do
    • eg: sending pictures of meals
    • or NOT, it would drive some people crazy: ask

After the shared proposals and voting, we selected the following topics:
1) etiquette for digital communications,
2) children & living together,
3) inequality about time investment/entering a relationship with someone that has someone else (children, partners, dependents) requiring lots of time/attention,
4) making up/peacemaking after long distance conflicts,
5) how much time together in the first periods of getting to know each other.

Etiquette for digital communications:

How to manage them? What to do with double standards, eg: letting an intense ping-pong fall through due to “real life intervening” but feeling bad if the other person does it, etc…

  • sometime the exchanges get interrupted
    • “real life” intervenes
    • and we sometime forget/don’t manage to get back to it for a while
  • how to ask what happened if the other person disappears?
    • open ended questions/conversations work better
    • it’s nicer to respond properly
    • “ping”
  • “and then real life happens” (during digital conversations)
  • “modern chat/communication systems are made to create compulsion”
  • “what’s in the moment/present ends up being more important” (or at least urgent)
    • prioritizing the present
    • urgent vs. important
  • “how does it feel for you” (if X happens/etc)
    • find out what the other one needs to feel loved/wanted… “what do you need to feel loved/wanted”
    • “I don’t want to know if they’ve read my messages and didn’t answer, it sucks”
    • “it’s ever worse if they were online but haven’t read my messages”
  • meta-communication, communication about how to communicate

Children and living together:

  • it’s easy to avoid things you SHOULD not avoid when having children, you have a good reason/excuse
  • find ways to have “adult time apart” (from co-parents and children)
  • dating someone with children
    • it allows for default “leave and take lots of space” (meaning they will have lots of time when they cannot date you, if you like that)
  • several parents/adult per child would be great
    • re-creating the idea of a village
  • “is it ethical to want to ship babies to other grown ups”
    • (the consensus was: hell yeah)
  • “adopt a parent/child” (for people that want to experience it/support)
  • note to self: ask more around about alternative communities/living possibilities
    • FKK camping grounds/living communities

Inequality of time requests:

It was presented as “dating people in a demanding system”

  • children that require lots of time from their mother
    • aged 14 and 18
  • alternatively, wanting to invest all your time/attention
    • getting slightly maniac/not sleeping for days when you’ve met someone new
    • “not necessarily that healthy”
  • “can we have some time without the kids?”
    • “did you request/express your need for time?”
    • children feeling that if they like a new partner, they are betraying the other parent
    • “if I like you, I am liking my father less”
  • different needs from different partners
  • if I need something and I don’t get it… are there consequences?
    • if I go on for years, and only complain: do I really need it?
  • “how does the partner talks about you/me to their children?”
  • “I used to love dating mothers, having by default only limited time allocated to me”
  • “how do you enter/find your space in a demanding system?”
    • deciding together how much quality time is needed/available
    • what does “quality time” mean for you?
  • 3 pillars of relationships/attitude to relationships: generosity, curiosity, humor

Making up when long distance

Sometime, long distance relationships just go great. All is fine. Lots of exchanges, lots of time thinking about the other person…
but when there is a conflict, it can be harder to find peace, you cannot hug/see the other person/have sex/what have you.

  • try a phone-call without words/talking
  • “ban on text fights”
    • use email
    • voice messages
    • phone calls, AFTER the anger subsided (you don’t want a shouting match, trust me)
  • different conflict styles
    • it’s harder when people are apart
    • some people need to fight it out, other just to soother
    • “you don’t need to be nasty to each other to show that your relationship is strong”
    • fight it out vs. be nice
  • don’t delay the conflict/talking about the problem
  • having something from the other person to smell is nice (reminds of physicality)
    • piece of clothing
    • teddy bear
  • learn to be able to talk a bit about a problem, getting it into the light, without having to resolve it completely NOW
  • accept that “it doesn’t feel well yet, but there will be a solution”
  • “is there a problem?” if you feel there is
    • own it’s mindreading
    • even if there isn’t, the fact you feel there could be means something
  • possibility: using a coach/support system in distance conflicts/relationships
    • no one had tried
  • regular check-ins/state of the union
    • easier than having to ask to confront a problem
  • ritual of re-appreciation (daily/etc)
    • like gratitude, but re: something you/the other person did
    • “today I did X…”, “today you did Y…”
    • something active, not “it was sunny”

Distance and getting to know each other

  • “I don’t want to get to know each other via texts”
  • alternatives
    • be artistic
    • exchange essences/perfumes
    • notes/paper letters
    • channel your inner romantic poet/15 year old
    • become very creative again
  • share as much as you want/need
    • maybe check if wanted/needed/appreciated
  • drag on the pleasure of getting to know each other
    • “I normally devour it in 3 days of we tell each other everything, but it can be nice to expand it”
  • getting to know/discover each other via exchanges
    • “how did you react to what I just showed you?”

Does this work? Is it interesting? Is it worth the effort?

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