Super long distance relationships

With the revolutions in communication technology it became somewhat possible to maintain a super long distance relationship. We are not talking about different cities or even different countries. We are talking about different continents, different time zones. My girlfriend and I are SIX THOUSAND miles apart. 13 hours time difference. That might be enough for a good majority of people to not be a part of the relationship. It takes a different level of crazy to attempt something like this. In our case though, it even started as a long distance relationship so we didn’t find it that hard to adjust. We have been together for thirteen months now, and have met only once for a month in between. So, how do we do it and what are some of the MAJOR annoyances of a super long distance relationship?

How do I make my super long distance relationship work?

1. Make sure you love your partner like crazy (and vice versa)

Is this even worth mentioning? By far the most important fuel a long distance relationship needs is love between the couple. Not to say that short distance relationships do not need this tonic but it is at least a thousand times more critical in a long distance one. Reasoning is simple, what’s the point of being in a long distance relationship when there is no love?

2. Sending gifts

You don’t have to spend a fortune on gifts, but I think sending something once in a while tells your partner that you care for them. It also lets you provides you with something you can touch and feel to somewhat help the constant absence of your partner.

3. Being stubborn

Stubbornness is vital. As long as the situation isn’t crossing the limit for you, make sure you give efforts to get things back as they were. Do not let everyday quarrels become too big, do not discuss yesterday’s argument today. You have to have the stubbornness to continue being with the person you love no matter how irritating the distance is. Without the constant will to be together, a long distance relationship might quickly wither in the absence of physical touch and intimacy.  We say mean things to each other frequently, but our stubbornness keeps us together.

Annoyances of a super long distance relationship

1. Different time zones

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, different time zones. This is simply the worst. Time zone difference makes our fights an absolute nightmare for one of us, i.e. the one who has morning or day time at his/her place. The one with night time can simply go to sleep and forget about what happened the next morning but the other partner has to spend the whole day pissed. In our case, it’s almost always me. We usually connect over video chat during my morning and her night, that’s because she wakes up late in the morning and by the time she wakes up it’s already too late at my place. So whenever we have a heated exchange of words, she would conveniently go to sleep while I have to go through the day feeling horrible. There’s no way I can contact her for another eight hours and as this almost always happens on weekend, I can not distract myself with work either.

2. Weekends are the only hope for long meaningful conversations

Every morning when I wake up the only thing on my mind is to get ready for work. She is back from work and I usually have her in the background throughout the morning. Although this is one of the sweetest things in our relationship as you will see in following section, we cannot use this time to talk about anything important. Then I get to work and she is off to sleep. When I finally get back home she wakes up and gets ready to go to work while I go to bed. What this means is that we can only rely on weekends for anything important to talk about or for getting into some intimate conversation.

3. OUR weekends are just one day long

Our weekend does not start on my Friday night, because my Friday night is her Friday morning and she is off to work. Our weekend starts on my Saturday morning, that is when she is back home on Friday evening. And it ends on my Sunday afternoon right after she goes to bed. My Sunday evenings don’t mean anything for us as when she wakes up I must go to bed to wake up on time the next morning for work.

4. All other annoyances of a long distance relationship

You cannot touch her, you cannot hug her, you cannot wipe the tears off her face. You cannot go on real dates, you cannot walk on streets while holding hands. It’s really no point describing this point in detail, you all know what I am talking about.

Club culture in Japan

If I were to describe Japan in one word, that’d be ‘Organization’. It’s probably the most organized nation on the planet. Everything from getting a driver’s license to getting a pair of glasses, renting an apartment to something as trivial as owning a bicycle has a predefined set of regulations and 流れ (procedure). This organization is not just limited to getting things done though, it also dictates how people live their lives.

Which mold do you fit in?

Almost all Japanese people have to choose a predefined mold to fit themselves in. Every Japanese kid is expected to join a “部” (club) from a very young age. These “clubs” are not the kind of fun hobby clubs with a free atmosphere I have seen outside Japan. They have a rigid hierarchical structure with a “部長” at the top and are governed by a strict set of rules and regulations.

Japanese kids join the “部活” (club activities) after finishing school and aren’t back home until late in the evening. In my childhood (not Japan) I used to come back home from school around 1 PM and had ample time to discover my surroundings with a bunch of neighborhood friends. We used to play some sport every evening and there were no compulsions whatsoever. We also invented many games and modified existing games in interesting ways. Clubs were not the norm and were reserved for people either with childhood passion towards some activity or with very strict parents.

I always had two sets of friends in my childhood – school friends and neighborhood friends. The ‘work’ life and private life is always well separated in my country. Not in Japan though. The clubs belong to the schools which makes them a part of school-life. By the way, you’d be wrong to think that clubs are a part of school education. They have a far greater reach than schools. Universities and even corporations have similar clubs. I even had a club orientation when I got my first job in Japan.

Weekend is for Practice

Who said weekends are for relaxing and chilling with family? Weekend means extra free time and that means club practice. Yes, Japanese school clubs often take perfection very seriously. They often take part in tournaments and expect their members to show up for practice or matches/performances on weekends. Have you heard that Japanese are (in)famous for their extreme devotion to their companies? Same devotion is expected towards one’s club or any organization one belongs to. Do Kamikaze fighters ring a bell?

Effects of club culture on society and individuals

Let us look at the benefits of such extreme organization and club culture.

Firstly, it creates an extremely peaceful and homogeneous society with low conflicts. Almost everyone has some sort of skill or hobby outside work and most people are pretty good at it thanks to intense practice. This also keeps people busy with something, people have an active lifestyle which must be good for their health and well-being. It also must be easy to make lots of friends you can relate to or have similar interests as you.

But as you might have judged from this article, I do not view clubs positively. I think they kill individuality and personal freedom. Childhood should be spent exploring the woods or making treehouses or finding interesting ways to burn firecrackers instead of following an army like routine everyday. People shouldn’t be forced to be identified by the groups they belong. Work and private lives must be separated and everyone must spend a good chunk of their time with their families and neighbors, too. Also, children must learn to kill boredom and be curious. They must have the freedom to spend their time the way they like. They should not be expected to fit in one of the molds designed by the society. Individuality should be celebrated and not frowned upon.

I like to see the Japanese as bees. Every Japanese is a bee who is defined by a hive he/she belongs to. Your hive dictates your routine, your thoughts, your skills. You mostly belong to just one hive and work for it with utmost devotion. You must be ready to die for it if needed. Some traditional companies even specifically tell their employees to do whatever it takes to satisfy clients, even if it kills them (yes I am looking at you, Dentsu).

However, Japan is changing every day for good. Many young companies (specially software based) have a relatively open culture and are somewhat westernized. Clubs are not going anywhere though, as the debate is usually focused on work-life balance and overtime. This rigidity is what keeps many foreigners from settling in Japan but that’s for another article.