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Netflix And Chill Out: How I Kept My Long Distance Relationship Alive

Relationships can survive that short hop over the ocean and a small plane ride — don't ask me about further away, Berlin to Manchester is only a two-hour flight.

By Tom ChapmanPublished 6 years ago 6 min read
Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Moving abroad can be a struggle for anyone, let alone when you don't speak the language, you're horrible with directions, and you'll be leaving your nearest and dearest behind. Believe me though, relationships can survive that short hop over the ocean and a small plane ride — don't ask me about further away, Berlin to Manchester is only a two-hour flight. Where 2016 has been a year of sadness and death for many, I strived to keep my relationship alive and make the most out of a difficult situation. I don't expect any medals, but I am accepting bouquets of flowers.

As my boyfriend and I parted ways at the start of October, there was no Britney Spears-esque waving off at the platform — some tears were shed, but you suck it up and stick on an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. As an angsty and bitter twenty-something I never really understood the appeal of the likes of 500 Days of Summer. Now as a happily matched up (later twenty-something) male, I sit at my desk and imagine funny Hallmark puns I would write in a card, while simultaneously realising that we have become one of those cringey loved up couples. Don't worry, there will be no Facebook posts of "bae," and we mainly just borrow each other's clothes. Two months into a three month internship I have become Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but at this point I would like to make you aware that my boyfriend isn't Zooey Deschanel... he can't pull off the fringe!

Life Imitating Film

Scar on Grr-indr [Credit: @everythinggay/Twitter]

As your movie queue fills up with Love Actually, Bridget Jones, and any of the other vomit-inducing mushy rom coms, it is enough for you peel your eyelids off with a rusty scalpel. I may be in love, but I draw the line at having some dignity left.

I suppose you could always do the dreaded socialising thing. A good friend of mine said, "why don't you use Grindr to make some friends?" Hmmmm, having done the whole app "dating" thing, I'm not sure that making new friends is exactly what most people use Grindr for. It would be a bit like using Tinder for film recommendations, or your dad for fashion advice.

So, hoping to limit human contact I once again turn to my old friend the screen. As The Simpsons frequently teach us, TV is our friend, TV will never leave us, and TV can take your mind of any emotional strife.

I have never been a roses and chocolate guy, and my idea of a perfect date is kicking your ass at paintballing then watching Bruce Willis put his face through a window. With a long and wintery three months apart, how does a modern gay relationship survive overseas? It turns out pretty well (as long as you have the option to share Netflix films) and the confidence to trust each other.

Google Chrome has recently introduced a new extension called Netflix Party — it isn't quite like an S Club Party, but thanks to the delights of screen sharing it does mean you can be poles apart and still watch the same film in real time. Stick a creepy face mask on a teddy bear while pretending your significant other is right there with you, and it really does work. Me being a square-eyed film buff, even back home, we would sit in silence and watch films together, so this is like having that connection as a comfort blanket.

However, if you are alone and feeling a little homesick, be careful what you watch. Apparently Netflix currently has 1378 "Romantic Teen Coming-of-age Dramas," 491 "Romantic Crime Movies from the 1930s," and 85 "Romantic Filipino Movies." For those not wanting to dwell too much on someone you are missing, it may not be your best option to slip into rom-com territory. If you are feeling a little blue, the advice is to steer clear of that section of films and stick to your good ol' comedies. The last thing you want your boyfriend to see is a blubbering queen when you FaceTime once a week.

However, romance films have hardened me to the realities of life. There is no officer or gentleman waiting at home to carry you over the threshold, Patrick Dempsey won't ride in on a lawn mower, and you and the high school hunk won't fly off in Greased Lightning at the end. Sometimes your time alone without a closest confidante will result in microwavable popcorn and hoping that Ghostface won't come in and hack you up before the Jiffy Pop is ready. It is all part of growing up, moving apart, and growing closer — think of this as your own personal bittersweet ending.

But where film's may shatter your hopes a fairytale ending, it also teaches you that everything will be OK. Much worse things happen than spending some time abroad to reflect on your life. After all, Jack sunk to the bottom of the ocean, Forrest had to run the length of a continent to see his one and only again, and Joaquín Phoenix fell in love with an app!

My new, in touch with my emotional side me is ready to experience the wonders of the world, but here is my list of five (rather cliche) films to get you through your time apart.

Mean Girls - raise your hand if you have ever found that seeing Regina George being hit by a bus has cheered up your day.

Easy A - it tricks you into forgetting this is basically a rehash of every '80s romance film at once, plus Emma Stone is life, and Lisa Kudrow's bitchy guidance counsellor wins us all over.

There's Something About Mary - because who doesn't find someone with man-sauce in their hair hilarious?

Bridesmaids - the sign of any strong relationship is when you can sit opposite each other and recite the script of Bridesmaids word for word.

Scary Movie - Brenda, this is all!

I am usually unconscious by the time he gets home from work anyway, so he isn't really missing much from when we lived together. We still get to watch everything as a couple and geek out, showing again why we are made for each other.

Aside from weekly episodes of Great British Bake Off (before its tragic demise), we mainly we just send each other emojis and bitch about how our exes look like various hideous creatures on David Attenborough's Planet Earth, and how we would like them to be subjected to a sadistic version of a Black Mirror scenario.

Sometimes you may wish that you had Flash's running ability or some Rick and Morty device to transport you home — mainly to save on airfare — but giving yourselves time apart is sometimes needed. Before I left for Germany we lived in each other's pockets, which was great, but the saying is true, absence really does make the heart grow fonder

Whether in a hetero or homosexual relationship, it doesn't really matter, being in a different country will either make you or break you. It is just a good job Netflix has Zombieland on there for those days I feel a little low. No one can resist another Emma Stone romance story, this time with a bloodcurdling end of the world massacre at its core — perfection!


About the Creator

Tom Chapman

Tom is a Manchester-based writer with square eyes and the love of a good pun. Raised on a diet of Jurassic Park, this ’90s boy has VHS flowing in his blood. No topic is too big for this freelancer by day, crime-fighting vigilante by night.

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