Blog

How is my Relationship Now That I am not in an Long Distance Relationship (LDR)?

Happy Monday everyone!  I do not get asked this very often, not nearly as often as I get asked about how I could manage being in an LDR for so long, but I thought I would talk about how things have changed since my partner and I have been physically together.  So last week in my first blogs, I spoke a lot about what it was like being in an LDR, and briefly touched on how now everything is better.  But what do I mean by better?  In today’s posting I will be talking about exactly what I mean by “better”, how exactly have things changed for me personally, and for us as a couple.

Firstly, we see each other every day because we have lived here since my partner got to Canada, and, that is actually an immigration requirement because I sponsored him.  So the biggest change is that we no longer need to worry about making time to go Skype to see each other, or buy credits to talk to one another.  Much less stressful than having internet connection issues, and get frustrated because we cannot see each other, or talk to each other.  Now, no day goes by without us seeing each other, and talking.  When my partner first got here though, it was weird.  It felt like a dream, I woke up scared a few times wondering who was touching me, and actually had difficulties falling asleep with my laptop.  So did my partner.  We needed the light from the TV to fall asleep.  When my partner would wake up during the night, I would wake up thinking someone broke into our apartment.  Also, coming home and having a freshly cooked meal was also strange for me.  After moving into my own place I would get home around 11 at night, and still have to make something to eat, if I had not eaten at work.  We were finally able to live everything we had wanted to for nearly 5 years.  It was truly amazing!  Now, we are used to it, but still feels a little surreal when we remember how our relationship started.  Our communication has pretty much remained the same though.  We still talk about everything and anything with one another, and know we will not be shamed, judged or dismissed right away.  I know we will have a conversation, and attempt to come a compromise about whatever it is.  We still have an amazing relationship, and I think the most amazing thing, is that now when I have a bad day at work, or something happened, or I just feel bad, I have the most amazing partner to come home to and be held by, or to take care of me.  Also when I get sick, I have someone take care of everything including me, which I used to hate, but now, I love.

I would say personally a lot has changed as well.  One of the major things that has changed was my mental health and my panic attacks.  My panic attacks have significantly decreased from literally at least once a week, to maybe a very small panic attack once every 2 months.  My seasonal depression is not nearly as bad as it was either.  The reason for that is simple, I am now with my partner who wakes me up every day with lots of kisses, a big wonderful smile, being held tightly, and unlimited support and understanding.  Having this very wonderful, and amazing start to everyday, really makes me feel like I can take on the world.  I still HATE the winter with a passion, but, I can deal with it a bit more than I used to be able to, and it does not affect my motivation, or what I need to do.  It required much more effort prior to being together.  Another reason is that I do not feel so overwhelmed anymore.  I do not have to financially support myself anymore because we now have 2 incomes, I do not always have to cook and clean because my partner is here to help out.  I am a neat freak everything needs to be clean all the time, so it was stressful having to clean every day on my own.

Now finding time for each other can often be difficult due to our work schedules, or life in general.  Now I have most weekends off, but my partner only has one day off on the weekend, and the other during the week.  Usually on the weekend we have other plans, and I work Monday to Friday.  Finding time for just the 2 of us can be challenging for that reason, but we make sure to find time to just watch a movie and cuddle, at least once a week.  And of course last but not least, no need for sexy time over the computer anymore.  Our sex life has of course improved now that we are able to be physically together.  Basically to sum it, things are not perfect, because nothing ever is, but I am more than happy with my life the way it is now in terms of my relationship, and the factors I am not happy about, cannot be changed at this moment.  I would not change anything about my relationship or my partner.

What did we do to Keep Our Relationship Alive during Our LDR

Yet another question I get asked very often is how could I be in a long distance relationship (LDR) for over 4 years and not get bored.  Well, let me start by saying that it was another thing that was really not easy.  We needed to get very creative for sure.  Thinking about things which were unique, and some a bit weird, but cute and romantic.  Now keep in mind that in my relationship due to financial difficulties on my part, and visa and finical difficulties on my partner’s part, it was not possible for us to be physically together often.  We were only actually physically together once before the sponsorship process was complete, and my partner moved to Canada to live with me.  Once in 4 and half years…  Trust me when I say it was not easy. Our relationship did get boring sometimes.  There were many times for example, when we would be on skype and just quiet, and not really say much.  We would be on our phones, or Facebook.  Not because we did not care about each other, or bored each other, but just because we would talk all day, and there was not much to talk about by the time we would Skype in the evening.  Though even in those scenarios, we were very happy to be together, it still felt special.

We would do many things to keep our relationship alive and creative. Things that were awkward at the time, but first, we did not care, second, we were doing it for each other, and third, we can look back on it now, and laugh very hard about some of them.  So I am going to start with the more “normal” things I think most people in LDRs can relate.  First, when were together for about 3 months, I asked my partner if we could sleep together on Skype.  He looked at me like I was crazy, and said it was creepy, but I did not drop it, and kept telling him I wanted to try because I hated not seeing him.  Finally, by the time it was bed time, he agreed.  We slept together all night without the internet disconnecting, I was actually shocked that it did not disconnect.  I still remember, my partner got up first, and I remember waking up and seeing him dancing while making breakfast.  I sent him a message, and he looked at the computer with this big smile.  Honestly, it was at that moment I knew I wanted to wake up next to him everyday.  Anyway, during our conversation that morning, we talked about how cute we sleep (totally different now.  We now complain about how we sleep), and my partner said how much he loved it, and how we should do it every night, and thus, started our tradition of sleeping together on Skype pretty much every day.  We also gave each other access to our computers via a program called TeamViewer, which allowed us to connect to one another’s computers whenever, as long as we had internet access.  We would download and watch movies together.  Do the whole count down thing and start it at the exact same time, and stop it when the internet would disconnect (So annoying and upsetting when the power would go out for a few hours…).  We would watch controversial documentaries and discuss them with each other.  That was very enjoyable, we had some amazing discussions!  And of course, last but not least, Skype sexy time, which we actually called “surprise time”.  Just like in most relationships, intimacy is very important and healthy to any type of relationship.  That was something else we needed to learn to spice up.  We had our sexy times, in very interesting places… I will leave it at that.  We would also take each other to various places.  I remember one morning my partner went to work super early and did not tell me anything.  I remember him calling me at around 5 in the morning asking me to go on Skype and that he had a surprise for me, so I went online, and woke up to watching the sunrise from the top of my partners work.  It was a breath taking view of a bit of the city, and the sun coming up over the mountains, I almost cried.  I had never done that with anyone, and it was truly a beautiful moment that I will never forget.  My partner also used to take me to the beach when he knew I was having a really hard time with the winter, and we would Skype there for a bit watching the beautiful waves.  In 2012, I had a very big and heavy laptop, and an internet stick, which though it was awkward, gave me the access to taking my partner to various places in Toronto.  One day, I took my laptop to Harbour Front in down town Toronto, connecting my huge laptop, and my wearing this huge headset, with a long wire.  There was a lot of people looking at me like I was so weird, they had their reasons to think so, but I did not care at all.  To add to the awkwardness my laptop battery did not last more than 3 minutes.  So my partner got to see the lake for about 30 seconds before I had to leave and find somewhere to plug in my laptop.  So there I was walking around downtown Toronto with my huge laptop, headset and this long wire, talking to someone who no one could see.  Even after my laptop battery died I still kept walking around with it, because why would I put the laptop back in my back just to take it out again in a few minutes.  It seemed like a waste of time, so I just decided to keep it out and just walk around with it.  After a few minutes, I found a coffee shop with Wi-fi, and went online again.  That day after my laptop was charged I also took my partner to see the CN Tower, and Sky Dome.  Again, I had many people stare at me awkwardly.  We would take pictures and videos of everything!  Walking around downtown, video, family events, videos, and pictures.  Anytime we would go somewhere with anyone there were pictures and videos taken, and sent to one another via our many ways of communication.  My partner knew most of family and friends prior to meeting them, and the same with me with his friends and family.

Again, I stress that our relationship was far from easy, and even trying to go out and do things were met with much resistance from my parents.  It was always an argument over me going out and talking to people.  To avoid issues I would need to do it when they were not home, or lie and say I had to work.  Eventually though I stopped trying to avoid the fights, and would simply say I am an adult, it’s my life, see you later pretty much.  Even being home, if either of our mothers knew we were watching a movie, or talking to one another, they would interfere by deciding they wanted to have some strange conversation.  Usually one that was very random, and made no sense, for example that time my mother decided to have a conversation with me about our dinner and how she made it, knowing full well I had grown up watching her make the dish and that I knew how to make it.  My partner’s mother would do the same to him.  It was very annoying.  We would just look at each other through the cam with this face that spoke volumes.  But again, I cannot stress how important and vital communicating openly is to every relationship, but in an LDR types of communication is really all you have.  Another thing which is very important to remember when you are in an LDR is that, you and your partner are both in that LDR, and though your life situations maybe completely different, you are both in that relationship together and both have the desire to be together.  I remember fighting over very silly things that really did not make all the much sense.  We learned after about 2 years, we were just fighting because of the distance.  After that we quickly learned to analyse what we were fighting about, and stop it if was just something silly.  All in all, as I keep saying an LDR is the furthest thing from easy, but if you love each other enough and stick it through, all will be fine if it is meant to be.  Again, would I do it again absolutely not, but it was all worth it in the end, and if I had to be completely honest, if I had to do it again with my partner, I probably would, just because we both learned so much about ourselves, about relationships, ways to make our relationship healthier just by being in our LDR.

For anyone in, or considering being in an LDR, feel free to leave a comment or a type me a message, and tell me how it is, or what creative things you guys do in your relationship, and if you have any advice to share!  See you guys next time!

 

What are the know STIs and Treatment Options? Part 1: Viral:

I hear a lot of misinformation about STIs pretty constantly. People have many misconceptions about STIs, how they are transmitted, and even exactly what they are and how they are spread. There is also still a lot of stigma that if you have an STI, you must be a slut. Well, that’s not the case. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be broken up into 3 categories.

  1. Viral
  2. Bacterial
  3. Parasites

Whether you identify as heterosexual, or anything else, you are at risk of contracting an STI.  No STI is limited to a group of people, and actually some, are not only sexually transmitted.  Before you get to scared, let me just say all STIs are treatable or manageable.  It is also important to note that many people do not have any symptoms.  The only way to know for sure if you are STI free, is to get tested for each STI.  Also, it is much better to go to anonyms clinics to get tested, as going to your family doctor may affect your insurances due to your family doctor being legally required to go through OHIP (Only applies to Canada. Not sure about anywhere else).

Let’s start with the viral infections.

Viral:

Molluscum Contagiosum:  Molluscum is actually a skin infection which can be transmitted sexually through motion and friction, even if the person who has Molluscum is not showing any symptoms. Molluscum causes hard, painful bumps on the surface of your skin.  You can contract Molluscum through anytime type of friction (bodies rubbing, fingering, dry humping etc…), it can also be transmitted from change room benches, pools, toilet seats, and any other public surfaces where bare skin contact occurs.  There is known medication to treat Molluscum, affects people of all ages, and cannot be cured, but managed.

Treatment:  Molluscum can go away on its own after about 6 months.  However, Molluscum can be very painful, and the only known treatment requires freezing the bumps with liquid nitrogen and scraped off.  It is like the treatment for warts.

Herpes:  Herpes is also a skin infection which is mostly transmitted through sexual activity.  Herpes has 2 different types, Herpes Simplex 1, develops around the mouth which can present itself as blisters, or cold soars around the mouth. Having oral sex, or rimming (licking a person’s butthole), can transmit the virus to a person’s genitals.  Herpes on a person’s genitals is the second type and called Herpes Simplex 2.  Herpes Simplex 2 creates soars around the genitals and anus area. Herpes cannot be cured, but is manageable with medication.  Herpes spreads through skin to skin contact, and is actually more contagious 24 hours before a breakout.  Basically, someone who has Herpes Simplex 1 can scratch their mouth, then go open a door, the next person to come into contact with the door, can contract Herpes.  It would have to be fairly soon after as the virus would die after a few minutes. But, better to wash your hands in case.

Treatment:  It is important to note that many people with Herpes may never have an outbreak. So, the best way to know, is to get tested. Previously, the only way to test was by doing a swab test, which unless you were having an outbreak, would pretty much come back negative. However, there is a new blood test which you can do. This test is not covered by OHIP, and there is only a specific lab which will do it.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV):  HPV actually has more than 100 different strains, and about 40 of them can affect the genital area (penis, vagina/vulva), and anal (butt) area.  Most of the time HPV clears up on its own over time.  However, the more aggressive types of HPV can change cells in the genital areas of the body and cause various types of cancer such as: Penial cancer, cervical cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the vulva, and throat cancer.  HPV typically presents itself as warts or little bumps a person’s genital areas or around the mouth, and can also be transmitted via skin to skin contact.

Treatment:  Most of the HPV infections clear up on its own.  However, you should always get tested.  Pap tests are a great way for people who have vulvas/vaginas to get tested.  Unfortunately, other than a Pap there is no way to test for HPV.  A clinician can treat the warts using a laser, or liquid nitrogen as well.  The HPV vaccine is also a way of prevention.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS):  HIV is still the big one I hear a lot of stereotypes.  HIV is still known as the “gay disease”, but anyone can contract HIV regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, etc… HIV is a viral infection that, to put it simply, essentially eats away at your immune system.  HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids.  Now, it is important to remember, that there are many fluids HIV cannot be contracted from.  The bodily fluids which you can contract HIV from are: Blood, semen (cum), pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), vaginal fluid (pre-cum from a vagina or vulva), and anal mucus (the lubricant we all have in our butts).  You can decrease your risk of contracting HIV by using protection when having sex.  Do not rely on your partner to tell you whether or not they have an STI or for your partner to bring the protection.  Safe sex and being safe if everyone’s responsibility.  It is also not advised to share sex toys, unless a male condom (external condom) is placed on them, or they are washed prior to each use.  You can also get HIV from sharing needles due to transmission via blood.  A very common thing I hear is you can contract HIV from kissing.  Saliva does contain the HIV virus, but cannot thrive in saliva.  You would need to drink 18 gallons of an HIV positive person’s saliva for a chance to contract the virus.  That’s a lot of spit swapping, and not really possible as no one can produce that much saliva at once.  HIV becomes AIDS when a person’s CD4 cell count becomes high enough, and an AIDS related illness occurs.  Interesting enough, no one actually dies from AIDS, but actually from AIDS related illnesses.  You can test for HIV by getting an HIV test.  There are 2 types of tests, there is an express test which is basically a prick in the finger (similar to a diabetes test), and you will get a negative or positive in about 2 minutes.  There is also the blood test which can be done at a clinic and takes about 2 weeks to get the results.

Treatment:  HIV/AIDS is not curable, but manageable with medication.  There are a variety of different types of medications.  The type of medication prescribed depends on various factors and is typically decided by the doctor for a trial basis to see how the medication interacts with your body.  HIV medication has progressed to the point where now, a person living with HIV could actually get a non-detectable status, which essentially means the virus is almost dormant in your system, allowing people to even come of their medication for up to 6 months sometimes and still sometimes be undetectable.  Someone living with HIV could live a completely normal, and long life.  There are also 2 prevention medications, not available everywhere, and not easily accessible, but they exist. PREP, stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis.  It is essentially a medication that is taken before you have sex with an HIV positive person.  This medication is good for people who have partners who are HIV positive and do not want to stigmatize them or make them feel judged for living with HIV.  PEP stands for post exposure prophylaxis.  With PEP, someone who believes they may have been exposed to HIV can get one month of treatment, as a preventative measure in contracting the virus.  PEP essentially flushes out the system to remove the virus from the body.  PEP is not readily available to anyone, and the questions which one will be asked to potentially be put on PEP have been describes and probing, and very invasive.  Remember people, HIV is not a death sentence, people who are HIV positive, should not be stigmatized or judged.                   

Hepatitis B:  Hep B is an STI which affects the liver. Someone who has Hep B, the virus can be found, and contracted from their bodily fluids such as: semen (cum), blood, and vaginal fluid (female cum).  You can contract Hep B through unprotected sex, oral or penetrative.

Treatment:  If you contract Hep B, you will need to go for many different blood tests to test you liver function.  For most people who contract Hep B will clear the virus in about 6 months, and your body would not allow you to get it again because it produces antibodies and fights off the infection should one come in contact with the virus again.  A person who has contracted Hep B will need to have their liver function monitored frequently.  Should the virus not clear liver functions would still need to be monitored constantly, there is also risk, due to a decreasing liver function, that the induvial may contract liver cancer and other liver related complications.  There are however medications that can help keep liver functions normal.

As you have seen, STIs are not death sentences.  They are scary, and can have some pretty negative, and serious side effects.  It is important for us to remember that anyone can contract an STI regardless of how often you have sex.  We are all sexual beings, so let’s not shame people for doing what comes naturally, and remember that you do not necessarily need to have sex to contract an STI.  Next week, I will touching on Bacterial STI infections.  Stay tuned!

Source: Planned Parenthood Toronto

What was communication like in a Long Distance Relationship (LDR)

Welcome back guys! I often get asked a lot of questions about what it was like to communicating in an LDR. Well, I touched on it in my first post on what it was like to be in an LDR, and ways in which we spoke.  Today will be more detailed on how my partner and I used to communicate, and how challenging it could be sometimes.  So good news for those just starting an LDR, there are a ton of new ways to communicate with your partner.  More than when my partner and I started our relationship. There are also new ways to interact, but we will get more into that a bit later.

When my partner and I first started our LDR we met online and began talking on MSN video chat (who remembers MSN?).  Due to the call quality of the video chats at the time, we were forced to type unless my partner would call me over the phone, which I mostly just listened, because I was shy to talk and in shock that some guy from another country was calling to talk to me.  Though I was okay typing. I was a lot less shy that way.  Another factor was the language barrier.  I would understand most of what my partner said, as I am Portuguese, he speaks Spanish and the languages are very similar.  In saying that, I cannot type or write in Portuguese, so my partner had to read in English.  After about two months, was when he began trying to speak English and learn with me.  After about a few weeks I actually opened up and was able to speak and not just type.  A few months later, we discovered Skype! Skype had much better voice quality and we could actually speak verbally.  We would speak via email all day, or BBM.  Eventually, our Blackberries died and we moved on to other smartphones (Actually, my partner’s phone got run over by a car), and began talking on WhatsApp.  We also spoke on Facebook.  Imagine LDRs back before technology?  Wow… Give it up for those people who had LDRs way back when… It was so frustrating seeing “Internet connection Problem” pop up before Skype would try to reconnect, or when we had bad connections in general.  I hated the days when we could not see each other due to internet issues.

So, now, what was it like with all these forms of communication?  It had to have been super easy right? WRONG! It was the hardest, and most frustrating years of my life.  Imagine being at rock bottom and one of the few people who has been supporting you, and comforting you is thousands of miles away.  Imagine that you cannot hug your partner, or cry on their shoulder. There cannot be any physical contact with the person you desire so badly to be near.  It can very devastating. Though there were many ways to communicate, we could talk all the time either, for example: when we were out of data, or when my partner would not have power due to frequent power outages (very often… Water too. So annoying!), or when my parents would try and interfere and deny me internet access.  It was always challenging despite all the different ways of communication. It was an intense constant 4 and half year struggle.  When we went to Mexico, going through those gates to come back to Canada, was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, knowing I had to come back to Canada without my partner, and go back to communicating on Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook.  Knowing that again, I could not hug him, kiss him, hold his hand.  I had to carry my heavy laptop around with me everywhere so we could see each other when we could.  We both hated it so much. Thankfully, we do not have to deal with long distance ways to communicate anymore!  I am blessed to go home to partner everyday! Well, he actually comes home to me, because I get home first most of the time.  Point is after all of the struggle we are together.

For those of you who are just starting an LDR or are considering it because you may have found a special someone, there is good news!  Technology has done a lot of amazing things in the past few years to make LDRs easier, and some technologies even specifically developed for LDRs. I will get to that in a bit.  Currently, pretty much every type of social media, or chat app, now has a video call component to it, which is great!  WhatsApp video is awesome!  It’s how my partner talks to his friends and family in Colombia now, for the most part.  BBM also has this feature, though when I used it, I found it very buggy.

Now onto the fun stuff.  The stuff specifically developed for people in LDRs:

  1. Vibease: Vibrease is essentially a vibrator that your partner can control on an app via there smart phone. It also makes ambient sounds during the sexy time experience.

 

  1. Taion Heart: This is a cute one. When each of you squeeze this little heart, it takes your pulse rate, and via the app on your phone, transmits your pulse rate and pressure to your partner who would be squeezing the other one so you can feel their heart beat and with how much pressure they are holding onto the heart. It even glows and changes colours.

 

  1. Pillow Talk: This was actually the first device I heard of for an LDR, and really would have loved!  This is also a cute one.  With this product, you and your partner both wear a ring, and have a panel which you slip inside your pillow.  Again via smartphone the panel in the pillow transmits your body pressure, and warmth, and the ring takes your heart beat.  The app then transmits all of the information to your partner’s pillow, so while sleeping you can hear your partner’s heartbeat, and feel their presence.  This only works though if you are both laying down at the same time.  So even if one partner goes to bed first, they will feel it when their partner gets into bed.  Did I mention is also glows?  Pillow talk is actually not on the market yet though.

 

  1. Love Palz: Love pals are basically sex toys to use with your long distance partners. It comes in a “him” and “her” style.  Basically you would sync these sex toys up to your smartphones and when you and your partner are having your sexy time it vibrates, and actually simulates your partners movements (Not to clear on what that means).

Finally, just one last note before I end of this post.  If you are in an LDR, and you are really committed to your partner, and this really actually goes for any relationship, but communication is key.  Communication is vital to any relationship no matter how you communicate.  It is also just as important to keep an open mind, allow your partners to communicate their needs without shutting them down.  If your mind is closed, your partner may not be so inclined to talk about many things.  They may even fear talking about certain things because the fear of judgment, or negative criticism, or that you may leave them.  I am not talking about cheating, but it is very important to remember that we all have a past, we all come with baggage, and to judge someone on that basis, without hearing them out, is not a great thing to do. I know both my partner and I have a lot of baggage.  We had lives that were not easy, and did things which we are not very proud of.  Each time we disclosed something to one another, we both listened intently, and picked the other person up rather judged them and tore them down.  Acceptance, even in bad situations, forgiveness of self, and listening is really what I took from my LDR.  I am a much better person for it, and my relationship feels unbreakable because of it.  There is nothing that partner cannot tell me, and vice versa.  Communicate openly everyone, it can really make a difference in any relationship, and within yourselves as well.

LDR toy sources: https://www.buzzfeed.com/

 

Why Should I not say STD?

Over the past few years there has been a shift in how we talk about sex and everything about sex.  These new movements include things such as slut shaming, everyone owning their bodies as their own, and being able to recognize their rights as human beings.  There have also been many strides to eliminate stigmas related to sexual health.  One of these changes includes changing the Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), to sexually transmitted infections (STI).

When you think of a disease, what comes to mind?  For most people it is things such as death, some type deterioration, someone very ill who is quite possibly going to die. For someone who is going to get tested, or someone who thinks they have some sort of sexually transmitted infection, if you change the infection to disease, you automatically feel more scared, like you are doomed, when in actuality, no STI would really  be a death sentence now a days.  All STIs are treatable or curable, and none of them are actually diseases.  They can all be broken down into viral, bacterial, or itchy pains in the butt (crabs, and scabies).  I don’t know about you, but I much prefer having an infection of any kind, rather than having a disease any day.

So let’s all help reduce the fear and stigma and be scientifically correct, and say sexually transmitted infection and not disease.

I am not going into too much detail about STIs and what they can do, or talking about stigma, as I will be talking about all of those, in depth shortly.  So stay tuned!