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Sylvia J. Shipp

Hi Sofia & Tijl,

What I truly wish for you two is that you reduce the anxiety and stress you are feeling from staying together while you are apart. I was thinking more about Tijl's apprehension of being in an LDR, and remembered that a number of male students I interviewed seemed to be particularly afraid of "getting lost" in someone else. It's scary enough for some just being in a relationship, but I think it might be scarier for guys when they don't have the security and comfort of having their partner next to them. In general, girls are more comfortable with swimming in emotions, and more adaptable to different situations.

A few ideas for reducing your stress and anxiety (repeating a couple things):

1.  Agree on a communication plan (frequency, mode, reply time limit). The communication should add to the quality of your relationship, and not be so time-consuming that it hurts other important aspects in your life.

2.  Supplement the occasional video-chat with other ways of contacting. The more flexible and innovative you are, the easier it will be to maintain a strong bond.

3.  Share a blog. The blog or blog diary should be fun and interesting and involve

your interests and all day life. Invite your family and friends to get involved in it.

4. Have fun and enjoy each other. Share how much you admire and respect each other in different ways with each other.

One of your biggest fans,


Isobel Moon

[this is good]
Hi again,

I'm deeply thank your wonderful concern towards Tijl and me. It means a great deal for both of us. Also, I really appreciate the kind words that you used to describe me although I must confess that I have a bleeding heart that sometimes doesn't help at all.

Now, answering your questions:

1. We were physically together for five weeks.
2. He actually never said it but I think it was during my time in his place.
3. He was (and he still is) afraid of giving himself completly to me, to sweetly surrender... and that hurts quite a lot but, maybe it's a matter of time, maybe not.

This all experience is a blessing but it's also very tough and complicated and for that reason sometimes I feel that I might not be strong enought to go through it.

I really, really appreciate the help you're giving to our relationship.

Hopeful but yet fearfull,


Sylvia Shipp

Hello Sofia & Tijl,

     Sofia, I was so happy this morning when I saw that you had commented on this blog! It's hard to say, without sounding sappy, how moved and lucky I feel that you two have reached out to me to share your LDR experiences. And I'm pleased that you posted comments rather than send private email, so that other LDR couples can learn from the current concerns and obstacles you're facing. 

     First of all, Sofia, you sound like a very intelligent, level-headed, and loving person. Like Tijl, you are sensitive and articulate. You're also open and honest about your feelings and concerns, so you are both quite lucky to have found each other.

     Here are a few questions for Sofia. Whenever you have time, I'd appreciate hearing from you again:

1. How much time total did you have to get to know each other while you were physically together in those 3 places you mentioned?

2. Did Tijl agree to go into an LDR with you before or after meeting for the third time?

3.  Do you think when Tijl said (at first), "he wasn't convinced of taking any chance in an LDR", that he's afraid of making a huge emotional investment into a relationship that doesn't work out in the end?

     Tijl, I don't quite understand your defensiveness regarding your social life. I agree that it's important to maintain a balanced life, but don't understand your apprehension. I hope you don't feel like I'm picking on you for dissecting your concern for losing time with your friends and team members due to being in an LDR.

     Tijl, if you think you may be afraid of surrendering yourself in love, was your last partner controlling? Did you just get out of a relationship and a little hesitant to jump into another one? Are you afraid of having a lot of expectations and pressures put on you too soon? Do you think you would you have these same concerns if you and Sofia were living together?

     I ask you these questions because that is what I was experiencing before I started my LDR many years ago. In fact, I don't think I would have been ready for a non-LDR relationship. An LDR gave me a chance to continue doing all the things I was doing: work, school, friends. I would have had less time for these things if I had been dating someone in the same town. Also, the LDR gave us a chance to get to know each other better than perhaps a couple who lived together. In my LDR book, I compare having an LDR to medieval courtly love, in that it slowly blossoms over a long time through paper letters, audiotape letters, email, phone calls, short visits and extended visits. Nowadays, there is also podcast video letters, video-chat, and SMS, like you said.

     Tijl, whatever your reasons may be, one of the important things you can do is stay open and honest with Sofia with your concerns so that she doesn't become insecure or start worrying about you fleeing. With time, you will both find many different ways that are suitable to your unique situations to express your affection for each other. It sounds like the video-chat may be a little too confining for both of you due to time zone difference, so why don't you try reducing that, and maybe replace it with something else such as an email or SMS when time is good for you? Although the beginning of a relationship (especially an LDR) requires a huge effort, the way you express your love should be fun and mesh well with the rest of your daily life.

     Both of you, I'm sure you know that what you have with each other is a beautiful gift. I know you don't want to lose each other to someone else or get lost in the shuffle. Try to reach an agreement on your communication expectations (mode, frequency, reply time limit, etc) to remain balanced and comfortable with each other's actions.

     You are both quite sensible to take your time and not let the distance hasten any unnatural advancement in your relationship. You both seem to be on the same page in your relationship. And I think that once you figure out other ways you can communicate feelings and thoughts, aside from the time-demanding video-chatting, that you two will be to relax and enjoy this precious time you are together yet apart, if for no other reason than to have the chance to show how much you mean to each other.


Isobel Moon

[this is good]
Dear Sylvia,

First of all, I must say that I'm complety moved and touched by your entries but most of all of by your sympathy with the situation that Tijl's going through since I'm the counterpart, I'm the mexican girl who fell in love with him, my name is Sofia. Also, I must apologize in advance for the long lines that will follow.

Tijl and I have had so far, three chapters of this love story. The first in Italy, where we met, fell in love and lived the strongest and intense of relationships. Maybe it was a huge coincidence, maybe it was fate but who knows? We were able to live a second part of our bedtime story in Finland and afterwards, by our own decision, we met again in Belgium.

At first, he wasn't convinced of taking any chance with a long distance relationship (LDR as you call it) and fortunately now, he's willing to do so (after very deep and rough conversations where the love we feel for each other reveal itself to us).

It's peculiar that a couple of weeks ago, we had this bittersweet talk about the changes we must make to our lifes to integrate to each other's life. As I told him, I deeply fear that I'd just turn up to be something floating in his life because I just couldn't fit in it, specially after he said that he must fulfil his obligations with his friends and teammates. Personally, I neither have any stiff commitments with my friends to go out nor with any social group, of course, from time to time, I do go out with them but it's never a priority. For the latter, it's easy for me to compromise myself to be, in regular basis, online for him. As for the too late or too early conversations, at least for me it's not a matter of not wanting to stay up really late or get up too early, on the contrary, I'd love to be there all the time for him but, again, something interferes with this since I'm already in classes. I would never jeopardize school because it's the only mean that I have to achieve all my dreams and that includes him, of course.

And yet, what am I doing to keep this beautiful relationship alive? Well, once in a while, I write him emails with no particular reason and I dedicate some pictures to him (we're both passionate by photography), also I've tried to call him (witn unsuccesful results since he didn't pick up the phone). What I did while I was in Europe but we were apart, was sending him text messages (sms). For me, it's very easy to articulate and express my feelings for him with any mean that I have nevertheless, sometimes I fear that I might overwhelm him or even, scar him off.

Now, whether he's the love of my life or not... well, I'm too scared to think or to talk about it because I don't want to precipitate things that may need to take their own course. However, I do love him as I never loved before and I'm not only willing to do about everything for him but also, to sacrifice my love for him if it becomes necessary, i.e. if he'd need to choose between his carreer and me, I'd prefer to go away instead of being an obstacle to his dreams.

Anyway, once again I beg your pardon for had been very talkative.

Deeply thankful and hopeful,


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