Our current relationship with technology is an interesting one. One of the coolest things about it is how flat it’s made the world in terms of communication. Nowadays you can easily talk to anyone, no matter where they might be located. This has allowed so many different kinds of relationships—ones that otherwise would have never had the chance to exist.
In my novel, Play It Again, characters Dovid and Sam live in the US and Ireland respectively with an eight-hour time difference. They run across each other on the internet by chance; Dovid’s sister Rachel introduces Dovid to Sam’s Let’s Play videos, and Dovid proceeds to plug Sam on his own channel. Since both are YouTubers, they each have the chance to start getting to know the other first by watching videos. Dovid and Sam (and readers) get peeks at who they both are as people even before they actually begin to talk. When they do start talking, their interactions are primarily done through instant messaging, starting first with Twitter DMs and moving on to WhatsApp texting. This allows them to send messages at any time of day, which helps bridge the incredible distance and further allows them to get to know each other. Eventually they move to WhatsApp calls and Skype conversations as well, but in all cases, technology is what helps their relationship grow.
And grow it does. Dovid falls for Sam first, and he falls hard. He finds Sam’s voice and accent incredibly endearing, and Sam himself is a soft-spoken, pleasant person with speech patterns Dovid is quick to describe as “adorable.” Being blind, Dovid doesn’t really care about appearances; he’s head over heels for Sam’s personality (though when he does finally end up meeting Sam in person, he’s very happy that they’re able to touch).
On Sam’s end, since Dovid is the star of his own YouTube show, Sam knows what he looks like at once. And he finds him…very attractive. He’s a bit intimidated by Dovid to start, truth be told, but Dovid is so open and friendly that Sam can’t help but be pulled into his orbit. His own feelings for Dovid develop a little more slowly, but with time (and hours of DM-ing), they settle into something sure and strong.
When Dovid and Sam share the feelings they have for each other and officially enter into a romantic relationship, not a whole lot changes, since they live so far apart. They still talk whenever they can, as often as they can. They still set aside special time for phone calls so that they can hear each other’s voices. The conversations might turn more personal or intimate now, but the biggest difference is knowing that their feelings are returned. They start sending each other care packages—and when Dovid wears the shirt that Sam sends him, it gives him the feeling of a phantom hug.
And then they finally get the chance to meet in person.
It’s nerve-wracking, leading up to the meeting. Dovid is beyond excited, Sam so happy he could burst, but they also both worry that after months of talking with an ocean between them, they won’t know what to say to each other once they’re face to face. It’s a real fear a lot of people in long-distance relationships experience. But I won’t spoil what happens in the book!
Long-distance relationships can get such a bad rap. Some people are quick to say things like, “it’ll never last” and “it’s not a ‘real’ relationship.” But what makes a long-distance relationship work? Communication, of course. And, as mentioned before, it’s incredibly easy to talk to someone now. Texting, phone calls, Skype, social media…all are ways to keep the line of communication open. Of course, it’s not just being able to talk, it’s communicating. What you say and how you say it. Being upfront with your feelings, what is working, what isn’t working. There’s also the all-important trust aspect. You have to believe in each other and what you both have and want. You also have to believe that the relationship will work and that it’s worth the effort required.
So what does it take to make a long-distance relationship last? Using technology to keep in touch with each other—in the very same way everyone stays in contact now, regardless of where they live. Trust. Love. Belief in yourself and your partner and what you two have. A commitment to making things work. The same things that make any relationship last.
That sounds like something real to me. And it’s certainly real for Dovid and Sam.
About Play It Again:
But it’s the host who has him coming back for more…
When Seattle-based blind YouTuber Dovid Rosenstein finds Sam Doyle’s Let’s Play channel, playitagainsam, he’s instantly captivated by the Irish gamer. Everything about Sam is adorable, from his accent to his personality, and Dovid can’t get enough of his content.
Dovid’s glowing shout-out on Don’t Look Now, his own successful channel, sends Sam’s subscriber numbers skyrocketing overnight. He has more comments than he can read. And while the sudden surge in popularity is anxiety inducing, Sam decides it’s only right to dedicate his next episode to Dovid…which soon leads to a heart-pounding exchange of DMs.
They may have never met in person, but Dovid’s never felt this close to anyone before. What they have feels worth exploring—no matter the distance. But is it possible to already be in love with someone who’s half a world away?