All Commentary
Friday, March 31, 2017

The Lazy Millennial Guide to Long-Distance Relationships

If you're a techy entrepreneur looking for a new project, may I present 4% of the entire US population as your untapped audience.

My grandmother was raised on a sheep station in the Outback of Australia. She didn’t see many kangaroos, but “the men” did all the time when they went out to herd the sheep at the end of the day.

My grandfather was raised in Milwaukee. He didn’t see many kangaroos either, so they had that in common.

During World War II, he was a soldier stationed in the Philippines for a while. She was a Red Cross nurse in Sydney. The nurses decided to put a party together for the American soldiers in town on leave. My grandfather didn’t have anything better to do, so he showed up. Which was possibly one of the best ideas he ever had (at least, I think so) because my grandparents met and hit it off.

Even living in Australia, my grandmother didn’t see many kangaroos. My grandfather didn’t see many in Milwaukee either, so they had that in common.A few days later, he went back to war. They stayed in touch the only way they reliably could: they wrote letters. For two years. For two years they didn’t see each other, until he up and proposed and she flew across the Pacific Ocean to join him in Milwaukee.

Their letters must have been amazing.

Seventy-odd years later, I’m in a long-distance relationship myself. Obviously that’s not ideal, but we’re both in the same country, so that’s a plus.

With modern travel and technology what it is, long-distance relationships are fairly common now. Nearly 4.5% of people in the US are in a long-distance relationship – and that percentage is based on the total number of people in the country, not just the ones in relationships.

Thanks to the availability and lower prices of commercial flights now (thank you, competition), couples no longer have to go two years without seeing each other, and technology helps make the time apart more bearable. So when John Mayer’s song “Love On The Weekend” has you saying “I wish,” here are a few things that could help.

Social Media

This one’s obvious, but think about it. Facebook. Facebook Messenger. “Old school texting.” Google Hangouts if you’re still in 2007. Snapchat. Instagram. Twitter. Facetime. Skype. WhatsApp. The actual phone. Countless other communication apps. You can stay in contact for 24 hours straight if you’re sneaky enough at work and don’t need to sleep.


You probably have “your shows,” and you probably consider watching them separately on par with actual cheating. Rather than waiting until you’re together again, or watching them remotely at the same time while hoping you have the same timing, there’s an app for that: Netflix Party, an extension on Chrome.

Netflix Party syncs your Netflixes so you’re watching the same movie with exactly the same timing, and opens a chat box on the side. No more messing with separate windows or tabs, getting distracted as other people unknowingly interrupt your movie night when they see you’re online, and no more accidentally spoiling the movie by referencing something five seconds ahead of the other person’s place.


Admit it, one of the biggest bummers about being long-distance is that you can’t hear their heartbeat.

Pillow Talk fixes that problem as well as we can. It’s a small Bluetooth-enabled wristband and speaker you put under your pillow. When you’re both lying down, the wristbands measure and send your heartbeats to each others’ speakers. The sound of the heartbeat cuts through your pillow, and it’s like you’re lying on their chest (but without cutting off circulation to their arm).

“Hugging” Shirt

Admit it, one of the biggest bummers about being long-distance is that you can’t hear their heartbeat.I will tell you upfront that this shirt is rarely available for sale, is probably incredibly expensive, and, if it malfunctions, could potentially kill you. But love comes with a cost, right?

The Hug Shirt “memorizes” a person’s hug: the pressure, duration, location, warmth, and heartbeat. The whole nine yards. Then, when that person hits a button on their associated app, your shirt activates and you get a “hug” replicating the last hug you had with that person. Sweet, right?

Your Own Staggering Creativity

There’s a Korean couple currently living across the world from each other: he’s in Seoul, and she’s in New York City. They’re both extremely talented, so they decided to use that to their advantage and create photo mashups of their times spent apart. Each collage is half something she saw, and half something he saw that is similar. The result is a beautiful collection of photographs that is both unifying and gorgeously artistic.

It may be difficult or even impossible to replicate their idea, especially if you’re both living in different kinds of places (a ranch versus a skyscraper, for example), but if you can find a way to put your experiences together, that will not only make you feel physically closer, but it’ll give you a joint project to work on together. And that’s kinda cute.


Just search “long distance relationship” on Etsy and you will see it all, from twee to classy: jewelry, cards, maps, art, frames, pillowcases, mugs, shot glasses, some kind of plant-on-a-crystal thing … basically, if you can think of something, someone else probably already has, and then made it to sell.

If you’re a techy entrepreneur looking for a new project, may I present 4% of the entire US population as your untapped audience.

What We Don’t Have, But Should

Alright, clearly this list isn’t as good as it could be. When I say “if you can think of something, someone else probably already has, and then made it to sell,” unfortunately that does not include technology. Crafty stuff, sure. But tech’s a little harder, and that’s why we need more techy entrepreneurs.

So if you’re a techy entrepreneur looking for a new project, may I present 4% of the entire US population as your untapped audience. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

Bullet Trains across the Country

I’m not saying there needs to be a station in every city, because that is expensive. But our major cities should have them. Ideally these would also be cheap enough for the majority of people to actually afford them, otherwise, we’ll stick to planes. Which I don’t think anyone wants to do if given another option. I’m so done with TSA.

Hologram Messaging

We already have hologram capability on some smartphones, so that part is already done. I’ll even settle for hologram messages a lá Star Wars while we wait. But really, how cool would it be to have this?

Point-of-View Glasses

Screen-sharing for the actual eyes. We have smart glasses and VR already – could it not be possible to share what these glasses are “seeing” via Bluetooth?

Warm Body Pillow with Recorded/Bluetooth Breathing Sounds or Heartbeat

No more cold beds or eerily quiet nights. Take the technology behind an electric blanket and put it in a body pillow (preferably the kind with an “arm” for proper snuggling, but don’t make it look creepy). Then take a speaker that has either recorded or transmits live breathing and/or heartbeat sounds and put it inside. Voilá. I’d do it myself but I don’t have a sewing machine.


Need I say more?