William and Rebekah Shackley are dear friends of mine, whose wedding I was fortunate enough to attend last April in Las Vegas. It seemed to be a long time coming.
Will was living in Swansea, Bekah in Cedar city, Utah. They met on March 6th 2016 on the app ‘Whisper’ striking up a conversation and starting their relationship just 10 days later. To burrow down on some record breaking stats over their two year online relationship they spent 4688 hours on Facebook messenger call, with their longest conversation spanning 52 hours! You may think this is extreme but as Will told me “when you know that person is the right one you’ll make it work” regardless of the stigma of online or long distance relationships.
I interviewed Will and Bekah to gain some insight and advice for any of you involved in either an online or transcontinental relationship.
What would you say was the hardest part of the distance?
Will: Communicating everything through text.
Bekah: I found that part easy. It was more incorporating that communication and the tech required into our everyday lives, especially while I was transitioning from high school to college and work. We made noise signals so we could still communicate on call while I was at work so snorts and claps. I also worked at T-mobile and when Will was on the phone with me whilst a customer asked me a question which I didn’t know the answer to he quickly googled it for me as I didn’t have a clue!
What was it like the first time you actually met in person?
W: Nerve-racking! Especially as the passenger next to me made no secret he thought I was being catfished. But the moment I saw her that all went away, it was like being home after a very long trip.
B: It was great, he was so smooth and wonderful. I kissed him and it felt so natural. I remember thinking how great he smelt. He dozed on my shoulder on the drive from the airport and I loved it.
How did you cope with the financial issue of travel during that time?
W: Nicked all our parents air miles and vouchers to bring costs down and save, save, save! On average, it would cost $2000 a trip.
B: Take your parents so it can count as a family holiday!
This will be something a lot of our readers won’t have to worry about, but, what was it like bring both your families together as there are from different upbringings?
W: We were very fortunate that our parents fit well together. Both our dads are engineers, both our mums are very crafty and creative. Finding things to talk about was crucial though.
B: My parents were very much like Arthur Weasley when they met. Asking so many questions about Britain and how different things here worked. My parents were very keen to meet Will’s parents, which really helped.
How important have your family been in supporting you through your relationship?
B: I wouldn’t be here now. We would have needed to elope and live who knows where. They were so helpful with the wedding and getting me out here, I even have them on all my banking and assets.
W: Sorting out Bekah’s visa even after we were married was a huge difficulty and my parents were so helpful in getting everything together for the application.
How was it introducing each other to your parents?
W: Well, being a female meeting someone online I had to be careful, introducing small bits of information to my parents over time. My Mum would like to tell me that for all I knew Will could be a 90 year old man wearing nothing but a tutu.
B: Once our relationship was on Facebook her dad said I had to come to the states and meet him before Bekah could go anywhere. I had pretty much already booked my flight.
If you could give advice to a couple embarking on a long distance relationship what would it be?
W: Stick with it, and become comfortable with yourself on camera.
B: Do things together, read to each other, discuss something you both love. Play games online, whatever works for you.
Both agreed that you should splurge on good Wi-Fi, data and tech. They also said planning for the next trip is a motivator, providing something to look forward to. Plan for a future together short term or long term.
The Shackleys are a testament to making a relationship work no matter what obstacles there are. If you find the right person it is all worth it, no matter how you meet or where you are.