How technology helps long-distance couples bridge the gap
In 2013, Lalitha Bhagavatheeswaran met Manish Gajjar for the first time in England.
Lalitha had left Toronto to study in London then, while Manish, who's from England, worked at a design firm in the county of Leicestershire about two hours away from Lalitha.
The couple started their relationship long-distance, and got to know each other through a slew of emails and text messages. Every other weekend, one of them would also come over to visit the other person.
This carried on for two years and the relationship was progressing well. But near the end of 2015, Lalitha had to return to Toronto after her fellowship ended.
The pair had a tough decision to make. Will they continue dating despite being miles and miles apart? In the end, they decided to give it a try. With the help of various communication tools, the couple managed to stay together and recently got married.
The couple's favourite tools to stay in touch
They used a myriad of tools to keep in touch over the four years including Facebook Messenger, Skype, email and WhatsApp (their most-used tool).
"[WhatsApp] is quick and easy, and you can share photos," Manish said.
Skype is another one of the couple's favourites. "Without Skype, I honestly don't know how we would've done our long-distance relationship," Lalitha said. "We lose so much information through email and text, so video calls have always helped us when we're going through something. And sometimes, when you're having a bad day, you just want to see the other person. It makes such a difference."
How to keep a long-distance relationship fun
The couple has managed to use technology to stay emotionally close to each other. But there's another risk with long-distance dating: boredom. You can't take the other person out on a classy or an adventurous date, so how do they keep the relationship fun?
Instead of going to the movies, the duo has opted for movie dates on their laptops by timing the videos so they could watch it simultaneously. They also use the Couple app, which allows couples to keep track of important dates, share a bucket list of things that they want to do together and draw each other pictures.
"Sometimes he draws me funny things and when I see them, it feels very nice," Lalitha said. "It's an app for couples to use to share their special moments and it's just between them so no one else can see it."
Happily ever after in England
So what's their advice to other long-distance couples?
"Right from the beginning, we've always had the same goal — we always knew we wanted to be with each other — and we just worked towards that." Manish said. "The technologies definitely helped. If we've done it for over four years, I think anyone can do it, especially nowadays, where there's so many different methods of communication."
Last year, Manish proposed to Lalitha. He planned the entire event in England, and kept it a secret from Lalitha, who was in Toronto then.
Manish enlisted the help of her friends, and briefed them on the day's plan on WhatsApp, of course. They then brought Lalitha to him when he landed in the Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, and against the backdrop of the city skyline, he proposed.
"She didn't know I was coming, and she was shocked to see me," Manish recalled. "There were tears of joy and most importantly, she said 'yes'."
Two days before this year's Valentine's Day, Lalitha packed her bags and got on a plane to England to be with Manish permanently.
"We're so excited," Lalitha said when we interviewed her before the move. "We wish we could've done it sooner, but I think both of us are happy with things the way they were and it definitely made our relationship much stronger."
You can listen to the full story of the long-distance couple below.