Gemma-Louise May lives for her romantic strolls with boyfriend Eren Kece, through the stunning collection of vintage stalls at London’s uber-cool Portobello Market.
Other days the two Virgos – born just a day apart – like to stop and marvel at the dazzling displays in the florists in Liberty, Gemma-Louise’s favourite London department store.
She could literally spend all day there with her partner of four years by her side, lost in a kaleidoscope of colours and fantastical flora from all over Europe.
In reality, however, Gemma-Louise is still half a world away in Sydney – and is yet to even set foot in England.
Her long-distance relationship with Eren, 28, is still in full bloom thanks to the miracles of technology and the lightning fast speeds of the new nbn™ network.
“Video calling on Facebook is our main way of talking to each other,” explains Gemma-Louise, 30, who is counting down the days to falling into Eren’s arms on her first London holiday.
“We might be walking down the street together, or on his commute to work; I’ve even met everyone at his office [while online].
“But I guess my favourite kind of conversation that we have is when he’s also doing a bit of a tour. It almost feels as though I’m there with him.”
The former co-workers at clothing retailer Glue are well practiced in the art of long-distance love.
They’d only really just begun dating when Eren left for New York to help launch a family beverage business.
He returned home to Gemma-Louise for 18 months, but then relocated for work again to Los Angeles after winning the Green Card Lottery.
Gemma-Louise soon followed the merchandise planner to California, but just as she was making plans to base herself there more permanently, Eren got the call-up to launch Australian luxury lingerie label Honey Birdette in England.
Meanwhile, Gemma-Louise returned to Sydney to her job as social media specialist for Retail Apparel Group, the largest specialist menswear retailer in Australia, and to start her own fashion website, My Blonde Closet.
“Long distance relationships are very hard,” admits Gemma-Louise, who estimates she and Eren have spent half of their four years as a couple living in different countries.
“A number of people struggle with them all the time; a lot of people are surprised that we’ve been able to do it.
“But I think we’ve always been able to keep in touch, and the fact we can see each other with such a clear picture makes a huge difference – I can’t imagine that five years ago, this would have worked.
“It really doesn’t feel like he’s literally on the other side of the world now.”
As for the prospect of spending Valentine’s Day on February 14 apart, Gemma-Louise says it really is no different from any other day.
“Hopefully he’ll have a nice surprise in store,” laughs Gemma-Louise, who also counts trust and communication as keys to their relationship surviving across the oceans.
“But he’s always really sweet: all the nice thing people say to each other on Valentine’s Day, we say to each other all the time.
“When you don’t have the physical connection, all you have is the words.”
Although at the extreme end of the scale, relationship experts believe that Gemma-Louise and Eren are a classic example of a new type of couple emerging this Valentine’s Day.
Our busy lifestyles and increasing access to fast broadband has led to the emergence of a style of dating in which more-and-more couples are supplementing the hours apart by connecting online, they say.
Coined the ‘mid-distance-daters’ – or long-distance in the case of Gemma-Louise and Eren – this growing cohort includes busy couples who live together, or in close proximity, but spend a lot of their day-to-day lives apart.
This may be because of conflicting work schedules, or choosing to go on separate holidays.
But they are comfortable spending physical time apart because they’re able to remain connected virtually through video chat and messaging apps.
During the week of Valentine’s Day, for example, the nbn™ network traffic data predicts Australian households will use the equivalent of 15 one hour-long video calls to connect with loved ones.
Dating and relationship expert, Dr Nikki Goldstein, says the age-old dating rules have changed because of our busy lifestyles.
“A few years ago, travelling for work without your partner often meant feelings of guilt and isolation,” says Nikki.
“Now the guarantee of real-time communication made available through increasing access to fast broadband has meant distance is now no longer such an issue.”
Nikki says the spike in the mid-distance dater demographic is especially noticeable amongst young professionals eager to make their career mark, and middle-aged divorcees who are unwilling to compromise their already busy schedules.
“While nothing will ever replace the intimacy of spending quality face-to-face time together, the modern-day love letter can often take the form of video calls and nostalgic social media posts as access to the nbn™ network makes it easy to stay together while being apart.”
Choose HD video calls over voice calls to make sure you can see your partner’s facial expressions and gauge a better sense of their mood and feelings.
Ensure your network connection is strong so that your online time together is quality time. Access to the nbn™ network will ensure your date goes off without constant buffering or delay.
Keep each other updated in real-time via messenger apps and social media about what you’re doing or where you are to ensure your partner knows they are on your mind.
Use apps to help you stay connected by doing everything from tracking how long you’ve been apart, to listening to each other’s heartbeat in real-time.
This is a sponsored post by nbn™. All opinions expressed by the author are authentic and written in their own words.