If I had to bet money on your long distance relationship failing, I’d push all my money in without blinking. The internet is a great place to meet new people, but a horrible place to find love if you don’t have (not so) common sense. It boils down to fools rushing into relationships because they think it’s better than their local options. When you are caught up with someone new, distance doesn’t matter because the fantasy of “They understand me unlike the people in my city” takes over. Suddenly it all makes sense; your past relationships didn’t work out because you were looking in the wrong city. It wasn’t me it was the zip code! Yeah okay… you’re so caught up that you don’t even realize wishful thinking is brainwashing you. You believe you can handle a Long Distance Relationship because you hear these happy ending stories: It started from a DM and now we’re engaged… We met one weekend while he was visiting and he told me he couldn’t get me out of his mind… I was on a business trip and we exchanged emails, now we’re inseparable… These stories about people you don’t know finding love is Kool-Aid that romantics love to lap up. I’m not here to feed you sugary bullshit. The reality is that I have seen couples that make it, but I’ve seen three times the amount that didn’t make it. Long distance relationships fail because people in them don’t know what the fuck they’re getting themselves into, nor do they put the person to the test early on. Most of my emails this summer have been about the women (and one man) who were fucked over trying to make a LDR work, after I told them—This isn’t going to work unless you do this… Of course, they don’t listen because they think their situation is different. I get it, people need to learn their lessons, not be saved from them, or else they never grow. Nevertheless, I have to say my peace for those who want a Relationship, not some bullshit Long Distance Situationship.
Types of LDR
The Let’s Hold On LDR: You have a boyfriend/girlfriend who you love, but they have to go away for school, work, military, whatever. Instead of breaking up and letting go, you decide to hold on. This usually fails when one or both people stop getting attention or someone doesn’t want to uproot their life to make a permanent move so they can be together.
The I Don’t Know You But Let’s Make It Work LDR: You meet someone randomly and it seems like they are heaven sent. They are perfect for you… until you find out they are from out of town or about to move out of town. Instead of letting go and chalking it up to Right Person Wrong Time, you try to make it work anyway. This usually fails because neither person really knew each other deep enough to maintain an out of state relationship that soon after meeting.
The I Met Them On The Internet LDR: This is the most common form of Long Distance Relationship today. You don’t get pulled by the people you find attractive in your city. However, the internet it’s a buffet of baes! You can be more charismatic and less shy than if you were out in public, thus you have options. The problem is most are from out of town.
Out of State Ass: Not What You Think
I wrote before about Long Distance Relationship in the old school “Hold On” type of way, which is a lot simpler than the other two types. When someone you love moves away, there is usually a strong foundation of trust and understanding. You knew them and spent time with them locally before the separation. You’ve seen there good side and bad side face to face, so you can deal with their mood swings over the phone. It’s these new school LDR where you don’t have a foundation in place that will end badly 9.5 times out of 10. When your relationship is based on a spontaneous weekend meeting, a two-month honeymoon relationship, or an online crush session, you’re dating a glorified stranger. So why would anyone commit themselves to someone they don’t know, who is hundreds if not thousands of miles away? Because lazy! “Umm… Where do I go to meet men?” Every-fucking-where! The problem isn’t the where it’s the how. You can be in a room full of attractive men and still not get a good option because you don’t know how to talk to men. Fuck this “Where do I go,” excuse. Non-Spartans don’t know how to use their own cities like a man buffet so they look for an easier option—the internet. Folks today aren’t going outside to meet new people; they’re staying inside and forming crushes on people they meet on an app. Unlike city specific dating sites, those you meet on social media aren’t always within your city limits, that’s a turn on, but that freshness is just a coat of paint.
Guys in a city like Atlanta tend to be culturally indistinguishable. They drink the same water, talk the same talk, play the same games, and tell the same lies. A girl who grew up around that bullshit is jaded; she wants to hear a new song, not a remix. She meets a guy at Buffalo Wild Wings … he turns out to be from San Francisco… mental orgasm! Dude automatically gets brownie points because he’s not local. The irony is that the girls in San Francisco would tell you, “These niggas ain’t shit either, watch yourself.” The grass is ONLY greener because it’s a different city, not because these men are actually any different—Exotic Dick to you is Trash Dick to her. It’s all perspective. Forever 21 Las Vegas has the same shit as Forever 21 Los Angeles, but LA girls still get excited when they go there because it feels different. These men aren’t different, they just feel different, and because of that feeling, you don’t put them to the test as you would someone you were dating locally. You blindly enjoy that newness, drop your guard, and find out the hard way what the women from his city already knew—he still uses Dick Tactics. There is nothing wrong with dating out of towners, if you actually know how to date or handle a relationship. The fucked up thing is that most of the men and women getting caught up with OTA (Out of Town Ass) don’t know shit about building a strong relationship locally, let alone when a person is out of sight.
FaceTiming someone isn’t the same as being around them, and learning their character via real life situations. That nice weekend in Miami isn’t real life; it’s a vacation where everyone is on their best behavior. Phone calls and text messages bond you quick on the bullshit level, but you don’t know that person for real until quality time is spent. You all know what the placebo effect is. You give someone whose sick a useless antidote like a sugar pill, and because you convince them it works, their mind and body believe it, and naturally cures the ailment. Out of state men and women are placebos, they aren’t actually any better than the people in your own backyard are, but because you want to believe they are, they become that.
No Country for Weak Bitches
Are you rebounding? Do you have trust issues? Are you insecure? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions than you don’t need to date long distance. Shit, you probably shouldn’t be dating locally either. Relationships depend on security and mental stability. If you broke up 1-3 months ago, you aren’t ready yet. You think you can have “companionship,” a friend to keep you company while you heal… grab a drink… trip on the phone… cuddle with… next thing you know a dick’s inside of you and you’re asking him, “So, where do you see this going?” STOP BEING NAÏVE! You’re not ready for companionship or any other code word for “male attention.” That guy isn’t trying to be your friend he’s trying to cum. All of that is common sense (I hope) but when you meet someone from out of town, you let your guard down because you think, “Oh, nothing’s going to happen, he’s not even around for me to develop feelings for,” and this is where Basica Alba knew she fucked up! When someone is just a voice on the phone or text bubble in your phone, it feels safe, and for women who are emotionally vulnerable, safe is sexy. Most heartbroken women turn to the endless attention of social media to cope because it’s so easy to get your clit rode. Men online will tell you that your worst selfie still looks good. Agree with your opinions. Laugh at your jokes. Ask you how your day is going. Online dick is always there to boost your esteem no matter what you’re going through. Let’s keep it 300, those niggas don’t know you, they don’t care about you, and they really don’t want you outside of your vagina. You know this, but you still fall into that trap because you’re emotionally starved for love. To come off a man who didn’t appreciate you, to a man that’s telling you “If you were my girl I’d take you here, treat you like this, eat the box, and devour the groceries,” validates you. This guy from out of state is praising me because he’s a real man; my ex was a fuck nigga ,that’s why he let a good thing go… that’s the Kool-Aid talking! Online game stops being fake once it starts making you feel good. By the time you start to see things that point to his true colors, you let it slide, because you think you have it under control—but you don’t. You’re being played and your insecurities won’t even let you hit the brakes because you thrive off male attention as a source of approval.
Insecurity is a cancer that goes untreated in most women. Few admit to being insecure, yet act out in ways that point to Daddy Issues, Trust Issues, and low self-esteem. When a man is from out of town, he becomes even more Bae, because he can’t hurt you. You can block him the moment he says something disrespectful. You can delete him the moment you see him complimenting another girl on IG. If he misses a day of kissing your ass, you can crank out the “Oh hey, fam,” to let him know he’s now in the friend zone. Ruling over an out of state man feels empowering when you’re first getting to know each other. You don’t have to worry about looking good to go see him, having sex too fast, him knowing your ex or you knowing his ex… You as a woman are in control and it feels so fucking good! Here’s where being a weak bitch will bite you in the ass. The more you use him to get over the past or to fake boast your piss poor self-esteem, the more you become addicted to him. When he doesn’t text back fast, you get worried. When he forgets to call you back, you get frustrated. When you see him being active on social media, you get jealous. This isn’t something you say aloud, it’s not even something you want to think in your head, but it’s THERE. You can’t lie to yourself, but you try so hard to do it. You are no longer in control because this guy, who was only supposed to be “fun” OTA, has you emotionally whipped.
Any woman who is beginning to like a new man questions herself, questions him, and overthinks the relationship to the point where she becomes paranoid about everything. This neurotic behavior increases when you don’t actually see the man. Here you are still trying to regain your esteem and learn how to trust again, and there he is telling you all the things you want to hear. You think because you know about his father hitting him and how his last girlfriend cheated on him, that you know his heart… Ha! Niggas lie as naturally as butterflies flap their wings. What you are seeing isn’t true character; it’s his Long Distance representative. He’s buttering your bread and you’ve become hooked on those empty calories, but what does he really want from this LDR… you or your pussy? You can’t figure it out, so you suffer in silence, let the fear build, and what was just a fantasy guy becomes an obsession that takes over your life. Next up he’s controlling your life from his iMessage and you’re letting him under the mask of, “his jealousy just tells me he loves me.” Weak Bitch Behavior has to be dealt with before you attempt any of this or you will get fucked over. You can’t be defensive, ignore your emotional baggage, and think you can mentally stand the pressure of having a boyfriend that far away.
All men have agendas, and if he says he doesn’t then tell him NC said he’s a motherfucking lie! When you’re dating locally, this is easy to deal with. Filtering someone in person is much easier than filtering someone who you won’t be able to see for weeks or months. You can just as easily get open off local dick but you have other avenues than the phone, which makes hustling you harder. He’s close, which means you can go out together and do the bonding face to face, where his lies don’t sound as sweet. Transfer that to a LDR where you don’t get to date, then how do you reveal his heart? Long Distance Men aren’t in a rush for sex like a guy that takes you out and expects pussy by the 3rd date. Too many women think time spent talking on the phone = he likes me. Wrong! Talking to get pussy isn’t coal mining, niggas ain’t breaking a sweat, it’s easy work! Despite this, girls get caught up with these Hot Line Bling ass dudes, never exposing their intentions until it’s too late.
How do you expose a patient player? Take his word when he says, “We connect, and all I’m trying to do is be in your life…” Trusting a man’s word is like trusting Yung Joc to use the pullout technique! You have to be stupid! A man can mindfuck a girl with 4 weeks of texting better than 4 weeks of dating, because most men won’t make it to a third date without showing their true colors! A pussy hunter that’s dating you has to spend MONEY, but a pussy hunter that’s simply texting and talking only has to spend DATA. Talking too much without seeing each other early on leads to a synthetic bond. Does he know you or does he know about you? Difference. Does he like you because you’re a good time, or does he likes you because you’re going to fly out soon and show him a good time? Difference. If you like him, fuck using the phone, within the first month, you need to go scout this bastard to make sure he’s worth you catching feelings for, because if you wait two months, you’re already hooked on his phone persona.
Fly Out Rules
When should a man fly out to see you? Should you fly out to see him? Who should pay for the plane ticket? Slow down. The first step is to screen him on the phone. Make sure he’s not some weirdo, that he’s not just talking sex, and that it’s more than jokes and chitchat. Never fly out to see a guy you barely know, he should have earned your interest and “he’s not a serial killer” trust, with solid conversation. Don’t get caught up on the actual period in terms of exactly a month from the time you first exchanged numbers. This could be a guy you met online a year ago, and just recently started to take seriously or a guy you met on vacation who you’re now starting to give attention to after a few months of curving him. The point being, you need to fly out within a 30-40 days of when you two start to develop serious feelings. The longer you go without seeing him, the more you like him based on that synthetic bond I described earlier. Test him on the phone, but the true test won’t come until you’re in person. All this talk you’ve been doing leading up to the trip, is it really about him digging your personality or is it him laying the groundwork for sex when you touch down? Don’t let your ego and his, “It’s not about sex” bullshit pull the wool over your eyes. You don’t know his agenda until you visit and spend time with him over a series of days.
One girl asked me, “What man would put in all that work just to get sex, couldn’t he go get sex around the corner?” Ladies, there is no limit to what most guys will do for new pussy or even some quality repeat pussy. Players and pussy hunters don’t do shit but chase tail. He works. Watches TV. Scouts for chicks he can have sex with. Coochie is Life. It’s nothing to spend half the day texting you or half the night selling you dreams on the phone, because he’s not spending money or any real time away from things he would rather do. You want to think that it’s your beauty, your conversation, and your personality, but most likely, he just wants to feel your vagina just to say he felt your vagina. In terms of other women being easier targets, that’s also a myth. For some reason women think that other females are whores, and that all any man has to do is say “hi” and he can get ass. Even freak nasty chicks require some kind of effort unless you’re Chris Brown and she’s his groupie, and even then, Breezy may have to take her back to the tour bus and at least pretend that she’s prettier than Rihanna. The average man has to work for sex, it’s not handed out like club fliers. These men don’t get as much sex as you believe. “Oh he’s tall and chocolate, he’s swimming in pussy,” yeah old pussy. The Average Man Doesn’t Really Have Hoes, He Recycles! You think he’s handsome, but he’s been smashing his ex-girl for the last year because he can’t get new pussy or doesn’t want to put in money and time to earn quality new pussy—that’s what makes him line you up with phone & text game. A $340 plane ticket where a man is promised pussy that weekend > Taking Jasmine to dinner, having to talk her into coming over his crib, needing to front like he wants to be with her, only to be rejected. Out of Town Ass is less of a headache for men!
I don’t want you ladies inflating your ego, flying across the country, having sex, and then be surprised when he gets busy the week after you get back home. Fly outs shouldn’t be about sex, it should be about compatibility, which is why you need to fly down their within (say it together) THE FIRST 6 WEEKS, and more importantly be stingy with your kitty kat once you are face to face. The real concern isn’t transportation, it’s how should you act during that first visit. What do you plan to do when you get there? Men aren’t flying you out to give you a tour of their city, they plan to feed and fuck you. A man will introduce you to the crew, maybe Moms, but the goal is to get you alone in their crib and get what they’ve been masturbating about. Some of you are like, “shit, I want sex too! I get moist every time I hear his voice.” However, do you want sex with him or sex with who you think he is? I repeat, you don’t know this dude yet, you only know his representative. Your job is to be a step ahead of him and not get tossed up just because you feel a connection based on that phone boning you’ve been doing for the past month. I don’t care how many times you sexted him about what you’d do to his dick, pussy shouldn’t be sold for plane tickets, that’s dumb hoe behavior. He’s telling you he loves you and that you’re so different, next thing you know; you’re sucking his dick two hours after landing. Think about how premature those actions are! When you fly out for the first time and have sex, that’s the same as Cover Over & Chill, you just traveled further dumb ass.
City Rules: Go to his city; don’t ask him to come to yours. In his city, you get to see his everyday lifestyle AKA if he has a secret girlfriend, secret children, secret gay lover, a real job, etc… Some men may take you to the Red Lobster across town because he doesn’t want someone seeing him with you at the mall. Some men may keep you locked up in their crib, because they don’t want snitches spotting you. Go to his town, explore it with him, and watch his moves like a fucking hawk to see if he’s nervous or trying to hide something. How many times do I have to say this: Men don’t lie well, women just ignore clues because they want to believe he’s not a piece of shit. My friend dated a guy who played basketball overseas. He kept telling her how they were going to do this and do that when she arrived. She wasn’t naïve; they talked everyday 4-6 hours at a time when he didn’t have a game. In her mind, “He likes me for me, and he’s trying to make this work.” He never allowed her to come to his country, but he did go to NYC and bust that open. Comes to find out he had a girlfriend living with him, all those plans were bullshit, and she was never going to be allowed to come to his city. This bastard put in all those international minutes just for sex, finding hours to talk on the phone despite having a basketball career and a girlfriend. Don’t let your ego blind you! Men will make all kinds of fake plans to bring you out, because they know that’s what you want to hear, but how do you know what he’s hiding if you don’t actually force him to follow through? Go to his city, it’s that simple!
Money Rules: Is he supposed to fly you out or should you show him that you’re not some bum bitch and pay for your own ticket? Duh, Ho Tactics! You don’t spend your money in 2015 to go see a man you don’t know. You get him to buy your plane ticket. If he can’t afford to fly you out or only offers half the money, then why are you wasting your time? You put in a month of conversation; you mean to tell me you would still entertain a man who doesn’t even think your box is worth coach airfare? Don’t disrespect yourself by paying for your own airfare. Next, get your own hotel room for the time you’re in his city. That’s right, hotel room. This is the first visit; you don’t know this man to be staying the night with him, that’s second visit privileges. I’m actually being nice by saying it’s sort of okay to pay for your own hotel, because I know most of the guys you ladies date may not have that kind of money, but in a my world he should pay for all of this, ticket, hotel, meals, activities, and even then he’s not getting any pussy—Duh, Ho Tactics. Here’s where your inner Basic Bitch will say, “He won’t like that I’m staying at a hotel.” Fuck him! It’s called leverage! You have what he wants, therefore he agrees to the rules, or he doesn’t get to see you. Only soft women undersell themselves by saying, “I’ll pay half the ticket, and I’ll sleep in your bed for the next three days because we have good Skype chemistry” fuck that. He wants to see you! He has to either make it work or he won’t see you—it’s not that hard of a negotiation.
Sex Rules: The point of flying down to see him is to uncover his true character via dates. The same Date Like A Spartan rules apply from this point forward. If he fails the questions or if he shows you things that aren’t part of his Long Distance persona, then you know he was a fraud. If he acts like a bitch and starts to belittle you or disrespect you because he’s not getting any sex during this visit, then you know all he wanted was ass. Realize that your job is to expose a man, not bow your head, and ignore red flags! Throughout the weekend or series of days you spend with this man, hang outside, meet his friends, talk about a range of topics, watch how he interacts with other people, and keep your panties (if you wear them) on. Even if this man is a great guy and impresses you, the final proof will be when you get back home. The week after you get back is where the true him comes out, and I have the real life stories to prove this as fact. One girl went back home and the next day the guy started to ignore her, another girl went the entire week, was like “he’s still the same, we’re already planning the next trip,” then four days later she was in my inbox talking about he’s not answering her calls anymore. One of those girls had sex, the other just let the guy eat her box, and both got the cold shoulder after they got back home. I don’t want any of you making those mistakes. Talk to this man, see who he is, and show him who you are. That man may not be a pussy hunter, he could be a nice dude who got to see the real you and now doesn’t think you’re worth a long distance relationship. Use the first visit to explore your compatibility; don’t just race to the bedroom to release the sexual buildup from all the talking.
Ask Yourself: Is This Realistic
I should have put this first, but I know most of you need to see if you vibe after the first visit before thinking about commitment. You went to visit, everything went good, and you’re even closer than you were before the trip. This is the best-case scenario, but it’s also the time to ask the hardest questions. “Can I be a girlfriend to this man and can he be a boyfriend to me?” Let’s break that down. As a woman, you should be out dating multiple men and finding yourself, not just waiting to be a girlfriend. You can’t be someone’s woman until you become your own woman. Therefore, if you’re still unsure of what you want in life, don’t tie yourself to this man because he’s the best guy you’ve met thus far. The attention you get in a LDR is not the same as in a local relationship, there will be holes that don’t get filled often, and I’m not talking about sex. You can brag about how strong you are and how you’re too busy with work or school to even be one of those over eager girlfriends that needs constant “I miss my baby” attention, but that’s bullshit. Women are affection driven, and there will be times when your boyfriend won’t be able to give you the level of attention you need… but other men will. I don’t care if you have a vibrator, a vivid imagination, and visit each other every 30 days, life will get in the way. He will get in his moods; you will get in your moods. He will get busy, you will get angry, and there will be New Dick or Ex-boyfriend Dick there to say, “Well, he’s probably cheating on you anyway, you know how men are.” Be sure you’re about this life, not just following your lust for love, because the love you feel texting every day and talking every night will fade like any honeymoon stage of a relationship. It’s not an easy decision you make in a day or during a steamy weekend with him, you need to think about it over the course of a few visits. Men are quick to start and stop LDR because they realize that it’s actually a harder effort to be consistent while living a separate life form their woman. Be better than the men who impulsively jump in. Know for sure that you deal with lack of attention and temptations that pop up or agree to keep it at the friend level until one of you actually moves closer.
Tied to the attention hurdle is jealousy. There will be jealousy issues regardless, but when you don’t have friends outside of your LDR bae, you make up shit to worry about. Women with no lives outside of work and internet shopping can be clingy and men can have dry lives as well, so it’s a Two Way Street where you have to let him live his life, while also living yours to the fullest. You can go out to a club, you can go take a vacation with your friends, and you can go a day without calling him when you’re preoccupied, don’t make yourself a slave to your relationship! Getting mad because you hear background noise that sounds like another woman, blowing up his phone because he didn’t call you back, posting your frustrations on social media for him to see because you’re not getting his attention—those are bird bitch moves. Him confronting you about some guy at work you gave a ride, having to know each person you were out with, and stalking your every move is fuck boy behavior. You have enough stress in your relationship; you can’t afford to be petty. Every unread text isn’t proof that he’s falling out of love with you, it’s proof that you’re emotionally weak. I made it through a LDR and crossed the finish line, and it wasn’t because of me, it was because she was a rock emotionally. There was never a petty argument or a night where we got off the phone upset with each other. You have to be mentally tough and brutally honest in your communication or small issues morph into bitter arguments.
The other must answer question is, “How long is this separation going to last?” If you’re going away for 9 months, that’s workable. If he’s in the military and doesn’t know where he will be stationed, that’s not as workable. You can’t be like, “Love will figure it out,” love won’t figure shit out. He’s going to be stationed in Germany and telling you that your LDR of two years is over because he got a German chick pregnant. You will get a promotion at work, and he’ll be like, “Okay it’s time for you to move here I miss you too much,” and then you’ll be confused as to if your career comes before your man. This is serious shit. You two should have a solid goal, not just some love affair that blows in the wind. Some women just want to get married and have kids, and don’t care where they live, but the majority of you are career women that want more than just to follow dick across borders. Know the direction before you commit! If you want to be Long Distance Fuck Buddies, cool, but if you are going to sacrifice your local love life and be with a person then you need to know the end game or you’re wasting quality years being committed. Make a one-year promise based on where both of you want out of life. That deadline’s attainable. If you’re like, “okay, I think I want to move to your city, but I may be switching careers and going to DC for a year. After my training in DC, if I don’t find work, I’ll move to your city,” you’re fucking crazy. What’s the point of being with someone who you have to do Quantum Physics to figure out the time and place you’ll actually be in the same room for longer than a week? If you have to maneuver your life or they have to maneuver their life in ways where someone is compensating too much, then it’s not going to work because someone will end up getting restless or resentful.
Final Rule: You can’t be afraid to end this journey at any time. So many people look at time put into a relationship as a reason to stay, but walking away isn’t about you having wasted your time, it’s about you being smart enough not to waste even more. Making a relationship work from afar isn’t proof that he’s your soulmate, it’s proof that you have an unlimited data plan! If this LDR were meant to work, it would be working, not dragging you both down! If you feel as if you’re putting more into the relationship than they are, walk away. If you’re forced to give up on your own dreams to support theirs, walk away. If you wake up and feel like you’re missing out on your life, that’s intuition telling you the truth—You’ve outgrown this, walk away! You always come first, therefore you must always chose your happiness. Long Distance Relationships ask too much from you to be anything less than 100% sure about that person.
Should You or Shouldn’t You
A woman would be silly not to date someone from out of town if she meets the emotional qualifications I listed. Who doesn’t like out of state trips and visiting new cities? Date multiple men locally, but also have one OTA on your roster– options on top of options! If anything, it helps with confidence boasting so you can pull guys in your city more effectively. Any woman reading this, no matter what she looks like, could get on social media tonight and lay the groundwork with a man that she finds attractive. What’s stopping her is fear. If you swallow that weak ass feeling, and spark up a private conversation, you could be flying out to his city this time next month on his dime. Knowing what you now know, you won’t feel pressured to have sex or thirst to be with him because you understand that he has to past these tests to have you. You know how to date like a Spartan and cut him off like one, so there is no real risk. The internet is full of men for you to snatch up, and all you want to do is flirt and wait for them to say something? Fuck that noise. He may be a player, he may be a man whore, he may be full of lies, but so are the ones you meet locally. The same way you filter those bums, you filter these bums until you become so good at this, that all you attract are quality men! There shouldn’t be a weekend where you’re bored and living vicariously through Snaps. There shouldn’t be a day where you’re calling your Ex or situationship boo, because you can’t meet anyone new. You should be traveling, going on dates, and being courted in state and out of state like a boss bitch. Flying out or getting gifts in the mail is a reality that a lot of women live and other women envy, not because it’s hard, but because they don’t know how to get there. It’s not about having sex, being an IG honey, or any of these excuses that make you feel like you’re excluded. If she can do it, you can do it, and probably better. All it takes is the will to go after a better dating life, home and away.