As my relationship anniversary approaches, I’ve been doing some thinking about this whole process of long-distance dating and whether it has been a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in between. As a quick overview, two out of the three years of my relationship have been long distance, including cross continental. While it hasn’t been a walk in the park, there are definitely some things I’ve learned that I now feel qualified to speak on. So whether you’re currently in a long-distance relationship, thinking about getting into one, or just plain nosy about my life
which is totally fine because I’d be nosy too, continue reading to find out some of my dos and don’ts for long-term long-distance dating.
Do: Make a Reunification Plan
It’s really important if you’re going to date someone from a distance for any amount of time to have a plan. (All relationships should have plans but that’s a different story). Now it’s really important to be flexible with the plan as it might not work out, but knowing ahead of time what the end game is will allow you guys to be able to work towards a common goal of reunification. Otherwise you’ll be having those conversations every single week about where the relationship is going, and NO ONE likes those conversations. Your plan doesn’t necessarily have to be full on marriage – you can decide just to focus on growing together – but the plan has to be mutually agreed upon, preferably before the distance kicks in.
Don’t: Take Your Relationship Any Less Seriously
being a childish drama queen really upset, I refer to my bf as my penpal. This is a dangerous mentality to hold onto, especially if your social life involves interacting with people who might pursue you. It can be difficult to be upfront about your relationship status when you’re out with your single friends, but it’s really essential for the health of your relationship to be honest with anyone who approaches you that you are spoken for. And unfortunately some people are very persistent, so even though you say you’re in a relationship, I’ve had people say “oh but he’s not here so what does it matter?” Essentially, don’t do or say (or fail to say) anything that would make anyone, especially your significant other, question whether or not you’re actually in your relationship.
Do: Have a Life of your Own
It’s really important to be emotionally present in any relationship but long distance relationships go by a lot easier when you’re keeping yourself busy. One of the reasons why I’ve been sane over the past two years was because I was so busy – between grad school, work, Klassy Kinks, having a great time with my friends and family, and just trying to be a real adult, I wasn’t consumed in my relationship, which is something that can happen if you’re dating someone in the same city. As a matter of fact, I’m convinced that if my bf lived in NYC, I would have dropped out of my doctoral program long ago because he would have been ample distraction to add to my already nonexistent motivation.
Don’t: Pretend to Have Shared Interests
A lot of long distance relationship advice I’ve read recommends doing shared activities and having shared interests with your partner so you guys can have something to talk about. But don’t fake it, because you’ll be miserable, and you’ll also be eventually found out. If your significant other is spending their Sundays watching football, don’t feel like you need to spend your Sundays watching football just so you guys are doing a “shared activity”. That’s all good and dandy but at the end of the day you need to be happy with the way that you spend your time, especially when someone is not with you to
guilt trip strongly encourage you to do something you’re not feeling. My bf, like any African man, was really into the World Cup this year, but I didn’t really pay it much mind, and we still somehow managed to have conversations about other things!
Do: Communicate Regularly
For some people talking once a week is fine, for others it’s once a day or several times a day – but, whatever frequency you guys choose, please decide upon it ahead of time. Again, flexibility is key, and my bf and I know during test weeks or on days papers are due (he’s also now in graduate school), our phones won’t be blowing up. Also, there are so many options for communicating so pick a few: phone calls, text messages, email, written letters, social media
which I don’t do because my boyfriend refuses to get Instagram which I would really love for him to be on but I digress, Skype/Google video cha, etc. I really love Whatsapp because it’s free texting that works internationally, but also you can send little voice memos so I will send a quick good morning or I love you voice memo! I also love sending random ecards!
Don’t: Move Just to be Closer
A Havana twist client of mine once told me a story about a friend of hers who quit her job and moved to Atlanta to be with a guy she’d been dating for not too long. It turned out that they broke up four months later, so it’s important to remember not to necessarily up and move JUST for a person. If you’ve found a job, you have a best friend in the same town, AND you can afford the rent for a one bedroom apartment, then sure go ahead and move to a new city. But if you’re just moving for a relationship that is not in the engagement phase, I think you’re making a emotionally driven life decision. Obviously there are numerous cases where people move for love and it all works out, but in this economy, I’m just saying… be able to afford that apartment on your own just in case things don’t work out as planned.
Do: Travel Together
One of the greatest things about long-distance dating is that one of you has to come see the other person at some given point, yay frequent flyer miles! What’s even more fun is both of you traveling together to a new place or to a place that is important to one party. When I went to Kenya last year, my boyfriend was working in Nigeria so it was like we both took a trip to Kenya. Even though that was his home it really did feel like we were doing the trip together and just made the experience even richer than it would have been if I had just decided to go on my own. I also believe you see people’s true colors when you travel together – are you the kind of person who talks about all the partying you’re about to do but then you crash on the hotel bed or do you spend all your souvenir money on the first day? These things have larger implications!
Don’t: Stress Over It
So this is probably the toughest thing that I struggle with because I’m such an analytical person, but when you’re in a long-distance relationship, it can take a bit longer for your relationship to move forward because you guys are spending a lot of time apart. (For some people, distance dating actually speeds up the process). It’s never encouraging to compare your relationship to anyone else’s in the first place, but if you feel like other couples are moving to next phases of the relationship more quickly than you are, just take a chill pill. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself and your partner, and enjoy the perks of being in a long distance relationship with all the time you have to pursue whatever you want to pursue without any weight holding you back. Just relax and don’t rush the process.
Last but not least,
Do Remember Why You’re Together & Don’t Give Up
Yes, long distance relationships are super hard, and it’s probably not what you had in mind when you entered into the relationship. Time differences suck, not having anybody to feed you warm soup when you fall sick sucks, and not having dates to work events is really the worst. But at the end of the day, remember why you committed to a long distance relationship with this person and don’t give up on the trial. You guys just may come out stronger when it’s all said and done!
Do you have any tips for long-distance dating? Would you try it or are you completely opposed? Do you have any dating questions or topics you’d like me to address?
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