Online dating and long distance dating used to be considered cliche. Why would you date someone digitally when you can just walk up to someone in person? But starting a long distance relationship doesn’t have the same hang-ups as it did in prior decades.
With the advancement of the Internet, the dating scene has opened up in droves. Successful long distance relationships no longer consist of a collection of pens, stationery, a book of stamps and envelopes. (Of course if you’re still anything like Charlie Brown, who loves to see personal mail in your mailbox, a handwritten letter will always outrank an email or text.) But nowadays online long distance relationships can feel the same as in-person dating.
If you’re still skeptical, visit a nearby restaurant or beach. Observe all the “happy” couples who are sitting hip distance apart but staring at their tablets and smartphones the entire time, talking to people who are not in the area. With advancements in technology, long distance daters can find out more about each other than those making eye contact from the same couch.
Long Distance Dating Guide
Starting a long distance relationship
Before you start a long distance relationship, understand what your Love Language is.
Acts of Service can easily be accomplished with the help of apps like Task Rabbit and Fixer, if you can’t physically help out yourself. Receiving Gifts is another easy one; the online marketplace is at your service to ship just about anything within 24 hours. Words of Affirmation is a third shoe-in, just compliment away with emojis included.
However, Physical Touch and Quality Time may get a little hairy. If your partner’s love language is Quality Time, audio calls and texts will never work for very long. This is a person who really needs to visually see you and preferably in person. If that can’t happen, get ready for plenty of virtual calls.
Unfortunately, Physical Touch may be a dealbreaker for a long distance relationship. This is someone who needs all the hugs, kisses and in-person affection to feel wanted and needed. Even the sexiest virtual call probably won’t do the trick, but this partner may be patient—at first. Be ready to buy plane tickets, bus passes and/or ride-sharing reservations. You’re going to need to be seen in the flesh from time to time with a Physical Touch lover. Quite frankly, all five will probably prefer it at some point and time.
Would a long distance relationship work for you?
As mentioned above, your love language plays significantly into whether this will work for you. While a Physical Touch relationship may seem like a total bust, depending on the circumstances, this could surprisingly be the most patient of the five. However, both parties must be willing to compromise and do whatever is needed to make the other feel appreciated and respected.
Tips to help make things work
One of the worst ways to try to make a long distance relationship work is to assume that your way of being a significant other is the only way to do so. For example, if you’re someone who texts all day long and expects responses back within a minute or two, you’re going to find your partner pretty frustrating for answering hours later. Or worse, a day or so later. For you, digital attention is mandatory. For that person, it’s a toss-up.
The same can be said for date night (if one is a homebody and the other is a social butterfly) or a planner (one is spontaneous and wants to wing everything while the other has a checklist itinerary). If you two are polar opposites (because the “opposites attract” saying didn’t come from nowhere), you’re going to have to get to know what makes your other partner feel uncomfortable or unappreciated, as well as what (s)he will compromise on.
International long-distance dating
Just because you’re in two different parts of the world does not mean a long distance relationship from different countries or continents cannot work. If there are language barriers, this is as good of a time as any to dust off your language dictionary and get better at communicating. It’s also the most fun (and free) way to have a language tutor.
But what if that’s not an issue? What if it’s just trying to spend time in a relationship? There are a few things you two will have to figure out ahead of time. Time zones may make it harder to talk, especially if one of you works during hours the other is sleeping, or one of you has familial duties at the same time the other is sitting at home bored and waiting on you.
Making each other a priority (including travel requests) is a big-time need here. If you can afford/budget for travel arrangements, make sure to keep up with them. Last-minute changes and constant reschedules could hurt this relationship significantly.
When the long distance relationship is going sour
Whether it’s an in-person relationship or a long distance relationship, making time for one another is a pretty big deal. With an in-person relationship, you two may be able to pop in on one another or live in the same household. But when you’re depending on being in front of the same computer at the same time, or on the phone at the same hour, constantly ditching these plans is a surefire hint that one of you is not committed to making it work.
Of course having these tough conversations is the first way to go. See if changes or compromises are made. But if even that doesn’t work, then you may want to have a larger conversation with your partner: “Do you want to be in this long distance relationship anymore or should we part ways?”
Intimacy with long distance relationships
Being intimate in a long distance relationship is highly dependent upon your partner. Everybody has their own preferences for arousal. One person could be on cloud nine with phone sex while the other person thinks it’s corny. One partner could be totally into naked pics and sultry videos while the other partner is uncomfortable with any permanent images that could later be used as revenge porn if the two part ways.
Some people are more sexual than others—and that’s if you don’t count the 1 percent who are asexual and don’t experience sexual attraction at all. It is extremely important to have conversations about intimacy fairly early in a long distance relationship. Because you two aren’t around each other to have the “perfect moment” of making out or having sex, you’re going to need to know fairly early how to please one another.
How to keep the romance alive
Sexual intimacy isn’t the only major component of keeping a long distance relationship going, although it is a big one. Being romantic will matter, too. One person may melt into a puddle at the sight of candy and flowers being delivered to the office. Another person’s heart may flutter to find out the oil has been changed without ever having to ask.
If you’re thinking “romance” is all about what Valentine’s Day cards say, think again. It really comes down to what your partner views as romantic. Even Merriam Webster is ambivalent about what romance is, defining it as, “an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity.” Just as you should know what arouses your partner, know what makes him or her blush about.
Date night ideas
Pre-Internet, long distance couples depended on books of stamps, pay phones, eye-catching stationery, and Polaroids or 35-millimeter film to share their favorite moments and create a “date night idea.” Nowadays, you can log online and create an entire date from your smartphone. Deliver the flowers, the balloons, the food, the wine and even the musician to play in the background. Of course a handwritten letter doesn’t hurt anyone. There’s a reason the 2004 film “The Notebook” did so well. Who wouldn’t be smitten with the guy who wrote his soulmate every day for 365 days?
So now that you know what a long distance relationship entails, are you really prepared to be in one? About the only way to know (if you’re willing to give it a shot and don’t insist on being within an arm’s reach of your partner at all times) is to try. Don’t do it if your heart isn’t in it though. As with online dating, if you’re not even interested in conversing via phone or creating ways to spend time together virtually, this won’t work for you. If you are comfortable creating ways to spend time with one another, enjoy the experience.
In addition to technology making it easier to keep these relationships going and scheduling a “normal” day-to-day life with your partner, plane and bus travel aren’t off the table. Get familiar with checking for discount rates for both of you to travel to see each other. If your job involves business travel to your significant other’s location, it’s a win-win for both.
Just make sure you are prepared for the highs and lows, and even though you aren’t physically around each other to stick it out in person, don’t go to your own bed mad. Even in a long distance relationship, you two should be able to feel “close” to each other.