So, you went on vacation and you didn’t bring back a tee shirt. Instead you brought back the beginnings of a relationship. Maybe you met him on a mission’s trip, community service project trip, conference session, coffee shop, girlfriend’s milestone birthday cruise, or concert at the dive bar on Pier 26. You exchanged numbers, hung out as much as you could while you were there, and then you both went your separate ways. But, you’ve kept in contact, have gone through all the usual steps relationship go through and have scheduled your “first real date” two months out in their city. Yep, the round trip ticket is booked and the carry-on bag is mentally packed. Before you jet set for love, you may want to consider the following tips when deciding if you want to go the distance with your relationship.
Are You Willing To Work? Relationships are hard work period. However, they can be a little harder when they involve distance. Are you willing to thoughtfully plan and adjust your schedule to accommodate that you live in different areas and perhaps different time zones, save your PTO for long weekends to travel, thoughtfully plan the time you have together, step up your communication game and include all forms of communication from phone, emails, texting, and video chatting?
Will You Talk That Talk? The absence of nonverbal cues to read your partner and see how they truly feel on a regular basis means you have to truly say what you mean and mean what you say. You’re a little more dependent on words in distance relationships, and the absence of tone and body language (unless your video chatting) can easily cause insecurity in the relationship, especially at the start.
Has Honesty Become A Helpful Policy? Not only do you have to be honest about are you willing to put in the work that a long distance relationship requires, but you also have to be honest about your needs and expectations. That’s everything from sex (what you like, don’t like, would be willing to try, recent STI and HIV test results, etc.) to how quickly you will tire of having a partner but usually showing up to social scenes alone (your friends try to set you up on blind dates because they met your boo once…six months ago).
Do You Know About Being Monogomous vs. Monogomish? It also means being honest about whether you are monogamous or monogomish. Monogomous (it’s me and you boo, point blank period) and Monogomish (you’re my favorite and like 90% of the time it’s me and you boo). It’s important to know, especially given the distance, what the level of commitment is.
Can You Make Up Your Mind? In my world, the mental health world, we call it mindfulness. Mindfulness means making up your mind to be in the present, to be completely mindful of the now. In long distance relationships it is imperative that when you are together you focus on being together. If distance is taking a toll, discuss it, however it’s best if you use the time you have together to focus on being together. Enjoy the four-day weekend in your city or their city for what it is, instead of waiting for it to be over and looking to the next visit. Stay in the present when you’re in your partner’s presence.
Will You Meet In The Middle? Depending on what the distance is the two of you have to travel, meeting in the middle might not be a bad idea every now and then. If we’re talking Philadelphia and San Francisco or Detroit and New Orleans, it may be god to pick a place like Chicago to meet. This way it doesn’t become a matter of always coming to the other person’s city. Instead you get to visit and discover a city that neither of you lay claim and is pretty equal distance from your hometowns. All healthy relationships incorporate compromise; long distance relationships are no exception.
How Creative Can You Be? Break out the markers. Color sheets of paper, bust out the glitter, send the edible arrangement, and ship the box of favorite goodies. Start the scrap book and send it back and forth with each of you adding pages. Make your own version of Beyonce’s “Dance For You” video. Use your imagination to communicate the care, concern, excitement, interest, and love that you would communicate if you’re boo-thang lived 20 minutes away instead of 2,000 miles away.
Don’t shy away from having a long distance lover. Do be mindful that it will require a different level of engagement from relationships where your partner is closer and more physically readily available. Like conquers some things, love conquers all things. If the person is worth loving and being in a relationship with, then you will conquer the distance.