When couples are trying to date from a distance, feeling truly connected and a part of one another’s life can be challenging. Busy schedules and the difference in time zones can present a whole series of obstacles. That coupled with the deep desire to include one another in each other’s day can make communication difficult. My husband and I worked very hard to make sure that we were a part of one another’s lives on a daily basis.
Plan activities that you can do together, but while you’re apart: My husband and I would plan an outdoor activity such as a hike, and embark on our journeys on the same day, at the same time. Outdoor exercise was a healthy way to nurture our bodies, our spirits, and one another as a couple. We would text photos of our hike to one another while en route, and provide creative captions to each picture. It was always fun to view Steve’s hike through his eyes. He found beauty in the most creative ways.
Avoid placing unrealistic expectations on yourself and your partner: It’s completely natural to feel a desire to be plugged in and connected to one another while you’re apart; the quick call or text while you’re in between appointments or calls, or the desire to talk with one another before you turn in for the night. Those little connections are essential to the success of a long distance relationship. When your schedule is hectic and the communication is reduced to small connections, sometimes less is more.
For example: my husband had a very busy schedule while we were dating and was always on the go with little free time for lengthy conversations when it was convenient for me to talk. He would make a quick call to me while he was driving from one appointment to another, or take a moment away from a social activity to call and say “hi” if he knew it would be too late to call before bedtime. While the thought was nice and it was always great to hear his voice, neither one of us were being fulfilled by the short, but frequent calls. It caused him stress to work those quick calls in and I was left feeling like I was being “fit in”. We agreed that it was unnecessary pressure to connect and that it was better to plan a longer call to catch up on the day’s events and have a nice conversation. Occasionally that meant we didn’t talk for a day or so, but it was a much better use of time and we both were feeling a deeper fulfillment in the change of communication style and connection.
Schedule your trips to see one another a year in advance. Let’s face it: spontaneity and long distance dating doesn’t really go together. We were busy people and we found that it was very helpful to purchase a calendar and write in everything we had going on in our lives. Fill in holidays, non-work days, birthdays, business travel, and family reunions; basically everything that’s going on in each other’s lives.
Next, plan your trips to see one another out one year. I know it seems like overkill, but we found if it wasn’t on the calendar, life and work would fill it in for us. Our rule of thumb is that three weeks in between visits was the optimum. We would have loved less time in between, but that was unrealistic AND expensive. I had every other Friday off so that lent itself to taking Monday as a vacation day and traveling to see him for a nice long weekend and Steve is self-employed so sometimes he could get away for a longer period of time to visit me. Obviously things come up and trips had to be changed and/or adjusted, but it was much easier to coordinate the rest of our lives around trips that we’d taken the time to plan and had made a priority.
We would take our calendar one step further and fill in all of the activities and events we did while we together as well. It was a great way to keep track of our adventures and it’s fun to go back through the old ones to see how our journey unfolded.
Regardless of how far apart you are, long distance dating is challenging. Period. Remember to be kind to yourself and one another; taking care to be realistic in your expectations of one another and your time. Use your creativity to connect in a meaningful way and remember to find the humor and beauty in the daily journey. I’m here to tell you that it can be done and in our case, was 100% worth every single challenging second!