Trains, Planes and Facetime

DECEMBER 27, 2013

Photo by Emily Long

I once considered crossing the river from Manhattan into Brooklyn too much of a trek for a boy.   Yet, in my quest to find the right guy in New York City, I found and fell for a Washington, DC guy instead.  We met through a friend, kept in touch over e-mail and started hanging out with each other in our respective cities.  Very quickly we found ourselves having the so-called crazy “let’s give this a shot” conversation, and I got used to seeing NYC’s skyline from the bus more than running around on its streets.

It wasn’t long before we figured out that long distance is tough.  However, the highs and lows that my boyfriend and I have faced would be there no matter how apart we are physically.  The real challenge is that fighting is even more horrible when you can’t kiss and make up after it’s over.  Rather you have to wait in anticipation for when you finally get to see one another after three weeks of Facetime.  And though it can feel like an eternity to come, that moment is priceless.  Then since we only see each other in these short, marathon hangouts, we make the most of those moments – saving big conversations for when we’re face-to-face, setting aside time that’s just for us, and then finding time that’s specific for getting to know each others’ friends and family.

I lean on Matt a lot to help get us through everything, but I’ve also found a network of women who are in the same boat.  So when my best friend’s boyfriend moved to Paris, and they agreed to the so-called crazy “let’s give this a shot” idea, I decided to tap into them to give her some advice.  Some of it is from women who are now married to their long distance partner and some is from women whose relationships didn’t work out.  Collectively, it sketches a picture of what to do when your lover is further than a taxi ride away.

  • I met my ex-boyfriend when I was 20 and he was 19 (yikes, so young) while I was studying abroad in London. We immediately fell pretty hard for one another.  We spent 8 months in the same country and then about another year trying to have some sort of long-distance, transatlantic relationship.  I mean, to the extent that two young 20 year olds can have a relationship.  There was no video on Skype at the time.  My phone bill became outrageous.  And we were both so young, each having completely separate life experiences across the ocean making it almost impossible to integrate our lives in any real way. Eventually, our young age and the large distance – two monster-sized barriers – proved to be too difficult (for obvious reasons).  My advice?  Loving someone is not enough.  You have to be at a place in your life – both physically in terms of location and mentally in terms of life stage – to make a long distance relationship work. As long as that foundation is set, and as long as you have an idea as to when the long distance part will end, it’s probably doable if you genuinely desire to make it work. Sure, it will be hard.  There’s no doubting that.  But there’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing the other person in the airport after a long length of time apart.  – R, 29 (London to Upstate New York/New York City)
  • My husband and I Long Distance Dated (LDD) for over 2 years. We flew back and forth from NYC to Tampa every two weeks, spoke and texted everyday. Without the constant communication and trust we had in one another, it never would have worked. LDD made our time spent together special, and we were able to cherish every minute together.  The strong communication in our marriage is because of it. – E, 30 (Tampa, Florida to New York City)
  • During our first year of dating, my now-husband lived a few hours away.  In order to make up for the distance, he suggested what we eventually called our  “one-question-a-day game”.  Each night one of us would come up with a question that we both had to answer; the asker always answering first.  We took turns coming up with questions ranging anywhere from number of children or places to visit to childhood memories or tough decisions. That way, even on the busiest days, each call had a purpose, even if it only lasted for a few minutes. – K, 30 (New York to Pennslyvania)
  • Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling towards your relationship.  When doing the long-distance thing, it can be easy to ignore things that are bothering you because they aren’t always present in your everyday life.  Take some time to make sure you’re getting what you need out of the relationship and then communicate those needs to your partner.   – J, 30 (Seattle/London to Germany)
  • Hand-written letters, drawings, homemade presents, surprise packages with random presents, trinkets that invoke memories and hard-to-find items.  However, I feel like honestly none of the stuff I mentioned will work unless there is mutual desire and commitment. I wouldn’t have sent packages nor letters if I weren’t getting them back.  If one person is more into it than the other then it won’t work and if they both want it, it will work no matter the distance.  – L, 32 (Lewisburg/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Japan/Switzerland)
  • Communicate and over communicate. When dating long distance there’s no time to play hard to get or go by traditional dating game rules. If you’re unsure about something, let it be known. What is equally as important if not more is telling each other of when you ARE sure of something. Reassurance on both parts is key if you are both willing to make it work. – C, 29 (New York City to San Francisco)

Have your own long-distance dating advice or story? Share it in the comments below!

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