As I mentioned yesterday…. in Part 1 of “Advice on Having Successful Long Distance Relationships”– If you missed it: http://claritywithcharity.com/?p=544
My husband and I spent the entire course of our relationship before marriage being separated by a approximately 5 hour drive. I say approximately because my husband always managed to make it in 4 ½ hours and it always took me at least 5 hours. I can’t help it that I drive like a Granny who is perpetually paranoid of getting a speeding ticket, and that when I would call friends on my drive I would get so absorbed in our conversation that I would catch myself driving below the speed limit.
We met on e-harmony, and like a growing number of couples who are dating long distance because of making an online connection, we navigated some untraditional methods of communication and dating. Skype and our cell phones were our primary tools but despite the incredible technology we used, we found ourselves facing a unique set of challenges than a “typical” dating couple.
Today I am sharing with you the top things we learned about how to thrive and find success in a long distance dating relationship.
1. Plan times to talk: It may not sound like the most romantic thing in the world, but because we were long distance it was important to talk about our schedules at least the day before so that we could find a good time to talk. When we didn’t plan in advance, inevitably I would miss his call when I was at my work out class or a meeting. Instead of playing phone/skype tag, a few moments of conversation can give you some clarity as you plan your day.
2. Sometimes there will be awkward pauses: I am a talker, I have never met a stranger, and could carry on a conversation with a brick wall if necessary. There are few times, and even fewer people that I feel ok just being quiet with. This isn’t one of my greatest qualities, and I am learning to be better with the silence…but I was not ok with the silence on the phone or skype with my boyfriend. Especially, at the beginning of our dating relationship, I would wonder,
“Why is it quiet? Is he thinking I’m boring…oh no…must think of something cool to say!”…than I would end up asking some dum ice breaker question like “what kind of animal are you most like?”..and the silence would get even quieter….because my husband hates those kinds of questions.
One day it hit me….
When you talk to someone on the phone or skype everday 5 days in a row, sometimes you aren’t going to have anything to talk about. Because how many people do you talk to 5 days in a row for at least an hour straight without the interruptions of eating, watching tv, folding the laundry, going on a walk ect..?
There is going to be silence…and that is ok!
Some days we would talk for an hour and a half and it felt like 15 minutes, some days we both had boring days, were tierd and really just wished we could be chilling on the couch together watching tv. Our conversation was about 20 minutes those days.
You don’t get chill time in a virtual relationship so it is normal to expect some silences. You can make them awkward moments of panic where you worry that maybe you aren’t compatible or the other person thinks you’re boring. Or you can just remember, its normal to have silences even between the best of friends. Silence can be difficult to handle over the phone, but don’t decide the health of your relationship based on that.
3. Beware of In person disillusionment: Rene and I saw each other almost every weekend when we dated, but I know many long distance couples who maybe see each other every month or even less. I noticed that every Friday night when I was driving the 5 hours to visit my husband or waiting the 5 hours for him to get to my hometown, my expectation of our “reunion” would grow with every mile.
I would imagine him greeting me with a huge smile, jumping up and down for joy as I pulled into the driveway and then letting out an exuberant scream, “You’re here!” while a few tears would roll down his cheeks as he exclaimed, “I missed you soooooooo much!”
If any of you know my husband, you know this is not his personality at all. What I am describing may have been my reaction upon his arrival, but I can’t think of a single time, Rene pulled up into my driveway shrieking with delight. That’s not his personality or how he reacts, but for some reason I expected our reunions to look like a Hallmark movie scene where a war hero is reunited with his family.
Weekend, after weekend I would feel disappointed as his arrivals were marked by that romantic declaration, “I need to use the bathroom.”
That is the reality of dating long distance, you may see eachother after long weeks, long hours on the road or on a plane and if you are expecting to meet a cheesy character from a Nicolas Sparks novel when you get out of the car, you will be disappointed.
However, if you are expecting to say hello to: a real life imperfect person, with emotions and exhaustion – who has fought traffic and ran through airports to get to you – and this is a person that you love and care about – that you would rather be with more than anyone on the planet – even if they are jet lagged and exhausted..than be thankful because you are living in a real life love story.
Next Week I will share a few more thoughts to wrap up our series on successful long distance relationships. I hope you will join me!
Let me know: Have you or are you in a long distance relationship? What has your experience been like? What advice would you offer?