One year ago, on Easter, I went to the home of a couple from my church for a potluck dinner. I ended up sitting next to a guy named Andrew, who was in town visiting a friend who attended my church. Andrew and I started talking about our favorite TV shows, and I told him that he had to start watching Friday Night Lights. (I am also telling you — if you haven’t already watched it — you have to start watching Friday Night Lights.) We talked about all kinds of things, but most importantly, we laughed. We chatted for a long time that day, and ended up being at the same gathering again that night. Andrew asked if I might want to hang out a couple of days later, and we spent the day getting brunch, going to Target, watching Friday Night Lights, and going to the park. The next morning, we went out for breakfast again. It was great. I had never connected with a guy so quickly or easily. He was so funny, and we had a ton in common. It seemed meant to be.
Then he went back to Canada.
Yes, this great guy I’d met and connected with and loved getting to know, was Canadian. We had a fun couple of days, but I figured I’d never hear from him again. But then he sent me a Facebook message. And a few texts. Then he called, and we began Skyping. Pretty soon, he told me he wanted to come visit me during the summer. Last July, we became “official” (on Facebook and everything), and we have spent the past eight and a half months dating long-distance.
In case you’re considering a long-distance relationship, here are some things that I’ve learned or noticed along the way:
Long-distance dating isn’t ideal. But it is possible. Andrew and I both had our hesitations about committing to a long-distance relationship. It seemed challenging, and neither of us knew how things would work out. But when we decided to date last summer, we both agreed that we would take things one step at a time. We didn’t have to have everything figured out to move forward. We planned out the next few times we would see each other, we talked about how often we wanted to communicate, and we went from there.
Be grateful for modern technology. This past year, I’ve often thought about people who used to communicate solely through letters. I don’t know if I could have done it! Andrew and I live in the same time zone, which I have been so grateful for. I spent part of last summer in Israel, and that time difference made communication such a challenge. We try to connect almost every day by either talking on the phone or video chatting. I’ve never been a huge phone person, so I wasn’t too excited about that aspect of the relationship. But I’ve gotten used to it, and it’s worth it in order to connect with someone you care about. I like FaceTime the best because it’s nice to be able to see one another — it feels more like you’re actually spending time together.
See each other when you can. Andrew and I have actually been really blessed with the amount of time we’ve been able to spend together. We spent three weeks together last summer, and then connected for Canadian Thanksgiving (it’s in October!), American Thanksgiving, Christmas, a quick, surprise visit in March, and then a couple of weeks ago at Easter. We’ve both spent a lot of money on plane tickets this year, which is tough, but it’s been worth it to have time together. I always have a bit of an adjustment period before, during and after each visit. In the time in between visits, I get pretty used to life on my own. Then we see each other and adjust to being together. Then he leaves or I leave, and I get sad and miss him. Then eventually I get used to life on my own again. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, but after the first couple of visits, I knew what to expect.
Take things at your own pace. It’s easy to feel pressure to know exactly what’s going on or to have everything figured out — long-distance or not. But there’s a bit of added pressure when dating long-distance, because at some point, someone has to move or something has to change. But I’ve learned that it’s so important to communicate and to go with the flow. Our relationship has grown so much in the past year, even though we’ve been apart. We are figuring things out together, and it’s been a really cool process.
Don’t be long-distance forever. Andrew and I both knew that this past year would be spent apart. He teaches high school, and I was finishing my last year of grad school. I’ll be graduating in May, and I’m planning to spend the summer in Canada. It’s a great next step for us, and I’m really excited for us to have some “normal” life together. (We’ve gotten really good at holidays together.) I’m sure there will be new things to navigate this summer, but I’m grateful that we’ve built such a strong foundation through our long-distance time this past year.
Ultimately, I have known, since the day I met Andrew, that the Lord has been deeply involved in this process. There’s still stuff to figure out, but we both trust that God is good. And this experience has grown both of us in our trust in the Lord and the things that He is doing.
Have any of you dated long-distance? What was your experience? What did you learn?