After Tyler and I decided to date, we had a long talk about what it would look like for him to pursue me from two states away. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to be long distance, but we also knew the Lord had clearly brought us into each other’s lives for a reason, and we were committed to figuring out how to date well.
One thing we made a priority in our relationship was to make the long distance work for us and to take advantage of the benefits of being in separate cities. Here’s what was on our list of benefits:
1. Long distance makes good communication a must.
We learned how to communicate and how to ask interesting questions because all we had was a verbal connection. We didn’t have facial expression or body language as cues to help us understand each other, which meant figuring out how to ask for clarification when we didn’t understand something and made a shared sense of humor an important quality. Now that we are living in the same city, we have discovered the benefit of having built a strong foundation early on.
2. It emphasizes character over physical appearance.
Physical attraction is important in a relationship, but it shouldn’t be more important than character. Because Tyler isn’t on Facebook, I didn’t see a picture of him until three weeks in. By that time, we had established enough of a connection that I was interested in him regardless of whether or not he was “my type.” Once I saw a picture, it only increased my interest, but our budding relationship had already been established on more than just physical attraction.
3. It eases the transition to dating.
Having been single for a long time before meeting Tyler, I was thankful that I could sort of ease into the relationship. For the first few months, neither of us had to sacrifice time with friends or decide whose church to go to on Sunday mornings. We didn’t have to adjust to making time and space in our lives, at least not to the same degree as being in the same city. That adjustment is a good sacrifice, but it’s still a sacrifice. We had to prioritize phone and Skype dates, but it was kind of the best of both worlds: I enjoyed getting a know an amazing man, but still had time to invest in the things I had made time for because I was single.
4. The distance accelerates the depth of the relationship.
Because our relationship started over the phone, we got to know each other really quickly. For us, a three-hour date was three hours of talking: asking interesting questions, remembering the details we each had shared, and finding ways to make each other laugh and feel encouraged. Instead of the small talk that accompanies time in the car driving to a restaurant or the more surface-level conversation that happens when you’re getting to know someone in a group setting, Tyler and I had intentional, concentrated amounts of time to invest in getting to know one another.
We didn’t have distractions of meeting in a busy coffee shop, which doesn’t always foster meaningful conversation by its very nature. Of course, we had to respect boundaries and not share too much too soon, but we knew each other better after two months than we had each experienced in prior relationships that weren’t long distance. For us, that was helpful because it made my move back to St. Louis a few months later much smoother because we had a deep understanding of each other already. I wasn’t surprised by anything about him because we had covered so much ground prior to my move.
5. The little things mean more.
Once Tyler and I met in person and decided to begin dating, we also expanded our means of communication to letter-writing and FaceTime video chats. We communicated differently depending on the technology we used, and I’m so grateful for the letters he wrote me. I can go back and re-read them. They communicate deeper things than our text messages, and therefore, I had a new appreciation for the time he took to write me. We couldn’t plan fun dates or spend time pursuing our common interests like going to concerts together, so the random texts just to say “I miss you” or an unexpected phone call to share about something important that happened meant so much more.
Of course, long-distance dating is hard and challenging, but we decided to focus on the good things and make our time apart be something that really enhanced our relationship instead of detracted from it.
If you’ve dated or are dating someone long distance, what else would you add to the list as a benefit? How did you make the distance work for your relationship instead of against it?