Looking back, it seems like forever ago that Dave and I were apart, but sure enough, we were long distance for our whole dating relationship (8 or 10 months, depending on how you define the start of the relationship :)) and five months of our engagement. He was in Syracuse, NY for that whole time, and I went from Austin, TX to Chapel Hill, NC. Even though it was so hard at the time, I’m positive that our time spent far apart has made our marriage (and even our short distance time before that) so much more joyful, because we don’t take anything for granted. We learned in such a tangible way that God’s timing is perfect, and His plans are always for a purpose–a lesson we continue to remind ourselves of all the time! A sweet reader reached out to me a few weeks ago asking if I had any tips for long distance dating, and since I know there may be few more folks in this situation, I wanted to share some things that worked for Dave and me and helped us make it through that season.
– Talk often. This looks different for everyone, but I found that having some kind of reliable schedule for when we talked was really helpful. We texted a little bit in the morning and talked on Facetime every night for at least a few minutes (though our usual was about an hour). Of course, we talked throughout the day too, but if we couldn’t, it was comforting to know that I could look forward to reconnecting at the end of the day.
– Pray together! We always ended our time on Facetime or the phone with a prayer, switching off days of who was saying it. Especially on days when long distance just felt hard and discouraging, praying together was the BEST reminder that the Lord’s timing is perfect and we needed to trust in Him.
– Take care of yourself. I’m an introvert and it was sometimes all too tempting for me to want to hole up and wait for Dave to be free to talk. I had to push myself to be present with my friends and focus on enjoying where I was at the time, but it was always, always worth it…plus, it gave me good stuff to tell Dave about later! :) As a general rule, I tried not to say no to invitations, because Dave was always really flexible about our Facetime dates if I had an opportunity to spend time with a friend. I was probably less flexible with him (ha!), but as long as he gave me some notice, I tried to be encouraging and understanding as well. The best case scenario was when we made plans on the same nights–we still try to coordinate that now that we’re married and live in the same house!
– Get creative with “dates.” A few of our favorites were watching the same movie at the same time and then talking about it on the phone afterwards, or ordering delivery pizza for each other.
– Embrace the adventurous aspect of being apart. Twice during the time when we were long distance, we met up in New York City for a weekend. It was really last-minute (I signed up for United Airlines weekend sale emails, and we would book my flight a few days in advance for just about $150, and then Dave would drive), but meeting up somewhat spontaneously in a place we loved created some of our best memories from that time, and felt really fun and romantic!
– Try to always know when the next time you see each other will be. While I would encourage people in a long distance relationship to avoid the temptation to “count down” till the next time you see each other (such a distraction from being present!), having a date on the calendar made a huge difference for us. Without one, it was too easy to feel like our time apart would be endless, and that was really hard. For most of our long distance relationship, we saw each other for one weekend about every 4-6 weeks. (And you’d better believe that other spending went waaaay down when spending that much money on airfare!)
– Write letters. Just do it. There’s nothing better than getting a surprise note in the mail when you’re apart, and something about snail mail love letters is just so wonderfully nostalgic–plus, they’re so sweet to re-read down the road and be reminded of how far you’ve come!
If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, what would you add to this list? I’d love to hear!