QUESTION: Hi Chuck and Garland!
Happy New Year to you both! I love your blog and would be interested in your advice. I am a married minded young professional woman who only pursues relationships with men who possess qualities that I desire in a life partner. Now, this does not mean that I try to turn every first date into a groom...lol. Far from it!! Simply, I just believe in pursuing quality relationships that have the potential to develop into a long-term relationship.
Consider my approach to dating and the rise in geographically challenged relationships due to graduate/professional school commitments, career restrictions, and the rise in online dating (just to name a few), I am interested in how men think about long-distance relationships (LDRs). and would appreciate any insight you can shed on the topic. Currently, I am not involved in a LDR, but am increasing finding that the vast majority of potential partners that I meet are LD rather than located in my city. Consequently, I am seriously considering LDRs more than I did in the past. However, I do have my reservations but would toss them aside to pursue a relationship with a quality guy.
What are signs that it's an LDR worth pursuing and what are (less obvious) signs that one should move on? What is your do's and don'ts list for women pursuing and/or engaged in long-distance relationships (LDRs)?
Thanks so much and I look forward to your response!!
GARLAND: Thanks for your question! LDR's eh? I haven't personally been in a LDR in over 15 years and even then it really wasn't THAT deep of a relationship.
Right now, I'd have to say LDR's don't rank very high in my PERSONAL opinion. I think people need a certain amount of REAL face time to make a strong relationship flourish. Certainly there are many people that live in the same city today that are in LDR's thanks to text messaging, facebook and generally excepting less and less from their 'partners'.
I just don't like the whole, "loving the voice on the phone" and "loving the words on the E-Mail" and "loving the person you'll see for 2 whole days next month" that comes with a long distance relationship. Then you will have to deal with the WHAT COMES NEXT in the relationship... you've been relating long distance for 2 years and the time has come to "poop or get off the pot." Someone wants a marriage or gesture of real commitment AKA time to move to the same city. Are YOU leaving your friends, family and job for him? Is he leaving the job and loved ones and history He has to move to your town? Maybe - Maybe Not.
Then the whole arguement over "If you really loved me, you'd move to be close to me will come into effect..."
For me, I think successful, positive, long term-relationships require a certain level of frequent, face-to-face contact that LDR's rarely provide.
I also think... and I'm NOT saying this is YOUR case... but I sometimes think that some people use LDR's as a type of social-crutch when they are either in a dating slump, or they seem to find themselves as the last one in their circle of friends without a significant other. It is fairly easy to find someone online four states over to call your 'boyfriend' or to call up someone you used to date years and years ago who lives in Georgia now and say, "Me and my ex are back together in a LDR for now."
My vote - Just say no to LDR's.
CHUCK: I don't necessarily agree with Garland here. There are any number of factors these days that will force a couple to be apart for a period of time, or lead people to engage in relationships with people that are not in the same geographic region. I believe that it depends on the individuals involved. In my twenties, I was in a long distance relationship for a couple of years with a young lady about 1,000 miles away from me. Things didn't end well between us, and I still kind of regret the experiences that I missed out on during the time I was involved with her, and was faithful to her. Anyway, if you foresee yourself in an LDR (don't cha just love aconyms?), there are a few things that you absolutely have to have.
MATURITY: If you are a person who, in a relationship, is constantly in need of affirmation, or declarations and demonstrations of the other person's love, LDRs are not for you. Because your ability to command the other person's time and attention will be severely limited. Phone tag, conflicting schedules, and missed connections may frequently make communication difficult. You can strive for a routine between you (calls every couple of nights, a physical rendezvous every couple of months), but flexibility and understanding is crucial. A needy person in New Jersey with a boyfriend in New Mexico probably won't make it in the long term.
TRUST: Probably the most important thing in any relationship, to my mind, but of immense importance here. You have to be able to trust your man, if he's not home a couple nights when you call him at home after 10 pm. Now he says he's be refereeing a youth league basketball tournament. Do you believe him? You need trust to be in an LDR, and trust comes from knowing a person, so...
FAMILIARITY: Is probably good to have. In an LDR, it's good to have a foundation together before a physical separation is attempted. There are hundreds of people who are surprised when the relationship that they initiated over the internet goes wrong and they can't understand why. They probably really didn't know the person to begin with. And people on the internet lie all the time, anyway. Except for people like me and Garland...
AN EXIT STRATEGY: Finally, you need this. For any relationship seeking any kind of future, gaining or regaining physical proximity is the ultimate goal. So, at some point, brinigng an end to the long distance stuff should be considered. And, of course, that's dependent on what is causing the separation. Things like military deployments and temporary duty assignments are finitite by definition. But other reasons, like job or academic commitments, could be less well-defined. Basically, you need to plan to be together for real at some point. That, as much as anything else probably doomed my relationship. We didn't have a plan. Discuss at what point one of you can try to get a job closer to the other, or a college more geographically desirable.
There's my say on the issue. But also pay heed to the lesson learned by the woman whose question we posted a few months ago, under the heading, "Get Out of Orlando." Sometimes couples aren't meant to close that gap.