What I Learned About Long Distance Relationships as a Military Wife
By Aesha Adams Roberts
With the popularity of online dating, many singles may find themselves facing the possibilities of a long distance relationship. Even if you meet someone in your city, it is possible that you or your significant other could move due to a career change, job assignment, or deployment. What should you do? Pass up a potentially amazing relationship because you won't get to see each other every day? And what if you're already seriously involved or even married? How can you survive a long distance relationship?
Although my husband and I dated while we were both in the same city, we knew that because he is an officer in the U.S. navy, that there would be times we'd be apart when we were married. As a matter of fact, we had only been married for 8 months when he had to leave for a 3 month training. By our second year of marriage (shortly after the birth of our daughter), he had to leave for a 9 month training on the East Coast, move to another duty station on the West Coast, and begin a 9 month deployment. After 18 months of being apart from him, I learned a thing or two about surviving a long distance relationship.
If you're considering starting a long distance relationship or you're already in one, here are 3 tips that will help your romance survive and thrive.
1) Build romance and intimacy with technology:
With hundreds or even thousands of miles separating you, you won't have the benefit of going on dates to get to know each other better. You'll have to use tools like Skype, FaceTime, texting and phone calls to communicate. Spice it up by sending a good old fashioned love letter or send a care package filled with your lover's favorite things. One couple I know watched movies together using Skype and played online games as a way to get to know each other. While my husband was on deployment, I sent him care packages with an extra copy of a book I was reading so we could talk about it together. I also sent him risqué photos and other "forget-me-nots" to build the excitement of our reunion.
2) Schedule your relationship:
Making a long distance relationship work takes lots of planning. You'll have to decide in advance how often you'll talk to each other and when you'll see each other. Will you talk by phone once a day or three times per week? Will you Skype only on the weekends? How often will you visit each other, and who will do the traveling? If you need to cancel a phone call or visit, how will you let him know? This sort of planning may take a lot of work but it will help you build trust and avoid hurt feelings and false expectations.
3) Date with the future in mind:
It should go without saying that you should have a goal when you're dating, but this is especially true with long distance relationships. You'll be spending lots of money and more importantly, investing lots of time into this relationship, time that you'll never be able to get back. If you're just casually dating, a long distance relationship may not be the best idea. But if you are looking for a serious relationship that results in marriage, you'll want to ask yourself a few questions:
What will your next steps be when things get serious?
When will the long distance relationship turn into a face to face relationship?
Who will move? What about jobs? Housing?
What support will you put into place to make the transition from being independent, to now living in the same city (or under the same roof)?
Long distance relationships are challenging and risky but with planning and commitment, they can be rewarding.