DEAR DR. JENN,
I met an incredible guy while on vacation last month. We've been speaking or FaceTiming almost every day since, and while we live 4000 miles away from one another, I feel more connected to him than I have with anyone else I've dated in recent years. I want to give this a real shot—is that crazy? How can we make it work? —Wander Lust
DEAR WANDER LUST,
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Long distance are the best of times and the worst of times. The longing for one another and inability to share your day-to-day life can be incredibly painfully and frustrating. On the other hand, when you are reunited, it's intense and exciting every time. The sex? Mind blowing. Distance creates an exciting build up and every date can feel like romance on steroids. Because you're not sharing the drudgery of the everyday, you get an extended honeymoon period.
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Partaking in an LDR is not crazy—but it does take effort. To begin with, you want to consider what your end game is. If this is just a fun fling, go forward and have a blast! But if you're looking at a long-term relationship, you'll want to have a conversation about the what ifs: If this should work out, would either of you be willing to move? If neither of you can or would, is it worth staying together? You may want to cut your losses now before you get even more attached. But if this is a means to an end that's actually in sight, why not? What's a few months, or even years, if you found your forever?
But there's another challenge that stands before you: getting to know one another. Unlike long-distance couples who began dating while living close by and then had to separate—for a job, school, a family obligation—you don't already know your SO all that well yet, and it's harder to find out who a person truly is, to the core, when they're across the pond. It's not undoable, though.
Here are some tips to help your relationship grow, if you take the plunge.
1. Stay connected using technology. Talk on the phone, send pictures, share videos, text, sext, and message the crap out of each other. Staying connected is key. In a study called Using Technology to Connect in Romantic Relationships, researchers found that texting to express affection was associated with higher reported partner attachment for both men and women. This is particularly important for long-distance couples.
2. Create daily face-to-face time. In addition to daily texts, make sure to spend time talking face-to-face via Skype, FaceTime, or anything else that lets you look into each other’s eyes (and, hey, other things if you feel like it) and connect without distractions. This allows you to form stronger attachments to one another.
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3. Connect at the beginning and end of the day. Make sure to say “good morning” and “good night” every day. Being one another’s first person that you talk to at the beginning of the day and last one you speak to at night deepens your bond.
4. Have long-distance dates. In addition to the regular contact, plan long-distance activities together. Watch a Netflix show together while keeping each other on FaceTime or on the phone, play Facebook scrabble, make the same dinner in each of your homes and open a bottle of wine together. This allows you to share day-to-day activities that you would normally do together if you were dating in the same city. It allows you to bond over the entertainment you like, learn about one another’s preferences, get to know each other, and have some light, fun times together from afar.
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5. Make plans to see each other regularly. Make travel goals to minimize the time apart. Meet someplace romantic in the middle, take turns visiting each other, and plan fun vacays together. The ease of travel will vary based on distance and finances, but it's ideal to get to see each other no less than once a month. That said, real life, expensive plane tickets, and work demands can often prevent this. So it's important to discuss what your financial limitations and expectations are of one another when it comes to travel. (Also, hoard air miles and learn the best ways to get discount travel.)
6. Handwritten letters and care packages go a long way. Get creative! It is time for old-fashioned letter writing, cards, care packages, and thoughtful gifts. When you can’t be there in person, you want to try to connect in every other way. This adds to the romance.
7. Get sexy. Have phone sex, send fun photos, read erotica to each other, find new ways to get each other off without touching. (Just make sure that you don’t send anything that shows your face with your body parts. Headless horsemen photos are ideal. You never know who has access to his phone or what will happen to pics if things don’t work out.) You may even want to try experimenting with remote-controlled sex toys. Welcome in 2018, when new technology allows you to control vibrators through smartphone apps. These vibrating panties, vibrators, dildos, prostate massagers, butt plugs, rotating pleasure beads, and more can enable you to get each other off in new ways, from afar. (These are also fun toys to play with even when you are not long distance!)
8. Ignore the naysayers. Don’t listen to what other people think about your relationship. It is very possible to make LDRs work. Years ago, a woman called my radio show for advice on her long-distance romance. She followed these tips and recently tweeted at me to thank me for the advice ... and to inform me about her engagement!