I'm excited, after many requests, to share a post about long distance dating! It's hard, you guys. Dustin and I met when we both lived in Tennessee many years ago and then he moved to Mississippi. We reconnected years later so our dating journey happened 8 hours apart! I'm very thankful for newly-wed life and that we're no longer in that season anymore but I can also look back on several ways that dating long distance was very healthy for us!
If you find yourself in that type season I hope this encourages you! Even if you're not long distance but you're in a new-er relationship, I believe these principles will still ring true. Please share it with a friend and comment below with any questions and I will try to edit the post and address them.
I'd like to start with communication since it's one of THE most difficult things to work through in any relationship. Here are a few things in hindsight that Dustin and I worked on while we were dating (and even into marriage) that I think have been powerful tools for us:
1. Ask the hard questions. Share your testimonies and where you are in your walk with the Lord early on. Talk about your background and how you grew up. All of these things will start to play out in your relationship, how you communicate, what you value, how you argue and what is most important to you.
2. Always remain curious. Months into marriage, I continue to learn things about my husband all the time (and I hope I never stop learning)!
3. Give one another grace. Neither of you are perfect and you will mess up. You'll have your first argument...and then your second and third. That's why the "hard questions" are so important. In marriage, I always know my spouse is ultimately "on my team". I viewed this no differently in dating. Because I truly knew what Dustin valued and how he's wired, it helped us work through a lot of challenges in learning how to communicate.
4. Talk about where you are headed. Ok, I said it. I'm a big fan of commitment (which we will talk about next). But it's important not only to talk about where your relationship is headed but where YOU are headed. For example, my husband is a pastor. When we got married, I wasn't only "getting married" (which, by the way, is a big enough change in itself) but I was stepping into the role of a pastor's wife. That was something I had to diligently pray through and I firmly believe God has called me to. However, it's important to work through these things in the early phases of your relationship to see if it's really something you want (and feel called) to commit to.
Commitment is extremely important in any relationship but especially when doing long distance.
There, I said it. I'm sorry to all of the millennials who aren't a fan of the word but #sorrynotsorry. I would argue that second only to our growing relationship with Christ, our commitment to the hard work long distance requires is THE thing that kept us going when it got really hard.
You will miss "your person". You'll have a month that's extremely busy and you won't get to see one another. Flights (and wear and tear on your car) are expensive. You'll spend some Friday and Saturday nights alone. You won't get to come to every "thing" your person is investing their life in and it will feel hard to miss out on a few. But if you're both on the same page about where you're headed and you're committed to moving forward into a progressing relationship with Christ at the center, those missed moments will be much easier knowing you're working toward a common goal.
Working Through Conflict
It will happen. You will argue. Someone will get their feelings hurt. Someone will have a hard day and the other won't respond in their preferred love language. It's just going to happen because we're all imperfect and (if you're in Christ) being sanctified by the Holy Spirit to become more in the likeness of Christ. A few things that helped us here:
1. Praying together. Prayer has always been a cornerstone of our relationship and now marriage. Each night when we'd get off Facetime with one another we'd pray together and when working through hard conversations now in our marriage, Dustin always leads us back to prayer.
2. Personality tests. I, in vivid detail, told you what I thought about the Enneagram a few weeks ago so feel free to go back and read that post to hear more specifically about that one. However, when we were dating we had many, many conversations about the different personality tests and how our results played into what we value, how we're wired, how we communicate, etc.
Some of our favorites? The Enneagram and Myers-Briggs.
I'd be missing something huge if I didn't address how hard the goodbyes will be. There's no way around it. They are the worst. However, there was something in our dating season that really helped us with this.
We almost always had some idea of when we would see eachother again. When we left, it was hard, but we knew almost to the day when we'd be reunited!
Introduce Him/Her to Your People
This is a tough one. It's a temptation when you're visiting one another to spend ALL of the time you have together. Make sure you make it a priority to begin to introduce him/her to your family/friends when they are around. Prioritize your time so you get to spend quality time together as well as with the people you love. And they will appreciate getting to meet them as your relationship progresses!
But also, don't feel guilty that you missed a person or two on a certain trip. You can't please everyone and the most important thing is that you guys get to spend quality time continuing to grow in your relationship!
This is not The Bachelor.
It's extremely tempting to plan each visit down to the minute with surprises and special plans. There's nothing wrong with special surprises and enjoying each moment but try to avoid crafting every moment as if it will be perfect. This sets everyone up for unrealistic expectations.
This is real life. Go to breakfast and don't put makeup on. Fix a recipe you'd make on a normal Wednesday night. Take a walk in your neighborhood. As much as you can, try to create "real life" moments that you miss in the everyday. I think it's easy to set an unrealistic expectation for marriage when we create "reality TV show kinds of trips" to see one another. That's not real life and that's not what marriage is like.
When we were dating, I remember the first "normal Sunday" I spent in Mississippi. It was really special for me to ride to church at Dustin's normal time that he arrives on a Sunday, to help him with his mic, pray over him before service started and then be by his side before he walked on stage. Those are the types of moments I remember most from our season of dating.
If you're dating long distance and found this post helpful, comment below with your thoughts and/or questions! I'd love to hear from you!
Your biggest cheerleader,
Rebecca Dotson George