Over the years I’ve had several long distance relationships across the U.S. and around the world. Distance was never really the issue of why they were relatively short-lived. The recurring problems were not having enough of a suitable pool of people to choose from, running into too many people who were habitual online daters, and people who simply weren’t ready to co-facilitate a healthy relationship due to unrealistic expectations and/or not dealing with their own personal issues beforehand.
In its infancy online dating in the early 2000’s was like pioneering the American Frontier, an electronic Wild West if you will. Technology was such that we either snail mailed each other paper photos or we scanned the photos, saved them on a 3 and 1/2 inch floppy disk and emailed each other jpeg pics. At that time the population of people who were brave enough to interact online was for the most part more sincere because they had no other choice than to represent themselves in the most candid fashion possible. Unfortunately, also at that time the vast number of people online were, for lack of a better word, not particularly eligible.
The most disappointing experience was when I tried the most popular dating site: eHarmony. I didn’t even get past the first step of becoming a member. After having filled out the personality characteristics of my profile of being a career professional with a Masters degree and no children I accrued 0 search results. You’re not even allowed to browse profiles. Either you fit their matching criteria or you don’t. How they’ve been so successful over the years with their formula is beyond me. With advances in technology the world of online dating has since exploded as is evident by statista.com, which has made online dating more commonplace. More people who would have normally shunned online dating in the past due to social stigmas are now accessing the internet in search of love.
With advances in technology there are more opportunities for people to misuse online dating by falsely representing themselves, which has brought about catfishing and other forms of scamming. Furthermore, the stigma of something being wrong with you in order to resort to talking to complete strangers online continues to linger. Nevertheless, not only has online dating exploded more people are choosing to reach out nationally and internationally to find love.
With that being said, being older, more settled in a career, and having access to a greater pool of eligible people to choose from has made life easier for a long distance relationship. Provided that you and your prospective mate are on the same page, communicate well, and are sincere about feelings as far as wanting to be in a healthy relationship that leads to marriage there shouldn’t be a problem. Let’s keep this process simple by following these 3 simple guidelines:
- Don’t let anyone who is too immature, short-sighted, and selfish to be in their own long distance relationship tell you not to try being in a long distance relationship.
- Long distance relationships don’t require any more work than a traditional face-to-face relationship. It may require more communication and patience but not more work. If mutual feelings are there a long distance relationship will work no matter how great the distance is.
- Plan to make your face-to-face time meaningful by researching the area and engaging in local activities and events instead of relying solely on Netflix and chill as your source of entertainment unless that is what the both of you actually want to do.
With that being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t also provide some helpful tips for those of you who are in the initial stages of searching for love either on a dating site or through some other form of social media. A few things you have to be weary of, particularly in the initial hunting stage is a valid representation of the person you’re interested in.
Let’s be real here–Physical attraction is important. Any time you come across a person that only has portrait shots on their dating profile be weary that they are self-conscious whether it be weight or physical appearance. If you aren’t particular about the details of physical attraction, then knock yourself out.
However, keeping an eye out for profiles with at least a couple recent full-length photos will give you a better idea of who you’re dealing with rather than just leaving everything below the neck up to your imagination. Also, providing full length shots of yourself will insure that you’ll get better results. What glitters isn’t always gold. Having 3 or 4 pics is nice but be weary of people who have too many pictures of themselves to the effect of being eye candy yet have nothing to say in their dating profile beyond superficial information. In my experience people of this nature are emotionally unavailable. They may be very appealing to the eye in the beginning but eventually the truth comes out and they have nothing intrinsic to offer. Mark my words–People like the aforementioned are looking for a relationship of convenience not love, friendship and reciprocation.
Be weary of people who only want to communicate through texting. There is no excuse for limiting communication to a couple simple text messages if any. This may be a sign of poor communication skills or they’re dividing too much of their time between you and someone else. Also be aware of a person who only wants to communicate at a certain time or allows 2 or 3 days to go by before they return communication. More than likely when a person behaves this way there is someone else they’re more interested in. In actuality there is nothing wrong with a person being more interested in someone else. Just don’t be the sucker that can’t take a hint and keep hanging around for weeks or months waiting for that person’s behavior to change in your favor.
If the person you’re interacting with is too busy for various forms of communication such as FaceTime, Skype, and traditional voice conversations, then the person you’re interacting with is not ready to be in a long distance relationship. Let’s be real here. Being unavailable is a game played by people who do not have your best interests at heart. Being available builds trust and allows for one to explore being vulnerable. Trust and vulnerability are the breadcrumbs on the yellow brick road to love and romance. If the person you’re interested in clearly demonstrates he or she is not willing to travel down that yellow brick road with you it’s time to cut your losses and move on.
The most serious red flag of them all: No one is going to admit they’re a social pariah. They’re going to try to put their best foot forward for at least the first 3 to 5 dates, give or take. Some can fake the funk for months, so pay more attention to their actions than what they say. It’s easy to fake the funk but very difficult to hide bad character and poor interpersonal skills over time.
When you encounter the red flags of bad character and incompatibility be decisive in ending the interaction and moving on. You don’t owe anyone anything beyond a sincere interaction, and there is no Lottery or golden badge of courage for enduring irreconcilable differences. There are simply too many other single people out there to fall into a relationship rut that is doomed to failure. Be intentional in seeking a life partner, a spouse. Your goal is not temporary convenience or social opportunity. Your goal is everlasting love and happiness.