Dating is hard, no matter how easy you want it to be. There are plenty of obstacles in your way, and one hurdle that you should eliminate straight away is distance! ‘Distance’ is different for each of us, depending on what we value in a relationship.
I’ve had lots of people tell me, “when you meet the One, anything is worth it,” or, “you’re worth travelling for.” Shit yeah I am, but I haven’t figured out yet if you are, and I’m not going to bank on it and make the foreseeable future about you until I’m sure.
I keep it simple: if you can’t easily get to each other’s houses after work for dinner or to go out, then it’s too far.
In dating, there are so many things which can go against you, and prove being with someone difficult or impossible. Realistically, the cornerstone of every relationship is what each person wants from it.
Our own histories dictate to us what we want from a relationship, and as such, what we don’t want from the person we’re considering getting jiggy wit’ longterm.
The reasons most people want a relationship vary, but the basics are simple:
- having someone to go to events with, so that you no longer have to answer the ‘why are you single’ questions
- being able to call or text each other after work and say, “it’s been a good/ shit day, how about coming over for dinner?”
- spontaneous dinners, shopping trips, nights out with friends
- not being the only single person at a dinner party- again, and of course,
- feeling part of society and connected to those around us by being part of a couple.
These are hard to make happen when you live far apart.
The regularity and frequency of the time we spend with our partner is one such stipulation that we might have for our relationships. Each has to fit into the other’s life, but time together is an essential part of any relationship.
Work and life schedules, children and ex-spouses, personality and individual characteristics; these and more, account for reasons you might or might not be compatible with someone.
Having somebody to spend time with, and with whom to go out and do things includes physical contact, whether it be affection or sex. That can be thwarted when someone lives too far away from you. Recognising how highly you value quality time with a partner will make your decision easy, when you meet someone who lives far away.
Living far away from each other can effect the dating process in a number of ways.
Melbourne has 321 suburbs- so many that on any given day you could meet someone and not recognise the suburb they’re from. If you don’t recognise it, there’s a good chance that you don’t live anywhere near each other.
And, it’s not just distance, it’s location. There are areas of Melbourne which are just tricky to get to. In some cases, it’s easier to date someone who lives further away than nearer, if the nearer suburb has no parking, limited public transport etc. But that doesn’t mean the more distant location is still a viable option. No doubt there are other cities where this occurs.
Where online dating is concerned, ‘meeting’ and conversing on the app are just the beginning. At that point, it’s easy to get swept up in the possible romance of it all, and to talk yourself into considering someone who lives nowhere near you.
As coffee dates are the norm these days, driving an hour or two for a ‘look see’ type of date is problematic, and could be seen as a waste of time for both of you.
When you don’t live or work near each other but you decide to give it a try, the actual organisation of the first date, or meeting, can be a logistical nightmare.
Trying to figure out a mid point between two locations which is more than a car park can be extremely difficult, particularly via an app’s messenger platform. Finding a restaurant or café which is open at a time which suits both your schedules, and for a length of time worth travelling the distance for, is quite another.
Then, you have to synchronise your arrivals to take advantage of the time you have together, to get the most out of it for the audition that you’re undertaking. Throw in one or both of you using public transport and it becomes harder still.
If that’s not an indication of the future for both of you, how much more do you need?
The next date will also require the same military type of planning. Where’s the romance in that? The date becomes more about how and when, than what and who you both are.
It also means that, in some cases, the relationship progresses more quickly than it should. When having to travel an hour or two to see each other, an overnight stay could be incorporated, ‘to make it worth it.’ This isn’t a good idea for a number of reasons, but at the very least, because it forces the premature acceleration of the relationship.
Getting together on the weekend can also prove difficult, because it means setting up camp at one or other’s house. Just going to dinner or to a party involves staying over, and that can mean the whole next day is dedicated to you two being together. That’s okay if that’s what you want, but guess what, you might actually have other people to see, or other things to do, during that time. Staying over at each other’s can get in the way of the life you already have- which needs to be maintained, particularly at the start of a relationship.
Planning a day out together when you live on opposite sides of the city can be difficult. A simple country drive can mean one of you going all the way to the other’s house, then both of you going for the drive, and then reversing the process. It’s arduous and lengthy. Or, you do the same as you did on the above first date- also problematic.
You could meet in the city, but that means you’re limited to what’s available there, rather than what you might actually want to do together.
And then there’s real long distance.
Urban – rural, interstate, or even overseas dating are even more ludicrous than across the city.
Video chat apps have been instrumental in improving long distance relationships of all kinds. It’s lovely that grandparents can keep in touch with their grandkids in foreign lands, however a relationship, as described above, needs more than screen time. Without physical contact, a long distance relationship is tantamount to that of one with your best friend, family member or colleague.
The only time a long distance relationship should even be considered is when a relationship is already well established- particularly when it’s very long distance. Even then, it should be considered carefully, and undertaken for as brief a time as possible.
When you’ve already been together for some time before a relocation, foundations have already been built. You’ve met each other’s friends and family and you both respect the reason you’re living so far apart.
Small things like new friends, and that one new person’s name mentioned too regularly, are less likely to become an issue because you already have a basis of trust established.
Seeing someone once a month because you live interstate means that for the rest of the time, you’re in a pseudo relationship. You have someone, but you can’t go anywhere with them. Birthdays and events are solo affairs- just like when you were single.
And, if you have to fly interstate to see each other, it can be an economic drain also. Depending on your financial situation, you might have to spend the whole month saving up for a flight, and money to spend while away. It’s no easier when they come to you, because you’d still go out and do things, which means you have to have money for that.
When money is lean, the visits get less frequent, and this can become straining on the relationship.
Living a few hours apart can be just as hard as living interstate. Driving a considerable distance means that you might spend more time driving to and from each other, than you actually have together.
So many people I speak to seem willing to get to know someone from online who lives interstate or even overseas. Physical affection might not be high on their list of relationship priorities. Their willingness to invest time in a virtual relationship with someone who might not be real, might be catfishing them, and thus they might never meet, is fascinating. Rather, they could look beyond the keyboard, closer to home, and actually experience dating and a real relationship. Choosing the former says a lot about what they think of themselves and their willingness to put themselves out there.
Apps like Skype and FaceTime could be used to get to know each other but they aren’t the same as real life interactions. They aren’t a substitute for seeing how someone deals with receiving the incorrect order in a restaurant, or watching their reaction when they step outside and see that the rain has cleared and been replaced by a beautiful rainbow. Time spent together is the key to how a relationship should develop.
If you’ve been getting to know each other from a distance and want to meet, it becomes a situation of who comes to who. Just as in the living across town example- accommodation becomes a factor. Do you stay together to get the most out of the time or do you do stay separately and get together to go out? Once again, it becomes more about practicalities than you two and how you feel about each other.
Some people look at intimacy as a commitment, and others do not. Sharing one’s space can be just as big a step for one person, as sex is to another. Therefore, the decision to stay together or not, can be momentous, when the start of a relationship is supposed to be fun and simple.
Whether you live an hour apart or a continent apart, it always seems to be that one person does more than the other. You spend time at one person’s house other than the other’s. One person has to wake up at crazy times to talk to the other, because that’s when they’re available and it’s ‘easier that way’. It effects so many areas of your life, and when you look at what you want from a relationship, you really have to consider whether you’re actually getting what you want from it.
The old adage of absence making the heart grow fonder is exactly that- an old adage. We live in a modern world, but relationships need to be built slowly. Distance doesn’t help that, it hinders it.
Decide what you’re looking for, and if spending time with someone is important, don’t even consider dating someone you can’t see regularly and easily.
I say, if I wanted to date someone and never see them, I’d just stay single.
Marie-Louise Pawsey is the founder of Life Stylin,’ which aims to help people who feel a bit stuck in their life, and unsure of their next step toward happiness. She helps them to examine aspects which are holding them back, and empowers them to make smart decisions that they will forever be confident in. facebook.com/LifeStylinDatingCoach