There is no “right” or “wrong” decision when considering a long-distance relationship. I know couples that met online, never lived in the same state, and ended up happily married with kids. Then there are marriages that must deal with distance due to job or school changes that crumble after just a few months apart. There are many things to take into consideration when thinking about dating long distance. Here are five questions to guide you as you make your decision:
Are you willing to go to greater lengths to spend time with this person?
The first step is to make sure that you would want to keep dating this person, even if you weren’t moving away. The good news is the two of you have enjoyed the last nine months getting to know each other. Is your desire to spend time with your girlfriend so strong that you are willing to commit great effort and resources in order to make it happen? If so, then likely you are ready to embark on a long-distance relationship.
Are you ready for the challenge of dating while spending limited time together?
Who you both are as people is key to making long-distance work. First, take a look at who you are in the relationship. Do you feel like you can be yourself around your girlfriend? Can you be honest with her about the times you have been disappointed or upset with her? Can you talk about uncomfortable topics, or do you tend to remain focused on your romantic feelings for each other? Dating long-distance will require a lot of communication, including discussions about expectations and how the reality of the situation might be different from what you planned.
Do you trust each other?
Next, take a look at who she is in the relationship with you. Is she honest with you? What are your expectations of faithfulness? What I’m really asking is: Can you trust her? Can you trust her to make you feel secure in your relationship even if you are hundreds of miles away? Can you trust her to be honest with you if she starts to have concerns? And even more important, can she trust you? Are you ready to sacrifice meeting and dating other people in your new city in order to remain dedicated to her? Can you be responsible for her heart? If you feel that you may have some curiosity or interest in meeting new people, then you must be upfront with her. It really comes down to how important she is to you.
Would you say you have a strong relationship?
When she reaches out to you for care, or comfort, or simply to feel close, how do respond? Do you feel you can reach out and ask for the same things? This means taking the extra time to have an important conversation, even when there is something else you’re supposed to be doing. It means listening to her concerns when you are not concerned at all. It means asking her to start or stop doing something for you, rather than complaining to your friends about what she is or isn’t doing. It means making sure you both feel close emotionally, not just physically. She may know about most of the details going on in your life, but does she know how you feel about them? If there is anything she needs to know about you, your family or your past that may affect how she feels about dating you, fess up before you leave.
Have you invited God into your relationship?
Sharing your faith and experiencing God’s love as a part of your love for each other is a powerful aspect of any relationship. If Christ and the Church are important to you, then it’s important to share that side of yourself with her, as sharing your spirituality will foster intimacy. Even if you worship in different ways or have different theological beliefs, who you are in Christ is just as important as who you are in this relationship. Your shared faith can be a source of strength and comfort while you are apart. Or, if your faith creates conflict between the two of you, it can become a source of struggle. If you have opened your heart wide enough to be practicing chastity within your relationship, then figuring out where she is going to stay while visiting you may also become a challenge.
Let’s not forget, dating long-distance can be a lot of fun! You will get to explore a new city with your girlfriend, and the right relationship will provide you with much-needed support during a major transition. Dating long-distance can have a “honeymoon” effect, where absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Just make sure you continue to be authentic. During your visits together, don’t avoid subjects just to avoid disagreements. Pushing anything under the rug will only create a very large bolder you’ll have to tiptoe around later.
I hope you are able to search your heart for your true feelings as you explore some of these questions, and you are able to discuss them opening and honestly as a couple. If so, you are off to a great start making any type of relationship work!