Red Rhino

The personal scriptorium of Joshua Corlew.

How to Make Long-Distance Relationships Work

These are probably more helpful than some of the cell phones I have had to deal with over the last few years.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be in a relationship with an amazing girl.  Hannah Marie, my girlfriend of three years, is my best friend and the person I like being with most.  Our story is kinda funny.  I have thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world since I first found girls pretty, and after liking her for many years, she finally caved in and liked me back.  We started dating the summer before I left for college.  Since then, we have kept a relationship up over the course of three years, through two universities, summer camps, jobs, internships and the like.

Over the course of these three years I have realized two things.

1. I really do like this Hannah Marie girl, and…

2. I really do hate long-distance.

Allow me but a moment to expound on the highly sophisticated form of torture Hannah and I have willingly put ourselves through.  The “honeymoon” period of our new dating relationship was condensed to roughly a month and a half before I was off at college.  During this period many people, seeking our best interests for sure, encouraged us that our relationship had as much of chance of lasting 3 months as Kim Kardashian’s marriage had of surviving 2 months.  Needless to say, we both proved them wrong.  When I first went to college I was flooded with a bunch of “How to Be a Christian in College”-type books that every relatively Christian kid is sure to receive when they finish High School.  One of them, at the end of the book, gave a list of helpful advice.  One of the prominent pieces of advice was to “Dump your High School Girlfriend.” I have never read another line in that book.

The torture is made all the worse by those friends who happen to have girlfriends by their sides almost all the time.  The idea of being with the person you like nearly everyday is relatively alien and foreign to me.  It is like something out of a Lord of the Rings movie; awesome, but ultimately a fantasy.  Add on to that those few people that warn you that you’ve wasted three years of your life dating someone who you can’t see on a regular basis.  These people actually make the agony a bit lighter…it’s something to laugh at.  The warning is always “well,  I guess you are missing out on all the fun.”  Yeah, I guess they are right. I would rather date someone I like less and find less attractive and amazing, so long as they are close by.  Okay.  That makes sense.

Honestly though, I am not sure I would recommend going the long-distance route to many people.  Mine and my girlfriend’s circumstances were unique in that, while we had only been dating a little while before being pried apart, we had known each other for many years.  If you meet a girl at a party who lives in California and you are from New York, I am not saying to trust your hormones and begin a long-distance relationship.  This has to be someone you want to be with for a while, not a friend with benefits.

With all that said, if you should still so desire to start a relationship spanning the state, nation or globe, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Don’t Have Sprint Cell-Phone Service – Just don’t.  I was on the verge of a violent outburst of cursing nearly every day, particularly after Sprint decided to drop our call for the fourth time in a 5 minute span.  This affliction spanned two living locations and multiple phones.  Few things have made me more willing to just forget long-distance than Sprint.  That is sad, but true.  I’m not advertising for any other phone brand, but I am saying, if you value love and sanity, don’t get Sprint.

Me sentiment toward Sprint cell phones.

2. Text a Lot – My girlfriend and I do not have the luxury of having to worry about either being clingy or overbearing.  The flip side is that it can be easy to become disconnected from the other’s life.  In order to somehow fill in the gap, we text a lot through the day, and it keeps us on the same page with what the other is doing.  I don’t think a relationship can function well if both people are not on the same page with the other’s life.  If I am unable to relate or know what she is up to, what she has coming up in 2 days, or about the quiz she has at 3pm, I firstly can’t pray for her, and secondly am reduced to more of a “boyfriend” than an actual friend.  So we make an intentional effort to keep each other actively updated on the other’s life, as my father can attest to, whenever he calls to let me know the amount of texts we send to each other every month.  Hey, we got unlimited texting, so I’m going to use it.

Note: Don’t text and drive.  Or at least don’t use this post as an encouragement to do so.

3. Get a Car/Plane/Boat/Bicycle – Relatively simple.  We went our first year without either of us having any form of transportation and that wasn’t too fun.  I got a car between my first and second year at school and it made seeing her far more easy.  Just knowing I can get up and leave to see her at any time – be it in class, on a Sunday afternoon, or a Friday night – is relatively wonderful.  It breaks that feeling of being isolated.  Before, getting to see her would require someone else to be headed in the same general direction and that is not very reliable.

I like to say that my car saved our relationship; she likes to say I over-exaggerate.

4. Talk About Your BF/GF A Lot – I do not mean that your life should be so centrally revolved around your bf/gf that you can not talk about anything else, or that you try to annoy other people (single people are fun) with the fact that you have a girlfriend.  What I mean is that you need to talk about them and make it known to most people you get in contact with that you have a bf/gf and that you really like them.  It is a precautionary measure.  I have known people for a while and found out only through Facebook a few months after first meeting them that they have a girlfriend or a boyfriend far away.  That is just weird.  I also have had friends fall for people and be seriously considering dating them before finding out that such-and-such was in a relationship with someone back home.  My point is, for the sake of those who might ever be attracted to you, talk about your girlfriend.  For the sake of yourself, to keep yourself accountable and transparent, talk about your girlfriend.  And, uhm, because you are crazy about her and she is your favorite person in the whole wide world, please, talk about your girlfriend.

5. Make God First – Obviously, I am not married or even engaged.  I am not able to tell you the in and outs of “successful dating” or how to have an enduring love.   I differ to Joshua Harris and Gary Chapman on those issues.  But I do know that in any relationship, be it friendship, marriage, dating, or just with your siblings, making God the goal, the purpose, and the point of the relationship is completely and absolutely integral.  Not that I’ve done it perfectly.  But when the point is to make sure your relationship glorifies God – in dating, this might be through purity, equal respect for each other, maintaining a right sense of closeness and distance, and through serving and sacrificing for the other as one should do for any friend or enemy – than you have the most important element needed to make any relationship work out.

Even if one is a Gator and the other a Seminole.

At the FSU vs. UF game in Gainesville.

“Long distance sucks.”

– Everyone

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3 comments on “How to Make Long-Distance Relationships Work

  1. Andrew
    May 22, 2012

    “And then she finally caved in, and like me”. Great line. Yeah man, I did the long distance thing for two years, and not fun. But it sounds like you got it figured out.

  2. Allison
    May 22, 2012

    Cute cute cute. ❤ y'all.

  3. Stephanie Cunningham
    May 22, 2012

    1.My first semester away at FSU I had something over 14,000 texts. I can’t remember now if that was sent/received combined…but needless to say my mom kind of flipped. It does make everything so much nicer when you both know what’s going on and there are no surprises of what each other are doing or who they’re spending time with.

    2. Talk about your bf/gf a lot. – AMEN! We had a girl in our bible study one year and were caring for her all semester, we didn’t know she had a bf until a few weeks before they got engaged…soooo awkward!

    3. I commend you for being a “house” divided…I know your relationship must be from the Lord. :] (Hannah, I love you…just not the orange and blue ;] )

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