How to Really Get to Know Someone Long Distance: Tips & Warnings
Long-distance relationships are becoming more and more common in today’s society. Increasingly, people are more and more likely to live far away from their hometowns and families, to attend schools at a distant geographic location and to relocate for their careers.
Add to that, the growth of internet-based dating and social media and you can understand why so many couples find themselves in a long-distance relationship situation.
While some couples are separated by miles only after they have already established a relationship, others find themselves meeting and getting to know someone via the internet.
If you are one of these individuals, take heart. A 2014 paper by Emma Dargle (Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 41:2) found that there were similar levels of reported happiness between couples who were in geographically distant locations as there were for those living in the same location.
In fact, the study’s author notes that “individuals in long-distance dating relationships are not at a disadvantage.”
Many online dating experts actually recommend extending your search for love to a wider geographic range and not limiting yourself to dating or meeting only people who live within “x miles” of you.
Who’s to say that your soulmate doesn’t live in another city, state or even – gasp! – country?
Of course, all of this is highly personal and you are just as likely to end up in a good (or bad!) relationship online or long-distance as you are with someone who you see in person regularly.
What do you do if you feel like you are “clicking” with someone, if there is a mutual romantic attraction across the miles? How can you figure out if it’s really going to work out?
It’s a matter of putting in the time and effort to really get to know someone and to be a part of each other’s everyday lives. Is it possible to really get to know someone across the miles? The answer is complicated. Yes, it is possible to get to know someone online.
A relationship should be based largely on getting to know a person from the inside out and not being with each other in person can actually lead to deeper communication and a less physically-based relationship.
That said, the only way to ultimately know if you are meant for each other, if there is that indefinable chemistry, is to spend time together at some point.
Of course, that isn’t always immediately possible. So, in the meantime, how can you really get to know someone long distance?
1- MAKE YOUR FEELINGS KNOWN
Non-face-to-face communication can lead to miscommunication and misinterpretations of tone or intent.
If you are going to talk tche someone online prior to meeting him or her, or even chatting by phone or video, it’s important to make your interest known. You should be able to get a feel for whether or not someone is interested via written communication.
Still, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and state your romantic interests up front to find out if the other party feels the same. It’s also a good idea to establish how both parties feel about the possibility of a long-distance relationship. If both people are up for it, then you can begin to move forward.
It’s particularly important to be upfront and clear about your relationship status (when you get to that point.) There should be an understanding as to the level of commitment and the possibility (or not) of openness or seeing other people.
There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, nor is there only one way to treat a long-distance romance.
Rather, there should simply be a clear understanding between the two people involved that each is comfortable with.
To get to know someone who you do not see face to face, you will both have to be willing to open up to a level of vulnerability that allows you to discuss both serious and everyday issues.
You might find it helpful to use one of the many sites or books that has lists of “questions to get to know someone.” Interactive personality or compatibility quizzes, or even silly online games like “What Hogwarts house are you?” can help you get to know each other better.
2- USE TECHNOLOGY WISELY
There are so many different ways to communicate now. You can get to know each other via a variety of means – videos, FaceTime, chats, social media and more. Getting into a romantic relationship isn’t just about the big moments – the excitement and the novelty.
It’s also about the everyday experiences. Long-distance romances can easily lapse into a state of idealization, where each party sees and knows only the other’s online personality or their “best face.”
Technology makes it possible to talk just about anytime and anywhere and it’s vital that you use this to your advantage and show each other what daily life is really like.
In order to truly get to know another person, you both need to feel comfortable seeing each other as full human beings, with good days and bad days. You should be able to lean on each other for support when you need it, as well as sharing joyful and fun news.
Make time to talk “face to face” about issues big and small. Not every interaction needs to be a ‘fancy date night.’ As in real life, sometimes it’s nice to just hang out together quietly, say goodnight or have a quick recap about your day.
In addition to simply chatting via FaceTime, you can actually engage in activities together; which will bring you closer together and help you see where your mutual connections lie.
No couple share exactly the same interests, but by finding out what you enjoy doing together you will get to know each other better and have fun doing it.
Try downloading one of the many applications that will allow you to sync up and enjoy films together online. Or perhaps you’re into gaming? Log in and spend some time playing and chatting. Cook a meal together and share the results. The possibilities are almost endless.
On a less fun – but necessary – topic, there is a wealth of information to be found on the internet. It’s a good idea to take some time to research the person who you are interested in before you get in too deep.
While we all tend to want to present our “best sides” online, you can also learn a lot about a person from their activities online.
What does their social media say about them? Not just what the person is posting – but what are his or her interests? What pages or groups is he or she a part of? Who are his or her friends and what types of activities are they involved in?
Many people also have a professional online presence, be it through a company or personal website or a professional networking site like LinkedIn. Simply using a search engine to run a person’s name can reveal a wealth of information such as news articles, professional information, awards and more.
While this is no substitute for talking to get to know the real person, it can certainly give you an idea of what they are about and also alert you to any red flags.
3- CONSIDER THE HUMBLE LETTER
Technology is indeed a wonderful thing. That said, consider going back to some good old-fashioned analog conversation from time to time. Everyone loves receiving a hand-written letter.
Writing shows a great deal of care and time and there is something about a letter that is written on actual paper that tends to bring out people’s emotions.
Everyone loves receiving mail, but even more importantly, it can be easier for some people to articulate their true thoughts when they have time to ponder and put them into written form.
Along the same lines, cards and packages are another great way to share your interests and feelings. Making mix tapes or sending art or other handmade items can help some people to better express their feelings than with words alone.
Telephone calls can also be great. It’s a wonderful treat to hear someone’s voice across the miles. Be sure to be mindful of time zones when you are calling. Depending upon how far apart you are, time differences can make it quite difficult to match up schedules for calls.
But if you get creative, you can make it work. Perhaps for one of you it’s a good morning call and for the other it’s goodnight. Go with whatever works!
4- WATCH FOR WARNING SIGNS
When you are apart, how do you know that things are going wrong? How can you be sure that your new love interest is being honest with you?
First, let’s put this all in perspective. The truth is that whether long-distance or not, any romantic partner can be dishonest with you. While it may be easier to disguise that dishonesty from afar – at least at first – ultimately, the truth usually comes out.
While experts always advise caution in getting to know anyone you are dating, you should also be aware that long-distance relationships do not typically pose any more danger in terms of turning out badly than local ones.
There are, however, some serious signs that you can watch out for. If you see any of the following happening, it might be time to put on the brakes or, at least, investigate further.
- A new long-distance or online friend or romantic interest asks you for money. You should be immediately suspicious if someone you have not known for long asks you for money, regardless of reason. Yes, it’s possible that they are truly in need but unfortunately, it is just as likely that you are being scammed.
- Your long-distance romantic partner is avoiding meeting up in person. Yes, travel is pricy and it can get logistically tricky. However, if your partner continually makes and breaks plans to meet up or puts it off – or seems to not want you to see where he or she lives – this should set off alarm bells. There may be something that he or she is hiding.
- Your boyfriend or girlfriend is showing signs of being controlling or suspicious of your everyday activities. Jealousy is a natural human emotion that rears its head from time to time in any relationship. But you should be concerned if someone is constantly nervous about what you are doing when he or she is not there. Particularly in long-distance relationships, there has to be a level of trust and an understanding that you can both have separate interests, friends and lives but still come together as a couple.
- Be wary of an instant love connection. It takes time to know someone. If you are feeling any pressure from a new online interest to move quickly or you have not yet met in person and he or she is already talking about a serious relationship, moving or even getting married, that should be a red flag. It’s entirely possible that your online connection will translate well into real life but it is equally possible that it won’t. Sometimes, the chemistry simply won’t be there but you won’t know that until you are able to spend time together in real life.
In the end, a long-distance relationship should not be a permanent situation. It may be necessary to be apart for a time because of life circumstances, or perhaps you simply happen to have met someone you care about who doesn’t live near you.
But the only way to truly be sure that you are meant for each other is to spend time together. It doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation or anything super impressive. Simply being in the same place is enough.
Not every online dating experience or long-distance romance is destined to last for the long-haul but the research shows that you’ve got a good shot.
So there is no reason to limit yourself to meeting only people within your immediate area. Get out there and find your soulmate!