With most online dating sites, you can choose how far from your current location you want to look. That way, the results you find are usually near you, and a long-distance relationship (LDR) is not an issue. But sometimes, things can change. You might:
Start looking further and further from home just to see who’s out there;
Meet someone while you’re on a trip, which means that, when you go home, you’re not geographically close anymore;
Meet someone close to home, but then something happens that moves one of you away (job offer, sick relative, etc).
“What do you mean, you’re seeing Beth from Accounting??”
In short, no matter what you do, you might find yourself staring down the barrel of an LDR, either right away or sometime down the road in a relationship. When that happens, it’s not necessarily the end of the world; many people have successful LDRs. I myself have had two, one of 9 months and one of 1.5 years, and they both worked out very well (still married to that last one). But in order to make an LDR work, there are some things you really have to consider beforehand.
Is this an exclusive, monogamous relationship? The very first thing to figure out when you are distant from your partner is, are we going to see other people? Make sure that the answer to this isn’t taken for granted; talk about it, figure out what each of you wants, and go from there. Don’t just assume that, if you’re faithful, they will be, too, or if you plan to date around, they’ll understand. Hash it out, and if you can’t agree on an answer, it might be best to part ways.
Stay in touch, in multiple ways. You’ve decided to make a go of it, and that’s great. Fortunately, there are so many communication tools to help you! Your phone can call, text, Skype and email, and we recommend doing all of these. Video chats (like Skype and others) are particularly great because seeing each other helps keep the connection fresh. And every once in a while, send a real, snail-mail card or letter. Everyone likes getting happy mail, and it’s a fun surprise.
Keep your friendships and family relationships strong. When you’re in a twosome, it’s easy to get all caught up in the coupleness and let other relationships fall by the wayside, at least for a while. But in an LDR, it can feel downright lonely to watch TV alone, go to bed alone, eat dinner alone. It’s very important (and good for the health of your partnership) to keep your friendships and family connections going. Hang out with your pals… Have dinner with the folks… Go shopping with your sis. A solid foundation of friends and family is vital for ANY relationship (it can’t all just be about the love), and in an LDR, that’s especially important.
Talk about everything, even the little things. You might feel like the everyday minutiae don’t merit discussing because, come on, you don’t get to talk to this person as often as you’d like. But seriously, talk like you see each other every day. Chat about the little wins, the tiny annoyances, the irrational fears. Opening up in a personal, everyday sort of way has a lot of advantages. One, it makes the relationship feel more real (talking like “normal” couples talk); two, it can prevent issues like jealousy, because you can talk out the things that are bugging you; and three, it gives you a chance to REALLY get to know each other, from the big things to the small. Distance can be an issue in a few ways: you might have trouble trusting the other person, and the spans of time between visits can prolong the “getting to know you” stuff and make an otherwise-mediocre relationship seem way better than it actually is. Communicate daily, about any little thing, and it’ll get “real” much faster.
We’ve talked before about things you should NOT do in/with your dating profile photo, but there are positive things you can do with your photo that will help you get the right kind of notice. Dating profile photos are basically the first impression you give to someone, after all, so how you come across matters a great deal. The folks at eHarmony crunched some numbers and came up with some patterns for what profile photos work and why, so here are a few tips based on their findings that just might give you a hand in catching someone’s eye.
Post several photos to your dating profile. The first and best piece of advice is generally to have more than one photo on your profile. The eHarmony numbers say go even higher: those with 4 or more pics on their profile got the most communication. When you think about it, it makes sense: you can showcase yourself in a variety of ways, from a variety of angles and in various lights, and paint a complete picture of who you are.
Putyour best (left) face forward. Studies have shown that, when people are presented two photos that are similar but show different sides of a person’s face, the photos that show the left side of the face are called more pleasing to look at. As it turns out, the left side of our face shows more emotion. You don’t have to go completely in profile, though; find a photo that shows your face turned just slightly, with the left side showing more than the right. Don’t have a good pic of yourself showing your left side? Take a good right-sided pic and flip it in a photo editing program.
Go for 3×4 landscape pics or portrait-style pics, all at a medium distance.
Medium distance shows more of who you are.
Again, this makes sense when you think about it. A medium distance (say, showing you from the waist up) displays your face well but also shows more of you than just your face, giving the potential date a chance to see more of your body type (because like it or not, that matters, and too many people have horror stories about meeting up with someone who didn’t match their self-reported body type). Make sure you shot is focused and well-lit, and don’t crop other people out of pics that you’re in. It just looks bad to do that.
A first date in person is a great way to get to know someone better. But if dining out is part of your first date plan, be careful which restaurant, and even which meal, you choose. Some foods lend themselves quite well to first dates (or any dates, for that matter), while others set you up for a less-than-pleasant experience.
First, a few GOOD choices for first date food. You might try:
Swiss or not, fondue is a sexy choice.
Fondue – yes, it has the potential to be messy, but in a fun way. There’s something intimate about a shared pot of hot cheese. And feeding each other is a flirty way to get closer.
Picnic – Sandwiches and fruit under a tree in the park are no muss, no fuss. They travel well, don’t make much mess and give you the portability to enjoy the great outdoors. Cap it off with some cookies!
Appetizers + Dessert – Light fare, finger foods and other small plates provide a lot of variety without the heaviness or mess of larger meals. Then split a slice of cheesecake or chocolate temptation.
Now on to the things you should definitely NOT eat on a first date:
Large amounts of onion or garlic. These two pungent flavors are delicious, but they stay with you for a loooong time after, no matter how many breath mints you eat. Garlic is so strong that, if you put cloves of it between your toes, you can actually TASTE it after a while. Skip the garlic sauces, onion rings and other potentially-powerful flavors.
Ribs and other BBQ with sauce. This is a mess waiting to happen, both for your face and your clothes. And no one finds another person attractive when they’re wearing a protective bib. Try to avoid food that makes you look like a caveman to eat.
Corn on the cob. Tasty as it is, it’s a mess to eat, and you’ll probably still be finding corn hairs and kernels in your teeth hours later. Unless you carry floss with you at all times (and don’t mind using it all night), avoid this side dish.
Super-spicy or fermented foods. Not only are these flavors so strong as to overpower everyday mints (see garlic, above), but they aren’t for everyone. If your date has a more bland palate or simply doesn’t like excessive spice or flavors like kimchi, you’ll be an instant turn-off if you eat those things. Save the exotic options for a later date.
Whole crab, lobster, peel-and-eat shrimp or other crustaceans/shellfish. Most of these have to be eaten, at least in part, with the fingers, and that’s not fun to watch. It’s messy, usually involves bib-wearing (see BBQ, above), and in the end, you’re ripping up a dead carcass for your meal. Sure, it tastes awesome, but the visual is hard to get past. Perhaps on a later date, when you’re more comfortable with each other, you can split a bucket of shrimp and a few beers and laugh about the mess you’re making. But not on the first date!
The most expensive thing on the menu. On the first date, you may be looking to seem like you’ve got it going on. Ordering the top entrée can give the appearance of wealth and/or taste. But seriously, don’t do it unless you REALLY love whatever it is. Your date will be less impressed by the gesture than you think. Instead, give the meal options some thought, perhaps talk about how you’re torn between two (reasonable) choices, and select something that you genuinely like. You won’t have fun on this date if you’re choking down something you don’t enjoy eating!
For most people, the do’s and don’ts of first date conversation can vary quite a bit. Some people say never to talk about politics or religion, while others insist that those topics are vital in getting to know if someone is a good match. Talking about exes is generally a no-no, while discussing music is usually safe. Some things, however, fall firmly in the do-not-say category. In the spirit of humor (and just a touch of uncomfortable realism), here’s a list of twenty of those particular no-go comments that should get you kicked to the curb in no time flat:
Do you have a photo of your mom? I want to see whether you’re going to age well.
What are your feelings on roleplaying as badgers?
Mind if I take a quick blood sample?
I think Hitler was somewhat misunderstood.
You can’t be a REAL gamer unless you play [insert obscure game here].
I’m a better driver when I’m drinking.
What does your hair smell like?
This tie is made of real baby seal pelt!
I’m not a crazy cat person. It takes at least 10 cats for that, and I only have 8.
I’m pretty sure the moon landing was a hoax.
Come on, don’t you read the science? Vaccines cause autism!
Want to hear about my kidney stone experience?
If climate change were real, it would never be snowing out.
You should meet my parents! And look, they’re right over at that table!
Well, I’m currently married, but it’s just a green card marriage so it doesn’t count.
Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?
You sure you want to order that? It has a lot of calories, and you probably don’t need them…
I like that shirt on you! It’s a lot better than the one you wore last night when you were sleeping.
Sorry to rush you, but I have another date after this one.
I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, egg-free and sugar-free. Also I’m allergic to water, but I take a pill for that.