Long Distance Dates: How To Date Your Partner 3,000 Miles Away

long distance love . . . it's possible.

long distance love . . . it's possible.

Long-distance relationships are hard — for a lot of reasons. But a lack of date ideas doesn’t have to be one of them.

I had a crush on my current partner for years before I finally told him.

Part of the reason why I kept it a secret for so long is because we collaborated sometimes in a professional capacity, and so it didn’t feel appropriate. And part of it was because I really had no idea how he’d react because he never flirted back whenever I tried (babe, I know you think you did, but you didn’t).

But eventually, one night I was feeling bold (read: had had enough) and texted him, “I’ve had a crush on you forever and if you ever wanted to take me on a date, I’d be into it.”

“How am I supposed to take you on a date?” he asked, texting back from California, while I sat on a subway train on the opposite side of the country in Philadelphia.

I told him to figure it out. And figure it out he did.

Our first date happened the next Sunday night — on Skype. And while I’ll hold back my giddiness in spilling all of the details of that night to you, I will say this: The sunset was involved. And candles. And dinner. And fancier-than-jeans-and-a-T-shirt attire.

He brought his date game hard — even over video — and it was honestly probably the nicest first date I’d ever been on in my life. Needless to say, I was smitten — and we’ve been dating ever since.

And while we wile away the time between visits and toy with the idea of one of us moving, we continue to go on Skype dates. And they’re surprisingly really fun.

So if you’re in a long-distance relationship, too, and wondering how to make it work in separate spaces, here are some ideas for dates that you can go on.

1. Dinner for Two (Times Two!)

If you’re anything like me, food is central to your social life. I never think to ask my friends to hang out at places that aren’t restaurants — there’s so much deliciousness to try, and only so much time! And since my beau is into the art of fine dining, too, it’s a match made in heaven – except for the part where we live on separate coasts. Ugh.

But we still manage to have dinners together.

One way that you can do this is to order food at the same time and meet on Skype in the process. What’s even better is if you order the same type of food (like, say, both order pizza or Thai) so it’s like you’re actually at a restaurant together, sharing a meal. 

Another way to make this happen is to cook together, separately. I recently bought both my partner and myself a copy of the same cookbook — with the intention of picking out recipes to try together. That way, you can cook the exact same meal and then meet to talk about how it tastes (and to compare culinary prowess a la who plates better).

2. Play a Game Together

Board games bring out the best (and the worst) in all of us, and it can be a super fun way to hang out with your partner — especially if you both have an incurable competitive streak.

While some games are impossible to play together when you’re not in the same room (think: my favorite card game, Egyptian Rat Screw), there are plenty that you can make happen with just a little bit of creativity.

For instance, my partner and I once played Scattergories together, even though he doesn’t own the game. I pulled out the timer and the die from my set, and I sent him screen shots of each of the playing cards. The game lasted for over an hour and the laughs put me in a great mood (well, that and winning — but it was only by a point).

And there are other games that are easy to play, too. Battleship, for example, doesn’t require physical closeness. And even something like chess or checkers could be modified by way of moving pieces appropriately.

3. Have a Chat — But a Planned One

Dates are important. In fact, I think it should be required that people in relationships continue to go on dates throughout their time together, regardless of how long they’ve been dating. Not only does it give the romance a chance to stay alive, but it also allows you to continue getting to know one another.

Which is why I take every opportunity on a date with my partner — yes, even IRL — to deep-dive into tough subjects and really put effort forth in learning more about his past, present, and future.

Once, for a Skype date that I planned, I told my partner to think of three questions — about absolutely anything — that he wanted to ask me, but maybe hadn’t found the opportunity to bring up. We spent the entire date asking one another our questions and getting some answers with a lot of depth.

Another awesome idea, whether the relationship is new or established, is to look at a sexual inventory checklist (like this one). The list goes through different sexual situations that are important to discuss with a partner, from body boundaries to birth control and safer sex options to what you’ve done, what you’d like to try, and what’s a big no for you. It’s a great, less-awkward avenue to talking about sex in a big way and to understand one another’s needs more intimately.

All of that too intense for you? You could also have a book or movie date, where you each read the same novel or watch the same film and then get together with discussion questions.

Long-distance relationships are hard — for a lot of reasons. But a lack of date ideas doesn’t have to be one of them.

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