Confession: The Drawbacks of Long-Distance Dating

computer_hearts_postitsphoto by mtkopone

Our contributor Ryan, who blogs at Student Loans for Beer Money, has a confession to make:

Most summers I look forward to an endless string of parties at which I usually get hammered and hook up with some stranger. I’m a 19-year-old guy — how else am I supposed to pass the idle nights of this school-free season? What I didn’t plan for this year was 1) meeting a girl I genuinely liked the last month of school, 2) actually asking her out, officially, and 3) spending my summer nights hunched over a laptop talking to her (she’s home in New York, I’m back in Massachusetts).

So now I’m in an “e-relationship.” It’s as if cruel Cupid decided that two years of in-the-flesh college debauchery deserved a summer-long fate of long-distance dating. While it’s something that’s becoming more and more common thanks to the Internet, and it’s something I’ve gotten better at over recent weeks, it’s not something I’d recommend. Virtual dating definitely has its drawbacks:

  • WiFi Blue Balls — Imagine waiting all day to see your girlfriend, the anticipation of talking to her and just being able to unwind at the end of the day. Now compact that with three months of zero physical contact. Now imagine sitting down for your long-awaited moment of reprise and having no signal. The miserable nights I’ve spent carrying my laptop around my house hoping to find a signal (my dad doesn’t believe in paying for Internet when I’m gone all year), just to end in a huddle in some corner of my house attempting to say hello.
  • Phone Phobia — I dislike the phone. I’m not good at talking on it. It’s really uncomfortable for me. I never know what or how to say what I want without any context. In real life, there are all kinds of vocal and physical cues to go on; online there’s text, which I’m pretty comfortable reading into. On the phone, here’s what happens: she says something, I say something too fast, she says “What?” then I start again too soon, I cut her off, and then she says “What?” again, and then silence. This happens over and over again. I’ve dated all through high school and in college, and I’m still a vicious opponent to the phone. Also, what’s with that thing where you call a girl and then she’s talking to a bunch of her friends? Are you supposed to sit and listen to them giggle? Do I say sorry and call back later? Like I said, I hate the phone, its etiquette eludes me, but either way I now have to rely on it for some kind of intimacy.
  • Digital Desperation — Maybe it’s just my over-analytical mind having nothing to do but worry, but I’m concerned at how often I’m online waiting to talk to her. It’s like the minutes next to my “online time” are some kind of stamp on my forehead that reads “He has nothing better to do but wait for you all day long.” We weren’t dating in real life long before summer interrupted things, so I suppose I’m still in that stage where I want her to like me but not think I’m desperate. I blame the testosterone in my bloodstream. I doubt its evolutionary design ever even considered the appropriate masculine response for playing it cool on the Internet.
  • Distant Memories — If you’re a new couple dating over the Internet, then you run the risk of having all of those “big, meaningful conversations” that new couples have not face-to-face. When you look back, you’d be remembering a glowing computer screen instead of the true object of your affection. Not very romantic.

Somehow, despite all this, we’ve made it work. Whether it be making do with the crappy internet connection late at night, sucking it up and talking on the phone, or staying in every couple nights and not feeling too bad I’m perched over a computer screen chatting away. And we agreed not to have those any of those “big, meaningful conversations,” for now. Instead of diving into our relationship, we’ve pulled it back almost to the nervous, playful days before I asked her out. We flirt, we gossip, trade jokes over Facebook, watch trashy television together and IM each other with snarky comments about it. The other day we watched a marathon of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life Of An American Teenager” and crapped all over it together for hours.

The distance has forcibly done something positive, I think, which is to force us to appreciate the simple forms of affection. It’s allowed us to really get to know all the superficial aspects of one another. As if our first month was stretched over four months, giving us plenty of time to ease into something.

Positive or not, though, it’s been a grueling endurance test. We’re almost to the summer’s end (thank god!) and most of our conversations now are just lists of really sexy things we plan to do to each other back at school, which helps pass the time. Until then I just have wait it out… while I continue to try to convince her to have video chat sex with me.


  1. yeah so my boyfriend move to Tennessee and I lived in Texas..6 mths. passed and got married…now its been 8 yrs of marriage 2 kids and a house later..still in love and yeah it can work and I loved talking on the phone (no skype then)..but phone sex is delicious…sometimes we leave dirty messages on our voicemail that only we can hear..that reminds us of those days when we had to hold it : )….so yeah patience needs time to build up and love needs it to grow..don’t settle for convenience when your true love is just a text or a spicy phone call away…

  2. I’m happy to read the LDR succes stories. My boyfriend just left a month ago to go on internship in Australia (the other side of the world!) and I won’t be seeing him until June… It sucks, but I believe we’ll make it. We’ve been together for 2 years and neither of us is the cheating type. Skype does really help, though. Being able to see eachother definitely makes it easier.

    Oh, and video chat sex might not be as good as the real thing, but it is fun 😉

  3. Ryan,

    Dude, your girlfriend lives a state away! Go visit her!!! My boyfriend and I spent a year apart after I had to move back to the U.S. (he lives in South America).

    Apart from that, I agree with this article. Being in a relationship for a year without being able to physically touch each other brought us closer in the long run. The only interaction we could have was conversation, so we talked about EVERYTHING. When we finally were together the awkwardness lasted for about an hour and then it just felt normal.

  4. Wow… I’m actually in a LDR myself, and I agree with Trish: Skype really is a LDR’s best friend!

    It can be hard… I’ve known this boy my entire life (literally. Our mums met when they were pregnant with us). I was born a week earlier then him.
    He lives in Australia (as did I, once upon a time) and I now live in Panama, a tiny country in Central/South America. We started with letters, than moved onto skype and email. It’s been going on several years now. Next year I’m going back to Australia…

  5. It takes lots of commitment to stay in a long distance relationship, and trust, Trust is big!!! Lots of times these type of relationships fail, because one person needs physical contact all the time, and ends up cheating, and feeling guilty because they figured out that they cannot commit. It’s always great to see it work out though, it means that there are people out there that care deeply for their bf/gf and will wait for them!!

  6. You can do it! If you really love each other, with of course effort into it, everything’s gonna be alright! I dated my bf for 6-7mos before he moved abroad (NOT just to another state ugh! lols) and after 2 years, we’re still together! Every time I visit him is an adventure! We’d go to places we both have never been 🙂 I miss him, sure, and it’s not easy all the time, but all you need is trust and a plan how to make things work – hopefully in the near future for you guys!

    P.S. Skype is every LDR couple’s best friend 🙂

  7. Yep, true indeed. lol I’ve been in a LDR for too long now, and he lives across the big pond. We want to live together. Unfortunately that’s easier said then done. Now I’m pretty much waiting for the day we can start our lives together. It gets hard sometimes, but we both agree it’s worth waiting for.

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