I Put My Long-Distance Relationship on a Texting Diet

Janelle Harris

Woman, textingIf the guys in your area are anything like the ones in mine, fellow single ladies, then you’re probably extending your dating pool past city and state lines. You almost have to in order to sniff out someone who fits the requirements. Honestly, how hard is it to find an ambitious, gorgeous man with the cuddliness of a kitten and the brute manliness of a linebacker who is intelligent, makes a decent income, adores your very footprints, has washboard abs, and loves kids and his mama?

Gosh, you’d think a girl was asking a lot.

The quest for that kind of male perfection can take you on an adventure into long-distance relationships. And since I’m the reigning Queen of the Multi-Mile Romance (excuse me as I shine my crown), I’ve learned how to navigate these coupledoms. And I can tell you this: texting and emailing will make them go sour quicker than a gallon of milk chillin’ on Miami beach. 

My quest for a good, quality guy took me to that notoriously ritzy playland of fun and excitement otherwise known as Wilmington, Delaware (ha!) where my boo, a Philadelphia-born and bred transplant, lives with his daughter. Yep, he’s a single father. Isn’t that just precious? A single mother and a single father with girls about the same age crushing on each other across the miles after friending each other on — of all places — Facebook? But unlike my first forays into love over the length of the map, too much technology actually worked to tangle up our budding romance.

My first boyfriend lived in Brooklyn while I was in college in Pennsylvania. We got chewed out for running up our mother’s long distance phone bills (my mom still doesn’t have it, matter of fact. Guess she really was scarred) and burnt up calling cards — remember those? — like I ran through ramen noodles and Kool-Aid in my dorm room. We did some emailing, but mostly we talked. You know, actually picking up the phone and having a conversation.

After that three-year fling derailed into Doomsville, I met my second honey, who lived in DC proper while I moved to New York City to chase my dream of being a writer. He was more of a face-to-face guy, not a phone chatter by any stretch of the imagination, so what turned out to be an eight-year-long love affair was built on looking dreamily into each other's eyes and breaking out into random bouts of bickering over chips or football or whatever it was we used to tiff about. But it was all done in person, accented by phone time here and there.

So I notice that the turbulence that has brewed in this new Wilmington-Washington outfit comes from a lot of miscommunication courtesy of the gajillion texts and emails The Man and I have exchanged to stay in touch with each other during the day. But there was a new, definite downside: there’s no tone to the print word, no way to strip out our mutually snarky and sarcastic comments from our sincere and bona fide thoughts aside from punctuating them with a lame “LOL.” We were getting messages and catching attitudes like, “what the heck is that supposed to mean?” on an almost weekly basis. Like my feet, which stand in desperate need of a spring prep pedicure, it wasn’t pretty.

So we had to make some changes in order to cut down on the level of drama that was disrupting our love thing. The new rule: no texting or emailing about serious stuff. Anything about the girls, money, gripes about the relationship in general — all of those sensitive topics that may raise emotions or tempers have to now be handled over the phone, or better yet, during one of our weekend visits. Even with Skype and ooVoo, nothing beats being in each other’s faces. And it often squelches what would’ve turned into a major blowout just because we’re able to laugh off more of the things that would’ve pissed us off over the miles.

I’m not saying you can’t shoot a quick “hey, just thinking about ya” message or send a funny joke to his inbox that you thought was just too hilarious (which, turns out, didn’t make him so much as chuckle, but that’s neither here nor there). And I realize for couples doing the super duper distance, I know that Facetime isn’t nearly as possible, which means they have to set up a whole new set of rules that work for them. But I just encourage women looking for love not to discount the LDR because it seems too challenging to tackle. Just put the texts on the shelf and save the emailing for work.

Do you have a long-distance relationship success or horror story?

Image via -Tripp-/Flickr
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