Q: My boyfriend and I are moving away to college next semester, except he’s going to be over 3 hours away now. I was wondering do you have any advice or tips on how to keep a strong God centered relationship going, even through there will be a distance between us? Is it even healthy to have a relationship like this? I would really appreciate some help to this subject.
A: Thanks for the email. I know the challenges of being separated from the one you love: I spent the first 20 years of my life living 100 miles away from the nearest Chipotle.
In all seriousness, I know that it’s not easy. I’ve been in a few long distance dating relationships, and while mine didn’t work out, I have some friends whose relationships survived the geographical separation and now are happily married.
Though they are difficult in some ways, long distance relationships also offer unique opportunities to grow in communication skills. You and your boyfriend are forced to communicate more than most couples who live near each other, but I know it can also add pressure to those times when you are together. I have three thoughts in regards to seeking your vocation within a long-distance dating relationship:
1. Be Honest.
I know that sounds obvious, but make sure that you both give the other person the freedom to share honestly as the relationship continues. While perseverance and loyalty are virtues that prepare us for marriage, it’s important that neither you nor your boyfriend just “stick it out” and stay in the relationship if you find your heart and your life moving in a different direction.
Love is always about freedom, so it’s important that both of you have the confidence to know that the other person is dating you because they really choose to and not just because you’ve already invested so much time in the relationship. That doesn’t mean that you should expect feelings of bliss constantly, but make sure you both keep lines of communication open so you can both share as God continues to move your hearts in whatever direction He wills.
2. Be Present.
As much as possible, be present to where God has you now. I’m sure you’re already doing this, but make sure that you’re nurturing good friendships with other girls and that your boyfriend is finding good community as well. For whatever reason, God has you both in different places. I’m confident that He has specific things He wants to give you and reveal to you where you are, so make sure you take time to be present and soak up the graces He has for each of you where you are.
And of course when you’re talking with your boyfriend, be present to each other. Communication is hard enough without distraction, but it can be tempting sometimes to try and multi-task for the sake of efficiency. I’d strongly encourage you both, if you aren’t already, to keep distractions to a minimum when you’re talking with each other. This is a challenge for all relationships, as even our phones are full of apps, games, and opportunities to be distracted from conversation.
3. Be Praying.
We all want to hear from God, but are we learning to listen to Him every day in prayer? I know in my life, I sometimes avoided praying about relationships when I was pretty sure that they weren’t leading me to virtue. It’s good to identify where our hearts are, but we can’t just blindly follow our feelings. Prayer helps us to align our desires with God’s, and we learn to surrender our plans for His when we are praying every day.
I think there’s a great value in praying, “Lord, here are my desires. Here’s what I want to happen, and you know I want this relationship to work out. But I trust that you love me even more than I love myself, so I surrender my desires to You and I believe that your plans are better than any of mine.”
That doesn’t mean that we’re asking God to take away a good relationship, but just like everything else in the Christian life, we find more freedom and joy through surrender than we do through holding on tight.
Be sure of our prayers for your relationship. I hope this advice helps a little bit. While long distance relationships aren’t easy, they’re not impossible. The communication skills that are learned from this relationship will greatly benefit you both, whether or not your relationship leads to marriage.
Do you have a question about dating and relationships you’d like to ask Brian and Courtney Kissinger? Email them at [email protected] and your question could be the next blog post!