It’s no secret long distance relationships are hard.
You text throughout each day, talk on the phone late into the night, and send pictures of what the dog is doing. The days turn into weeks and the weeks slip into months. You love your significant other with your whole heart but there’s no denying the romantic spark is hiding in a faraway corner. Meaning it’s still there, you just have to find it again.
My boyfriend and I did exactly that last week. We figured out a way to get creative and have date night, even with a thousand miles between us. We used to cherish our date nights in Denver and it is one of the (many) things we dearly miss during this time apart. But I’m sure you could have guessed that.
Rewind to last week. I was insanely focused on job applications and blog work since my return from working in Orange County. I barely left my desk, much less the house. I had difficulty getting into the groove one day–I felt too antsy, restless. I felt disconnected from Jake because I was distracted with putting all my energy into my projects and he had been in a weird funk, too. We were (are) both stir crazy while staying at our parents’ homes. We were (again, are) beyond tired of not having a space to call our own, and of not being able to see one another face to face. Our relationship had taken a backseat to our continuous emotional struggles and individual lives.
So we decided to shake things up. It was entirely his idea, I can’t take any credit for it. I thought we were joking around when he originally asked to get out of the house and have a drink with me; you know, the usual that ends in “Okay, I’ll meet you there in ten minutes!” and nobody actually moves because it is, after all, impossible… but initially fun to pretend.
Maybe we weren’t getting a drink physically together, but it was the closest we could do and I gladly took it for what it was. The change that something so simple ignited was unbelievable. It has been a little over a week since our first date night. The beginning of November has included picking out wine together for an at-home ‘late night date night,’ going to Target together where he monitors my purchases just like in the old days, and sitting outside at a coffee shop looking at apartments and furniture together. It isn’t truly about the things we are doing–I could talk with him on the phone at any one of those places on a regular day. It’s the depth of our conversations that have shifted so much for the better. We’re playfully joking and laughing again, we’re sharing feelings again, we’re expressing our undying love for each other again… we are sincerely connecting and being present with one another. It’s not just a text conversation always prompted by “What are you doing?” or a phone conversation that’s most exciting element is discussing what we did that day.
I strongly encourage every couple in a long distance relationship to have some sort of date night that breaks apart from the everyday norm. It brings back that romantic spark and reminds you why you are holding onto this relationship despite the distance.
Where To Go
Where’s the first place you think of for a date night that revolves around conversation? A restaurant, of course! If you can, try to go to the same place. I understand this isn’t always a possibility with the varying cities, but it contributes to the sense of togetherness if you are looking at the same menu with the same general environment vibe.
We decided to “meet” at Buffalo Wild Wings (because we are that classy–but you’ll learn that trying to go to the same restaurant means settling for a chain). Not many other options that are in both Longmont and Sacramento. I initially thought I would go to a quiet wine bar, but then realized I would be that loud person on the phone. The most popular tavern in town would be too crowded and I didn’t want to shout at him on the phone simply to be heard. So we went with this and it made it even better because we were able to be at the same place.
Set a meeting time, so you don’t make the same mistake as me and let him know you’re on your way when your restaurant is five minutes away and he has a twenty-minute drive ahead of him. That’s a lot of waiting.
What To Wear
If you are in a long distance relationship like me, I assume you and your makeup have an estranged relationship, too. I dolled up just enough to be presentable, but not the full deal. I did not want to look like I was going on a first date and got stood up, after all. I considered it a regular night out, which for me is a flannel without holes, simple jewelry, and my black jeans and boots. In other words, not sweats.
>Don’t forget to send one another a selfie! This is date night together, right? So be sure to know what the other one is wearing. Bonus points for wearing your significant other’s favorite shirt of yours.
While You’re There
First thing’s first: get over the fact you are at a restaurant alone. I never go to a restaurant alone, not because I don’t respect those who do but because I feel downright awkward and can’t shake off that feeling. I found it was easier to dismiss the awkwardness this time, since in my head I wasn’t by myself. I was on date night, and I didn’t care whatsoever that it meant I was that person on the phone the whole time. I knew the reason I was there, so it really didn’t matter if I was be judged. I say that now, but I have a confession. A woman who had been sitting near me at the bar asked me in the bathroom, “Did you get stood up or something?” She said it with a teasing smile, but I scowled all the same (and not only because she was wearing a Raiders shirt). Her assumption made me uncomfortable, but maybe that just shows I care too much about what other people think. I guess the lack of eyeshadow didn’t stop others from believing I had been stood up.
Eat something that requires a fork. In other words, no pizza, burgers, or bone-in wings. You’re holding a phone in one hand, remember? You’ll make it easier on yourself to talk on the phone and eat at the same time if you don’t need both hands to finish your dinner.
Be extra nice to your server and maybe even explain what you’re doing to him/her. I was a server for years and I know my attitude toward a table on the phone was entirely subject to the circumstances. I felt annoyed and disrespected when an individual never stopped talking on the phone and expected me to read their minds with hand signals the entire time. Tell your significant other that you’ll be right back and set down the phone for ten seconds while you order. Trust me, it can make all the difference for your server. They’re people, too 🙂
It’s all pretty straightforward, right? Sure, it’s silly and not the same as actually going to a restaurant with your loved one, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. It does make a difference in the relationship and establishes the momentum to further reconnect with each other. What do you do for date night in a long distance relationship? How do you get out of the house “together”?