I start this post sitting in the Departure Lounge at JFK waiting for my flight to Los Angeles to board. As I look around the lounge, three things cross my mind. First off, I’m celeb-spotting. Still buzzing from my chat about the Challenge with Zachary Levi last night after his new musical ‘First Date’ (I think I may have neglected to mention that he held my hand – more action than I’ve got on the vast majority of my 29 Dates so far!!), I’m trying to see if anyone I ‘know’ is also making the trip from New York to LA. Back when I lived in Vancouver (North America’s second biggest movie city), the flight from YVR to LAX was always packed with Z list American TV celebrities, particularly when I flew down around a national holiday. But today the Departure Lounge is rather dull.
Which moves me to my second train of thought. An extended version of the game I once talked about that you can play on the London Underground. Where you stare at the bench of commuters opposite and work out which one, if you had to, you would shag. A single young professional’s version of ‘Shag, Marry, Kill’ which we used to play (hypothetically, obviously!) at school. Nine times out of ten, I find myself struggling for inspiration when I’m on the Tube … even if I extend my options beyond the opposing bench, and across the entire carriage! And today in the Departure Lounge, it’s no different. It’s not really a surprise if you’re vaguely picky, that you might remain single for some time, because even surrounded by hundreds of other random people, the pickings can often be really rather slim!
So much as I love picture-perfect romantic notion of meeting my future husband at a supermarket check-out counter, or sitting beside him on a flight, I can’t help feeling like the odds are rather stacked against me! And before you all bemoan me for being WAAAAAAY too picky, from my current vantage point in the corner of the lounge, I can probably see five guys max between the ages of 25 and 40. And we haven’t even established whether they’re single or not before I even begin to consider whether I find them physically attractive.
And so, as appears to have become normal these days, my mind turns to the dating game. And more specifically, long-distance dating.
The older I’ve got, the more sensible I’ve tried to become in my attitude to dating. I’ve built up a bank of sensible, tried and tested rules. Often lessons I’ve learned the hard way, and which I try to consistently apply not only when giving my friends advice, but also when considering my own ‘love’ life.
Rule One – never get back with an ex unless the reason you split in the first place has completely disappeared (genuinely).
Rule Two – Long-Distance relationships suck!
The second of those rules, comes from some limited personal experience, and from also knowing what I’m like when it comes to relationships.
For a start, I really like cuddles! Physical contact, whether it’s kissing, cuddling, falling asleep in each other’s arms …. or the other fun stuff you can do in bed, is a big thing for me in a relationship (remember, it’s the reason I won’t date a Christian! 😉 ) I have a lot of very good friends. And whilst I appreciate the sentiment of gaining a best friend when you find a partner, he bloody well better be a best friend with some decent benefits to boot!
About five years ago, I dated a guy I had fancied for years. We’d first met as teenagers, at a time when he was very much committed to another longterm relationship. Ironically, his then girlfriend is now a very good friend of mine, and in our teens I never even considered the idea of anything romantic with him because he was always so securely coupled-up. Fast-forward seven years, and we reconnected over Facebook. By now we were both single, and led by my spontaneous teenage heart (rather than the sensible adult voice which knew I was about to go travelling for the best part of a year and a half), I got pretty heavily involved with him, pretty quickly.
Most of the first four months we were together were spent on opposite sides of the world, and it was crazily frustrating. Not just for the obvious physical reasons, but also because our entire relationship seemed to be conducted over email, MSN messenger, and Skype, if I was lucky enough to visit an internet cafe which actually supported the program. We were dependent on dodgy internet connections – at one point on an island which only had electricity three hours of the day! And our phone bills sky-rocketted.
I have some hilarious memories of that time – getting caught in Bali trying to email cheeky photos from an internet cafe on the slowest internet connection ever, and trying in vain to cover my computer screen as the entire system went into meltdown. My then-boyfriend conducting a half hour puppet show with random items from his bedroom, when a group of Cambodian street children realised I was talking to the man on the screen of my computer!
But for the most part, it really really sucked!
Absence may make the heart grow fonder. But it is still absence! And the rubbish part is that most other people aren’t in the same situation you are.
Eventually, it was all just became too difficult. The most we were ever apart for one time was six weeks, and it still seemed like an age.
A few days after we broke up, I met a girl who spent long periods of her year deep in the Indonesian jungle. She had spent a considerable amount of time in long-distance relationships as a result, and had worked out that, for her at least, maintaining a long-distance relationship where you have consistent periods of more than three months apart, was impossible.
I’ve always been inclined to agree. I like attention! And there’s only so much attention someone can give you over texts and phone calls.
The world has definitely become smaller, with the advancements of Skype, and apps which make international texting and calling free, but intercontinental dating (or even cross-country dating) can still be a real bane.
And it’s for that reason that I have never considered dating someone in the military. Life as a military wife just never appealed. The long-distance aspect is just the tip of the iceberg. Because if you’re other half is on the other world, particularly in the past ten years, the likelihood is that he was also in a war-zone, or in close vicinity of one. Which for most doesn’t even bare thinking of.
Long distance love can be hard enough when you’re in the fledgling years of a relationship. But what about when you’re pregnant, or when you’re bringing up a young family, and your partner is not only on the other side of the world, but also risking his life in the process?
And then there are the other strains that dating someone in the military can put on a relationship. Moving around the country at two year intervals, dictated by your husband’s career. Knowing that plans can be changed at the last moment, and that international news can so dramatically affect your everyday life and family.
Dating or committing to someone in the military can be a huge undertaking, and I have the utmost respect for my friends who have families with men in the Army and Navy. Three good friends have babies with guys in the armed forces, and I’ve seen the extra pressures and considerations they face on a daily basis as a result.
For me, it’s something I’ve never really considered. I have good friends in the army, but they’re all platonic friends, nothing more. However the avid blog readers amongst you will know that the most recent couple of weeks of this challenge, have been very military heavy! In fact at one point my socal life seemed to be becoming an intricate web of artillery officers. Guys I met on Tinder knew my friends, and I even realised very recently that one of my closest friends and I were simultaneously on dates with two Artillery Officers who had once dated twins at the same time! How’s that for confusing?!
Tinder seems to be the army officer’s dating tool. I’m yet to meet a single officer who isn’t using the app! And so I’m sure the handful of guys I’ve met over the past few weeks, barely scratches the surfaces of the ‘army dating options’ which Tinder has to offer!
When you’re at first date stage, long-distance dating, and the implications of dating someone in the military aren’t too great a cause for concern. But if one of those first dates is even remotely successful, and gets you considering second or even third dates, then eventually it will become something you not only have to consider, potentially even an entire lifestyle choice you have to actively make.
And you thought just finding a guy was tough??!! 🙂
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx