Turning Miles into Milestones: Online Dating 101

The world of dating has changed a lot. I don’t like to consider myself old, but it’s become plainly obvious that the definition of a relationship has changed. For most of us, this can be considered a good thing. For example, it’s not so crazy nowadays to have a boyfriend from all the way across the country. On the contrary, actually. Some find it exhilarating. For one, you probably have more initiative to travel, and secondly, you have more time to enjoy solitary moments. Who doesn’t like a good few days to themselves?

To me, I like to look at online dating a lot like reading a good book. An online relationship doesn’t center itself on physical attraction. Most of us fall in love with words or a sweet voice on the other line. Suddenly, looks don’t matter as much anymore. In fact, it’s highly probable that you’re more in love with your computer or phone. Any tools that allow you to make any form of contact with your partner is a thumbs up, so who cares if you’re sending virtual kisses and hugs while awkwardly sitting on the toilet, right?

However, online dating, as interesting as it is, can actually be pretty hard on couples. Sure, the alone time can be nice, but physical contact is still very much wanted. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, which is true for the most part, but they never specify how long the absence is.  Absence can hurt too. Like a classic arrow through the heart. Sadly, that hurt can damage the relationship. The distance can often create a void, leaving couples to slowly and gradually pull away from one another. The lovely saying about the heart quickly turns to ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ The need to communicate might not even feel as strong as anymore, and surprisingly, some online relationships just fizzle out without much protest. Unlike standard forms of dating, your partner isn’t nearby, making it almost easier to just walk away. Sometimes you run out of things to talk about, or sadly the adult world just becomes too busy for you to balance such a delicate relationship. Despite being aware of these problems, I encourage you to keep at it! It’s a long and tough journey, but if done with enough care, you could very well be looking at a future life of hugs and snugs!

Allow me to try and offer some lighthearted advice on kindling the flame (or starting it).

First and foremost, remember to:

1. Break the Ice

If you’re just starting out, breaking the ice with your long distance partner can be somewhat awkward. Gone are the days of sitting across from each other in a restaurant. Instead, you’re faced with either a computer screen or the comfort of a phone against your ear. Both of these are hard at the beginning- even more so if you’re brave enough to try a Skype video call your first round. This is where you desperately have to think of some quick conversation. Had you been face to face in the said restaurant from earlier, you could have at least commented on the taste of the food or atmosphere. Anything from “This cheesecake is flipping delicious” to “I’m an absolute fiend for spaghetti” comes to mind.  It’s safe to say that you don’t have this luxury… unless you actually happen to be eating those things mid call.

…Let’s assume you’re not.

So what next?  Depending on how you met, you may already know a good deal about your potential partner’s interest. If not?

A. Surveys and quizzes online are a pretty neat way to break the ice. As childish as they may seem, they really are nice conversation starters. I can’t tell you how many times my boyfriend and I branched off into long talks about our many questions and answers. It took all the awkward feelings away and made time fly by.

B. Hometowns believe it or not, can be pretty interesting to hear about too. They make up an important part of a person and can tell you a lot about them. They may seem trivial, but when it comes to meet ups, it’s nice to be well informed about the many places you two can romp around while visiting. If you two end up working out, their hometown may just end up being your next big move or vice versa.

2. Make Time for Activities

For those of you out there that have already gone through the whole ‘breaking-the-ice’ stage, your next dilemma comes with the actual ‘dating’ part. What are you supposed to do if you can’t physically be with them? Conversation can go a long way, but by itself, it stands a slim chance against the test of time (though there are exceptions). A lot of couples thrive on doing things together, so the same naturally applies for those that are trying it out in the online world. It just works a little differently.

To begin, you want to make sure you set up some times to do so. It doesn’t have to be for everything, but you want a few solid activities in play that the two of you can appreciate together for closer bonding. Here’s only a few examples to consider:

A. Online Movie Nights– With the help of Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, and then some, it’s more than possible nowadays for an online couple to appreciate a good show or movie together. For the first half a year or so, my boyfriend and I made it a priority to sit down every Friday night together at our computer to enjoy a different movie. We even took turns in order to expand our tastes!

Image courtesy of Matthew Keys

B. Online Gaming– This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s pretty fun for those that enjoy a good game or two. Trust me. There’s nothing quite like destroying oddly shaped monsters together while leveling up. That’s some grade A geek love right there folks.

Image courtesy of Surgey Galyonkin on Flickr

C. Make a To-Do-List– Back in the earlier days of my relationship, my boyfriend and I thought it’d be neat to share a document together and list as many things as possible we’d like to try out in the future. Don’t let the idea of money interfere with your ideas either. Whatever you wanna try, put it down! You never know when you’ll get the opportunity. Never in all my years did I see myself going on a cruise, but I mentioned the idea in hopes that one day it’d come true. I’m happy to say that that wish was granted last year by my boyfriend for Christmas. Tis the season to go cruising, you know?

Image courtesy of Mufidah Kassalias on Flickr

3. Communicate!

I can’t stress this one enough. When it comes to long distance relationships, talking to one another daily is almost essential. Unlike couples that get to see each other off and on during the week, a relationship building up from a distance needs a bit more nurturing. We can’t touch and see that person up close, so something even as simple as chatting about your fallen ice cream cone can be more helpful than you think.

Sadly, news about your gone-but-not-forgotten ice cream isn’t the only thing that’s important. You also want to learn more and more about your partner and their overall lifestyle too. Remember, you can’t see them (unless you’re a scary stalker) so words are one of the few things you have to help ground your relationship. Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve gone and cleared up any and all safety concerns about your online partner. You like them, laugh with them, and attempt to spend every waking moment texting them. But if you’re the type of lady that’s looking for eventual commitment, it might be best after a short while to at least get a feel of the other person’s future outlook. There’s nothing worse than falling head over heels for someone from afar, meet up with them once or twice, only to learn further on in the relationship of a serious deal breaker.  It’s understandable to want to take things slowly, just as you would in any other relationship, near or far. But online dating is all about being gradual. Things move slower, so quite a number of months can pass you by without you thinking to even mention the questions that may really matter to you. Is marriage a big deal to you? How about kids? A good number of people may argue that asking such questions is selfish and rushed, but I’m inclined to disagree. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eliminating potential deal breakers. Depending on what website you used to meet your sweetheart, these questions may very well have already been cleared for you. If not, don’t be afraid to ask. Your partner might just be wondering the same thing.

Regrettably, we know all these things can never fully make up for being in close contact with that special someone, but they do undoubtedly help bring online couples closer together. Dating, whether online or in person, can always be a hit or miss, but I’ve always believed in giving 100% in hopes of getting a hit. I’m happy to say that I think I have, and here’s to hoping that you all will too! Cheers!

For more online dating advice, I recommend Life Lessons from Online Dating  and Why Long Distance Relationships Aren’t So Bad.

Feature Image: Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper, Creative Commons 

Andrea Carter
Hi there! I'm a recent graduate from the University of Las Vegas. I majored in English, and am currently poking around with the idea of copywriting in my spare time. For the most part I specialize mainly in fiction, but have a blast cooking up fun articles for others to enjoy!