Are you in a long distance relationship? Perhaps someone you met through online dating, or while on vacation, or you simply used to live in the same but one of you had to move?
I totally understand how difficult making a relationship work spending most of your time living apart. And not only work, but growing the relationship as well.
Most of my relationship with my boyfriend (now husband), Paul, was a long distance relationship due to his military deployment.
We met in Japan in our 20s, fell madly in love, and spent the next several years traversing the globe every few months to be together.
I once spent a long weekend in Japan with him, he flew to Maryland next, and then when his grandfather died several months later, we met one another in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One Christmas break I spent three weeks with him in Japan, and then he was sent to a school in Biloxi, Mississippi where we spent a wonderful week together (over spring break) months before Hurricane Katrina struck. Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania…it didn’t matter where the other was; we would fly to be together.
Because we went months without seeing one another, we had to find long distance relationship dates to help us stay connected in-between. And not only connect, but to build and nurture a relationship through common experiences and by getting on the same page, even though we were never on the same continent.
We also were both dirt-poor and any extra money we could get our hands on was spent on plane tickets. This meant that whatever we did in-between being together had to be cheap and effective.
Creative Long Distance Dating Ideas
We tried almost everything while time zones apart. 250 Money Saving TipsPlay Video
We wrote military love letters and included little tokens of affection, like a chocolate, a photo of something we had seen, a snippet of something we were reading with our own notes in the margins, confetti, stickers, a spritz of cologne/perfume, magazine articles the other might enjoy, etc. Any romantic gesture we could think of, we would do.
After each trip I would develop the photos we had taken and send him copies in a letter.
Once I videotaped myself reading my letter out loud, and then took my video camera around my farm home in PA so that Paul could get a better sense of where I grew up.
We even both read the same book at the same time.
All of these letters and mementos were wonderful, but the most effective thing we started to do was a brilliant idea of Paul’s: dinner and a movie.
Pssst: In a long distance marriage? If you’re married and/or sharing finances with your long-distance partner, then you’ll definitely want to pick out a couple’s budgeting app. These will make your life much easier!
Long-Distance Relationship Date #1: The Traditional Dinner + a Movie, LDR-style
When you’re dating someone who lives 7,000 miles away from you, you may wonder how enjoying dinner and a movie together is even possible.
Very simply: we cooked dinner and watched a movie at the same time.
One person would choose a recipe and a movie, and would email this to the other person.
Both of us agreed on a day and time we would start cooking.
We would text one another during cooking (Skype would be a great option, now!), and when each was finished, put in the rented movie.
If someone needed a break, they would text the other and we would pause at the same time, and restart together again.
Not only did this have us eating good food and watching great flicks, but it created this experience we were sharing together. We could discuss the movie, we could laugh together, or get choked up and share it with the other person.
This simple act extended both of our living rooms so that the distance suddenly shrunk dramatically.
What I love about this frugal long-distance relationship dates idea is that you can use it whether you have a long-distance relationship or if you live with your partner.
Here’s more info on how to set this up:
Pick a Movie and Recipe: Possible Theme Ideas
You might want to introduce a family recipe to your partner, or try something you saw in a magazine from six months ago. Likewise, you could pick a movie that is an old favorite, or something new neither of you have watched before.
While you do not need to pick a recipe and movie that complement one another, it could really add to the experience.
- A mafia movie and an Italian dish: Paul and I watched the season finale of the Sopranos to a lovely chicken francesca recipe from the Sopranos Cookbook which I checked out of my local library
- Julie and Julia and a french dish
- Westerns and chili or barbecue
- Slumdog Millionaire, The Namesake, or other Indian movies and Indian-inspired dishes
Invite Your Loved One to Dinner and a Movie
Anticipation of a wonderful time together starts with the invitation. Photocopy the chosen recipe and bundle this together with the movie idea.
You could roll it up and tie it with a bow.
If you are long distance, create an email with the recipe attached (or written out in the email), and construct or copy and paste some romantic text art like a rose, cupid, or a heart.
Include the date on your partner’s calendar or a calendar you share together. If you are together, or have time to mail a letter, you can include a CD of some tunes to play while in the kitchen that you handpicked for the occasion.
How to Make a Skype Date Special – Things to Do in a Long-Distance Relationship over Skype
If I could do one thing differently in the long-distance relationship I had with my now-husband, it would be that we would spend more time talking face-to-face via video chatting on Skype. This was 10 years ago, though, and Skype/Facetime/etc. just wasn’t as well used.
Still, I’ve got some amazing things to do in a long-distance relationship over Skype.
Hint: These also make great Facetime activities.
#1: Put the Date on a Shared Online Calendar
Anticipation is where it’s at! Share an online calendar together, like Google Calendar, and be sure to put each of your date nights on it. The two of you can then get reminders about date night, and even put some fun things (like clues) on the calendar itself that your partner will see.
#2: Play a Round of All-About-Us Charades
Print out two copies of this free charades printable, put the game together, and send one set to your partner. Set up a Skype date, and play a round of charades over Skype or FaceTime!
#3: Pizza Delivery Surprise
Each of you calls up the local pizza place to wherever your partner/spouse lives, and order a surprise pizza for your Skype date later in the evening. Order their favorite, or something unique you think they should try! Guzzle them down together, with both of you lighting candles. It’ll feel extra special because you both doing something to take care of each other, and the physical evidence of it will show that very same day!
Bonus: Can you tip the pizza delivery man extra and ask them to sing a song? Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Can’t hurt to ask.
#4: Invite your Loved One on a Virtual Haunted House Tour
Did you know there are virtual haunted houses? You guys can experience a mystery/horror/haunted house together – some even come with story lines!
You’ll want to screen-share using an app, or just go through the haunted house at the same time, on each of your computers.
Start with these:
- FrightBytes.com: These come with story lines for each of the haunted houses, adding to the suspense and engagement between the two of you.
- The Room: Here’s a virtual haunted house on YouTube.
- Annabelle’s Room: You can actually scroll and walk around this room, viewing it from any angle you’d like to.
- IT: Float: Again, you can scroll around with this one – pretty neat!
#5: Explore a New City Together (Virtual Date, score!)
You each take turns choosing a city for a skype date night. Then, using this 360° online app, explore that city TOGETHER, over Skype. Call out interesting things as you see them. Talk about the kinds of food you’d like to try together there, and look up some facts.
Great conversation starter, that’s for sure!
#6: Family History Date Night
Who said you guys can’t geek out on learning about each other’s genealogy, and researching some of it together (in real time)?
The Dating Divas have come up with a Family History Date Night, complete with free printables. Print out two copies and send one off in the snail-mail, or each of you print these off for yourselves. It’ll be interesting what you can uncover while on Skype together! Share those discoveries.
#7: Meditate Together
There are some awesome meditations available online that you can set up in the background to your Skype conversation. Try out Deepak and Oprah’s guided meditations (they periodically do 21-day meditations for free and this would be an excellent thing to both participate in “together”).
#8: Take a Free Online Cooking Lesson Together
I want to leave you with one other idea.
Paul and I (along with lots of couples) love to take cooking classes together.
The problem is that they can be expensive. For your frugal date instead of just cooking a meal and watching a movie, you could choose an online cooking lesson to take together for free. Here are a few to get you started:
- PBS offers 28 free full episodes of Julia Childs (scroll down and click on “More Full Episodes Options” for more).
- Epicurious.com has some great menus with ingredient lists and videos detailing how to make each. They also offer technique videos.
Game Apps for Long Distance Relationships
One of the ways I love keeping in touch with my grandmother, who lives half a country away, is by playing Words with Friends. There are so many other great game apps options for long distance love, and I’d like to share my favorites below.
#1: Couple’s Truth or Dare Game App
Open up this window on one of your computer’s, and share your screen with your partner. You guys then can play a game of online couple’s truth or dare!
#2: Pinterest Secret Shared Board
Each of you needs a Pinterest account for this. Once you sign up, one of you creates a secret board that has to do with your relationship in some way: relationship ideas, wedding planning, vacation planning, daydreaming, etc. Then, invite your partner to the board to collaborate.
Now, each of you has a new way of communicating – you can share pins around an event you’re planning together or something you want to do together, or good information, and no one in the entire world will know (except your sweetheart).
Do you like bar trivia nights? Well, since you both can’t get to a pub night together, instead, you can play against each other using this QuizUp, in real time. There are a gazillion topics to choose from (just look at the snapshot of some of them below).
You can up the ante by picking out a prize for the winner that the loser has to get!
#4: PlayerUnknown’s Battleground Game App
This is a free, multiplayer game couples can play together (with in-app purchases available). You have to gather supplies and beat out others, with the goal of being the last person standing in order to win. There’s a game map with safe areas that decreases in size as play continues, which means you’ll have fewer places to hide and more encounters as the game continues.