Most of the time people don’t look to start long-distance relationships with online dating. However, for some of us there are reasons that we begin to consider long-distance as our best option. Reasons such as living in a low population area or having particular requirements in the person we would like to date that would make it unlikely to find them near-by.
A reader recently wrote in with questions on this very topic:
I have a situation I haven’t seen covered yet, and I wonder if you have insight. I have preferences that make it statistically unlikely for me to find a partner to date locally. I am flexible about where I live to a large degree, so I expect to try to strike enough sparks with someone to make face-to-face meeting work. I’ve only been trying this for a couple of months, so I am trying to keep my expectations low. I am on match.com and a couple of specialty sites.
A couple of questions come to me:
- Do you have any advice on starting and maintaining a long-distance relationship?
- I read your advise as suggesting that people should date to refine what I want; I wonder if I should still test the waters with not-quite-what-I-want people locally? I guess I feel like that’s not fully honest, though yes I know it could work out.
Recommended Online Dating Sites for Long-Distance Relationships
In this case, the reader is actually looking for sites that would enable or encourage the opportunity for a long-distance relationship. He’s not against dating locally but feels the odds are against him. I have zero experience with long-distance online dating but I’ll give my opinion based on my experience with different services as well as several friends I know who have had success with long-distance online dating.
Niche Dating Sites
First, I think the reader who wrote in is already making a great decision by using niche dating sites. People who use these sites often realize and accept that they may need to travel to meet that special someone because the number of users on these sites can be limited. In these cases, the desired niche far outweighs the distance between them and their potential mate.
I have two sets of friends who met (and eventually married) using a site like Christian Cafe. This service has less members than the “big” guys but users of the service can still have more opportunity as their matches have the number one quality they are looking for. In both cases, the friends I have traveled 400+ miles to meet, date and eventually marry the person they found.
eHarmony Is Pretty Good Too
I think eHarmony is another good choice primarily because users specify how far they are willing to travel to determine what matches they receive. This means you won’t receive matches who are unwilling to travel to meet as you will both have to “opt-in” for whatever distance range.
Additionally, since this service provides personality matching you shouldn’t just be meeting people who are far away; instead you should be meeting people who will mesh well with you and who will be worth the time and effort to meet. On that note: you need to be ultra honest when you create your eHarmony profile. It is very easy to try to soften your opinions to be more “matchable” but don’t do this! If you’re not brutally honest in what you’re looking for your matches are going to be less precise. This is the last thing you want when you’re considering traveling to meet someone.
Should I Test the Waters with Not-Quite-What-I-Want People Locally?
My personal opinion here is: absolutely. My reader has the best intentions as he doesn’t want to be dishonest by dating people with qualities he isn’t interested in. I think this speaks well of him.
HOWEVER, it’s just a date. You’re not promising anyone anything when you go on a first date. In addition, prior to the first date you should have plenty of time to set expectations with those people you meet. I think actually getting on dates is an important part of dating online as it helps refine what we are looking for and gives us a level of comfort as we continue to date.
My advice to my reader in this case was:
I would offer this suggestion: for the local dating just try to have some fun. Don’t take things too seriously since you know many of these people don’t have everything you’re hoping for but at the same time really try to enjoy your time meeting new people. To be 100% honest, the night I met my wife I was thrilled but also a little sad because I had learned to enjoy the process of dating online itself. If you can get to this point, dating locally can be a lot of fun (and you never know who you might meet).
If you’re blessed to know exactly what you’re looking for, that’s great. But never allow yourself to become so closed-minded that you won’t give people outside those parameters a chance.