Beautiful Stella writes to tell us about her burgeoning long distance relationship, and she's wondering if there's anything she can do to move things forward.
Here's her question:
I love reading all the wonderful and insightful advise you give to women (and men) about love and relationships.
Recently I was on vacation in Europe and met this amazing guy with whom I had an instant connection. After a great week I came back home but we have been talking on the phone every day. Our conversations last anywhere between 1-3 hours.
He asked me to come back to visit and I agreed so there's a possibility of seeing him again but beyond that I'm not sure what we can do to advance our "relationship".
I'm all in but I'm not sure how to have a serious conversation about where this is going when it's only been few months and I feel like it would be silly to ask. In situations like this, is it best to cut contact and move on? Or is there anything we can do?
I realize that one day one of us will have to move but before making a huge decision like that I think we should figure out some things first. And this is where I get stuck! How do I ask? What do I ask? Is it too soon to ask serious questions? Is it better to keep things lite on the phone until I see him in person?
Please help me see clearly.
Thank you for your inspiring words!
Thank you for your kind words, Stella. I'm thrilled you're getting so much out of my advice and that you reached out for your own. I’m reading every word of your letter and feel like I’m right there with you.
I’ve been in many long-distance relationships that began on vacation myself. I’ve met men on airplanes, on sandy beaches, on mountaintops and the like. I’ve known many friends and clients who’ve met men this way as well.
There’s something so freeing to our inner spirits to be on vacation, to be away from all our regular responsibilities that we exude a type of magical excitement that can’t help but attract the most amazing men with that kind of energy to share as well.
Except when we get back home, something happens.
The magic seems like it won’t (or can’t) hold. What we were so sure of while we were on our vacation bliss, now seems so fragile a connection we’re not sure if time and distance will be able to sustain it.
So when you ask how, as in how do you approach this subject with him, how do you bring up the questions that are inevitably on your mind, I’ll tell you exactly how - you do it together.
It can’t be just you. It can’t be just him.
It has to be the both of you together with a theme of getting together, with a feeling of mutual understanding. It has to come with a gut instinct that shows you by his words and his actions and the feeling you get in general from him, that the two of you are on the same page here.
You have to know that you both have the same desire to get to know each other as well as you can from a distance, while at the same time living within a reality that knows that for any relationship to be a real one, at some point the two of you are going to need to be together in the same place. And how do you know? It's actually quite simple. He shows you. Over time. With consistent actions. And you trust yourself enough to believe what you see and hear and feel.
The most important thing to remember here is that you don’t know this guy past the time you spent with him in person for that week and now the few months since you’ve been talking on the phone.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to how much you’re going to need to get to know him before you can possibly make any realistic assessment of him. Phone calls are good but in person is much better.
Is he as interested as you are in making an actual plan for you to go see him? And what about him coming to see you? Have you talked about him getting to know your world as well?
You ask about breaking it off. When your anxiety’s super high and you feel like it’s all but a lost cause to even try because there’s so many challenges to a long-distance relationship, it may feel like that’s your best response.
Stay there with that anxiety.
Sit with it. Allow yourself to think it through. Is he worth getting to know better by pushing through these feelings of anxiousness? Or is there something here you really do need to listen to? That matters. It really matters.
You don’t advance your relationship. The two of you do. Mutually.
But the moment you feel like you’re pulling for more than he does, that's the exact moment there’s absolutely something there you need to listen to. I’m already concerned with the fact that you’re asking about how you do this. You’re not mentioning ”we”, you’re only saying “I”.
If you’re being proactive, that’s great. But if there’s more to this, that’s concerning.
I remember well my girlfriends asking what plans we’d made for the two of us to move closer to the other if this was going to be long term.
I didn’t have a plan. I wanted to, but like you, I knew it needed to come from more than just me. I knew he sure didn’t have a plan. So I dismissed it as being too early. Until the next month came and the next and the next and still no plan, let alone a conversation about one. That’s not a place where you’re in this together. That’s a lonely place with you making excuses for him because you’ve jumped too far ahead to go back.
You want to live your life as though he’s a tiny part of it because until he makes it known by his actions as well as his words that he’s worth you making him into a larger part, it’s essential to your sanity (and your anxiety level) that you don’t.
It will be much better for you in the long run if he’s the one to initiate this conversation with you because then you won’t have to wonder. Being left to wonder is never a good place for us to be emotionally.
But if you find yourself needing to have that conversation for your own peace of mind because it’s getting to you and, well - we all know what that’s like when you just really need to know something - remember that whatever he says, it’s his actions that tell you everything.
More than any words.
Start small. That will tell you enough to know more of what he's thinking. Start by telling him you need to plan your schedule so want to set some dates to make travel plans to see him. Based on his response, i.e, if he wavers, or can't lock in a date, ask him when he will know so you can make your plans around it. If he still can't give you an answer, you're in more red flag territory. There's not much point in talking more about the future when you can't even decide on a date when you're going to see each other next. If he does give you an answer, see if he sticks to it, see what part he plays in making those plans, i.e. does he offer to pay for travel tickets, etc., just notice all of it. What does it tell you? I know you'll know.
Pay attention to how much you feel you can trust him. Pay attention to how you feel when you get off the phone. Pay attention to your intuition.
You’re going to know where you stand because you won’t have to wonder. There are going to be feelings that say you’re on the same page, feelings that say you’re working up to the same thing. I know you know what that feels like because the opposite of that is going to be overly compelling and obvious to you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s over the phone or in person.
Trying to keep it light over the phone won’t work if you’re feeling anything but light. And if you feel like you have to keep it light to keep it going, and that talking about the future is heavy, that's another red flag for you.
A few months isn’t a long time, but it’s enough time for you to have a pretty good idea of what you’ve got.
And if you’re not able to bring up the future with him without feeling like you’re the only one who wants to talk about it, that’s a sure sign you’re not on the same page right now, and who knows when or if you’ll ever be.
I know of many long-distance relationships where two people met on vacation and went on to make it work together.
But that’s the key word here. Together.
That’s the most important thing here, Stella; and it’s the one that gives you your greatest insight into what you’ve really got – and what you don’t.
I hope this helps give you some outside perspective. More than any words you might say or ways you might say them, remember that it's the tone that's being set by his actions that say the most!
What do you think Stella should do in this situation? Share your thoughts with her and the rest of us down below in the comments!