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Dating Outside Your Zip Code

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A few months ago I wrote an article about using online dating sites like JDate to meet someone that might live (way) outside your zip code. It’s not to say that the process is easy, many people won’t even bother to have a conversation with someone who’s not geographically desirable, but you’ll come across the few who will — and the even fewer with which you’ll have something in common. One conversation leads to another, you eventually meet in person, and your romance begins. So what happens if you do meet someone special? Here are three steps to use when you’re deciding how to make a long-distance love work:

  1. Evaluate the Circumstances

Moving is not always easy. Whether it’s for someone, or for something, moving requires a lot of work. It particularly requires work if you are leaving your hometown or an established group of friends, family, or work acquaintances. However, sometimes it’s easier for one of the two people in the long-distance romance to move. If you’re the one with flexible employment (or can transfer), while your partner is in a much stickier type of career, than that is one thing to consider. Another is the social aspect. Some people are less comfortable adapting to new social situations, and that strain alone can negatively impact a budding relationship. Financial and social are the two biggest factors I encourage my clients to consider if they plan on moving for their partner.

  1. Lay out the Ground Rules

Discuss expectations. If you expect to uproot your life for an engagement, or expect your partner to adjust certain components of their lives to help you adjust and fit in, make sure you have those discussions before you move. It could be as simple as letting them know that you’d like to plan a date night on Fridays in lieu of their boys’ or girls’ nights out. Or, perhaps you would like your new mate to sign up for a gym membership with you. You’d be surprised how much routine behavior patterns that you picked up when you were single can now become cherished “me time,” even when you’re sharing them with someone you really like. My advice is to discuss boundaries up front.

  1. Plan Ahead

If you’re the one moving, reach out to your social network and see if your friends have friends you can look forward to meeting in your new town. Look up groups where you can meet people with similar interests. If you’re a coffee-shop dweller (like this girl here), then do some digging and look up comfy places where you can work once you move. If you’re the partner who is hosting, go an extra step and fill your fridge up with goodies you know they love, tidy up your new shared space and make some room for their things. Most importantly, plan a welcome night out. Home is where the heart is, but you can still get homesick for the oddest things. It’s your job to help the transition.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the immense amount of preparation that goes into moving, especially when you’re moving to a place strictly to pursue a relationship. Taking small steps to ensure that your move doesn’t tip the balance (of the relationship), will increase the chance of your relationship’s success. So JDaters®, how many of you have made the cross-country move for someone you met online? Share your tips!

Melissa E. Malka is a dating coach and matchmaker in Chicago, IL. She’s been described as “a cross between Darwin and the Millionaire Matchmaker” and would love to hear from you here.
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