Software Engineer's Guide on Long Distance Relationship

4/7/2018Time to read: 3 min

Wait, what? How? Why?

Ok, I know you have questions. I just watch a youtube video by Patrick Shyu on Dating Tips. It really amused me to hear about dating tips from a software engineer. But when I watched it, I thought, wow, this guy does make some sense! It makes me think: is software engineer innately good at relationships? (WRONG)

Long distance relationship is a tough problem, tougher than migrating a 10-year-old JQuery e-commerce application to React. There are a lot of tips people give to make it more manageable. I will share some of mine.

For those who are interested, I have been dating my dear girlfriend for 5 years. We met in high school, now we both graduated from college and have been working for a while. We weren't doing long distance the whole time. We spent about one year apart in college. After graduation, I moved to California for a tech job, and she got a job in New York.

Define Long Distance

I feel if one can't meet one's partner at least once every week, it is already a long distance relationship. I can technically do that by booking a round-trip flight over every weekend, but it would be financially impossible in a long term. There are a lot of reasons for long distance relationship and each couple has their own difficulties.

So here are my tips ---

Use a communication app designed for couples

We need an app to chat. We use between. There is nothing wrong with using general chatting apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Google Hangout, but don't you want to have a special app for the significant other? Plus apps like between have a lot of features designed for couples, such as a shared memory wall, shared calendar, etc.

There are some other similar apps, such as Couple. When we just started using relationship apps like Between or Couple, we find ourselves still using the traditional chat app a lot, but as we become more familiar with the app, we can never leave it. The coolest thing is that I can set a custom notification sound, and when I hear it, I know: ah, it's bae.

Surprise gifts can go a long way

I'm not hanging out with my girlfriend all the time, so I can save up on the restaurants and movies. I would buy some random gifts online and ship to her place without telling her in advance. Last time I ship a small music box. To my surprise, she loved it. My point is, gifts don't need to be very expensive. Being so far apart, a gift out of the blue is stronger than a thousand words.

We also send each other greeting cards each week. It almost became a routine between us. I would embed a secret code in the words and if she finds it, I will send her a small amount of money. Sadly she gets it every time.

Schedule time to meet

Despite the difficulty of traveling, we think it is very important to decide how many times to meet each year and plan in advance. The worst thing can happen in long distance relationship is not knowing when we will ever meet. Make plans early so that we can ask for breaks from management, getting cheaper air tickets and have a target to look forward to. Spending the days together to travel, you will understand what you have been working for.

Plan for the future

Long distance relationship is an intermediate phase. We will never be together when we are apart. We need to have an estimate for the end of this long distance relationship. Our estimate is two years, after two years, no matter how I do in my job, I will quit my job and go to her, or she will come to me. We haven't make a plan yet, but 2 years is what we are shooting for.

I realize that this post has become a write-up of our own relationship. I wouldn't call this a guide anymore, but those are the ways we have been following to keep our relationship fresh. Long distance relationship is hard, and if you are going through a long distance relationship right now, hopefully, those tips can be of some help.

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