By: Lauren Montague, columnist
“I’m currently navigating the dating world. I’m on all the apps, and it’s a mess. When I was home for winter break, I went out with a girl I matched with in my hometown. We had a fun time and we’ve kept talking consistently since. We still haven’t really acknowledged the fact that we’re living in separate states, but we text every day, and I’m starting to get used to that presence and look forward to hearing from her. To complicate things, I recently went on a date with another girl (I know, I know), except she’s local in Spokane. It was fun! Now I don’t really know what to do.
When do I need to make a choice? And how?? It feels like there’s no rules in the modern dating world and that we’re all just making it up as we go. Any advice welcome!”
From: Not a Player, Just Confused
Dear Not a Player, Just Confused,
Wow! You’ve gotten yourself into a real emotional pickle, haven’t you?
I’m going to tell you right off the bat that before you make any moves concerning these two relationships, you should take an hour or so to be kind of cheesy and a little cringe.
What I mean by that is: go on a walk at night. Look up at the stars, breathe in our crisp 35 degree air and just think.
Next, do a little journaling. Get all your thoughts out on paper. You don’t need to solve anything on those pages. Just write down every doubt, worry and anything else you may be thinking. Both of these practices might help you get into the right headspace for decision-making.
Now let’s get into it.
My first thought about this is that while it’s totally okay to talk to two people at once, it won’t be mentally and emotionally healthy for you if it goes on for much longer. Navigating one new relationship is stressful and time-consuming enough (even though it’s still so fun in so many ways!) without adding another one on top of it. So I would say to make a decision pretty soon, at least for the sake of your own sanity!
But you’re not asking me how to be in a relationship, you’re asking me how the heck you’re going to choose between two lovely women you like!
Follow your instincts.
But how do we decipher our own instincts? Try asking yourself these questions:
Who are you thinking about the most during the day? Who makes you laugh (your real laugh) out loud? Who makes you smile when you think of them? Who asks you how your day was at the end of the day and then pauses their life to listen? Who do you just really want to kiss? Who do you think would get along best with your family?
These are the kind of questions that will lead you to understand your own instincts. Try not to overthink them. Try writing them down as you answer. If you see one girl in more answers than the other, that’s a good clue for who you’re feeling closer to!
If your answers are mostly about the girl from your hometown, this seems to lead into a conversation we might need to have about long distance (which is my specialty). First of all, she’s in your hometown. So I guess that makes it a little easier, since you’re already assumedly going there on breaks. And college doesn’t last forever, even if it feels like it does on a jam-packed Wednesday.
Secondly, long distance is a hurdle but it isn’t a buffer. At least, it shouldn’t be. If you want to date someone long distance, it’s more about the work you’re willing to put in for that person than how emotionally challenging it is. If you feel like they’re worth it, then they’re probably worth the internet data!
Finally, in answer to your question, yes. We’re all making it up as we go. There are no rules, and that’s actually for the better! Who wants to follow the rules, especially when it comes to considering a long distance relationship? Who actually likes the rules of the “talking” stage? The idea of waiting for the “appropriate” amount of time before answering a text is so incredibly ridiculous to me. And, particularly with long distance, those rules have to go out the window in order for the relationship to work. When communicating over the phone is the only thing you can get, there cannot be time restrictions or anything like it. You have to try to be totally yourself, all the time, even if it’s difficult to do so through a phone screen.
In the end, as long as you’re taking the other people’s feelings into account and not being an asshole, you need to do what works best for you. Some people aren’t built for long distance, and some are (this doesn’t change the fact that by the looks of your question, the girl at home is the one you’re into!).
This decision is up to you and your comfort level.
If you feel like you could give long distance a try, then go for it! Don’t let fear stop you! You only have one life, and if that means spending a few months of it over a phone so that you and your partner can be together and happy in the long run, it’s so worth it. Better to risk getting hurt in the end than not trying at all.
I hope this has helped. Follow your instincts, be yourself and don’t be afraid to go all in! When it comes to relationships, that’s all you can do.
In the wise words of Schmidt, you “could do this all day, son!”
Your older sister
DISCLAIMER This columnist is not a therapist, financial adviser, realtor, nutritionist, medical professional or clergyperson. She is your older sister. Take her advice (or not) in that context.
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