A common criticism of long-distance relationships is that they keep you from being present where you are. While being present is about much more than your physical location, it’s undeniable that leaving town impacts your ability to be present.
Here are 4 questions to consider before you plan your next trip to determine if you’re visiting your long-distance boyfriend too often.
1. Am I becoming disconnected from my friends?
Sometimes, your friends will have unrealistic expectations for you to be home all the time, and you will have to lovingly break those expectations. But that doesn’t mean you should disappear the minute you start dating your boyfriend.
Dating will require you to be a lot more intentional with meeting up with your friends. Make a point to carve time out of your schedule to hang out with roommates, instead of waiting for it to happen randomly (Spoiler Alert: It won’t).
I think this question is particularly relevant for gals who are freshmen in college. Your new friendships are precious and valuable resources. We all need life-giving gals around us to support us and have fun with, regardless of our relationship status.
2. What’s my financial situation?
There’s a part of me that hates this question because I never wanted finances to be what keeps us apart. I think it’s because our culture tells us the lie that if we want something, we should have it because we deserve it.
The truth is that our money belongs to God (Psalm 24:1), so we ought to be wise in how we manage it. Setting aside a portion of my budget each month for travel expenses helped me in this area. (If you don’t have a budget, try making one. You’ll be amazed at where all your money goes!)
Stewarding your money well can also mean saving money on long-distance road trips, or finding free and cheap places to stay when visiting each other.
But if seeing your boyfriend is really important to you, choose to say no to things that aren’t as important. Drive instead of flying. Pack your lunch instead of eating out. Shop at thrift stores instead of retail. The sacrifices are worth it, and it will teach you priceless self-discipline.
3. What’s the impact of being absent from my local church?
Most of your visits to see each other will necessarily fall over weekends. Unfortunately, this means you will probably be missing time with your local church.
You may not see this as a problem if you’re attending your boyfriend’s church every weekend instead. But I can’t tell you how important it is to get to know the people at your own local church on a deeper level. Participation — not just attendance — in a church is an invaluable asset for spiritual accountability, encouragement and much more (Hebrews 10:23-25). These are the relationships, seasoned with wisdom and love, that will help guide you through life’s hardest times.
Still, you will want and you will need to visit your boyfriend on some weekends. How do you determine a good balance? There is no one-size-fits-all solution. When we were dating at a distance, I aimed to be present at my local church about 3 out of every 4 Sundays.
4. Am I keeping up with my responsibilities?
Sadly, responsibilities don’t take a vacation when we do. Since “vacations” happen often in long-distance relationships, irksome to-do lists can easily pile up.
College gals, two of your responsibilities are homework and attending class. The beauty of college is that they pretty much tell you when everything will be due on the first day of class (#ILoveSyllabusDay). Use that to your advantage and work ahead on assignments before you leave. The last thing you will want to be doing while you visit your boyfriend is homework.
Other responsibilities can include basic housework. I am personally guilty of often leaving town with a pile of dirty dishes sitting on the counter, something my roommates rightfully didn’t appreciate. Whatever your situation, don’t use your relationship as an excuse to let your responsibilities slide.