Is It Too Soon for Long Distance?

It’s time for a reader’s question from Formspring.

Question: The guy I like is leaving to go to the Marines soon. We have been talking, but I really don’t know that much about him. We have agreed to write letters to get to know each other better, but I’m not very good at writing letters. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Let’s tackle this question in two parts. The first is the relationship piece. You and Mr. Marine like each other, which is a good start. But, you’re not in a relationship yet so his departure understandably makes it difficult for you to continue getting to know each other. Try to focus on what you do like about him so that the time apart is easier. Also enjoy the opportunity to communicate openly with him about anything and everything that feels right without pressure about where the relationship is heading. One of the reasons why online dating sites are so popular is that they allow couples to develop some level of interest and open communication before the parties meet in person. You have that interest and now have that opportunity to build trust and a relationship (either friendship or love).

If out of sight leads to out of mind, I hope that you’ll consider corresponding with him out of respect for the fact that he is serving our country. Being in basic training or stationed away from home is lonely, arduous, honorable and often life-threatening. Letters, photographs and care packages from home mean so much to people in the military, especially those without regular Internet or telephone access.

When it comes to writing letters, it’s okay to be short and sweet. I recommend loading up on some inexpensive cards with simple messages like “Hello” or “Thinking of You.” Then you can just ask a question or two of him and tell him something new with you. (A friend in the military says that he loves hearing about mundane activities that his loved ones in the States are doing because it gives his deployment purpose.)

If you feel comfortable writing a longer letter, great, but the gesture of the note itself means more than how many lines you write. You can also include a photograph, funny comic strip or article inside. If he’s able to receive care package, ask him what non-perishable snack or magazine from home he misses the most and send a few his way. Simple acts make a huge difference!

Best of luck to you and him!

Did I miss anything, readers?

As a PS – If you’d like to send holiday cards through the American Red Cross to people serving in the U.S. Military, you can do so through December 7th. More information on Holiday Mail for Heroes is available here.

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