Ever so often, I will get an email from one of you lovely readers, entrusting me with the details of your very own romantic trysts. More often than not, I encounter the following scenario: “I met so-and-so in [TK] city, but he was living in [TK] city and I was in [TK] city. We kept in touch, then met in [TK] city, etc, etc..” It is clear that the world is quickly becoming a romantically globalized place, with Tinder enabling us to surf the world via Tinder Passport (brilliant, can I get a free membership as a dating “influencer”?), low-cost airlines elevating travel restrictions, and Facebook turning us one big happy virtual family, causing intercontinental love to flow in abundance.
Just yesterday, a friend landed in Paris like a Proenza-clad eagle, for a rendezvous with a man she had met in Zürich over New Years Eve. They had kept in touch, and were about to spend a romantic sejour together under the torrential downpour that may swallow this city alive this weekend. Over lunch at Klay, the only social place I deem to show my face these days, we discussed the rules of intercontinental romance.
1. In 95% of cases, the guy must visit first. (For proof, look no further than our award-winning Pilot story, in which my Muse ended up on a boat in Toulouse!) There is absolutely no reason for you to book a ticket, travel to another city, and score about 50 gray hairs imagining various Taken scenarios, when he can simply hop on a plane and come see you instead. I will extend a bit of leniency for the people who have a preceding story and feel like they would prefer a spontaneous getaway – in this case, allow him to select the hotel and pan out the details, but pay for your own ticket to preserve a balance of power! However, the rule is non-negotiable if you have never met the guy in person, and are in the middle of a Virtual Love situation. He MUST be the first to visit, and even then, carry a taser.
2. When he does come visit you, have him stay in a hotel. I went through a stage of men regularly coming to visit me in Paris from a faraway land called America. Each time, I briefly considered offering them a cozy spot in my bungalow shack, but then allowed them to take care of their own living arrangements. Wisest decision I ever made, particularly in the case of the burping, alcoholic mess of a visitor otherwise known as JJ The Nerd. If he stays in a hotel, you always have an exit plan. This becomes much trickier to if you are meeting him on unfamiliar turf, which leads us back to point 1 – have him visit you first.
3. If you like each other, continue in 3-week increments. According to another, highly romantically experienced friend who participated in our discussion, anything past three weeks is a waste of time and can potentially lead to disaster, especially if one of you promiscuous little things can’t keep his or her pants on for too long. Relationships require commitment and development, and a “maybe next summer” plan will simply not suffice.
4. Be aware of vacation brain. Everything is lovely in a hotel room, with maid service and not a care in the world except for the hunt for the perfect Eggs Benedict. Not everything is lovely in real life, with schedules and deadlines and shared bathroom sinks and – gasp – shared bills. You need to understand if you function together in the Real World. The best way to go about this is by visiting each other you respective home turf, getting to experience each others friends, pet peeves, and pesky habits for extensive periods of time. (This is the Ultimate Test and not all survive.)
5. If things get serious, make a plan. Long-distance love only works when there is a deadline and an action plan involved. I learned this the hard way when my ex moved to find himself in LA LA Land without any real end date except “when the money runs out”. You know what ran out? My sanity, incrementally, every time that I would arrive to LA to find his beard getting longer and his brain cells diminishing via the magical power of Silver Lake medical marijuana. All I’m saying is, make a plan. (And stay away from pot.)
P.S. And yes, I know that I owe you guys a real dating story. Bear with me, I haven’t consumed a single alcoholic beverage in a month! DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO DATE LOSERS SOBER? Exactly.