By the time James and I got married, we had been dating four and a half years, of which well over two had been spent long-distance. One of those was international long distance, and I didn’t have wifi in my apartment, so we did a lot of scheduled skyping and emails. Another two summers of that time were spent similarly, because James had a cell phone plane without nationwide calling. Yes young ones, that used to be a thing.

I think periods of long-distance dating can be really good for couples. You learn to communicate, you have to learn to communicate, or you won’t make it. Your relationship can’t be about dates, cuddles, or proximity, and instead becomes about verbalizing feelings and explaining life to someone. A lot of marriage is also like this, only it happens daily over the dinner table. Long-distance love also forces on you the valuable life skill of being happy or sad for things that have nothing to do with you. If you had a great day, but your significant other had a bad one, you learn to feel genuine sadness for them and they have to learn to share in the joy of something they didn’t do. Long-distance can teach you much.

But it isn’t enough. You learn to love the essence of a person, but not their actuality, not their daily quirks, not their frustrating habits, not them in the flesh. Dating ultimately involves spending quality time with another person. Still, long-distance can also lead to some awesome dating moments because when you do see each other, you are SO EXCITED THAT YOU GO ON ALL THE BEST DATES AND DON’T EAT VEGETABLES AND LAUGH A WHOLE LOT. Obviously, real life isn’t like that either, and I distinctly remember a totally weepy breakdown shortly after our dating long-distance ended and I moved to DC and I wanted to know why those perfectly planned, every-minute-a-date, weekends weren’t happening anymore. Yep, I’m a real gem.

But we aren’t talking about that right now. Because for now, I am back doing this horribly awful but maybe still good long-distance thing, which means that when James was here visiting this past week, we rocked dating. Like, ROCKED it, non-married style, where I turned off the part of my brain that remembers that we share a checkbook now, so lavish gestures aren’t quite as awesome because they mean tighter grocery budgets. Baseball games! Picnics! Netflix marathons (Olivia Pope, where have you been all my life???)! Dinners out! Dinners in!

In the course of our dating over the past week, we also discovered a couple great new places around this city, and as it is RESTAURANT WEEK this week, maybe you local people are looking to try out some new gems. The rest of you, once again, you should just make DC on your “Must Visit So I Can Gain Weight” list.

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GCDC- Grilled Cheese DC. We have wanted to go since it opened, but it isn’t in our area of the city and is only opened during the week. But after finally making it, we will be inconveniencing ourselves to return again. And again. (I actually have dinner plans there later this week so I can try the sweet grilled cheeses they only sell at night. ) It is nothing but artisan grilled cheeses – and tater tots, which facilitated me whipping out a Napoleon Dynamite reference like it was the early 2000s – but we were especially impressed with the owner. He was there greeting people, making conversation, and was so proud of his restaurant – with good reason. James got the buffalo chicken grilled cheese and maybe I still think about it.

Summer2014-162 Summer2014-166 When he left, James hid gift cards to various local places around the house and gives me clues to find them if I a having a rough day, so I can take myself on a “date” (yep, this totally isn’t our first long-distance rodeo). One of them was to Sona Creamery, which just opened a couple blocks from us, and I saved the card so we could go together. It is a wine and cheese bar that also serves some food, and while the menu is small and things are a little pricey for their size, the quality is perfection. Summer2014-170 Summer2014-172

That iced tea. Lightly spiced, a little sweet, locally brewed and bottled. Hello hipster glory.

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See that tasty looking flatbread with heirloom tomatoes? AMAZING. By far our favorite thing there, which is saying a lot, since I got the mac n’ cheese and mac n’ cheese is my favorite food group. We got suckered in and had to know about the artisan cheese on the bread, only to find out it is made from milk from a water buffalo….


… which obviously led to lots of googling of water buffalos at the table…


… and the purchasing of a small brick of the cheese to take home so that we can recreate the meal tonight for dinner.


Sona is having a 3course lunch for 20$ restaurant week special, so if you are nearby, you should totally go. And take me, because I told you about it.

James leaves tomorrow, and it will be mid-September before I see him again. Back to phone calls, emails, and me sleeping starfish style in the middle of the bed. Long-distance marriage is way less fun than dating, with one exception. When you are dating long-distance, you always wonder if it will have changed when you see the person, if you are going to make it through, if you will or should stay together. But with marriage, I know.

He is mine. I am his. Forever. He’s coming back, and we will just get right back to dating.


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20 Responses to Dating.

  1. Rebekah says:

    Totally agree about the long-distance dating… it’s hard but it pushes you in ways (good ways) that being physically together doesn’t. Our relationship was funny in that it started out with long-distance, then graduated to “Oh wow, we actually live in the same county now?” I’m glad you get to experience the fun of dating again, even though it comes with a side of separation.

  2. kgunders says:

    Long-distance dating and restaurant week…are we the same person right now?! (Well, I have a few weeks before the long-distance thing starts, but still). We are doing Westend Bistro tonight – I was convinced that it wouldn’t be “too” French when I found out they were serving corn. 🙂 Hiding gift cards around the house is such a good/sweet idea! Can I pick your brain for long distance dating expertise and Skype you to complain/cry as needed while I am away?

    • Hannah says:

      That sounds so good! And yes, I will prepare a list of the best ways to beat long distance . Be prepared: they are all SUPER sappy. You may complain and cry as needed.

  3. Katy says:

    I agree on the long distance is good for relationships viewpoint. I have done long distance in two relationships — one being my now husband…and both times, long distance was good for me. I tended to casually date, being the type of person not to jump in, but with my husband, long distance dating took such effort that it forced me to decide early on if it was worth the effort, if I wanted this. It also meant more communication, less hanging out — so we grew really close and fairly serious early on. I think this all helped me see that he was the guy for me early on.

    Plus when we quit being long distance, it was like a whole new dating phase– we acted like you do in a new relationship — you know, spending tons of time together, date nights, cuddling and movies — except we were 8 months in at this point. SO, that was fun…we had two fun butterfly stages in our relationship.

    Hope you enjoyed your time together. I will be trying these places soon!

    • Hannah says:

      It totally makes you have those giggly new dating moments in the middle of your relationship!! I think that distance, when it doesn’t reveal all the cracks that already exist in a relationship, can do a whole lot of good!

  4. Raewyn says:

    Really love this post. Esp ‘A lot of marriage is also like this, only it happens daily over the dinner table.’ We have a large long dinner table which was used daily with 12-15 people around it at any one time. My Tim at one end and me at the other. Long distance communication which got longer as our family increased and our visitors were added. Now he has gone I so miss our dates and special times. We were married for 35 years when he was killed and the centre of my world fell apart.

    I really loved this too – ‘When you are dating long-distance, you always wonder if it will have changed when you see the person, if you are going to make it through, if you will or should stay together. But with marriage, I know.’
    Yes, with marriage you know.
    I knew. And now I am alone I treasure that knowledge so much more dearly.
    In New Zealand we say – Kia Kaha. It is Maori meaning Keep Strong.
    So to you and James I say during your times apart Kia Kaha xxxxx

    • Hannah says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I just have noticed that so much of what keeps good marriages together is enjoying just talking to each other. I don’t feel that crieteria gets enough credit in the dating world!

  5. Grace says:

    You guys are so cute. I never comment on anyone’s blog. But I just did. Because I like you guys so much. Have a good one!

  6. klyse3 says:

    Long distance is such a relationship building pain. My fiance and I are going to be living in the same city long term for the first time this fall. On one hand, I’m super excited, but on the other hand, I doubt he’ll take me out for steak and sushi as often! I’m glad to see you had some really good time with your husband before he left. 🙂

  7. Laura says:

    Love this. You guys are too cute. Glad you had a great reunion.

  8. singingselah says:

    Your blog is absolutely awesome. I must admit, I’m not a super hipster person who finds new blogs just by exploring; I’m that person who clicks on widely circulated links people post on Facebook. I found your blog after you wrote the post “My Husband is not my Soul Mate” and I fell in love with your writing style and haven’t stopped reading. Seriously, I think we could be kindred spirits or something. haha!

    Anyway, this post is awesome. I just got married two months ago to a man I dated for 6.5 years, 2 of which was distance. In January, he will be moving 10 hours away and I will join him 5 months after that. I totally relate to this post. Even though distance is hard, it is so good. It makes you really treasure the moments you have together, communicate better, and appreciate the person for all the little things they do that are so often taken for granted. Good luck! I know you will be counting down the moments you see him again, but just remember it’s temporary and there is a light in the end of the tunnel. Thank you for your posts and sharing your life with the internet. The Lord really is using you through sharing your life with others.

    Also, thank you for posting your chocolate chip cookie recipe. They are seriously amazing, and I have been making them weekly for my husband and small group. They top every recipe I’ve used up to this point.

    • Hannah says:

      I’m so glad you found it! And I’m so sorry that marriage doesn’t automatically mean no more goodbyes… we feel your pain!

      Also, I am THRILLED that the cookies are now a staple dessert for you all!!! I like to think of myself as a dessert missionary. : )

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  11. sboline says:

    My husband and I were an ocean away from each other during most of our engagement and courtship. We are celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss (and I mean that in the most sincere sense of the words) this March. All of our communication took place before texting, email and the convenience of social media. I have an old-fashioned metal mailbox stuffed, literally, with letters he wrote to me on yellow legal pad paper sent in airmail envelopes and he has a Converse shoe box packed with mine. I started reading a letter a night and it took me about six months to finish. He’s my resilient rock, my friend at all times, my late-night lover, my hero when life beats me up or my spirit is shattered and a most excellent father to my sons. I enjoy reading your blog because it gives me hope that there are couples who don’t compromise and warp their relationships into the dangerous shapes our culture finds acceptable because it’s convenient at the time. You both seem to treasure your bond and guard it with great determination. Keep up the good work! The rewards will lend you a lifetime of true contentment. Stay strong and celebrate the sacredness of the vows you chose to take before God and man.

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