Welcome to Dear Here, an advice column from Here Magazine where we tap into the hearts and minds of travelers, working with experts to find solutions to travel issues you can’t always solve with a search engine. Below, editor Emma Glassman-Hughes answers your burning questions about long-distance love.
I recently returned from a solo trip to Berlin. I was a little nervous about traveling on my own, but I wound up having the best time exploring the nightlife, food, and fashion of that amazing city. I spent most of my time alone, until I started fooling around on Tinder—and accidentally maybe met the love of my life. The only problem? I live in California! We’ve kept talking and we’re planning for her to visit me here in the next couple months. Things are still really fresh between us, but now that it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I want to show her how I feel. How do I celebrate Valentine’s Day with my new long-distance honey?
First of all, I feel you. Not to be weird, but you’re talking to the queen of long-distance love: I have a tendency to “collect” people—in a strictly respectful, consensual, non-Hannibal-Lecter-y way, of course. When I travel, I’m never one to shy away from interesting and attractive strangers in equally interesting and strange new places. It’s this general curiosity and openness that has led me to rooftops in Mexico, dance floors in Peru, comedy clubs in South Africa, and weird American-themed bars projecting “Remember the Titans” on the walls in Australia. But it’s truly all fun and games until someone catches feelings—and that’s where you come in.
Falling in love is scary enough when the two of you live in the same city, and the additional hurdle of distance can make it all the more daunting. But don’t despair! There are some things in your favor here. For one, you get your own physical space. Win. You get to grow and develop as individuals, immediately learn what it’s like to miss one another, and determine pretty quickly whether or not this emotional investment is going to be worth your while. Plus, you now have a great excuse to travel back to Berlin! See? Not all bad.
Of course, trying to navigate a holiday like Valentine’s Day from a whole continent away—especially with something so exciting and new—poses its own challenges. No one wants to feel over- or under-whelmed in this situation. Here are five easy ways to celebrate the day that will show your honey just how much you care—from any time zone.
The lost art of letter-writing can go a long way in your new relationship (is this a relationship? What even are we! Now I’m stressed.) Not only is it romantic, but letter-writing is a relatively low-lift way to communicate something authentic and personal—guaranteed to have more of an impact than something sent from the ether. Go the extra mile and level up your love letter to a full-on care package, complete with tokens of your hometown (think: local snacks, ticket stubs from your local museums or theater, a book about your city) to make her feel like she’s right there with you.
If you and your new boo aren’t quite at Lara Jean-in-“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”-letter-writing-status just yet, something steamy from cyberspace will suffice. Yes, we are absolutely here for the tasteful sext! To let her know you’re thinking about her, find something that lives on the spectrum between a carefree “miss u” text and, you know, unsolicited nudes. Only you can know what’s right for your dynamic!
The Modern-Day Mixtape
I’ve always found sharing music to be incredibly intimate, and streaming services like Spotify make it easier than ever to invite people into your sonic world—even if they’re not physically with you. Make each other V-Day playlists inspired by the place you met or memories that you have with one another for an extra special, but still casual, gift.
One thing I’ve really grown to appreciate is the voice notes capability of WhatsApp. What first intimidated me and made me self-conscious about the way I speak (why do I use so many pauses?!?) has become a delightful way to stay connected to friends and more-than-friends who live far away. It’s easier and feels more spontaneous than leaving a voicemail, and won’t cost you any extra dough like an international phone call.
An oldie but a goodie, the FaceTime date is a time-tested winner! Carve out a nice chunk of time, dial up the good ol’ FaceTime, and make a meal “together.” Is it her dinner time and your breakfast time? No sweat! She can fry up some schnitzel while you scramble some eggs. Delicious!