The first six months of getting to know Pete were exciting. Though we hadn’t met in person yet, I felt a strong connection to him. Every morning I would wake up excited to read his texts and every night I would stay up way too late talking to him. After he’d gone to sleep I’d sometimes scroll up through our messages and read them all over again. I think at first we both kept each other a secret from people. But it wasn’t long before friends started suspecting something was up. At least on my end. For me, it wasn’t that I was embarrassed that I was dating and getting so attached to someone I had never met. Or that we matched on Tinder. I think I felt it was the only good thing going on in my life at that moment and I was afraid of messing it up by sharing it. I also had no idea where it was going. For him, I’m pretty sure he was just embarrassed. Though he’s also said “ it was exciting at first, but weird. You could have been anyone or lying about everything!”
Anyway, it wasn’t until about a month or two after our first exchange that I shared my little secret with my best friend Jojo. We had a girls weekend in San Diego. It was supposed to be this wild and crazy single girls trip, but I just wasn’t too interested in flirting with guys or participating in the scoping of the millions of beach hotties that crossed our paths. I even declined a drink from a handsome guy at the bar! I SAID NO TO A FREE DRINK! That’s the moment I knew Pete was someone special to me and that’s when Jojo looked at me and said “Keri, is there something you want to tell us? Are you dating someone?!”
I don’t think I could have lied even if I wanted to. My face gave me away and that's when I asked him “So, what are we doing?” to which he replied “ Well, we are two adults agreeing to exclusively get to know each other.”
“Oh, okay so you’re my boyfriend,'' I said.
I then turned to Jojo and go, “Yes, I have a boyfriend.” And that’s when I spilled the tea for the first time.
Little by little I let other friends in on my not so secret English boyfriend. I even told my mom about him! Which was a big deal, because in the past I had never let her know I was dating someone unless there was a chance she’d get to meet him. Which hadn’t happened since I was 17.
I don’t think anyone had any real objections to my LDR in the beginning. It wasn’t until a night out at dinner, when after showing a group of friends a photo Pete had sent me of him and his nephew that one of my friends said, “I bet you that’s his son and he’s on vacation with his wife and kids!” that I started to doubt what I had with Pete was real. My friend could have been right. What if I was just a fun pastime of his. What if he was married and had children and a whole life I didn’t know about? I think that was the first time I freaked out on Pete. I started being a bit short and distant with him. And he noticed right away. So I told him what had happened and though I could tell it annoyed him, he calmly clarified things for me and sent me photos of his sister with her family. I think that was the hardest part for me in the beginning. Putting all my trust in someone I hardly knew. Thankfully after a few more freak outs and “Stop doing thats” we managed to get past it all.
In the middle of those first six months, I started looking for LDR forums and blogs to guide me in successfully managing to cope with distance. But I don’t think I found anything that was actually helpful. Nothing I read seemed genuinely honest and most of the stories were from LDR couples that were in the same country, just different cities or states. I did however, watched an episode on The Big Bang Theory where Penny & Sheldon take a 36 question quiz that is meant to make you fall in love with someone. I did some research on it and I found an article in The New York Times titled “The 36 Questions That Lead To Love”. I asked Pete if he would be open to taking it. And to my surprise he agreed. Since it’s a long questionnaire I emailed it to him and asked him to send it back when he got a chance. In the meantime I answered my questions and sent them to him in a separate email.
Those 36 questions helped both of us get to know each other in a way that I don’t think we would have if we hadn’t done the little love experiment. We discovered we had a lot more in common than we originally thought. We had the same life goals. And what I loved the most about it was that it let me know he was just as close to his family as I was to mine.
A few weeks after the 36 Questions, we were on the phone for a while talking about our day and planning for his visit. When it came time to hang up and say goodbye, it got weird. We had the most awkward goodbye in the world. So I texted him after saying, “that was the most awkward goodbye ever”. He agreed and said “yeah, it really was. It was like I wanted to say something before hanging up but wasn’t sure if I should.”
Yes, the first big ILY was via text.
I said, “Yeah I know! But I only want you to say it if you truly mean it.”
“I think I do.” he said.
That’s when I knew we were in it for the long haul.
Check out the next blog post to read about Our First Meet!