Cawley: Bridging the distance

Two weeks ago, I had my first date with a man I’ve been talking to since the end of July. 

But here’s the catch. He lives more than nine hours away, so he asked me out on a “virtual date.” 

The concept was that we would both see the same movie at around the same time, but in completely different locations. Then, we’d talk on the phone afterwards about the film.

It might seem odd to not be in the same physical location for a first date, but I’d argue it would have been even stranger for one of us to drive nine and a half hours or hop on a plane for the first one-on-one encounter. 

What if things didn’t go well? Then one of us would have been stuck hours away from home, with no easy escape route. 

This scenario may seem random, but I have seen him in person before. I met him the weekend of my best friend’s wedding. 

We were both in the wedding party, me for the bride and him for the groom. He asked for my number when I went to say goodbye to him after the reception and we started texting daily a couple of days later. 

Come to find out, Pittsburgh is nowhere near the Boston area — the two are nearly 600 miles apart. But there was good conversation, so we decided to keep talking, despite the distance. 

Following weeks of continuous text conversations throughout the day and evening, he suggested the movie as a way to do something together, without being in the same place. 

I wasn’t familiar with the concept and referred to it as a “virtual date” without realizing it was so common. 

A woman quoted in a Good Housekeeping article said “a virtual date is just as important as a physical date.” The article suggests that seemingly mundane things, such as cooking a meal at the same time, watching a movie together, or discussing a book you’ve both been reading, can be done together in virtual time, if those activities can’t be done together in person. 

So, two weeks ago, I brought myself to the movies on a Saturday night to see “Ready or Not.” I wasn’t sure what the protocol was — should I ask someone to accompany me, or was it better to go alone? I ultimately opted for the latter, a first for me as well. I’ve never gone to the movies alone before. 

It was our first time talking on the phone following the movie, so we both admitted to being nervous and agreed it was a little awkward, but the consensus was that it went well. 

A second phone call a week later went a lot better and there are tentative plans for a trip to Salem next month.  

So, who knows what will happen? We live in an age of advanced technology, where instant communication is possible through a variety of methods, no matter where anyone may be.  

Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? I guess that remains to be seen.

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