Even in this era of ubiquitous communication — smartphones, email, IM — frequent travel can take its toll on our ability to date and maintain relationships. Still, that doesn’t mean it should be an excuse for a dating drought. Globe-trotting professionals just need to date a little smarter — and with the help of this sage advice, that’ll happen as easily and smoothly as you rack up frequent flyer miles.
Embrace the situation
You don’t have as much time to meet people at the usual places, so you have to be more open to alternatives. Let your friends introduce you to someone; online dating is another great option. As Jill, a New York web consultant, summarizes: “You have to make the most of your time. If someone invites you to a party, you should always try to go because you might not be in town for the next one.” The lesson: Put yourself out there and be assertive.
Scope the airport for single commuters
“The airport is a bonanza,” says Scot McKay, a dating coach and author of What Works With Women. If you’re taking a flight on a Monday or Tuesday morning, he says, roughly 90 percent of people there are in the same situation you: traveling for their jobs. Check in a few minutes early and strike up a conversation at the airport coffee shop and ask where the other person is headed next. If he or she isn’t compulsively checking a smartphone, your fellow traveler is probably bored and eager to talk.
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Build anticipation for your date
Travel creates annoying lags between outings that will kill your dating momentum if you let it. If you’ve started seeing someone, keep that person thinking about you by promising a special evening when you return. Try to be mysterious: set a date, but don’t say what the two of you will be doing together. Then, drop little hints leading up to the day you plan to reunite in order to keep your partner intrigued. Help minimize the time spent apart by giving the other person assignments, like buying a new outfit for a specific event or packing a picnic before you reunite later that day. This will only work once or twice, but it can get you through that awkward “getting to know you” stage.
Set realistic expectations
Don’t try to hide the fact that you travel a lot or that you have onerous work commitments while you are dating. If you’ve found someone with whom you feel a connection, be straightforward about your availability (honesty is always the best policy, right?). Your date may say he or she can’t handle it; if so, there’s really nothing you can do, but it is better to know from the very beginning whether your shared connection is nothing but a layover, so to speak.
Don’t invite jealousy along for a ride
When two people are frequently apart, jealousy will occasionally rear its ugly head — it’s just a fact of life. The best thing you can do is try to minimize its effects by checking in often to simply say hello — it’s reassuring for both partners. Don’t call from a party or a crowded public place; that just encourages the other person to worry or feel slighted because he or she cannot fully engage your attention.
Include your partner in your traveling experience
What better way to show someone you’re committed to maintaining that romantic connection than to give him or her a taste of what you’re seeing and learning on the road? Take a picture on your cell phone and send it with a sweet note, or snap some photos or short video clips and email them to your special someone later. According to Diane Mapes, author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World, you should focus on small things that remind you of the other person. It will feel like you’ve shared a moment, even when you weren’t together.
Schedule simultaneous dates
Devin, a film production assistant who often travels on location, says that he and his girlfriend learned to connect with virtual dates. This involves taking an activity you would normally do together at home and making plans to do it concurrently while apart. If there’s a TV show you both love, watch it “together” while chatting on IM, FaceTime or Skype. Or plan to attend the same movie around the same time, then call each other after leaving the theater to discuss it while it’s fresh in both of your minds.
Upon returning home, fit into your partner’s routine
John, a San Diego-based consultant, says his company offered training on overcoming the strain of frequent separation from loved ones. One tidbit he found especially useful is that while you are away, the person you’re seeing is establishing his or her own routine without you. When you come back, it’s your job to fit into your partner’s life; it’s not his or her job to change everything for you. If your sweetie’s taken to working out every evening, don’t argue about it; ask to join in instead.
Trade love tokens
It sounds cheesy — heck, it is cheesy — but small, personal gifts can work wonders. So if you’re traveling, bring home an item that caters to the other person’s unique taste — maybe a favorite food or even just a small trinket. (Do not bring anything from the airport gift shop; this move reeks of last-minute guilt pangs.) A little token of your affection will help let the other person know that he or she is on your mind when you’re apart.
Dustin Goot is a freelance writer based in New York City. He has also written on dating and relationships for Wired and Time Out New York.