When I first started flying, I was barely 21 & newly single; this was the perfect time for me to focus on myself, my new job and see the world like I had always wanted.
Within the first 6 months of flying, I found myself in a LDR (long distance relationship). Starting out, I spent roughly 18 days in Ft. Lauderdale which was my home base at the time, about 3 days at my actual home in Orlando visiting my family & the other 8 or 9 days visiting my boyfriend where he lived, in another state. Ask any flight attendant, or anyone who travels for work really, commuting is hard. I never realized how much I took for granted being able to go to work in the morning & come back the same day.
That relationship lasted just over a year and to this day it was one of the most exhausting relationships I had ever been in. I felt like I was always on an airplane or a car, splitting my time between family, friends and my boyfriend. Without going into too many details, there were other factors that gave that relationship the title of “Most Exhausting” and after a while my career, the thing that was once one of the most exciting things about me, became one of the reasons why we argued all the time. I went as far as going Part Time to spend less time in the air and more time on the ground and it still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough because there were other issues that had nothing to do with me but at the time I didn’t know that.
I spent the next five years casually dating a little here and there, funny enough not many people in my own hometown but more so people I met on the road. If I found myself being the one constantly making the effort to get together with someone, I ended things. If someone just wanted to see me when I “happened to be in town”, I ended things. I met my share of men who were single on the road but married back home. I also met men who weren’t really interested in me as a person but just to fulfill some sort of “Flight Attendant” fantasy they had. My time was very precious and I wasn’t about to waste any of it on someone who only saw me as something temporary in their lives.
My mom says that a relationship shouldn’t be work but should be something that flows easily and I’m sort of conflicted with that statement. Yes a relationship shouldn’t be so hard that it’s nearly impossible to see each other but it also shouldn’t be so easy that nothing ever goes wrong or that you both agree on absolutely everything because that’s not realistic. A LDR is work; not for the faint of heart. It’s work because it involves two people that have to make a conscious decision to schedule time to see each other and make the most of it when they are together. It’s two people who despite the distance, can enjoy a phone call or a Skype date in between those in person dates and make it just as special. Two people who when things get hard or there is a longer gap in between those in person reunions, won’t get frustrated and say that it wasn’t what they signed up for. Both parties have to be so secure in themselves and not so dependent on each other. Both people have to find a balance between spending time together and having a life outside of their relationship but also do things together. Your whole life cannot and should not be the other person. I’m not saying that every relationship that starts off long distance is doomed from the beginning, I’m just saying that unless you have a solid foundation built, you both set your (realistic) expectations and both of you take equal responsibility for making time for each other (in whatever way that may be to you)…it will not work. You lose a lot of the spontaneity you would normally have if you both lived in the same city because neither one of you can call the other person and say “Hey! Want to grab dinner tonight?” . You have to plan and schedule a lot but there are ways to keep that spontaneous side alive if you both should choose to do so. Then hopefully there will come a time when you both decide to take the next step and move in together or at least closer to each other so that neither one of you has to hop on a plane (or drive more than 30 minutes) to see each other. It takes time (and a lot of work on both parties) to get there; you have to have a partner that is willing to see the light at the end of the tunnel just like you. Or maybe you decide that it’s not something you’re willing to work on and that’s okay too. In order for a relationship to blossom, both parties should have a clear sense of who they are as individuals before they can fully commit to their partner.
Dating is hard in general, if I’m being honest it downright stinks; especially in this day in age when there’s all of these apps online and everyone is swiping left or right or playing games on who gets to write who first. It’s exhausting and let’s face it, no one is 100% honest on their online profiles anyway and everyone chooses their best (sometimes filtered) photos. Meeting people should be something that just happens whether it’s someone you run into at the grocery store, having brunch or a night on the town with your girlfriends, walking your dog on the street or at a dog park or maybe even someone you work with. I’m not knocking online dating either, I tried it myself for a short while and while I may not have ended up with a relationship, I actually found one of my really good friends from it.
What everyone that is considering dating or marrying someone in Aviation should know is that there will be days that you don’t make it home to sleep next to them but this job gives you more flexibility than any 9-5 job ever will. I fly 10-12 days total out of the month and the other 18-20, I’m home. With that flexibility, I have a chance to run my online business, travel for leisure, do whatever my heart desires. Do not go into a relationship thinking that just because a flight attendant (or a pilot) has more flexibility in their schedule, that they need to be the one that is constantly traveling to you. We need to see that you are also making an effort (however small it may be) to make us a priority as well. It should not feel like a job to make time for your partner but rather something that while can be tiresome at times, is even more rewarding. You need to have hobbies and friends outside of the relationship but still be able to come together thus creating a perfect balance. You need to have someone who can appreciate your time apart and see it as a positive as opposed to something negative. A partner who not only sees things as glass have full or half empty, but a glass that can be refilled at all times. All in all it’s not impossible to have a semblance of a “normal” relationship, you just have to find what that definition of normal means to you and not let society define it for you.