Many of my friends at this point in life are touring musicians, and many of them are dating people they are not touring with. It’s no mystery that dating on the road can be hard. I mean, how many songs have been written about the subject?
Any podcast that has to do with DIY touring will tell you that in the 90s there were a lot of stop-and-go, using the payphone, sending letters and postcards, paging significant others, and other stressful situations happening in those days.
Distance will always be hard. But if we’re being honest, it’s easier now than it ever has been. It’s a bad excuse to say you don’t ever get to talk or keep in communication with your significant other if you have your own cell phone. It’s an even worse excuse if you have a smartphone.
Here are some basic tips to keep communication and emotional intimacy while touring.
Call Every Day
I picked this up (haha, get it?) from my father, who probably traveled as much as a full-time touring musician while I was growing up (though he got paid a lot more!). He would call my mother once in the morning and once at night. So when I’m in a relationship and touring, I try to enact a similar practice and at least call once a day.
Sometimes these calls last five minutes. Sometimes they’re during a long drive and they last up to an hour or so. But the point is that I get to have a conversation with someone, express words with tone and expression (emojis don’t count), hear their voice as if they’re next to me, and converse back and forth in real time. This builds emotional intimacy in the relationship and draws us closer together rather than letting the distance and time keep us apart.
Texting isn’t the greatest thing in the world, and I certainly do not propose you be texting someone every five minutes. Those people are terribly boring and honestly kind of a drag to tour with.
But when you’re busy, it’s a good way to just check in. Because who knows which days you won’t have much time to call. Maybe you’ve been in the driver’s seat or exploring a new city with your bandmates and crew, for instance. So texting in these instances is the perfect way to let them know where you are, how you’re doing, and to check in on them as well.
It doesn’t hurt to see someone’s face sometimes. If you do choose to use video chat as your primary means of communication with a partner, you might want to consider a newer smartphone, such as an iPhone 8 or one of the newer Samsung phones. Specifically, I bring up the iPhone 8 because the video quality is always improving with Apple, and it charges wirelessly — which is a huge plus for those long, drawn out video chats as it can give you privacy in the back of the van as well as a charging spot at the front.
Additionally though, this will zap your data, so consider that as well. Of course sometimes only hearing someone’s voice can be a good thing too.
We all know that the idea of groupies is outdated and overplayed. Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends that have hooked up with strangers on the road. But there aren’t typically panties and bras being tossed onto the stage or a line of women to your non-existant dressing room waiting for you to let them in. Regardless, as in any situation, you may notice potential suitors showing interest.
I’m not here to tell you to avoid all contact with attractive people or anything like that, but you know your own limits. Think about the way you’re treating someone at a show or how much time you spend with them and whether or not it’s something your significant other would be comfortable with. For instance, I definitely am not going to leave the venue by myself with a girl showing interest in me if I have someone waiting back home. I don’t date the crazy jealous type, but if it would make my partner uncomfortable, then my intuition says that it should make me uncomfortable as well.
I am a terrible gift giver, but I do have to say that little gifts tend to make people’s days. Whether this is a postcard, flowers, or some other sort of surprise present, it lets your person know that you care about them and are thinking of them even when you’re gone.
I think sometimes people get the idea that having the time of your life on tour means they don’t bring you joy or happiness. You and I both know that often this isn’t the case. So it’s good to send them gifts and surprise them just to let them know that while you’re enjoying your time out, you’re excited to be with them when you get home.
Pick Up Gifts
As a child, my favorite part of my dad traveling was what he would bring back for me. When you travel for any reason, bring back a souvenir for the people you love. Now, this doesn’t need to be a location specific souvenir. But anything that says “hey, look what I found for you,” similar to sending them a gift, shows them that you still care enough to surprise them when you’re back.
How do you maintain a close relationship while touring? How has it been hard and what’s been the best ways to communicate affection? Let me know via Twitter @Robolitious.