If I had to distill my experiences into 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships, I’d say the following:
- You’ll be lonely in more ways than one,
- Your long distance relationship will cost you, and
- When your LDR ends, the real problems start.
When I started my long distance relationship, I didn’t give it a second thought.
The only thing that was on my mind was: “I love this woman with every fiber of my being, and I would do anything to stay with her.”
If I could travel back in time and tell myself all the harsh facts of long distance relationships—and also tell myself that I’d be experiencing them over six and a half years—I’d definitely have second thoughts about the whole thing.
LDRs are definitely not for the faint of heart!
Thankfully, I made it through to the other side, finally reunited with my wonderful wife and a beautiful baby boy.
1. You’ll Be Lonely In More Ways Than One
Okay, so your SO isn’t in the same room as you. You feel like you’re in a relationship with your phone or your laptop, instead of an actual human being.
It’s hard. I get it. I’ve felt that loneliness firsthand.
For me, however, the real loneliness came from the fact that no one else around me understood what I was going through.
The people in your life—your family, your friends, your coworkers—they’re likely to be the ones that will have the biggest effect on you.
That’s because your social circles may not be able to readily relate to your situation.
Long distance relationships are becoming more common over time, but it may be rare for you to meet more than one or two others that are going through the same plight.
Others may not understand why you’d give up “real-life relationships” for someone that is in another place entirely.
Some people may accept your reasons why your connection to your SO is worth the distance. Others will be less convinced…and even downright skeptical.
Your life will stay still while everyone else’s moves on
Whether your family and friends understand your relationship or not, you’ll find that everyone else’s relationships will continue to progress, while yours may feel like it’s at a standstill.
When I was in an LDR, my friends were getting engaged, getting married, and having kids. Meanwhile, I was still on a FaceTime schedule, and still trying to figure out how to reunite with my partner.
Your friends and family will also be able to celebrate events and spend time together with their partners, but you won’t have that same luxury.
You may feel like the odd one out, seeing everyone else with their partners, and hanging out with the other “singles” of the group.
You might even feel obligated to not attend events, just so you can spend time with your LDR partner. This is especially true if your partner lives in a different time zone, or keeps a different schedule to you.
Over time, you may find yourself distancing yourself from people in the “real world”. (By the way, this is not a good situation. You should strive to maintain a balance between your LDR and your real-world relationships.)
So, unfortunately, you may find that you’ll be going through your long distance journey with very few others by your side. Having a good support network with you can ease the burden of making it to the end of your LDR journey.
2. Your Long Distance Relationship Will Cost You
I remember talking to someone about my long distance relationship, and they replied with the light-hearted comment, “Well, at least you save money on dates!”
Uh, okay. All those dates really break the bank, huh?
In reality, long distance relationships aren’t cheap. Apart from the obvious—like a phone or laptop and consistent internet and data—you may find yourself spending more than you’d expect.
Depending on how far you live from each other, visits can be prohibitively expensive. At the time, I lived in Australia, and my SO lived in the United States. We certainly didn’t have the money to schedule monthly visits whenever we wanted.
We’d have to wait for plane ticket sales, which still ran between $1,500 and $2,000 for a round trip. On top of that, we’d have to plan our holidays and ration our paid time off.
When money was tight, we’d have to postpone visits for even longer. At one point, we were apart for over a year because of our jobs and money issues.
Even simple things like gift giving can be expensive. Sending a package overseas can easily cost the same as the price of the gift itself—or more.
My wife was a big fan of sending postcards, as well. It was amazing receiving one from her every week or two, but I can’t imagine the amount of money it cost to purchase and send all of those cards over several years.
When you reach the finish line, it only gets more expensive
Finally have the chance to reunite? Great! Unfortunately, you’ll need to figure out moving costs.
Tying up your old life will cost you. Breaking leases, paying off debts, and transporting your belongings will chip away at your savings.
If you’re immigrating to another country, be prepared to fork out thousands of dollars for an immigration visa, and another one-way plane ticket.
If you have a complicated immigration situation, you may even need to retain the services of a lawyer.
3. When Your LDR Ends, The Real Problems Start
Ending an LDR happily together forever is the finish line, the ultimate goal, the whole reason for this crazy journey.
But when you get there, you need to realize that both of your lives will undergo huge changes. And you may find yourself in fights over it.
For me and my wife, ending long distance was an amazing feeling. But our relationship took time to adjust.
We had lived together in the past, but we still had to relearn a few things—everything from holding hands to which side of the bed we prefer.
And then there were the complicated issues that don’t come up over video calls.
Do we share finances and a bank account?
Do we still ask permission to buy things just for ourselves?
Is it okay if one person works and the other stays home?
How do they really feel about being around my family?
Each of these questions opened up deep, awkward, and sometimes painful discussions.
Someone’s life will change more than the other’s
You may want to push forward and volunteer as tribute without a second thought. But realize that you will essentially be starting over from scratch.
You’ll have to quit your job, sell or give away the possessions you can’t bring with you, and bid farewell to your family and friends.
After leaving your friends and family behind, you will need to create a new beginning for yourself with your partner.
Are you ready to start a whole new social circle?
Are you ready to find a new job?
If you can’t speak the country’s native language, are you prepared to spend some time learning before you can communicate effectively with others?
Adjusting to a new culture and a new life is a challenging task. If you or your partner are considering making such a move, then the other should be prepared to lend their support to ease the transition.