So, you’ve figured out who is going to make the move, you have your end date in sight, the visas have been issued, and the flights are all booked. Woo hoo!
However, it isn’t necessarily as easy as picking them up from the airport and going away to live happily ever after. Being apart from each other for so long may have introduced a few stumbling blocks that might not even be fully apparent until you’re in the same room together.
Here are some tips to ease the transition from being apart to being in the same room.
- Visit each other first before making any big decisions
- Figure out where you’ll live together
- Learn (or relearn) to live together again
- Enjoy the honeymoon period (while it lasts)
- Make time to live outside the relationship
- Support the one who made the move
- Be prepared for your relationship to change
1. Visit each other first before making any big decisions
If you’re a pair of “never mets”, or if you met each other in a different place where you both live, you should visit each other first.
It’s a great way to get to learn more about them as a person. You can see how they live, and finally meet their family and friends. On top of that, you can eat their local cuisine, see the sights, and be a bit of a tourist. Plus, chances are they’d be so excited to have you come visit so they can show off their home!
In addition, this is a good opportunity for you to do a bit of reconnaissance. Can you see yourself living in this city or town? Are there plenty of opportunities for you? Do you feel like it’ll be an easy transition? Can you count on your partner supporting you if you do move?
It’s also a good idea to visit and see them so you know what they’re like in person. Interacting in-person is very different to chatting online, even with webcams and high-speed internet.
2. Figure out where you’ll live together
If the relationship is still going strong and you’re ready to close the distance, this is the next big step to take.
For me and my wife, it was also the hardest. We both had our own expectations on who would be moving, and it was a tough problem to navigate.
There are a lot of issues to consider when determining who makes the move in a long distance relationship. One person’s city or town may be better for your relationship than the other. Perhaps you’ll both move to a completely different place!
Before making any big moves, you should consider things like finances, future job prospects, any dependents that need care, and if you’re moving for the right reasons.
3. Learn (or relearn) to live together
My wife and I used to joke that every time we reunited, we would have to relearn everything.
We had to relearn how to hold hands again. (My arm goes in front.) We had to remember how to kiss like we used to. We would recall all the little actions and affectionate things we’d do to each other.
That was the fun stuff. But there’s the not-so-fun stuff, too.
Things like my snoring waking her up constantly. Or how she wakes up so much earlier than I do. Or how she absolutely has to deep clean and sterilize things. Or how I stay up at all hours of the night whenever I have a project stuck in my head. (Right now, I’m typing away next to her at 1 in the morning, because I can’t leave this post unfinished.)
There were other things she couldn’t help, either. She has a sensitive stomach, and I have to be careful with what I cook for her. I also have a mosquito allergy, which makes me bad company during summer nights.
These were the things we didn’t see during our long distance relationship. They were always there and always a part of us. We were just never on display the entire time so we wouldn’t be aware of them…until we lived together.
Just be prepared to learn new things about your partner, or relearn old things in due time. They might not even be aware of the way they chew with their mouth open, or that they don’t wash their hands every time after using the bathroom. (Gross, I know, but I’ve seen it happen with other couples.) If something really is affecting you, make sure to communicate it to them with kindness.
4. Enjoy the honeymoon period while it lasts
When you finally close the distance for good, it’s cause for celebration. Every day is a blessing and you can’t get enough of each other. The high may feel like it’s lasting forever…until it doesn’t.
It may come as a bit of a shock, because for the longest time, you’re probably thinking that this is what you wanted, right? This is what you’ve been working towards for months or years, so why is the excitement wearing off?
This applies to all relationships, not just ones recovering from long distance. It could just be that the initial excitement is wearing off, and you’re either taking each other for granted, or you’ve spent a little too much time together.
I mention in another post that you should be having a life outside of your long distance relationship. This also applies to when you’re in the same room as well! Make sure to spend some time with your friends, or on your own personal projects, or just doing your own thing.
You might feel a sense of obligation to spend every minute with them, or a sense of guilt if you decide to step away for a few hours of personal time. You shouldn’t have to feel that way! Everyone needs a bit of personal time and space, even if you’ve been physically apart for ages.
Try not to stress too much about the honeymoon period not lasting forever. After all, that’s what it is: a honeymoon period.
5. Make time to live outside the relationship
As mentioned in the previous step, it can be exhausting to be around each other all the time.
For me and my wife, we did a lot of things together, but we also wanted to have our own personal time too. These days, she’ll be curled up with a good book, and I’ll either be doing some gaming or tapping away at the keyboard.
Other times, she may want to pay a visit to her mom and visit her brother’s family. If I’m not tagging along, I’ll usually be working on little projects around the apartment, or exploring the city and taking up other hobbies, like target shooting.
Again, it might seem counter-intuitive to spend time apart when you’re finally together. After all, you spent enough time apart, right? But it’ll be better for you both to make sure that your relationship isn’t the only thing you’re both exclusively focused on. You’ll be happier for it.
6. Support the one who made the move
If your partner made the move, make sure you get them their favorite drink when you’ve finished this article.
All jokes aside, it’s pretty tough to pull up one’s roots and relocate to another place. Yes, they did it out of love, and it’s great to be with each other in the same room again. But the person who moved is going through the stress of adapting to a new environment, finding a new social circle, finding a new job or resuming studies, and generally trying to find their feet.
My move from Australia to the U.S.
I moved from Australia to the U.S., and I’m glad that I did it. My career here is doing great, we live in a very nice place, and I’m able to experience a new country.
But the logistics of everything was tough. I had to sell my beloved car and most of my possessions back home. I had to leave my family behind, which I feel particularly bad about.
And when I got here, I had to build everything from the ground up again. My Australian drivers license wasn’t recognized here, so I had to take the knowledge and practical tests all over again. I had to transfer my savings from Australia to buy a new car so I could get around and go to work. And I couldn’t open a bank account straight away because I had no local address yet.
The job hunt was also nerve wracking because the stakes were high—I needed an income so I could support myself. And I had to learn all about how health insurance works, and how to do my taxes, and also make sure I’m filing taxes back home…argh!
So, the person who moved is likely going to be stressed out trying to adapt and fit into their new environment. Some are more capable and comfortable with switching locations, whereas others may be battling homesickness and the change of scenery. When you’re both together, the person who stayed put should try their best to make the other feel supported and ease their transition.
7. Keep dating
You might feel like that, since you’re living together, all that effort to stay connected can be put aside. No need to stick to the regimen of video chats, letters, and everything else. You can just live with your partner and let the rest fall into place, right?
But continuing to date your spouse is very important. Mental health professionals agree. Continuing to date and court each other can help keep the relationship alive, and foster a deeper sense of intimacy.
8. Be prepared for your relationship to change
When my wife and I finally reunited, I remember lying in bed with her, wide awake and battling jet lag.
It felt surreal being there, sharing the same bed and under the same sheets. My first thought was: This is very, very different to a Skype call. We’re used to talking on our phones. We’ve done it for years. Will we be okay? Can we adapt?
We did adapt, of course, but our relationship did take on a new shape.
How our relationship changed
Previously, it was all about spending time together. Making time for each other. Watching shows together, and making videos or writing cards for each other.
Eventually, it evolved into doing things for our future. We’d like to get a house someday, so what can we do to achieve that? We also have a baby on the way. So now we’re asking ourselves what do we need to do to make sure that baby arrives safe and sound? How can we make sure that baby’s delivery and nursery are all paid and accounted for?
These days, it feels less like “what do I need to do to show my dedication?” and more like “what do we need to do to realize our goals and dreams?” That might mean a whole lot more “boring” stuff like filing a joint tax return, or figuring out how to juggle priorities on the weekends. The intimacy and love isn’t gone, but our focus has shifted.
This might happen to you, too. I see it as a sign of the relationship maturing. You’ve endured being physically apart for months or years, and you’re still together after all this time. That’s an incredible feat. It’s only natural that the relationship will evolve and take on an entirely new form.
Embrace it! Your partner is with you on the ride.