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Closing The Distance: 13 Insights For Long Distance Couples

Lisa McKay | Updated: October 11, 2023

Going from living in different cities to sharing a bed all of a sudden. You discover so many new things at once after closing the distance.

You might think that everything will be ‘fine and dandy’ once you’re no longer long distance.

But it’s likely going to be much more challenging than you’re expecting it to be.

Adapting to a new life together takes a lot of:

  • Time
  • Effort, and
  • Compromise

I learned the hard way, that’s why I put together these insights so you’re much better prepared.

insights about closing the distance pinterest image

Transitioning From a Long Distance Relationship to Local: The Learnings

1. The holiday mood is over—differences become more frustrating

Every time you see your sweetheart when you are in a LDR, it feels like a long- awaited holiday. You meet them once in a while (sometimes in different destinations every time). You are not experiencing what people in a regular relationship do.

Then one of you moves.

Suddenly, you are under the same roof, sharing the bed, cooking food and socializing together. There will be pleasant surprises you will discover about your partner, and some annoying ones, too.

When I moved in with my man, he was pleasantly surprised that I can cook well. He had the impression I was a girl who was spending her evenings in a bar.

Well, I used to do that… because I had no one waiting for me at home. But when I moved I had a lot more time and inspiration for cooking. Except… I was a great chef who doesn’t eat meat. I never considered that his love of Turkish kebab might be an obstacle for us, and this caught us both by surprise.

It wasn’t a huge obstacle, but even today we feel bad when ordering the food in the restaurant. We want to share the food, but we can’t.

2. No one is perfect—you need to accept some frustrations with the amazing parts

When you are in a long distance relationship, you tend to think about your partner in superlatives. While you’re far apart it’s easier to focus on all the amazing things about them.

When you move, the distant admiration suddenly switches to real communication full of day-to-day interactions, which grows into a routine. Your partner is amazing, and you will continue loving them, but you will discover (or remember) that they have flaws just like everyone else. You have to learn to accept them as they are.

3. Your communication rhythms and patterns must change when you move from online to offline

While apart, you adapt to planned FaceTime date nights and constant texting, accompanied by long-awaited reunions. You master that kind of communication and you get used to that rhythm.

When you start living together, you suddenly start interacting face to face about everything.

Most of this is great. There is a huge advantage in being able see the person when you talk to them (and everyone knows by now that arguments in Whatsapp don’t end well!).

However, you might find yourself not knowing what to do when you get upset. In a LDR, you can just delay replying to their message until you calm down. Or you can think carefully about what you want to say in that email. You don’t have that sort of time and space when your partner is standing two feet away.

Overall, this is great—arguments will be shorter and make up sex will be one hug away! BUT, you have no time to rethink your answers… you become real, unpolished you.

Pro tip: For those of you still in long distance relationships: Do not try to be someone else before closing the distance. It will only be easier when the time comes to live together.

4. You must adjust to having much less private space—socially and physically

When you are apart and almost your entire relationship is online most people find some perks. And although we can hate having to do everything alone, we get used to it. In fact, you probably start enjoying some parts of doing life alone. It can even become scary when you think about moving in together, SHARING everything, and having much less privacy.

Remember, closing the gap doesn’t mean you have to start spending all your time together. Initially, you might feel tempted to do so, but it will put a lot of pressure on both of you.

Don’t be afraid to find separate friends, or find and attend social activities by yourself. Don’t feel committed to do something because your partner does it. My man and I value our personal space a lot, and I think we equally enjoy going out with our friends, doing different sports, and attending different social events if we want to.

Slowly form a life which is comfortable for both of you. But don’t think that closing the distance requires you to stick together 24/7. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.

5. The challenges of learning to live in a new place will compound the adjustment challenges that come with learning to live together

The biggest difficulty I faced when I moved was that suddenly I felt I was just someone’s partner.

I had moved to new countries before, and it used to feel like ultimate level of freedom. Even though I was on my own and facing challenges of being in a new country, I used to love it. I felt independent, free, and ready to conquer the world!

This was different. I felt like I had lost my own identity and become just someone’s partner.

This phase didn’t last for too long (I was actively attending interviews and going to the fairs or events and trying to make contacts and friends), but it was the biggest challenge I had to overcome personally. The thought that I used to have a good job, tons of friends, a house, and independence… then left it all be behind me, was constantly crunching me from inside.

This particular challenge is much harder for the person who makes the move, but there are quite a few things you can do to ease the negative feelings:

Things To Do To Make It Easier Adjusting After a Long Distance Relationship

  1. Never use the fact that you were the one who moved for them as a weapon during arguments. NEVER count miles walked, flights taken, money spent for them. They did a lot for you, too. It was your decision and they will do their best to help you settling down, but they’re not directly responsible for creating your social life in a new destination.
  2. Do your homework in advance: prepare your CV and start applying for jobs as you are planning your move.
  3. Gather some savings so that you don’t feel too financially dependent on your partner during this adjustment phrase.
  4. Try to start making your own friends by participating in social activities, workshops, courses, sport activities etc.
  5. Consider living apart at the beginning. I can’t personally speak to this. When we closed the distance, our relationship advanced enough to live together. That’s why we closed the distance at the first place. However, if you want to enjoy a dating phase, do that. It might work for you.
  6. Make sure you have responsibilities in your new city (even around the house) to give your days some structure.

12. Having different expectations

Having different expectations which don’t get met might be the main reason for frustration and growing apart while living together. To avoid that, be as open and honest as possible. Discuss all the aspects that bother or worry you before one of you moves.

This is not time to be nice, it’s time to be open with each other. Keep in mind that closing the gap is the first step towards spending the rest of your life together.

Make sure you both are okay with each other’s perspectives on all sorts of things. They will probably be very different, and that’s totally fine, as long as you can accept your partner’s idea of the future (if you want to get married within the next couple of years but your partner is not interested in ever getting married before you move is the time to know that sort of stuff).

So TALK openly about your expectations before you make this decision to move. There is a chance one of you will get hurt, but it’s much better than one of you changing your entire life for something you expected, but didn’t get.

13. There are HUGE advantages

Let’s end by celebrating the good stuff!

The happiness of waking up together. How much easier solving arguments is. Having peace of mind because neither of you have to take a flight tomorrow/next week/next month.

The excitement of:

Make your own list. It will help you navigate and deal with any challenges.

Ready To Close The Distance?

Closing the gap is so much more than moving in together. It’s also (at least) one of you leaving everything behind and moving across the country (or much further) so you can pursue happiness as a couple.

It’s exciting and little bit scary… And you know, it’s so worth it.

If you want more insights when it comes to closing the distance. We recommend joining our free LDR Support Group where you can ask questions and get advice from other long distance couples that successfully navigated becoming ‘geographically close’!

Lisa McKay author image for bio
Lisa McKay is an award-winning author and psychologist. She is also the founder of Modern Love Long Distance, now a part of Lasting The Distance. Drawing upon her own extensive experience with long distance relationships, Lisa helps couples navigate LDR pitfalls and forge meaningful, enduring connections across the miles.
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