Going from living in different cities to sharing a bed all of a sudden. You discover so many new things once you’re no longer long distance.
You might think that everything will be ‘fine and dandy’. But I can almost guarantee that it will be much more challenging than you expect.
In the time that my partner and I have been living in the same country (finally!) we’ve had some fights.
They seem like silly things…
He said I set things on fire too often in the kitchen. I said he shouldn’t call me while I am at writers’ group.
At first, I was terrified the fighting meant we weren’t supposed to be together and all that heartache and patience was for nothing.
But you have to go through a depressurization chamber when you surface from a period of long distance.
I learned this the hard way, which is why I put together these insights so you’re much better prepared.
How to Adjust When You’re No Longer in a Long Distance Relationship
Level 1: Relax
Just because it’s harder than you expected doesn’t mean it isn’t right.
You may have built up a beautiful fantasy in your mind about what it would be like when you’re finally together. Even if that’s not how it turns out, you weren’t necessarily wrong about your partner all along.
Step back and give each other time to work out the kinks.
Level 2: Communicate
Tell your partner how you’re feeling and listen to them.
Discuss things you’re loving about being back together and things you’re finding difficult. Talk about how the partner who has moved is finding the transition. Make sure you’re communicating as well as you did when you were apart.
Email them if you have to!
Level 3: Don’t be selfish
While apart, you get to spend more time doing whatever you want. It takes some adjusting when you also need to think about the needs and desires of another person.
This is true of any relationship, but it can sneak up on you if you’ve been together for a long time and you think you’ve already sorted out any major issues.
Remember that you may need to treat it more like a new relationship as you blend your lives back together.
Level 4: Try something new together
You will both be used to your separate routines. In addition to including each other in old routines, form some new ones together.
- Take up a sport neither one of you has tried before.
- Make a point of visiting a new restaurant or cooking a meal together each week.
- Sign up for a class together.
Level 5: Allow each other to grow
Chances are good that the experiences the two of you had apart made an impact on you. Don’t demand that your partner be exactly the same as they were before.
You will both continue to change throughout your lives together. Celebrate your partner’s growth and share your own.
If you have grown too far apart, time will make it clear, so don’t rush any big decisions (the week after you reunite is probably not the time to call it quits). And of course, enjoy the people you have become.
You’ve paid your dues now and, if you’re like us, it has been worth it.
What You Will Only Learn Once Your Relationship is No Longer Long Distance
One of the greatest benefits is that long distance couples become practiced at learning about each other without being physically together.
However, there are some things that you can’t really until after closing the distance. Here are five things you only really get to know when you’re up close and personal…
Are they a neat freak, a slob, or somewhere in between? What are their quirks when it comes to their possessions and their space?
Anyone who has ever had a roommate knows how much differing levels of cleanliness can affect a relationship. In a long distance relationship, it is much more difficult to figure out how your partner cares for their space on a regular basis.
Couples who don’t live together but reside in the same city can tell whether their partner tends to clean up or lets the dishes pile up. But when someone has company, especially long distance company, chances are they’re going to clean up before their significant other arrives.
During your visits—particularly if they are infrequent—you are likely seeing your partner on their best household behavior. It takes popping by when you live in the same city (or in the same home) to really understand what your partner’s household habits are.
How does your partner recharge their “batteries for life?” How do you recharge yours?
It is harder to know how your partner responds to having people around during their downtime when you are long distance. So, it’s important to remember that people recharge in different ways.
For example, my husband occasionally plays computer games and watches UFC and YouTube to relax. I like to read internet forums about publishing and doom-scroll social media. We both have introverted tendencies and don’t always want to have someone plopping down on the couch to cuddle when we’re trying to recharge.
When we haven’t seen each other in a long time, as it was during our three and a half years of long distance, we were much more likely to be “on” all the time while we were together. Now that we actually live together, we’ve needed to learn how to respect each other’s downtime while still enjoying our life together.
We are much happier existing side by side now that we’ve learned how to read each other a bit better.
Long distance couples who communicate well can become uncannily good at interpreting their each others’ moods. They can pick up hints from facial expressions on webcam, tone of voice, and even typing and texting speed.
No matter how good they are, however, they’re not picking up as much as they would be if they were sharing the same space.
The more subtle nuances of communication can be harder (or impossible) to pick up across distance. These are the sorts of things you can only sense with lots of time spent physically in the same place.
In a long distance relationship, you are sometimes limited only to tone or words or a general sense of expression. Between grainy cameras and missed connections, it can be harder to combine all the nuances of body language and words and accurately interpret the messages your partner is sending.
Long distance couples who make time to talk to each other may not have a fully accurate picture of what it’s like to live in the same place when it comes to scheduling activities and quality time.
Couples who end up living in the same place after a period of long distance may be surprised to find that their partner is always late, or never wants to do anything spontaneous, or has a routine that isn’t entirely compatible with having a partner.
For example, let’s say you have been living three time zones apart for a few years. When you finally move to the same city you may be surprised to find that your partner likes to go out five nights a week. While you were long distance they made a point of talking to you before then and the timing worked out perfectly because it was hours earlier there.
Even though you probably knew about this practice before, when you live in the same place it will feel different when it directly affects you. It might be a bit like being in a new relationship for a while.
Each partner will have to give a little, and they won’t know exactly how much (or what) until they live in the same place.
How much they really like your friends
During visits, many of us make a point of introducing friends and our long distance partners whenever possible.
But, chances are, the majority of your time together (both on the phone/webcam/email and during visits) will be reserved for just the two of you.
Maybe you’ll meet a group of friends for dinner when your partner is in town or go to a party together. Hopefully your friends and partner will get along well, but meeting a handful of times a year is nothing like being a regular part of someone’s life.
You spend lots of time bonding with your partner, but your friends typically do not (and vice versa). When you live in the same place you’ll begin to discover how well they really get along and how much time your friends and partner will truly want to spend together.
How Will You Prepare For Closing The Gap?
Keep these insights in mind if you’re planning to end the long distance part of your relationship so you’re prepared for any surprises.
But don’t worry too much!
Each of these areas can be overcome when you live in the same place providing you maintain solid communication habits and give each other space to adjust to the new normal.
If you want to learn how other long distance couples navigated the early days of their ‘geographically close’ relationship, join our free LDR Support Group. You can ask questions and get advice from others that have already gone through similar situations and made it to the other side!