My first boyfriend and I had hardly been in a committed relationship for more than two or three weeks before I moved out of state. If I could do it over again, I never would have started a monogamous, long-distance relationship within the same timeframe as moving to a new city. When you're trying to figure out how to make a long distance relationship work — particularly a long-distance relationship that is new — you can't have the relationship be your only source of happiness. This is true of any relationship, but it becomes especially more pressing when the two of you are in different places. A phone call every night isn't going to be the same as having the person next to you, particularly when you are in the early stages of wanting to have sex anywhere, all the time.
And at the time, I was also putting way too much pressure on myself to succeed in every area of my life: my relationship, in my job, and with finding a home in a new place. Obviously, I would have to give up something. I caved on my dreams of New York. I never stopped seeing moving back to Pennsylvania for my boyfriend as a sacrifice, and honestly, it's no wonder that the relationship didn't last. So if you're wondering how to approach a long-distance relationship with someone you're still trying to get to know, here are some things to consider.
1. Determine What Long-Distance Commitment Looks Like To You
So that you can figure out how you are going to find satisfaction outside of your relationship, you and your partner should have a talk before you move. What does commitment look like for both of you? Can you prioritize this relationship as your emotional, primary partnership and have sex outside of it? Or is monogamy a non-negotiable part of commitment for both of you?
Meeting people is an essential part of exploring a new place. It's easier to meet people if you are open to anything. I'm not saying that you have to have sex with folks, but a monogamous relationship does keep you closed off to possibilities. Plus, there's nothing that holds you back from establishing new, lasting friendships like running home to Skype with your partner. An ideal long-distance relationship is not possessive or demanding of your time outside of the periods when you are together.
Is a phone call every night an absolute necessity, or can you send a goodnight text? Do you have to know what your long-distance partner is doing every second of their day, or can you set your phone down and pursue your own interests with as much attention as you spend on them?
Being able to tune into your surroundings and feel them fully, without your thoughts being miles away, is crucial to allowing your long-distance relationship to unfold naturally. You don't want to burn through those feelings all at once. Figure out how you can fit your partner into your new life in a way that makes sense for both of you.
2. Figure Out How Often You're Going to See Each Other
Early on, it will help to determine how often you both can visit one another. Once a month? And for how long, on average? Can you plan to spend holidays together or long weekends? Obviously, you should leave some wiggle room in your calendar, but having some idea of when you can expect to see one another and how you can spend that quality time together can give you a sense of how your relationship can unfold long distance. This is particularly true if you are monogamous.
Alternatively, you can keep your relationship as something that flows in and out of your life without worrying about when and how it is going to show up. Right now, I'm still seeing someone I was dating back in Pittsburgh. We had only been seeing each other for a few weeks before I moved. She comes to visit me occasionally, and we enjoy one another's company. We maintain our friendship long distance, and I definitely miss her when she is gone, but neither of us place much pressure or expectation on what we have together. We know what it is, and it will continue to work for as long as we want it to. And even if we aren't seeing each other anymore, I know I would still want to see her when she is in town. We are friends like that.
This is probably the healthiest long-distance relationship I've ever had. We have both seen other people and are totally fine with that, because we understand that you can feel things for different folks, and it doesn't take anything away from what you have together. I realize that all folks don't operate this way in their relationships, and you shouldn't force yourself to if it doesn't work for you. If it doesn't actually make you happy, it isn't worth it.
3. Understand The Likelihood Of Living In The Same Place Again
If you are embarking on a relatively new long-distance relationship, you should go into it with at least some vague idea of whether or not it is a possibility that you and you partner will be in the same place long-term again. If you are the one who is staying behind, then know whether you would be willing to move. If you are the one who is leaving, then be clear about whether you ever actually intend to come back, or if your partner, hypothetically, would have to follow you.
I have no idea what it's like for couples who meet in different places — over the internet or while traveling — and decide to establish a relationship that's long distance from the beginning, but I imagine the same rules apply. Would either one of you be willing to move to where the other lives, or is moving to a different city together an option? If neither one of you is interested in relocating to be closer, the relationship has certain boundaries. You can figure out what works for you within those restrictions, and how you might be fulfilled.
If one or both of you is interested in relocating for the other, then figure out how you are going to build your life and be the person you want to be in the meantime. It's nice to have an idea of the future, but the most important aspect of a long-term relationship, particularly a new one, is being invested in what's happening in your present. And that's for the sake of both of you.
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