In an ideal world, you and your partner could be together face-to-face as much and as often as you like. Sometimes, though, you end up falling for someone who doesn't live nearby, or who, for various circumstances like school or work, has to move away from you. In that case, you can either call it quits or opt to enter a long-distance relationship. While this situation might not be the easiest, it can work out in the long run. In fact, the key to making long-distance relationships work might just be more straightforward than you'd think. It's all about having an end date for when your LDR stops being, well, long-distance. “There needs to be some hope of being together physically, and the end date gives both partners something to look forward to,” Cherlyn Chong, dating and breakup coach and host of the Why Women Love Toxic Men Workshop, tells Elite Daily. “Long-distance relationships are work. It's not just about seeing each other on Zoom, playing 50 questions, or surprising your partner with delivered bouquets. There needs to be a future beyond the Zoom calls, milestones that you're excited about and aim for together,” Chong explains.
The way to ensure your LDR is on stable footing is to have at least that part of your future mapped out, agrees Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships. “Putting an end date on the calendar for when you can be together as a couple, whether in the same town or under the same roof, is essential if you're in a long-distance relationship,” she tells Elite Daily. Here's why the experts say that's so important.
Why it matters.
When you and your partner are apart, it can be easy for the relationship to grow stagnant. However, having an end date in mind helps encourage both of you to grow the relationship because you're building toward something together, explains Spira. "When you have an end date, such as when a job's project is complete or graduating from school out of state, it helps you focus on building your relationship. If you keep the relationship status vague, it's hard to sustain, and the lack of having an end date could lead to a lack of trust, loneliness, and possible cheating. Devotion and communication are fundamental in an LDR, and it's easy to feel insecure if you feel like your partner doesn't have all 10 toes in,” she says.
How having an end date can impact your relationship.
Not only does having a future date in mind when you'll be able to be together make it easier to keep the faith over the long haul, but it can directly impact the day-to-day of the relationship by helping you enjoy the time you do share. “It helps make every day you're apart better. If both partners can just get through it, the sweetness of finally being together again would be so worth it,” says Chong. Perhaps even more importantly, knowing that you're working toward this goal together can keep you committed when things get tough. “If there's no end date, one or both partners can get frustrated, resentful, and eventually call it off. Someone will determine that the relationship isn't worth waiting for if there's no end goal in sight,” explains Chong.
What to do if you don’t have one.
Ideally, when you enter into the relationship, you’ve had conversations about what you future holds and how long you'll be apart. Depending on your specific situation, however, that might not have been the case. If that’s not something you've decided together, Chong suggests having that heart-to-heart conversation as soon as possible. “Talk about your goals for the future and align them,” she advises.
This is not so different from regular relationships, says Spira, who notes that all relationships need to be reassessed periodically to make sure you’re still on the same page. “Whether you're renewing your commitment for another year or planning on a lifetime of love together, sitting down with your partner to ask where you're at and how you're feeling about your current LDR status is critical for the health of your relationship,” she explains. “If you don't have an end date, your relationship could suffer from not moving forward. Even the status quo could make you feel like you're going backward and not forward. Ensure you're clear that you're exclusive, or have a chat if you need to redefine the relationship. At some point, you'll have to decide if it's time to move in or time to move on.”
Like all relationships, LDRs ultimately take work and communication to be successful. In this case, those conversations also need to include planning a timeline for your future. What you put into the relationship is what you’ll get out of it, says Spira. “A relationship is a bit like a plant. You need to water, nurture, and feed it for it to grow and remain healthy,” she explains. The important thing, she concludes, is that you keep talking and making a solid plan for when you’ll be together. “Don't be afraid to have ‘The Talk,’" says Spira. “If your partner's a keeper, they'll want to know you're both on track to keep your love alive.”
Cherlyn Chong, dating and breakup coach and host of the Why Women Love Toxic Men Workshop
Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships