Starting a long-distance relationship is a big decision. You have to feel really strongly for someone in order to be okay with missing out on typical relationship-y stuff, like having a weekly date night and snuggling on the couch watching Netflix shows whenever you feel like it. That being said, there are totally ways LDRs are amazing, especially since you get super close with your partner when you talk on the phone and video chat on the reg. Still, an LDR is a major commitment when it comes to time and emotional investment, so it’s important to have some specific conversations before jumping into coupledom-from-afar. We’ve rounded up the best advice from relationship experts on what needs to be brought up before you make the leap.
1. How will you deal with feeling disconnected? Whether you’re starting from a distance or you’re already in a relationship but one of you is moving, you’re going to feel disconnected from your partner at times, says Rhonda Milrad, the licensed clinical social worker who founded Relationup, an app that provides live relationship advice. “The truth is that you don’t always feel as close to someone in an LDR as you do when you see them every day. With this disconnection can come feelings of insecurity, jealousy and fear,” Milrad shares. Being unable to get together whenever you want can make it even harder to deal with these feelings when they come up, so you need a plan. “You have to be able to manage these feelings and not let them get the better of you and result in accusations and fights,” she encourages.
2. When will you talk? This is one of the biggest, most important discussions you should have. Do you have enough time to communicate to keep your relationship going, and, if so, when will you do it? “You need to keep up connections that are both being spontaneous and scheduled,” explains Milrad, framing communication as “your life line.” Though having a busy schedule can make impromptu texts or calls hard, establishing habits around when you’ll make time for each other can make things a lot simpler. She suggests, “Create rituals throughout the day or week that involve different ways to connect: texts, sharing on social media, sending random photos, emailing updates about whatever and, most importantly, designated times to Skype, FaceTime or speak on the phone.”
3. Will one of you eventually move? Another crucial conversation to have is about whether your relationship will eventually be *not* long-distance. It might seem weird to bring it up early on, but according to licensed marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar, it is essential: “If this is not discussed, it becomes an underlying issue that gets worse over time.” Imagine putting tons of effort into a relationship and then finding out that one of you isn’t interested in eventually bridging the gap — definitely not ideal. “When this occurs, resentment builds due to assumptions or expectations,” notes Bahar. “Arguments and fear of bringing it up become a problem, and the overall relationship can be stressful. I have seen this happen.” For example, sometimes one person in a long-distance relationship will assume that the other is going to move to their location, while the other is expecting the opposite. Occasionally, people realize well into a relationship that they really don’t want to move and have no interest in following through, leaving their partner in the lurch. Ideally, it’s best to be honest about how real your desire to move is before you commit to a partnership. Even after you have things figured out, you should continue to check in on these plans throughout the relationship to make sure you’re still on the same page.
4. How will you cope if you feel sad? One of the realities of LDRs is that sometimes you’re going to have a bad day. “There is a sense of loss when you don’t have your partner present for celebrations, important events and everyday life events,” explains Milrad. “You will feel lonely and alone at times, and you need to be able to recognize that these feelings are part of the package of a being in a long-distance relationship.” Knowing what to expect and having a self-care plan for how to deal with those feelings will make a huge difference when you’re inevitably confronted by them.
5. What are the ground rules? LDRs have a tendency to breed jealousy in a way that close distance relationships just don’t. It can be tempting to wonder what your S.O. is up to, since you’re not physically with them very often. A good sense of trust is essential. “It is important to have the clarity and honesty to discuss the rules and boundaries of the relationship,” explains Audrey Hope, celebrity relationship expert. “You have to get real with your goals and your intentions. If two people are clear and honest, their long-distance relationship can be a great, exciting adventure!” Some people might not be capable of being a completely open book, though. “Not everyone can handle the faraway love connections,” Hope warns. “You need an inner strength, a love of oneself and a deep confidence to trust in being with someone who is not in your immediate space.” While these qualities are important in all relationships, they’re even more so in LDRs.
Have you ever been in an LDR? Tell us how you dealt with the logistics and challenges @BritandCo!
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