Starting a long-distance relationship is different from starting a relationship face to face. The biggest difference is the lack of physical intimacy.
When you start a new long-distance relationship it’s normal to have doubts. After all, you are having strong feelings for someone and you want your relationship to work out. For it to happen, you need to understand what a long-distance relationship is and what it isn’t.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the stages of going from starting a long-distance relationship to moving in. I’ll show the common problems you as a couple might face when getting to know each other long distance. Once you know what to expect, you can prepare for it.
So, let’s get you ready to start a new long-distance relationship the right way…
What Is a Long-Distance Relationship?
A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship where you are physically apart.
Why is it important to break it down like that?
Many couples approach a long-distance relationship as they would a normal relationship. They expect romance and physical affection. And they see the distance as an inconvenience.
But, what’s a romantic relationship without physical intimacy? Well, you can see it as a friendship or as an incomplete romantic relationship. A friendship over a long-distance can work very well. But a long-distance romantic relationship is only healthy for a short while.
As people, we need a physical presence and physical touch to feel connected. In a long-distance relationship, it’s hard to maintain this connection. So to compensate, couples tend to spend more time talking on the phone or via the texts.
This leads to excessive communication, which can be damaging to your personal lives. But no amount of phone conversations can fulfil the need for physical closeness.
A long-distance relationship is an incomplete romantic relationship.
Starting a long-distance relationship can be a lot of fun. But it’s also a crucial stage in your relationship where you have to keep a few things in mind.
Let’s see what they are…
Stages of a Long-Distance Relationship
Here are 7 stages you’ll go through in your long-distance relationship:
- Starting a long-distance relationship
- Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship
- Making your long-distance relationship work
- Moving in together after a long-distance relationship
- Living together after a long-distance relationship
- Marriage after a long-distance relationship
- Ending your long-distance relationship
Let’s take a closer look at what they involve…
1. Starting a long-distance relationship
Starting a long-distance relationship online is very easy. Online dating allows you to focus on who you want rather than where they are. You can find someone who fits your profile in a different part of the world.
But this can also be a downside. To make your relationship work, you’ll need to know how to get to know them over a long distance.
2. Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship
Once you find a match, your next step is to learn about that person. The general profile only says so much. It’s now up to you to see if you click in your values, beliefs and life goals. To make it work, you will need to have common interests and things to talk about.
3. Making your long-distance relationship work
So you found a special someone and developed feelings for each other. After you got to know each other better, it’s time to meet. If you have a chance to meet after a couple of months, great.
But what if you don’t have such an opportunity? For some time, you’ll need to maintain your relationship long-distance. This article can show you how to make your long-distance relationship work.
4. Moving in together after a long-distance relationship
By this point, you would have learnt something new and you still like each other. You also met a couple of times and are now ready to move in. Moving in together after a long-distance relationship is life-changing. Read this article to help you prepare for this step.
Move-in together gradually and have a trial period. See how you get on as a couple and how you feel sharing your personal space with this person.
5. Living together after a long-distance relationship
Being in love is one thing, living together is a whole different experience. Little things can grow into bigger problems and may even destroy your relationship. Hopefully, by now you learnt to communicate and share your feelings. It’s also important that you enjoy sharing time and space with your loved one.
6. Marriage after a long-distance relationship
At this stage, you should know each other pretty well. If you had any doubts you should have addressed them in previous stages. You should also have a strategy to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings. The above gives you a strong foundation for a healthy relationship and gets you ready to build a family.
7. Ending your long-distance relationship
At any stage, things can happen and feelings may change. Either one of you may want something different. And it’s ok. It’s normal to have a relationship and it’s normal to end it. You must end a relationship if it’s no longer bringing joy into your life. But there’s a right way to end a relationship and there’s a wrong way.
When you know what to expect from a long-distance relationship, you can prepare for it.
Time for some facts about a long-distance relationship…
5 Facts About a Long-Distance Relationship
Here are 5 things you should about a long-distance relationship:
1. If you haven’t met or lived together, you are going to idealise your partner.
A physical gap in a long-distance relationship leaves plenty of room for imagination. This means that without knowing it, you create things in your head that aren’t real. This can mask the sadness caused by the lack of physical interaction. But it’ll make it harder to manage your relationship if you decide to move in together.
2. Long-distance relationships work for the right people and the right reasons.
Long-distance relationships are great for getting to know someone. They suit people who like romance and adventure. Travelling the world together is ideal for some couples. A long-distance relationship can also work for a married couple who is relocating. But in this case, it’s important to keep the transition short and sweet.
3. Long-distance relationships can be hard, but people make it even harder.
Sometimes, a long-distance relationship can bring more sadness than joy into people’s lives. Some couples still choose to continue their relationship, despite feeling miserable every day.
If a long-distance relationship isn’t for you, it will be hard.
4. A long-distance relationship is for some and not for others
Every person needs a physical connection. However, some people need it more than others. Physical absence might be ok for some people. And for others, physical presence is necessary to feel connected.
5. Forcing a long-distance relationship to work is a waste of your life.
Couples start long-distance relationships to feel an emotional connection. But there’s also an expectation of physical affection. If for some reason a couple can’t close the distance, the need for physical closeness isn’t met. This can leave them feeling sad and frustrated.
When you know what to expect you can prepare for it…
How to Prepare For a Long-Distance Relationship
You’ve met someone special and now you are facing a long-distance relationship. You must have heard how hard and heartbreaking it can be. And now you worry if and how you’ll be able to make it work. If that’s you, then I’m going to put your mind at ease.
Starting a long-distance relationship isn’t hard or difficult, it’s exciting and adventurous. In fact, in many ways, getting to know someone long-distance is much better than face to face. Let me explain…
When you meet someone who lives in your area, one of the first things you want to explore is physical intimacy. Some apps are even catering for that aspect alone.
Starting a relationship with a person who lives in a different city, country or continent, physical interaction isn’t an option. One thing you can do is learn more about their personality, values and beliefs.
I’m an advocate for learning deep and hard about ourselves and each other. But there are times when a couple needs a little help and some guidance.
Here’s a cool Q&A journal that’ll help you to get to know each other.
If you are starting a new long-distance relationship, one question a day will give you a direction while getting to know each other better.
For couples who were together before the long-distance, it’s a nice refresher. I guarantee you will learn some new things about yourself and each other.
How to Get to Know Someone in A Long-Distance Relationship
After some time getting to know someone over a long-distance, you will want (and need!) to meet them in person. You see, when you are talking to a person online, you imagine what it’s like to be with them.
Until you get to experience physical closeness with a person, your brain will create its own reality. The longer this continues, the further this reality will be from the truth. So what’s wrong with unicorns?
When you finally meet after a long relationship online, you will face a real pony and you’ll be disappointed that it doesn’t have a horn.
In other words, the more time you spend online, the more stories you will create in your head. This leads to unrealistic expectations and inevitable disappointments.
And it’ll ruin your relationship. Or at least it will be difficult for you to disentangle your feelings from unmet needs and unrealistic expectations. In other words, it’ll complicate things for you
Don’t miss the point between getting to know someone and creating a fairy tale about them.
Once you look at your long-distance relationship from a positive perspective, you can have fun with it.
Let’s imagine that you’ve been in touch for a few months and you are 60 pages into the Q&A journal. By this point, you should know enough about each other to decide if you want to know any more.
Before you get into the fairy tale land of your own creation, it’s a good time for you to meet each other for the first time. Doing most things for the first time can be both worrying and exciting. So let’s have a look at how you can focus on the latter…
Meeting For The First Time In A Long-Distance Relationship
The biggest reason that meeting someone for the first time can be so nerve-wracking is because of your expectations. During the initial phase of getting to know each other, you created a certain image of a person. And now you are afraid of disappointment if this person won’t match your expectations.
Creating expectations are part of our survival. It’s a thing we all do all the time and it’s ok to worry a little. But this is where you can change how you feel…
You can either focus on things you expect or you can feel excited about learning new things. You see, when we are talking to someone online we think and behave in a certain way. When we are face to face with a person or a situation, we behave differently.
Meeting someone for the first time in a long-distance relationship is a strange experience. Part of you thinks you already know them well and expects them to be in a certain way. While the other part realises that all you know is some information about this person.
In a long-distance relationship, you are not actually connecting to another person. You are connecting to the idea of this person and what you know about them.
When you will meet for the first time, you will think that you know them, but you will know that you don’t.
So the best thing for you to do is to be aware of your expectations but focus on getting to know them all over again.
After your meeting, you’ll probably be apart for some time. It’s nice to get your special someone a special something.
I like this calendar with a date of your choice, but I only found it in the UK
If you are in the USA, this one carries a similar message…
Now let’s take a look at common problems couples face in a long-distance relationship.
3 Problems With a Long-Distance Relationship
Here are 3 main problems, specific to a long-distance relationship:
- Lack of physical affection
- Communication without the physical presence
- Absence of shared experiences
Let’s briefly go through them in more detail…
1. Lack of physical affection
In a romantic relationship, you expect physical affection. In a monogamous long-distance relationship physical affection isn’t there. While it’s ok for short while, after some time you will start feeling deprived. In a couple, one person usually feels it sooner than the other, so it’s important that you talk about it.
2. Communication without the physical presence
A big chunk of our communication relies on physical interaction. When people are next to each other, their feelings and intentions are more obvious. Body cues like postures and gesture help people understand each other better. In a long-distance relationship, you rely on speaking and texting. This can make it harder for you to understand each other.
But there’s a positive thing about starting a relationship online. When starting a relationship, you have to respond quickly to what the person is saying. If you feel rushed, you might jump to false conclusions. In a long-distance relationship, you have the time to ask the right questions and think of the best answers.
Here’s an article to help you learn effective communication in a long-distance relationship.
Shared experience helps us feel an emotional connection. And physical closeness makes our experiences more vivid. When your loved one is miles away, you don’t get to experience your romantic relationship to its fullest.
Other problems that a couple faces in a long-distance relationship are the same as in any other relationship.
Things like trust, jealousy, honesty, understanding, finance and fading feelings. In any relationship, from online dating to marriage, these things need care and attention.
If you are prone to depression or anxiety, it’s more challenging to maintain a romantic relationship with a person you can’t touch.
So if you decide to end your long-distance relationships, does it mean it fails?
The #1 Reason Why Long-Distance Relationships Fail
While there are many reasons for your long-distance relationship to end, there’s only one reason for it to fail. Any healthy relationship needs a couple to communicate well and understand each other.
Likewise, guilt, blame, shame and ignorance are destructive for any relationship. And a long-distance relationship is not an exception.
If you get on as a couple, then you would be happy to put in the effort to make your relationship joyful and exciting. But, if your circumstances change or you no longer feel the attraction, then it’s best to end it.
If you get on with each other but aren’t feeling the romance, you can stay friends.
To create a successful relationship, you need to understand each other. You also must be able to identify the problems and fix them with effective communication. What separates the long-distance relationship from any other is the distance.
If you are starting a long-distance relationship, find out how the distance affects your relationship. A long-distance relationship is an incomplete romantic relationship, so don’t expect it to fulfil your needs for physical affection. This expectation is the main reason why long-distance relationships fail.
For the time you are apart, expect your need for physical intimacy to remain unfulfilled. Without physical closeness, you may feel sad or frustrated. But at least you won’t feel lost and confused.
Tip: When you know the reason for your sadness or frustration, you can find a way to manage it.
So, with all the problems, is a long-distance relationship worth starting?
Is It Worth Having a Long-Distance Relationship
While this is the question only you can answer, let me ask you something…
- Are you having strong feelings for this person?
- Are you excited to get to know them better?
- Does this person bring love into your life?
If you answered yes to all them, then don’t worry about the distance at the moment. Go have fun…
Keep an eye on that crucial point we’ve discussed earlier.
Waw, you are starting a long-distance relationship, amazing!
I hope you are looking forward to the exciting experience that it is. Is it going to be easy? No more than any other relationship. Is it going to be difficult? Only if you don’t know what you are getting yourself into.
In this article, we’ve seen how distance can affect a relationship. Now you are ready to start your long-distance relationship with your head high.
Of course, there will be challenges, but keep an eye on how you feel and work on that communication. To help you out along the way, here’s an article on how you can make your long-distance relationship work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do long-distance relationships work?
Long-distance relationships work for people who meet online and want to get to know each other better. They also work for couples who are relocating and have to be apart for some time. In any case, it’s important to make it a short phase.
How long do long-distance relationships last?
A long-distance relationship is a phase and not a complete relationship. While it can work very well for a short period, after some point it becomes destructive for your relationship.
Can trust be rebuilt?
Trust is taking a chance to believe that someone will be a certain way. When this person behaves differently, it will take more to trust them again. So the trust isn’t about rebuilding, it’s about willingness to take a chance.
When to call it quits in a long-distance relationship?
Your relationship should bring love and joy into your life. So, you know it’s time to end your long-distance relationship when you are feeling sad or frustrated more often than not.
How to start a long-distance relationship?
Here are 3 things you should consider when starting a long-distance relationship:
- Remember to have fun.
- Get to know each other’s interests, values and beliefs.
- Don’t drag it out for too long.