5 Surprising Things That Happen When You Stop Being A Long Distance Couple

1. Your physical intimacy will need time to catch up to your emotional intimacy.

I don’t mean sex, I mean any kind of touch in general. My girlfriend and I actually met online. The longest stretch of time we spent together before moving inty of our relationship was forged over long phone calls and a few long weekend visits a year spent holed up in her apartment.

Because so much of our relationship was over the phone, we talked about everything. We talked daily for hours. We were skilled at the check-in, in making sure our life goals were still aligned. We talked about our needs, our desires, our fears and deal-breakers. Purely based on how well we communicated, it felt like we had been dating for a decade.

While we were separated, all I could think about was a casual hug or movie nights cuddling on the couch. Plus, I had hot-and-heavy expectations. But, once we moved in together, touch moved slower than I anticipated.

Hours logged being in the same room totalled about the number you would expect for a couple dating three months or less. It was jarring to realize that I could be completely emotionally vulnerable with someone but still not know if I needed to ask before a kiss and felt shy about sex. Were we doing enough? Was it forced or awkward? I felt frustrated. Touch on our visits always went so smoothly, what visits always went so smoothly, what were we doing wrong?

The answer: nothing. Each relationship moves at its own pace. Yes, this was a bump, but we weren’t doing anything wrong. And, luckily, we were pros at communication. If I’m being honest, it took a few months to work this out.

We realized that we were putting the same amount of pressure on physical intimacy during our new life as we had during each visit. Visits meant constant togetherness and trying to soak up as much physical closeness as possible to get through the next few months. There was an urgency and expectation that things would be perfect and romantic — or else. This was not sustainable in “real life.”

We stepped back, took a breath, and trusted that we would catch up physically to our emotional connection. And it did.

2. Some of your friends and family will have trouble adjusting.

Before my girlfriend moved to the Bold North, all of my friends were overwhelmingly supportive. They seemed nearly as excited as I was, ready to really get to know the person I intended to spend the rest of my life with. However, as the date grew closer, relationships with some of my close friends and family grew strained.

These friends talked about how they would need to adjust to a life without me once my girlfriend arrived. They would reassure me they were preparing to see me only a couple times a year, even bemoaning that I was actually in a relationship. Then, when my girlfriend did arrive, the jealousy grew palpable. While we had been in a relationship for nearly half a decade, these friends finally saw it as a real relationship. And, for some reason, that was a problem.

LDRs seem to take up less time than in-person relationships. Dates are primarily over the phone/FaceTime. My girlfriend and I would typically talk before bed, which meant I could go out with my friends and call her in the car or after I got home. We were also very relaxed with our schedule. Our calls could be moved to favor a friend’s party or a dinner. As long as the two of us had time to talk, it did not matter what else we did that day.

When she moved here, we could finally go on regular in-person dates. Plus, living together meant some nights we wanted to stay in and evening texting with friends was reduced in favor of making dinner with my partner. I still make plenty of time for our friends (I am obsessed with my friends and could not imagine rarely seeing them), but my amount of free time has decreased. There were a few people in my life, ones who had been supportive before, who changed their tune when they realized they did not have priority over my time anymore.

I think this happened because change is scary. We all experienced a best friend becoming seriously involved with a partner and not having quite as much time for us. While this is a natural part of life, it can be hard for some people to adjust to the change in their routines. My advice is to be aware that this might happen, be kind, but make decisions that are best for you. A true friend will be happy that you are happy. If someone makes you feel bad about the way your relationship has progressed, maybe it’s time for you to reevaluate that friendship.

3. Being together is no longer a vacation, and that’s weird.

I used to only see my girlfriend on vacation. I enjoyed a change of scenery and a few days off of work when I traveled 700 miles south. When I arrived, everything was special. It was our own mini-escape from the world. Sometimes, we even met in hotels to enjoy a romantic getaway. It was amazing, and the way I thought it would feel when she moved here.

Now, we both work 40 hours a week and have other obligations. Some days, we are lucky to see each other for one waking hour. Days together aren’t full of PTO and special treats. While every minute in the same room used to be a precious commodity, there are many days where we only see each other for an hour or two.

Don’t be surprised if it takes some time to strike a balance. You still need time to work, see your friends, run errands, and all the other activities you enjoyed doing before you moved in together. Give yourself the freedom to take guilt-free time for yourself. Eventually, you will settle into a new routine.

4. The learning curve is steep.

When most couples move in together, they are familiar with their partner’s little quirks. They know how the other likes to watch tv, how clean they keep the bathroom, whether or not they leave dishes in the sink. When you move in together after years of distance, you don’t have this shared knowledge.

I’ve heard that the first year living together is the hardest. I think this is because you have to adjust to the other person’s way of living. Your living space is not longer your own personal bubble. You have to learn to relinquish control and compromise.

My advice about this is always communicate. Express your needs and hear your partner’s needs. If you like to clean dishes immediately but your partner would rather let them pile up for days, make sure they know it bothers you. If neither of you likes to vacuum, create a schedule. You can always find a way to adjust and it’s okay if this takes some time.

5. You’ll be surprised how right it feels.

I’ll admit it — I was nervous about the move. We discussed moving in together for years. Every few months we checked in to make sure our timelines aligned. I needed to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, even though the tunnel seemed never-ending. Then we were picking out a date for the move, getting an apartment and working out the logistics. Because we had been talking about it for so long, it felt sudden when it happened.

I let the things people say about LDRs to get to me. I worried that we didn’t really know each other. I worried that our relationship wouldn’t handle such a serious change. I worried that living together would feel awkward or strained.

I worried for nothing. The last year has been the best year of my life so far. If you and your partner are ready to close the distance, trust that it is the right choice. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing each other every day.

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