Starting a Long-Distance Relationship: Do’s and Don’ts

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You met someone you think has the potential to be the fabled “one.” The only problem is, they live in New York while you call San Diego home. 

What do you need to know when starting a long-distance relationship? Here are the do’s and don’ts you should remember if you hope to keep the flame burning. 

The Do’s

Long-distance relationships offer challenges beyond missing each other. You always need to strike a balance between your romantic life and your other obligations. However, the added wrinkle of wondering what the other person is doing and needing to travel to see them present additional pressures. Here’s how to cope. 

1. Communicate 

Every relationship needs communication, but long-distance ones require extra effort. After all, if someone you care about deeply lives on the other side of the country, you can’t pay a surprise visit to check in on how they’re doing. It’s natural to worry about someone you miss. 

Fortunately, the bright side of the coronavirus pandemic means that there are more ways to connect virtually than ever. Anyone can set up a Zoom meeting — use technology to communicate face-to-face despite the miles. 

Establish check-in times and you put your mind at ease. That way, you don’t wonder whether they are ignoring you or if you should phone a local friend to make sure they’re OK. 

2. Set Ground Rules

Are you going to be exclusive, or will you and the other party continue dating others? What happens if something prevents you from making a scheduled visit? 

Part of communication in any relationship means establishing ground rules. Long-distance relationships already require an extra degree of trust. Don’t muddy the waters further — put vital matters, like your commitment level, on the table. 

3. Keep Expectations Realistic 

At your high school reunion, you fell head-over-heels for that cutie you had a secret crush on in 10th grade. You’re sure that fate or destiny brought you back together. 

Please save such tales for after your wedding day if you hope to avoid disappointment. Maybe you want your relationship to end up with a walk down the aisle. However, a lot can happen in between, especially if you both have homes and careers you’re reluctant to pick up and move. 

4. Keep Your Dates Sacred

Long-distance relationships require tons of planning. When your out-of-town lover plans to visit, make every effort to spend as much time together as possible. 

If your sweetie flies out to see you, but only catches rare glimpses of you heading to the office, your relationship probably won’t last. Make sure you save your PTO to take full advantage of the time you do have together. 

5. Periodically Assess

Fully 40% of long-distance relationships end with a breakup. On the positive side, that means over half of such unions succeed. 

Periodically check in with your partner to take the temperature of your relationship. Don’t overwhelm them with inquiries of, “Do you still love me?” but do ask what their future hopes for your union are. 

The Don’ts 

When starting a long-distance relationship, you need to know what behaviors to avoid if you want your union to last. Keep the following five considerations in mind. 

1. Not Knowing What You Want 

You don’t necessarily need to build a tomorrow with that hookup you had on a weekend getaway. If you are happier with a friends-with-benefits type arrangement whenever you happen to roll into town, say so. It isn’t OK to play games with other people’s hearts. 

2. Blowing up Their Phone

It’s understandable — you will eventually text your long-distance partner at an inopportune time. However, blowing up their phone while they’re in a board meeting is one of the quickest ways to lose their interest. Nobody likes an overly clingy partner — learn to respect your loved one’s boundaries. 

3. Moving Too Quickly

You know you want to spend the rest of your life with this person —  why not skip the formalities and pack your bags? If the other person isn’t ready for that level of commitment, you could push them away. 

Distance can make the heart grow fonder, and it’s wise to take time to discover how compatible you are before leaping to cohabitation or marriage. As painful as breakups are, they become much worse once you entangle your lives further. 

4. Jumping to Conclusions 

While it’s natural to worry about long-distance love, it’s not an emergency when they don’t text back within two minutes. If you tend to get stressed quickly, you need to tame that tension tiger. 

If your partner mentions meeting a friend for drinks or finding a colleague’s ideas fascinating, it doesn’t mean they’re having an affair. While you should worry if a few days pass without a word when you usually text daily, a temporary lack of communication might stem from nothing more than having to run errands and avoiding cellphone use while driving. 

5. Keeping Secrets 

Finally, any relationship requires honesty, and this principle covers lies of omission plus outright fibs. You probably can get away with a one-night stand in the City of Brotherly Love if your partner calls Phoenix home. However, the distance doesn’t make your infidelity any less painful if they later find out. 

Be upfront with your long-distance partner. If work or money complications might push back your move-in date by six months, broach the conversation sooner rather than later. It won’t make the disappointment any easier to bear if you wait until the last minute to confess. 

Start a Healthy Long-Distance Relationship With These Do’s and Don’ts

If you want to start a healthy long-distance relationship, pay attention to these do’s and don’ts. By taking things slowly and wisely, you have a better chance at a lasting union. 

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