So you’re in a long distance relationship, and the end is in sight. Finally, after years of waiting, tears, heartbreak, and missing each other so much continuing on seems impossible, you have a date for the day the distance will close.
What amazing news this is; you and your SO are beyond excited. The family and friends of the person moving are probably less than excited. But hey, you’ll be with your love!
Amidst all the excitement, though, a new question creeps into your mind. What happens after you close the distance?
This is an important question to think on; it is so easy to get caught up in the moment and not think about how your relationship will change – but it will change.
Starting over again
Before I left Australia, I sat down with a good friend of mine as he shared some insight with me. At the time, I raised my eyebrow and thought, “Nah, not gonna happen. Not with us.”
He told me that when Brittany and I were finally together, we’d likely have to relearn how to interact. It’d be like a whole new relationship in some regards.
A few months later, I was forced to admit that he was right.
For two years we learnt how to interact using text and video calls. We dealt with not being able to hug each other, with never having the other around. And we’d gotten good at it.
Then, in a moment, that all changed. No more video calls or needing to communicate through texting. Hugs abound, and she was always around.
The first month together was rough; we fought almost daily, and sometimes those fights got pretty heated. I had gotten used to having space when I needed it. As a guy, I need to step back from a situation to process. I need to think through what has happened before I’m able to properly communicate with Brittany.
When 3000 miles separated us, that was easy. I could remove myself from the situation long enough to think and then take care of her. In person? I couldn’t leave. If I walked out of a room, she would follow… or at least her voice would.
When we were apart, I grew to understand that I needed to ask her specific questions to find out what was wrong and take care of her. In person? I got used to being able to hug her, and forgot how to ask the questions she needed. I thought I was showing her more affection. But from her perspective? She felt less cared for and understood.
We only recently worked out that while hugs are great, she does still need me to persistently pursue her. To prove I want to know about her thoughts and feelings.
We’re still figuring out exactly how that works. But since remembering that asking those questions was one of the things that made Brittany feel so loved, it’s been a lot easier.
There’s no one answer fits all
So what about when you and your SO are finally together? Just remember to have patience, and know that if things are rough, it’s okay. You both got used to how the relationship was when you were apart; it’s a huge change to close that distance. It will take time to relearn how you work best with each other under the new circumstances.
Here’s my biggest piece of advice. When temperatures rise and you can’t get your head around how the other is acting, remember this: You’re both survivors of a long distance relationship. There isn’t much life can throw at you that’s harder than spending weeks, months, or years on end without the luxury of being in the arms of your love.
If you can make the decision to wait a year without seeing the love of your life, you can certainly make the decision to breathe, put your needs second, and think of how your SO is feeling.
Give yourselves time to adjust. And most of all, remember what a gift it is to finally be with the one you love.