Are you looking forward to moving in with your long distance partner with a mixture of excitement and anticipation? Do you feel like you have no idea what to expect?
If so, that’s pretty normal! You’re facing a major milestone and a huge life change.
I’ve written before about the practical steps to take before you move in together, but now I want to go a step further and explore what happens after a long distance couple becomes ‘regular’.
Studies like this one suggest that long distance relationships are often more stable than regular relationships, but that they often become less stable when the couple closes the distance, since they can no longer idealise one another to the same extent.
So how can you be prepared, have realistic expectations and, ultimately, make a success of living together?
Here are 10 things to expect when you move in with your long distance partner.
1. It might be awkward at first
A trial run is essential to figure out if you actually are compatible living together, so try to have a few extended visits before deciding to sign the dotted line.
However, even if you’ve done this, things might still be a little awkward when you move in. Moving house is stressful, it’s a big financial decision and a huge change in your relationship – so you might experience nerves, similar to the ‘wedding jitters’ engaged couples feel when they realise they’re actually really, truly going to be getting married soon.
In my experience, this normally goes away really quickly when the boxes are unpacked and you start truly feeling at home (but if you feel a great deal of anxiety, talk to your partner about it).
2. Be prepared to talk about money
This is one area where a lot of long distance couples probably have a bit of a headstart: since travel is expensive (in both time and money), you may already be used to budgeting together and talking about expenses.
But when you move in together, you’ll be doing a lot more of it. From the mundane (groceries, electricity bills) to the more exciting stuff, the reality will hit you at some point that you are actually creating a financial future with this person. You may start to care a lot more about each other’s spending habits, which can feel weird at first. But you’ll also likely become a bit more responsible with money – which can only be a good thing.
3. You’ll see the good, the bad and the ugly
It’s so easy to seem put together all the time when you’re in a LDR. You don’t even have to worry about accidentally running into your honey at the grocery store when your hair isn’t done – they live miles away, so you know that’s not going to happen!
Say goodbye to all that when you move in together. As easy as it might be to get up early, freshen up and slide back into bed beside your partner, pretending you just woke up (I’m thinking of that one scene in Bridesmaids here 🙂 ), nobody can keep that kind of thing up forever.
You’ll definitely see things about your partner that you might not have before, and vice versa – in addition to their grumpy Monday morning self, you’ll see what annoys them, what makes them anxious, which little rituals they absolutely have to do every single day, and so on. But you’ll also get to learn a lot of awesome things about them which you were never able to fully grasp when you lived so far apart. This will deepen your understanding of each other – and ultimately, your relationship.
4. The one who moved might need more support
If one of you has moved to a new city or town, that person is likely to feel pretty vulnerable for a while (even if they don’t show it). If that’s you, the best thing to do is to communicate this to your partner. Think about your concerns (for example: not knowing anyone yet, looking for a job, being away from family, unsure about the new area, etc.) and let your partner know how they could help to make the transition easier.
If your partner has moved to be with you, do what you can to help them to feel at home. Introduce them to your friends (if you haven’t already!), take them to your favourite places and encourage them to explore their new home.
Also, it helps if you both work on building a new life, so that they don’t feel like they’re just fitting into a life you’re already living. Go out and meet new people together, discover new places and things to do together in your area.
Ideally, you can start doing this before one of you moves, so that they/you feel less like a fish out of water once the big day comes!
5. You’ll still need your own space (and you may need more of it than you think)
After you move in, you’ll likely find that you often want to be in separate rooms, doing separate things.
This can be hard to wrap your head around when you’ve been craving each other’s company 24/7 almost the entire time you’ve been in a relationship, but you’ll soon find a good balance of ‘us time’ and ‘me time’.
Also – here’s something I wish I could have told my younger self: if you only have a studio apartment, do not move in together with a partner unless absolutely necessary. You need at least two rooms – that is, rooms with space and at least a sofa to relax on – in order to not drive each other crazy. This applies no matter how in love you are.
6. It will take some effort to make it feel like home
Even if you’ve lived in your apartment for years before your partner moved in, from now on it’s their space just as much as it is yours. Therefore, you’ll need to decorate the space in a way that suits both of you – and you might need to compromise sometimes.
Have a conversation about how to make the space feel like home for both of you. If they’re the shy type who isn’t normally confident pushing for what they want, they’ll probably be glad you brought it up. And if you’re the one moving in, don’t be afraid to speak up!
7. Intimacy will be different
After a few weeks, you might find that things aren’t quite like it was when you were long distance. After all, whenever you saw each other back then, it was after you’d spent days, weeks or months missing each other like crazy.
I recommend seeing it as an opportunity. There are countless ways to make things more interesting in this area of your relationship, and now you actually have the time to really explore your options!
There will also be so many more ways that physical closeness will develop. Finally, you can wake up next to each other, cuddle on the couch and kiss whenever you want – without any need to rush, because neither of you has to go home in the morning 🙂
8. Sometimes you might miss being long distance
Moving in together is a big step and you might sometimes find yourself missing certain things about being long distance.
Sure, you might have had to choose between seeing your friends or FaceTiming your partner on a Friday night, but you also had way more freedom to do what you wanted, whenever you wanted. You might occasionally long for the times when you already had a routine and when you could lounge around in a bathrobe all day on a Saturday and there was nobody there to impress.
It’s perfectly natural for things to feel more complicated for a while, until you find a comfortable routine in your new life. If it becomes pervasive and you start to feel really down about it, it might indicate problems with the relationship overall, but if not and if you feel happy in general, then don’t stress – you’re probably just adjusting.
9. You may need to set some ground rules
If you move in with your honey and never, ever quarrel about the chores, you’re very lucky indeed. Most of the time, couples have different standards about what is an acceptable level of cleanliness and how often things should be done. You might also differ in your approaches to having friends over, whether you’re a lark or a night owl, or what your home working arrangements are.
Talk about all these things before you move in together and discuss your deal breakers to avoid things getting messy further down the line.
10… But you will feel more like a team than ever before
Now that I live with my partner, one of my favourite things about it is how much more we feel like a team.
Even the mundane things – cleaning the apartment, planning our bigger purchases – remind me that we’re working together to create the life and future that we want.