Going the Distance: Should You Move For Your Relationship?
Your long-distance love just asked you to move to be with them. Will you or won’t you?
Most people don’t enter a long-distance relationship with the hopes of being separated forever. Generally, we hope that one day, we’ll be with the love of our life, living happily ever after not just in the same town, but in the same house.
The big question is, when should that happen? Does a long-distance love affair run on the same timeline as a local one or should you move things along more quickly or slowly because of the distance? How do you know when it’s right to give up everything you know, everything you’ve created and built, to be with this love? How do you even know it’s you that should be moving and not them?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a crystal ball to answer all these questions for us? Sometimes I think even a Magic 8 Ball would be good enough. But we have to make our own decision here, and it’s a big one.
Rather than flipping a coin or rolling some dice, I suggest asking yourself 10 simple questions. The answers to these questions should help you figure out whether or not the big move is a good idea.
Are there any dealbreakers left?
We all have our dealbreakers in a relationship. They can be things both big and small, but they’re the ones we’d end the relationship over. Think about your dealbreakers and look at your relationship. Are there any dealbreakers in this relationship?
Some dealbreakers can be resolved. A smoker can quit smoking, for example. But if it hasn’t been resolved, a big move might be a bad idea. Once you’ve upended your whole life for this person, you’ll be a lot less likely to leave if they don’t resolve the dealbreaker with you.
If there are any dealbreakers, you need to discuss them before you make a decision about moving.
Do you both see the same future?
The initial move might be you getting your own place or it might be the two of you moving in together. Either way, what happens after that? Do your visions of the future follow pretty much the same path or are they wildly different?
Whether you’re moving across the state or across the country, you need to be sure you’re doing it for a shared future. Take some time to really discuss the details of this future with your partner.
Do you both see marriage? Children? Buying a home? What does the timeline for these things look like for each of you? Does one of you hope to start a business or be a stay at home parent? Does one of you hope to one day live somewhere other than the city you’d be moving to?
Obviously, neither of you knows the future, so you can’t plan every last detail. But you should be able to sketch a broad outline that looks the same for both of you. If you can’t, moving might not be a good idea.
Are you both in a good financial situation?
You don’t need to be rich to make a big move. But you do want to make sure that neither of you is viewing this move as a solution to some financial struggles. Whether it’s student loan debt or something else, you don’t want to find yourself taking on responsibility for your partner’s debt and working your fingers to the bone to try to resolve it.
If you haven’t discussed your financial situations before, this is the perfect time to bring it up. Even if you aren’t planning on living together right away, it’s still a good time to bring it up.
In addition to confirming your partner’s financial situation, use this conversation to make sure that you can afford the move yourself. Can you afford the cost of the move? Can you afford to live in your new home for a month or three without a job? What are the job prospects like?
You may be in a good financial situation where you are, but you want to make sure that you won’t ruin that with the move.
Are there things you can and want to do in your new city?
Your partner is great, and after months or years of long-distance love, you’ll probably be spending a lot of your time together immediately after the move. But eventually the novelty will wear off, and you’ll be spending some time alone, both out of practicality and desire.
Take a little virtual tour of your new city and the surrounding area. Are there places you’d want to go, things you’d want to do, things you’d like to see? Are there cultural activities like music, museums, and art? What about workshops, lectures, and classes? Are there groups you could join for things you’re already interested in?
Make sure there’s plenty for you to do in your new home on your own before you commit to a big move. At some point, you’ll be without your partner and you don’t want to always sit at home watching Netflix when that happens.
Would you enjoy living there?
You might have a whole list of things you can do in your new city, but the bigger question is, would you enjoy living there?
Most of us can find plenty of ways to play tourist, but actually living somewhere is very different. Would you enjoy driving in the heavy traffic of a large city every day? Would you enjoy living in a rural area where the most exciting thing to do on Saturday night is go to one of the two movie theaters?
What about the climate? If you’re from a warm weather state, would you enjoy living where there’s snow on the ground eight months out of the year? Will you give up white Christmases for a beachside holiday in Florida or California?
Consider as many things about the new location as possible and be sure that you could really be happy living there — even if it was without your partner.
Would they move for you?
There are plenty of reasons you might be the one moving. Maybe their job is more secure than yours. Maybe the cost of living is lower there. Maybe they have more family there than you have where you are. Your lease might be up before theirs.
Whatever the reason, you have to ask yourself: if the situation were reversed, would they move for you? Would they be willing to pick up and move, leaving behind their whole life, to be closer to you?
This can be an enlightening question because many people have the sudden epiphany that their partner wouldn’t move for them. If you have that realization, you should definitely dig into that before making a big move.
Ask yourself why wouldn’t they move? Is there a legitimate reason or are they simply a selfish person who isn’t willing to give anything up for you? And whatever the answers are, can you live with knowing that you’re willing to make a sacrifice they aren’t willing to make for you?
Do you see moving as an investment or a sacrifice?
We all make sacrifices in relationships. But most of the time, we don’t think of them as a sacrifice. We think of them as an investment in the future of our relationship. We see it as giving something up with a return of so much more.
How do you view this move? Is it a sacrifice, a surrendering of your entire life for the sake of the relationship? Or is it an investment, giving up what you have now to gain a much better future with your partner?
If it feels like an investment, then it’s probably the right move. But if it feels more like a sacrifice, like something you dread, you should probably take some more time to think about it.
Do you have a backup plan if it doesn’t work out?
When I was 20, I moved from my somewhat small Florida town to Gainesville, Florida for a boyfriend. I found my own apartment, put down my deposits, gave notice to my current landlord and had things all packed up. I was set to move in just a couple of days when my then-boyfriend suddenly decided we were too serious and he wanted to breakup.
I went ahead with my move anyway. Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida, and I saw living in a college town at the age of 20 as a great opportunity. There were more jobs there, more places to live, more chances to meet people and grow. Plus, I could go back to school if I wanted.
What’s your backup plan if things don’t work out? What will you do if your partner ends things right before you move? Or immediately after? Will you stay in your new city or move back home? Do you have money set aside to keep you afloat while you find a new place to live or to move back home?
Are you moving to fix the relationship?
Long-distance relationships have some drawbacks that are often easily remedied by moving closer to each other. But there are plenty of other relationship problems that not only may not be fixed by moving but might actually be exacerbated by being together more often.
Moving to remedy a problem that is strictly the result of being long-distance is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a smart decision when you’re both ready for it. But if you think moving is going to fix other problems that you have as a couple, you should take a step back and reconsider.
You should also look hard at what those problems are. Honestly assess whether the problems can be resolved and whether the relationship can survive if those problems are never resolved.
Is this really what you want?
Even if the relationship is great, and everything else is ideal about the situation, you still need to ask one final question. Is this really what you want?
No matter how wonderful the relationship, how beautiful the location, how great the new opportunities — if you don’t really want to move, it could end in disaster. It doesn’t have to be your idea to move, but it should be something that you want to do, not something you feel you have to do.
You shouldn’t feel compelled or pressured or like your relationship will end if you don’t move. You should feel excited and happy, even if a little nervous at the same time. Even if you can’t explain why, if there’s dread, discomfort, or a plain desire to not do it, you should honor that feeling.
Closing the distance in a long-distance relationship can be a fun and exciting step. Make sure it’s not a decision you’ll regret later by thinking it through before you pack up the moving truck and hit the road. Talk things over with your partner and be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Then you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your love will go the distance.