When you’re in a long distance relationship, you can learn a lot about someone with good communication and regular contact across the miles. One of the greatest benefits of being in a long distance relationship is that long distance couples become practiced at learning about each other without being physically together.
However, there are some things that you can’t really learn about someone from afar. Here are five things you only really get to know when you’re up close and personal…
1 – Household Habits
Are they a neat freak, a slob, or somewhere in between? What are their quirks when it comes to their possessions and their space? Anyone who has ever had a roommate knows how much differing levels of cleanliness can affect a relationship. And in a long distance relationship, it is much more difficult to figure out how your partner cares for their space on a regular basis.
Couples who don’t live together but who reside in the same city can tell whether their significant other tends to clean up or lets the dishes pile up. But when someone has company, especially long distance company, chances are they’re going to clean up before their significant other arrives. During your visits—particularly if they are infrequent—you are likely seeing your partner on their best household behavior. It takes popping by when you live in the same city (or in the same home) to really understand what your partner’s household habits are.
2 – Downtime Behavior
How does your partner recharge their “batteries for life?” How do you recharge yours? It is harder to know how your partner responds to having people around during their downtime when you are long distance. It’s important to remember that people recharge in different ways. For example, my husband occasionally plays computer games and watches UFC and YouTube to relax. I like to read internet forums about publishing and scroll Buzzfeed. We both have introverted tendencies and don’t always want to have someone plopping down on the couch to cuddle when we’re trying to recharge.
When we haven’t seen each other in a long time, as it was during our three and a half years of long distance, we were much more likely to be “on” all the time while we were together. Now that we actually live together, we’ve needed to learn how to respect each other’s downtime while still enjoying our life together. We are much happier existing side by side now that we’ve learned how to read each other a bit better.
3 – Mood Nuances
Couples who communicate well in their long distance relationship can become uncannily good at interpreting their partners’ moods. They can pick up hints from facial expressions on webcam, tone of voice, and even typing and texting speed. No matter how good they are, however, they’re not picking up as much as they would be if they were sharing the same space.
The more subtle nuances of communication can be harder (or impossible) to pick up across distance. These are the sorts of things you can only sense with lots of time spent physically in the same place. In a long distance relationship, you are sometimes limited only to tone or words or a general sense of expression. Between grainy cameras and missed connections, it can be harder to combine all the nuances of body language and words and accurately interpret the messages your partner is sending.
4 – Scheduling Preferences
Couples who make time to talk to each other in a long distance relationship may not have a fully accurate picture of what it’s like to live in the same place when it comes to scheduling activities and quality time. Couples who end up living in the same place after a period of long distance may be surprised to find that their partner is always late, or never wants to do anything spontaneous, or has a routine that isn’t entirely compatible with having a partner.
For example, let’s say you have been living three time zones apart for a few years. When you finally move to the same city you may be surprised to find that your partner likes to go out five nights a week. While you were long distance they made a point of talking to you before then and the timing worked out perfectly because it was hours earlier there. Even though you probably knew about this practice before, when you live in the same place it will feel different when it directly affects you. It might be a bit like being in a new relationship for a while. Each partner will have to give a little, and they won’t know exactly how much (or what) until they live in the same place.
5 – How much they really like your friends
Couples might make a point of introducing their friends and long distance partners during visits whenever possible. But, chances are, the majority of your time together (both on the phone/webcam/email and during visits) will be reserved for just the two of you. Maybe you’ll meet a group of friends for dinner when your partner is in town or go to a party together. Hopefully your friends and partner will get along well, but meeting a handful of times a year is nothing like being a regular part of someone’s life.
You spend lots of time bonding with your partner, but your friends typically do not (and vice versa). When you live in the same place you’ll begin to discover how well they really get along and how much time your friends and partner will truly want to spend together.
There you have it—five things that are much harder to learn about someone over distance. Keep these items in mind if you’re planning to end the long distance part of your relationship so you can be prepared for any surprises. But don’t worry too much! Each of these areas can be overcome when you live in the same place providing you maintain solid communication habits and give each other space to adjust to the new normal.