In the fifteen months that my partner and I have been living in the same country (finally!) we’ve had some fights. They seem like silly things. He said I set things on fire too often in the kitchen. I said he shouldn’t call me while I am at writers’ group (“Don’t you know I’m working?”). At first, I was terrified the fighting meant we weren’t supposed to be together and all that heartache and patience was for nothing. But you have to go through a depressurization chamber when you surface from a period of long distance.
Just because it’s harder than you expected doesn’t mean it isn’t right. You may have built up a beautiful fantasy in your mind about what it would be like when you’re finally together. Even if that’s not how it turns out, you weren’t necessarily wrong about your partner all along. Step back and give each other time to work out the kinks.
Level 2: Communicate
Tell your partner how you’re feeling and listen to them. Discuss things you’re loving about being back together and things you’re finding difficult. Talk about how the partner who has moved is finding the transition. Make sure you’re communicating as well as you did when you were apart. Email them if you have to.
Level 3: Don’t be selfish
In a long distance relationship, you actually get to spend more time doing whatever you want. It takes some adjusting when you also need to think about the needs and desires of another person. This is true of any relationship, but it can sneak up on you if you’ve been together for a long time and you think you’ve already sorted out any major issues. Remember that you may need to treat it more like a new relationship as you blend your lives back together.
Level 4: Try something new together
You will both be used to your separate routines. In addition to including each other in old routines, form some new ones together. Take up a sport neither one of you has tried before. Make a point of visiting a new restaurant or cooking a meal together each week. Sign up for a class together.
Level 5: Allow each other to grow
People change in different places, different circumstances. Chances are good that the experiences the two of you had apart made an impact on you. Don’t demand that your partner be exactly the same as they were before. You will both continue to change throughout your lives together. Celebrate your partner’s growth and share your own. If you have grown too far apart, time will make it clear, so don’t rush any big decisions (the week after you reunite is probably not the time to call it quits). And of course, enjoy the people you have become. You’ve paid your dues now and, if you’re like us, it has been worth it.
What surprised you about being reunited with your long distance love?
If you’re still apart, what are you looking forward to the most about being back together?