If you are starting a long-distance relationship or you are already in one, it helps to know the stages you will be going through.
Here are seven stages you’ll go through in your long-distance relationship:
- Starting a long-distance relationship.
- Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship.
- Making your long-distance relationship work.
- Moving in together after a long-distance relationship.
- Living together after a long-distance relationship.
- Marriage after a long-distance relationship.
- Ending your long-distance relationship.
This article is an overview of the seven stages in a long-distance relationship. If you are starting a long-distance relationship, this will give you an idea of what is a long-distance relationship and what you can expect from it.
In the end, you’ll be able to decide if this type of relationship is for you. At the end of each section, you will find a link to a specific article that describes that stage in more detail.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Starting a Long-Distance Relationship
Starting a long-distance relationship online can be fun and exciting. But it also has its challenges. To better prepare for what’s to come, it would help to get a better grasp of what a long-distance relationship is and what it is not.
A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship with a geographical distance between the two of you. When you meet someone in real life, you get a feel for that person. You can see their body language, how they respond to your questions and their general behaviour. When you are next to a person, you know right away if you are comfortable with them.
Starting a long-distance relationship online means that it may be several months before you get to see them.
For the first few months of your new long-distance relationship, you build an idea of who this person is, and what they may feel like for you to be with. But it’s not until you meet them in real life that you will get a feeling of what it’s like to be next to them. Only then can you decide whether or not this person is someone you can build a relationship with, have fun or stay friends.
Online dating is a great way to get started. It allows you to focus on who you want rather than where they are. You can find someone who fits your profile in a different part of the world. But this can also be a downside. To make your relationship work, you’ll need to get to know them better over a long-distance.
So you went online, went through many different profiles selected a few, and picked some that look promising. At some point, you will find someone with whom you click. The next stage is to get to know them.
Getting to Know Each Other in a Long-Distance Relationship
Once you find a match, your next step is to learn about that person. The general profile only says so much. It’s now up to you to see if you align in your values, beliefs, and life goals. To have a healthy relationship, it helps to have common interests and fun things to talk about.
Getting to know someone in a long-distance relationship is somewhat different from getting to know a person in real life. The biggest difference is the way you communicate.
In a long-distance relationship, the only way you can communicate is through texts, phone calls or video calls. But even video calls don’t give you the same feedback of the person or your conversation as it would talk to them face-to-face.
Body language is responsible for a big chunk of communication. When you’re talking to someone online, you don’t get the full picture of their body language, so a big chunk of information is missing. To make sense about how your conversation is going and direct this conversation is more challenging when you don’t get as much feedback.
When you are communicating online, you must say in words everything that you want to share. On the plus side, you can take your time to ask the right questions and also to find the correct answers.
The longer you are at this stage of getting to know someone online, the more of an ideal you will create about them.
It is called an idealisation. So the longer you are in this stage, the stronger will be your idealisation of the other person and the harder it will be for you to face who they truly are when you meet.
Suppose you feel that your relationship is getting serious. In that case, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do to make your long-distance relationship work.
Making Your Long-Distance Relationship Work
So you found a special someone and developed feelings for each other. After you got to know each other better, it’s time to meet. If you have a chance to meet after a couple of months, great. But what if you don’t have an opportunity to see each other?
For some time, you’ll need to maintain your relationship long-distance.
To make a long-distance relationships work try these three things:
- Get clear on what is a long-distance relationship.
- Learn to communicate effectively.
- Make a plan on how long the long-distance will last and when you’ll be able to move in together.
If you are struggling to figure out how to make your long-distance relationship work, this workbook can help you assess your relationship and find a way forward.
In a healthy long-distance relationship, couples understand each other, and they frequently talk about their feelings and the state of their relationship.
But not all long-distance relationships are healthy. A lot of couples feel stuck. They see the distance as a burden and an obstruction to their relationship. After some time, the relationship itself becomes a burden.
One mistake that couples make with a long-distance relationship is to make it last as long as possible. A romantic relationship needs physical intimacy, which is not possible in a long-distance relationship. So unless you can see each other regularly, your romantic relationship will be a struggle.
Clear, open, and honest communication can help you maintain an emotional connection. And, for some time, you can maintain a sense of physical connection through gifts, online games, and interactive toys. But none of these things can replace the human touch of someone you love.
If your long-distance relationship will continue for a long time without physical closeness, you will face a number of issues.
Ideally, when you started a long-distance relationship, you made a plan of how long your long-distance relationship would last, how and how often you would communicate. You made a plan on how often you would visit each other and what you would do between the visits.
If you haven’t, then you can talk about it with your partner. Discuss your feelings, assess your options, and think of the next steps together. Try to avoid making unilateral decisions. Instead, find a way that works for both of you.
So let’s say that you’ve started a long-distance relationship online. You’ve gotten to know each other, met a couple of times, and now you’re thinking of moving in together.
Moving in Together After a Long-Distance Relationship
By this point, you would have learned something new, and you still like each other. You also met a couple of times and are now ready to move in. Moving in together after a long-distance relationship is life-changing.
Move-in together gradually and have a trial period.
See how you get on as a couple and how you feel sharing your personal space with this person.
Moving in together with someone who lives in a different country, for example, is a big step. Getting to know someone online is one thing. Visiting each other is like going on holiday and having fun. But moving in together, mainly if it is to a different country, requires a little bit more thought.
Living together has several challenges. These challenges are different from the ones you may have had during the long-distance relationship.
For example, during a long-distance relationship, you may have wished for more closeness, more intimacy. When you are living together with someone, you may want the opposite, more personal space.
Living Together After a Long-Distance Relationship
When long-distance relationship couples decide to move in together, they tend to leave all that they know behind. If you move into a different country, it means embracing a new culture and new traditions of the place that you’re moving to. It also means living behind your friends, your family, and your work.
Maybe you have had your life plan in the place where we lived before meeting someone you like online. When you move to a different location, you may need a new life plan.
Usually, a person who moves to live in the place of their partner is starting a new life. Their partner becomes a big part of their new life because that’s all they may know of this place. This situation may lead to one of the partners having their new life revolving around the relationship. While it may sound good, everyone is an individual, and everyone needs their personal life goals.
So before committing yourself entirely to something that you don’t know, you could give it a go for a short while. Much like you’ve had your long-distance relationship for three or four months before moving in together, you could plan for and spend 2-3 months of living together.
But with an option and an opportunity to go back home if you need to.
Having this option will give you a chance to see what your real-life together would look like, be like and feel like. You will also know that you have a choice to stay or to go back home. Having this choice in itself can help you build a healthy relationship.
Being in love is one thing; living together is a whole different experience.
Little things can grow into more significant problems and may even destroy your relationship. Hopefully, by now, you learnt to communicate and share your feelings. It’s also essential that you enjoy sharing time and space with your loved one.
Marriage After a Long-Distance Relationship
At this stage, you should know each other pretty well. The above gives you a strong foundation for a healthy relationship and gets you ready to build a family.
If you had any doubts, you should have addressed them in previous stages. You should also have a strategy to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings.
Marriage is a legal and personal bond. When people get married, they make promises. These promises are a sign of commitment. There is a lot to be said about commitment, which will discuss in a separate article. But I will mention one thing. Commitment can keep you together through hard times when you don’t feel like you want to be together.
The problem with commitment is that you may stay together for a long time, even if you don’t feel joy and fulfilment from your relationship.
Some relationships can get monotonous, stale and boring. When this happens, these relationships can become toxic. While a lot of couples maintain such relationships, it doesn’t make them healthy.
When you make promises, you may have the best intentions of keeping them. But things happen through life that changes circumstances, situations and relationships. If you don’t adapt to these changes, you may end up in an unhealthy marriage.
In a healthy marriage, each person needs to maintain their own identity while enjoying sharing time and space with their partner. Make sure both of you have enough personal space to pursue your goals and ambitions.
For some people, marriage is a pinnacle of their relationship. For others, marriage is unnecessary for their relationship.
But regardless of your preference, one thing is for sure: your relationship needs to be healthy. A healthy relationship means it contributes to your overall well-being and helps you achieve your life goals.
Ending Your Long-Distance Relationship
All couples bump into problems sooner or later. The difference between a healthy and a toxic relationship is the possibility to fix the issues as they arise. To do that, you need to have a certain degree of understanding, be able to express your feelings and needs as well as hear those of your partner.
During disagreements, married couples feel more pressure of having to work something out. This pressure can motivate a couple to work things out instead of just breaking up. But the same pressure can also be enough for at least one of the partners to become more defensive.
When this happens, the other partner responds to that by becoming defensive as well. Now, instead of caring for each other, each partner starts caring for themselves.
You may say it’s normal to have fights. But normal doesn’t mean healthy. Normal means a lot of couples do it. The problem with that is your fight with an enemy. With a friend, you find solutions. So when you see your partner as an enemy, this is a red flag.
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, married or not. It will help if you take the time to reassess the state of your relationship and see where it’s going. In some situations having an open and honest conversation can be enough to fix the issues.
A toxic relationship that lasted for some time can potentially have more in-depth and more substantial issues to resolve. Sometimes it can be tough to deal with these deeper issues from within the relationship.
If this happens, you could get a relationship coach to help you resolve the problems. Another option is to take a break. Taking a break doesn’t mean breaking up. On the contrary, bringing some spice into your relationship can help you see things more clearly.
When you are in a toxic relationship for a long time, it can be hard to see things for what they are, beyond all the built-up emotions.
At any stage, things can happen, and feelings may change. Either one of you may want something different, and it’s ok.
It’s normal to have a relationship, and it’s normal to end it. You must end a relationship if it’s no longer bringing joy into your life. But there’s a right way to end a relationship, and there’s a wrong way.
The seven stages of a long-distance relationship we’ve talked about today give you an overview of how your long-distance relationship can develop. But it doesn’t mean that all of them have to follow the exact same sequence. Also, not all of them will happen for every long-distance relationship.
For example, some couples start a long-distance relationship on line, and others start their long-distance relationship with someone they just met. The distance may also come to couples in existing relationships.
When you have a big picture of your journey of a long-distance relationship, you will find it a lot easier to navigate your relationship. Having all the stages at hand will allow you to keep at what stage of a relationship you are with your partner as well as being aware of what’s to come next.
Make the most of every stage in your long-distance relationship. As your relationship develops, take the time to prepare for the next stage. You can do it by asking the right questions and learning the most common problems. Together with your partner, you can find solutions and create a healthy and successful relationship.
Knowing the whole journey of a long-distance relationship will give you a clear idea of the current stage of your relationship and what is coming up next. Every stage of a long-distance relationship has its own twists and turns. Knowing what to expect at every stage can help you prepare to handle them in the right way and avoid unnecessary problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the stages of a long-distance relationship?
There are seven stages that couples can potentially go through in a long-distance relationship. Each stage comes with its wonders and downfalls.
What are the emotional stages of a long-distance relationship?
Your emotions change as your relationship develops. At the beginning of a relationship, you are excited to be with someone new. As your relationship develops, it will start to feel more personal. When it works, you will be happy, but when it doesn’t, you may face doubts, frustrations and worries.
How to turn a long-distance relationship into marriage?
To turn a long-distance relationship into marriage, you need to make sure that your long-distance relationship develops into a healthy relationship. Try living together for some time before committing yourselves to each other. You can still enjoy your relationship without marriage. An exception where you cannot choose whether to get married or not is when your partner needs to get a visa and marriage is the only way.
What are long-distance relationships like?
Long-distance relationships can be fun and exciting. They allow you to start a new relationship online or to maintain an existing relationship if you have to be apart. However, if the distance lasts a long time, you will face many challenges, and your relationship can become a struggle.
To navigate a long-distance relationship, you need to have clear and effective communication. Knowing the stages of a long-distance relationship will keep you on track to achieving your relationship goals.
What should you not do in a long-distance relationship?
Whenever you have an argument in a long-distance relationship, try to avoid silent treatment. When you have doubts and concerns, talk to your partner openly and honestly. Don’t make your long-distance relationship last for the sake of it; find the way to enjoy having extra personal space.
HOW CAN COUPLES COACHING HELP YOU
1. Subscribe to our Newsletter
Receive Tips & Advice on how you can improve your relationship.
2. Read our Blog
Learn all there is to know about relationships and how to make them work. Here you can find helpful articles for every aspect of your relationship.
Get in touch to see how we can help!
3. Buy a Workbook
Check out our selection and choose the most relevant workbook for your relationship.
4. Book a Coaching Session
If you help right now…
If you have a burning issue…
If you are facing an important decision…
If you are lost and unsure about your relationship…