7 Stages of a Long-Distance Relationship

7 Stages of a Long-Distance Relationship

If you are starting a long-distance relationship or you are already in one, it can be useful to know all its stages.

Here are 7 stages you’ll go through in your long-distance relationship:

  1. Starting a long-distance relationship
  2. Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship
  3. Making your long-distance relationship work
  4. Moving in together after a long-distance relationship
  5. Living together after a long-distance relationship
  6. Marriage after a long-distance relationship
  7. Ending your long-distance relationship

Some of you may decide to live together without getting married. One point to remember is that you always have the option to end this relationship at any point. Why is it important to remember? 

All too often couples decide to stay together because of habit, convenience, fear to be alone, or others alike.  But every moment you are in a relationship that doesn’t bring you joy and happiness, you miss out on spending this moment in a relationship that does.

In this article, I’ll give an overview of all stages in a long-distance relationship. We’ll also have a look at each one in some detail.

If you are starting a long-distance relationship this will give you an idea of what long-distance relationships are like. Hopefully, it’ll help you decide if it’s worth it for you.  At the end of each section, I’ll give you a link to a specific article that describes that stage in more detail.  Each of those articles will give you a more detailed overview of that particular stage of a long-distance relationship.

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.

Every stage of a long-distance relationship has its problems and struggles. 

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.

Let’s take a look…

Starting a long-distance relationship 

Starting a long-distance relationship online can be fun and exciting. But it also has its challenges.

While it is easy enough to start a long-distance relationship, to do it properly, you should understand what long-distance relationships are and what they aren’t.

Long-distance relationships are romantic relationships when two partners are separated by geographical distance. When you start a relationship by meeting someone in real life, you get the feel for that person. You can see their body language, how they respond to your questions and their general behaviour. Always gives you a certain feeling that tells you if you are comfortable with the person in front of you.

When you are starting a long-distance relationship online, it may be several months until you get to see them. So 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.

Online dating allows you to focus on who you want rather than where they are.  This means 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 know how to get to know them over a long-distance.

So you went online, went through many different profiles selected a few, and selected a few that look promising. After some interaction, one person may seem somebody that you have clicked with. 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 click in your values, beliefs, and life goals. To make it work, you will need to have common interests and 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 harder when you don’t get as much feedback. So when you are communicating online, you must say in words everything that you want to say. On the bright side, you can take your time to ask the right questions and also to find the right answers.

Here is a fair warning. The longer you are in this stage of getting to know someone online the more this person becomes an idea in your head. This is called idealisation. So the longer you are in this stage the stronger will be your idealisation of the other person. The stronger they idealisation the harder it will be to look bastard to see they are the person for who they truly are.

If you feel that your relationship is getting serious, 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 such an opportunity? For some time, you’ll need to maintain your relationship long-distance.

There are two ways for how couples make long-distance relationships work.

One way is to understand what a long-distance relationship is, how to communicate properly, make a plan. In a healthy long-distance relationship, couples understand each other, and they talk frequently about the state of their relationship, and their feelings.

But not all long-distance relationships are healthy. A lot of people feel stuck, see in the distance as a burden, and an obstruction to their relationship. And when you see your relationship as a burden, after a while this is what it will become.

One mistake that couples make with a long-distance relationship, is to make it last as long as possible. But a romantic relationship implies physical intimacy, which is not possible in the long-distance relationship.

Clear, open, and honest communication can help 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 a human touch of someone you love. So if your long-distance relationship is going to continue for a long time in the absence of physical closeness can become an issue.

Ideally, when you were starting a long-distance relationship, you made a plan of how long your long-distance relationship would last, how and how often you would communicate, and 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 got to know each other, you’ve met a couple of times, and now you’re thinking of moving onto the next stage

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, particularly 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 place, 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 may lead to a situation where they are new life revolves around the relationship. While it may sound good, everyone is an individual and everyone needs their personal life goals.

Before committing yourself completely 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.

This 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. And even 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 bigger problems and may even destroy your relationship. Hopefully, by now you learnt to communicate and share your feelings. It’s also important 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 bond legal and personal. 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 that is when you’re together for a long time even if you don’t feel joy and fulfilment from your relationship. A lot of relationships can get monotonous stale and boring. When this happens these relationships can become toxic. And 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 and situations and relationships. And if you don’t adapt to these changes, you may end up in an unhealthy marriage.

To have a healthy marriage you need to make sure that your relationship works for each of you separately, and for both of you as a couple.

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 relationship and a toxic one is a possibility to fix the problems as they arise. To do that you need to have a certain degree of understanding and 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.

So if you find yourself in a toxic relationship, married or not, you should take the time to reassess the state of your relationship and where do you can see it going. In some situations having an open and honest conversation can be enough to fix the issues. But if you find yourself in a toxic relationship that lasted for some time then your issues are potentially deeper and stronger. It can be very hard 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 passed 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.


Stages we’ve talked about today, are designed to give you an overview of how your long-distance relationship can develop. But it doesn’t mean that all of them have to follow in an exact sequence. And not all of them will happen for every long-distance relationship.

For example, some couples start a long-distance relationship online and others start their long-distance relationship with someone they just met. The distance may also come to couples in existing relationships.

Also, not everyone believes that marriage is necessary to have a relationship. And, of course, you can end your relationship at any stage, if you choose to.

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.

Every stage of a long-distance relationship has its problems and struggles. 

As your relationship develops, you can make the most of your current stage of a relationship and prepare for the next one by asking the right questions, learning the most common problems and solutions with a bunch of tips and additional resources to help you create a healthy and successful relationship.

Getting Some Help

I hope this article answered some of your questions.
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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. Learn more

What are the emotional stages of a long-distance relationship?

Each practical stage has certain emotional stages associated with it. Some can be found in all of them. For example, doubts are common from starting a long-distance relationship to moving in together, to knowing when and how to break up. Learn more

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 would be getting married if you want to be together but one of the needs a visa for that to happen. Learn more

Alex Larryngton

Hi, I’m Alex:) As a Relationship Coach, I am someone you come to when you feel stuck in a relationship and want to find a way out.

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