Though we all might dream of a rom-com worthy meet-cute, it’s far more likely that you won’t meet your future mate running into one another at the dry cleaner twice in one week. While something like 30 percent of couples meet through mutual friends, that doesn’t mean the friend of the friend will be nearby, and of course, if you’re on an online dating site, you could “meet” a person at any coordinates on the globe. You can text constantly, email, have regular video dates, and make fairly frequent visits back and forth. But, to eventually get to your perfect ending in the same ZIP code, someone’s got to make a move.
My now-husband and I met online, and we lived about two hours away in different states. For our first few dates, we met halfway at a shopping plaza off the turnpike and eventually in each other’s cities for day trips. But commuting took its toll—literally and emotionally—on us as a couple and our cars. Several months in, amid headaches from figuring out how to spend weekends together, we decided someone had to make a move. But how? And whom?
It took a lot of consideration and discussion, but there were five key questions that helped me ultimately decide to make the move. If a long-distance relationship is getting too hard, or a move just seems like the next step, consider these five things before you decide to pack your bags.
01. Where is this relationship going?
It sounds obvious, but I’ll say it anyway; the first conversation you should have with your boyfriend when considering moving should be, “Where is this relationship going?” Like any girlfriend in love, I wanted to see more of my guy, but I knew that before I got out the boxes, I had to know what “more” meant—just dates or a desire for a bigger commitment? I initiated the first talk about the future, and I am so happy I did. In time, more and increasingly serious talks—including ones about engagement—made me confident that we both knew what we wanted and that a move would help.
Are you two just having fun right now, or are you open to going deeper toward engagement and marriage? If you are already thinking engagement and are both excited that a ring could be on your finger—or not!—it’s helpful to discuss a general timeline before the move. You should also know each other’s personal visions for the future—“I want to travel more” or “Make partner at the firm” versus “I’m ready to settle down” or “Let’s have it all!” If you don’t know each other’s answers to these questions, I recommend that you have an honest discussion about them.
It might be hard to talk about wants and scary to consider that there may not be a serious intention (yet) or even devastating to discover that your future goals are incompatible. But that’s why I was so glad we had those conversations. Seeing the bigger picture before overhauling my life gave me the confidence to rent the U-Haul.
02. Is this move an act of love?
When considering a move for my sweetie, I asked myself if “future me” would still be happy knowing that I gave up parts of my life for us. Ready for a career change, I was willing to sacrifice my job but had to trade life in a city I’d loved for seven years for a small country town. I had to think five months, and five years, into the future. Did I think I would ever throw it in his face? (“But I moved for you!”) A move should be an act of love, not a trump card. And I acknowledge that I was making a huge sacrifice for us. But I believe the relationships that go the distance have this sacrificial love. Ask yourself—is the move more likely to increase our joy or spur resentment?
03. Is this move a short-term solution to a bigger problem?
Being closer to my sweetie solved a number of problems: Our transportation bills shrank, our actual face time increased, and we cut down on our cell phone bills significantly. But those were bonus points to an already great relationship.
Consider whether or not your move would cover up larger problems that are not really about distance but character. For example, moving may resolve the annoying fight over whose turn it is to travel to the other or about next Saturday’s availability. But when it gets down to it, the core of those discussions is not really about your car mileage; it’s about your ability to deal with conflict and one another’s capacity for service to the other. If a key ingredient like that is missing now, how will you resolve it once you’ve moved? Or maybe you have difficulty trusting your beloved while far away. When you’re closer, will your trust issues evaporate? Probably not.
Either your beloved is giving you reason to be suspicious, or the mistrust comes from within yourself, which will take a lot more than a move to overcome. Working through issues rather than finding a short-term fix is a better indicator of the strength of your relationship. Talk with him to see if this move would heighten your joy or just temporarily patch a bigger problem.
04. Are we both willing to make the move?
I believe that if you love each other and are in a healthy relationship, either man or woman should be open to moving. When we discussed living in the same city, I wanted to know that my guy was willing to move for me and was open to considering things such as career, family circumstances, or in what location we would both thrive more. All of the above are good factors to consider, and it might be a warning sign if your boyfriend doesn’t want to consider the same for you. A move should be about the two of you together, as a team, both open to the possibility of how you can accomplish that. I felt a lot of peace knowing that my guy and I weighed both our circumstances fairly. As it happened, it worked better for both of us for me to move. But knowing he was open to considering my needs assured me that I had a true partner.
05. What if we break up?
A move is not a marriage or public commitment. Nothing is set in stone until you have two rings on your finger, and I’d argue that even the stone itself is not hard proof. I accepted that by leaving my home, my job, and my community, I was taking a risk. Having carefully thought about what I was about to do and why, I was confident I’d come out a “winner” with this gamble. But I did ask myself that “What if?” series of questions.
I know that you and your man love each other and are never going to break up, but I humbly recommend that you consider the possibility. You don’t have to have a twenty-point plan B or even necessarily take into account the many possible scenarios that could break you and your beloved apart. But do be honest with yourself and what you have to see you through should the move or relationship not work out. Faith, a nearby support network, and practicalities such as a great new job could help sustain you if your relationship could not.
After thinking through these five big-picture questions and the many smaller practical issues, my move for my man has a happily ever after. If you’re considering packing up, hopefully this checklist will guide you closer together—physically and emotionally.
Photo Credit: Manchik Photography