So you meet someone you really, really like and things are going fantastic. But less than a year into the relationship, they drop the bombshell: They're moving, and they're not sure if or when they're going to be coming back.
The decision to go long-distance when a relationship is less than a year old can be a scary one. "Making a commitment with someone who you don't have a lot of history with is a huge decision," says Rena McDaniel, MED, a clinical sexologist and licensed therapist. "But it starts by being honest about where you're at and what you want."
In fact, before you even mention the notion of a long-distance relationship, it's a good idea to check in with yourself. "If it's already feeling fast to be having this sort of conversation with a partner, it might be that you're not feeling ready to [make this commitment]," says Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex therapist. "That said, you could not be ready for the conversation, but you might also be feeling really nervous about letting this person go. So it's important to take a beat and check yourself first."
The realities of being in this kind of relationship make it so this isn't something you can be casual about.
Vanessa Marin, licensed sex therapist
If you decide that this is what you want, it might be fairly easy to figure out if your partner is on the same page, too. "Any sort of mention of plans together in the future is a good indication that they're factoring you into their future," Marin says. "If they're also lamenting over the bad timing, and talking about how much they enjoy spending time with you, that could reveal what their feelings are." But don't just expect to both be on the same page. If you want to keep seeing your partner long-distance, it's not something you can just leave hanging. "The realities of being in this kind of relationship make it so this isn't something you can be casual about," Marin says.
Be completely clear about what your expectations are for a long-distance relationship, and be open to your partner's ideas, too. "You need to figure out how to make your partner feel special, even if they're far away, and vice versa," McDaniel says. "Do you call every day? What are the expectations around sexual fidelity? These are the questions you need to iron out." It's also important to keep the end game in mind, even though it might be a little bit scary. "You're not asking the person to commit to marrying you, obviously," McDaniel says. "But if you aren't ever going to move there, and your partner isn't going to be coming back, then what does this really look like long-term?"
Remember that not every long-distance relationship needs to be monogamous — the structure of your partnership can change once you're separated. "If you don't want to end the relationship, can you evolve the relationship in some way?" McDaniel says. "Perhaps it would be a better idea to be non-monogamous, long-distance lovers instead of super serious partners." There are many different ways a long-distance relationship can look. You and your partner just have to figure out what works for you both. The first step? Talking about it.