After almost five and a half years together, it’s natural that Jeff and I have experienced many influential moments or phases in our relationship. But one thing that really stands out to me more than anything else was when we moved away from our respective hometowns, that happen to be about six miles apart, to a completely new place and became each other’s main support system.
For some couples, a big move might occur because of college, because of a job, or even sometimes just out of the pure desire for change. For Jeff and I, our first big move occurred when we moved to Colorado to attend college together. During college, we moved a second time to spend the summer working in Long Island. Both of these moves were true tests in our relationship that took place prior to becoming engaged and married.
Some say long distance is the biggest hurdle a relationship can face and I won’t disagree that it can either make or break a couple. But this isn’t the only kind of distance that can weigh on your relationship. The distance I am talking about is the kind that comes when you relocate away from your hometown, which is also known as your comfort zone. The kind of distance that takes you away from many of your friends and a large part of your family. The kind of distance that puts you in a new place with the person you’re dating and forces you to begin again; only this time you will truly begin together and what you begin will either be a better or worse version of what you had before. Moving to a new place with your significant other is a test that will either result in a stronger relationship, or a weaker relationship. In time, some relationships will sink while others will swim.
How will your relationship handle change? Will you work together? Will you counsel and comfort one another? What will the dynamic become? Will you grow together?
Or..will you let change get the best of your relationship? Will you blame each other for the struggles you will face when you move to a new place? Will you meet new people and choose them over your significant other? Will the two of you grow apart?
Jeff and I grew up in two similar suburbs with plenty of family around. We lived in safe neighborhoods with clean parks and nice houses. We were always encouraged and guided towards a bright future ahead. When we chose to go to attend college out-of-state together, we took a risk and headed to a very different place than where we grew up. Boy, was it an eye-opening experience for two teenagers who were sheltered many times throughout their youth. But instead of letting the change shake us up, stress us out, and depress us with homesickness, it brought us closer. During our four years in Colorado, we learned a lot about ourselves and what we wanted for our future. We met some genuine people and saw a different way of life that we began to appreciate over time. Colorado was never going to be our true home like California, but it gave our relationship a whole new meaning.
When we decided to make the trek to Long Island during the summer after our junior year of college, we again chose to take a risk and head to a place that was completely different than where we grew up. We were two west coast kids with a very limited idea of what the ritzy, wealthy Hamptons would really be like. Would we fit in? Would we be fish out of water? Would we make friends? Luckily, we ended up doing just fine and we had the most amazing time that summer.
Neither of these moves were without bumps in the road. There were countless tears, multiple arguments, tons of discussions, and many moments of doubt, but we worked through them and learned together. All of these things brought us closer in the end and gave our relationship the kind of meaning that I hope everyone gets to experience at some point. Moving to different places together united us like never before and showed us how to do life wth each other instead of relying on our family or close friends to save us.
Whether you and your significant other have just taken the plunge and are struggling in a new place, or are contemplating a big move, remember that you love the person you are with and you are better together.
Here are a few tips on how to handle a big move with your boyfriend or girlfriend:
Remember that home is where your heart is – If your heart belongs to your significant other, then continually remind yourself that you are where you need to be. Be appreciative and thankful that you get to do life with the person you wouldn’t want to do life without. Allow your boyfriend or girlfriend to become that safe haven that provides you with more comfort than anything else.
Include each other in new friend groups – When you move, it’s natural that you will be excited to meet new people at work or at the gym. When you make new friends and begin to find your group, don’t forget that your significant other might not be in the same place yet. Building friendships takes time and everyone does it at their own pace. Be sure to introduce your boyfriend or girlfriend to your new friends and include him/her in outings and activities. Plus, it’s always an added bonus to have a friend group that both of you enjoy hanging out with.
Get out and explore – Becoming comfortable and content in a new place takes time. It is natural to feel homesick at first but a great way to combat this is to go out with your boyfriend or girlfriend and find neat new spots that cater to both of your interests. If you’re both foodies, get excited over some new restaurants. Do you like outdoor activities? Scope out the parks in your neighborhood where you can do yoga on the grass or go roller blading down the side-walk. Exploring your new city and it’s surrounding areas will help you to feel at home.
Get a pet together (If you like animals) – For Jeff and I, getting a puppy was really something that brought us together. We weren’t ready for children, but we were ready to expand our little family and share our love with something else. Getting a pet made us feel needed by someone other than each other which is important. Having a life to take care of also allowed us to work together and become more responsible.