Everyone always says, “Don’t stay in a long distance relationship unless you have an end date.” I have learned that while practical, having a set in stone end date isn’t for everyone. Every one’s circumstances are different and we have to keep that in mind.

Having said that, setting an end date if you can manage one, is a really practical way to look at the solidity of your relationship and to see if the prospects you have of being together are actually realistic.

Often, people don’t understand the weight of setting an end date and think that it’s just setting a date for when you would like the long distance of your relationship to end. But there’s a lot more thought that should go into it than just that.

Once the gravity of setting an end date kicks in, many long distance couples are unsure of where to begin. This article, which briefly outlines the steps you can take to set your own end date, will be useful for those couples.

While this is by no means an extensive list, this article should help couples in long distance relationships by giving them somewhere to start when deciding when to set their end date.

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1. Examine your circumstances

Each long distance relationship is different. Before you decide an end date take into account your own personal circumstances.

  • Why are you in a long distance relationship?
  • Are you going to a school, college or university?
  • Are you working separate careers in different locations?
  • Did you meet online and just aren’t able to be together yet?
  • Are you both actively saving money until you can afford to close the distance?
  • Are family issues holding you back?

Sometimes your circumstances will give you the answer you need when deciding the actual date for your “end date.” If you graduate in 2 years then you know that the date when you close the distance will be somewhere around a 2 year time frame.

If your jobs are the reason you are torn apart; How long do you plan to work away from your sweetheart? Maybe you’re on a business trip or a special assignment for your job. Often you will generally know when that assignment ends so you can plan your end date for around that time as well.

For couples who may not have circumstances that can help them determine when their end date will be, coming to this decision will require a lot of thought and discussion.

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2. Talk about it

Talking about your personal obstacles as a couple is the best thing you can possibly do. As I said before, deciding an “end date” is a really big decision. It requires a lot of change, a lot of work and a lot of compromise.

You need to ask yourselves questions such as:

  • What is keeping us separate?
  • What will we need to do to make this happen?
  • Do you have any responsibilities that may keep or delay you?
  • Are we willing to make any compromises to make this work?
  • Will we move to a new location together, or will one person move to be with the other?
  • Where will we live?
  • How long are you both willing to wait to be together? 1 year? 3 years? 6 months?
  • How much money will we need to close the distance?
  • How long will it take us to save up the funds?

Don’t get intimidated by the prospect of asking these questions -everything doesn’t have to be intricately planned out from the start. But the truth is, the sooner you talk about it, the sooner you can smooth out the details of it until you have a somewhat formulated plan. Discussing these questions together can really give you a feel for how soon you and your significant other will be able to close the distance.

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3. Count up the costs

As all long distance couples know, just visiting one another can take a huge toll on your pockets. There’s train, plane and bus tickets, luggage charges, hotel rates, and many other lovely charges.

While it is so worth it to visit the person you love, a lot of us just end up completely broke by the time our visits are over. And that’s just visiting one another! Closing the distance? That’s an even bigger change and it will most likely cost a lot more than a routine friendly visit. You both have to really take this knowledge into account when deciding your end date.

Here are some questions you should both discuss together:

  • How much will it cost for one or both of you to move to a new location?
  • Is moving to a new location something either of you can realistically afford to do?
  • How long will it reasonably take for you to save up money?
  • Will we be able to save up extra money if unexpected things occur?
  • Will you be able to get a job in the new location?
  • Will you be able to afford the cost of living in the new location?
  • How much will it cost to get your personal items get to the new location?
  • Will you hire a professional moving company?

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4. Leave room for change in your plans

No matter how diligent your plans, things can always come up or go wrong. Talking about potential hitches in your grand plan to be together is a wise thing to do. Sometimes it’s necessary to have a back-up plan, or even two. It’s a good idea to save up extra funds in case unexpected expenses or emergencies arise.

Here are some unexpected change in plan scenarios that might be applicable to you:

  • If flying to your new location, what will happen if there are flight delays or cancellations?
  • If driving, what will you do if you get a flat tire or in an auto accident?
  • How will you deal with your personal items being lost, or damaged?
  • If you will be renting or buying a home, how would you deal with sudden damage to your new residence?
  • What happens if you’re on your way to your rental and there is another tenant there?
  • How will you deal with a sudden rent increase?
  • How will you deal with any delay in your plans?

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5. Decide who will make the move

Talking about being together can be a really exciting thing. One day we’ll go to the park together, or eat out at a cafe everyday or listen to 80s songs in our pajamas with crazy hairstyles. Everything about being together at this point is through rose colored glasses.

Sometimes in the midst of all the “one days” and “some day soons,” we forget that one or both of us might have to make a really huge change to actually be together. Long distance couples who live countries or states apart have to decide who will move where. Which of you will be willing to leave everything they know for just one person?

It’s easy to just assume that the other person will be the one making the huge change -especially if you haven’t talked about this in depth. But when you start talking you might find that neither of you wants to leave your friends or family. What then?

Closing the distance will require a lot of sacrifice and compromise on the part of both you and your s/o. Don’t leave questions like these up in the air for too long. Talk about it.

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6. Consider the emotional costs

As I mentioned before, closing the distance means that you finally have that person you’ve loved for so long in your arms -but for some of us it also means that you will have to leave behind a lot of comfort and security.

Before you decide to move to be together -whether one person is moving to be with the other or you are both meeting/moving somewhere in the middle, consider these questions:

  • What am I leaving behind?
  • How will I cope with being away from my friends and family?
  • Will I make friends easily?
  • Is the culture different from my own?
  • How will I deal with culture shock?
  • How often will I visit my family?
  • Will I be able to afford to come back to visit my family at all?
  • Will my family be able to afford to come see me?
  • What about births, special occasions, deaths or medical emergencies?
  • Will you be able to rush home easily if these things occur?

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These questions will vary according to circumstance and sometimes the list of questions will grow, but it’s very important that you discuss them together.

Hopes and dreams can easily crash and burn when you don’t do your best to really think and plan things out. And that’s something you really don’t want to happen.

Again, nothing needs to be initially set in stone. Everything starts out with a rough plan, so don’t get discouraged if it feels or seems overwhelming the first time you really talk about it.

If you’re finding it hard to set one end date, there’s no rule that says you can’t have more than one! Some couples even have multiple end dates: The soonest they could close the distance, the most “realistic” well thought out date that they could close the distance and the longest “things didn’t really work out as soon as we thought” date.

Be flexible and open with one another. Talk about your dreams, hopes and expectations and eventually you’ll be that much closer to being together!

If you’re in an LDR, I’d love to hear how you set your own end date. You can share your tips with us by commenting below!