To survive an LDR, you have to make plans and goals.  Without them, the distance can seem endless and you become disheartened.  You get jealous when friends move in with their partners or get married, while you don’t know when the gap will be closed at all.  It is kinda like being a bitter single, but without being actually single.  So you and your sweetheart need to sit down and make long term plans.

The big thing to consider, of course, is when to close the gap.  To figure that out, you have to outline your goals as an individual, then your goals as a couple.   You may want to finish your degree before relocating, or you want to put a year or two in your current job before you transfer to a different location.   Who is doing the moving is of course also crucial,  do not assume your partner is willing to drop everything to come live with you.  It can be a difficult conversation to have, but once done, you will be glad you had it.

Then you can move on to fun goals.  What does your bucket list look like, and what can you do in the next few years?  What would you like to do with your partner?  You might want to go on a roadtrip with your best gal pals, or enter a chess tournament.  Those things do not need to involve your partner, but perhaps they would like to tag along on a European tour or when you pluck up the courage to go bungee jumping.  Perhaps they have a really cool idea you haven’t even thought of yet.

Consider what events you want your partner to attend.  Maybe his sister is getting married next summer, and you want him to be at your graduation.  Planning for these events in advance gives each other ample time to request time off and save, not just for travel but for any gifts or formal wear you might need.  It also helps you to plan around those events. It might mean you have to forego Christmas together that year, but you can go bungee jumping the weekend before the wedding!

Once you figure out what you want to do together and when you want to close the gap, make a budget.  It might be boring, but it is a crucial step to making these plans a reality.  Maybe once you work it out, it isn’t financially feasible to go bungee jumping a week before a wedding.  You can then put off the bungee jumping for later, and select something else from your bucket list that is more budget friendly.  You may also realize the moving costs right after graduation will also be steep, and you should start putting money away for that sooner rather than later.  Making a budget prevents bad surprising from happening.

Once  your plans are made, you should keep them flexible.  Things can change. Maybe you decide to go on one more deployment to boost your savings, maybe your partner got in a graduate program they didn’t expect.  Delays happen, and it is devastating when you thought the end was so close.  But they can be necessarily and beneficial, and you can modify your plans to accommodate them.  Just remember your plans aren’t ruined, they have just changed.