(The Frisky) -- Dear Wendy:
I'm 28 and my boyfriend is 27 and he and I were dating for about 1 and a ½ years when I decided to move across the country. It was something I'd always wanted to do before "settling down," so he was supportive.
We did the long-distance relationship (LDR) thing for another 1 ½ years, and then decided to go on a break.
I know, I know, breaks are usually precursors to breakups, but I was finishing school, he was thinking of changing careers, and we both felt a lot of pressure. So we took some time to focus on ourselves.
That was a year ago and we've kept in touch and visited each other often. Well, we finally decided that he is going to move here to be with me. I think we'll have a great time, but I just don't know what to expect! We've both been used to being on our own, and this will be such a change.
I have no doubts about the guy -- he's wonderful for me -- but I'm starting to get sentimental about closing this "independent chapter" of my life. As someone who's done it, can you give me a little insight as to what to expect? What issues came up for you? How did you both keep your independence when one of you doesn't know anyone in the city?
The one thing for sure you can expect is there's no way you can anticipate everything you're going to feel and experience when your boyfriend moves in with you. I could give you a whole list of things that came up for me and my now-husband that I wasn't necessarily prepared for, but just as no two relationships are alike, what was true for my experience may not be true for you.
That said, I can tell you with confidence that the best way to handle any potential growing pains that may flare up during this transition is to be open, honest and respectful of each other.
Encourage your boyfriend to reach out to any contacts he might have in your city -- former college acquaintances or colleagues and the like. Even one person is a window into a new social group that isn't comprised solely of your friends.
If he doesn't have any contacts there, be sure to introduce him to friends' boyfriends or husbands whom he might have a connection with. But don't press the issue. In time, he'll make friends through work or various activities he joins, and what you'll find is that as much as he'll be creating a new life for himself in a new city, the two of you will be creating a new life together.
It's natural to have a period of mourning for the chapter you're closing -- I certainly did -- but, don't forget that your boyfriend is moving to your city for a very good reason: to be with you.
Don't get so distracted by the notion of OMG, YOU HAVE TO RETAIN YOUR INDEPENDENCE that you forget what a gift it is that you get to be together now. It's certainly healthy to have interests and friends outside your relationship -- and your boyfriend will develop those in time -- but you've just had over a year and a half apart, so enjoy getting reacquainted.
And be patient with your boyfriend as he adjusts to his new surroundings. You might find it helpful to have bi-weekly check-in sessions with each other to see how the other is feeling and what needs you might have. Don't be shy about asking for an afternoon to yourself or letting your boyfriend know you want to have a dinner with your girlfriends once a week.
And if you two plan to live together and share expenses, definitely make sure you're on the same page about what that entails before he moves in. Will you be splitting the rent equally? Will one pay the rent and the other cover the rest of the household expenses? And don't forget to discuss how you plan to divvy up the household chores, too. These are discussions anyone moving in together should have -- not just couples moving from long distances to the same home. But as long as you keep the lines of communication open and address any issues before they become Issues, you'll be just fine.