At some point in a long distance relationship, the inevitable question arrives: “Should one of us move to close the distance?”
It’s a daunting but important question. Sooner or later, as you begin to ask your friends, you’ll receive mixed responses. Some people will warn you against moving, and others will eagerly support you.
How do you know who to listen to? Everyone will have a different opinion about what’s best for you, and it can be difficult to discern what is pleasing to God.
The reality is that moving to be near a long distance boyfriend or girlfriend can be wise for some people and unwise for others.
Right For Some, Wrong For Others
We see this concept similarly displayed in the Bible. At various points across Scripture, God directs two people to pursue very different paths in accordance with His will:
- God commanded Isaac not to enter Egypt (Genesis 26:2) but reassured Jacob when he was afraid to go there (Genesis 46:3)
- God told David not to build the temple, explaining that was the task of his son Solomon (1 Chronicles 17:1-15)
- Paul moved onto Macedonia while urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3)
These examples don’t imply that God is wishy-washy about right and wrong. For example, the Bible says that abstaining from sexual immorality is the “will of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4) and that Christians should “flee” from it (1 Corinthians 6:18). You can decide if that’s something you do, but you can’t question whether or not it’s something God wants you to do.
However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a verse that talks directly about moving to be near a long distance boyfriend or girlfriend. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably taking a passage out of context.
God didn’t intend the Bible to be a step-by-step reference book for every situation. He could have made it that way if He wanted. It would fill several dozen libraries, and we probably wouldn’t be able to navigate it any better than kindergartners faced with the Dewey Decimal system, but He could do it.
He Wants You In His Word
So why doesn’t God spell everything out for you? The reason is that He wants you in His Word. When we read the Bible, we learn more than just what God did or what we should do. We discover who He is — and who we are as a result of a relationship with Him.
Steven J. Cole writes, “Knowing the will of God is always connected with knowing God. So I must seek not only God’s will, but God Himself.” If you really want to know whether you or your boyfriend should move, you need to know the character of God — His compassion, justice, mercy and strength. And you need to know God personally.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The best way to renew your mind is to listen anew to the truths and beauties of God freshly revealed in the Bible.
Whenever you are perplexed about what to do about your relationship (or anything), the first place you should go to is the Bible. Not to pluck out a magic answer. Not to confirm your preexisting ideas. But to step into a conversation with the greatest Lover and wisest Father of all time.
11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Move
Still, as you begin to dig into God’s Word, it can be helpful to structure some of your time asking intentional questions. Here are eleven questions that I asked while preparing to move, questions that other people asked me, and questions that I wish I would have asked:
- Why do I want to move? Take time (like, a couple months) to ask God to search your heart and test your motives (Psalm 139:23). It’s often true that “love is blind,” but the Lord gives clarity when we renew our minds in His Word. The Holy Spirit can make even the seemingly stuffy Old Testament come alive with truth.
- Are the people who know us and love the Lord supporting this decision? This underscores the importance of having godly friends and mentors. Seek counsel from people who possess the qualities of a good mentor, know how to make wise decisions, and know you well.
- Do we have a timeline for marriage? Moving is a significant step of commitment. You don’t want to make that step if you’re not already on the path to marriage. Generally, I would recommend waiting to move until you’re engaged or married.
- What are legitimate reasons to stay? With any decision, it’s helpful to weigh the pros and cons of both sides. You’ll also want to consider the consequences of breaking commitments you’ve made to an employer, ministry, school, or someone else.
- Am I confident in my identity in Christ? Moving will test your trust and sense of worth in Christ in so many ways. Make an honest assessment of yourself and your insecurities and turn to the Lord to fill your soul’s deepest needs.
- Are we struggling to overcome sin? If you’re struggling with a pattern of corrosive arguments, obsessive jealousy or sexual impurity, the battle will only increase when you move. God longs to forgive, heal and restore both of you through Jesus Christ. However, if you don’t address these issues before you move, you’ll have a lot to unpack after your arrival.
- Where will I live? If you don’t want to rent an apartment by yourself, you’ll need to find roommates if you’re not getting married right away. Some will assume that moving near your boyfriend means you’re moving in with him. It’s certainly easier to do that, but the temptation will cost you. You will be a powerful counter-cultural example if the two of you choose to protect each others’ purity in this way.
- Who’s taking the lead? God’s design for husbands to sacrificially love their wives and for wives to respectfully submit to their husbands is a glorious reflection of the gospel of Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33). As you begin to take steps toward marriage, it makes sense that you would want your relationship to reflect this truth more and more.
- What is the financial impact? Moving is a sacrifice. It will cost you in some way or other. And while selfless sacrifice is Biblical and beautiful, the Bible also warns that debt is enslaving (Proverbs 22:7). If you’re in college and thinking about transferring, look closely at the cost before making your decision.
- What support structures will be available? Will you be able to make friends who aren’t directly connected to your boyfriend? Will you make it a priority to get involved with a local church, not just as a couple but as an individual? Create a plan to intentionally seek new friends who can support you.
- What happens if you break up? The essence of all these questions comes down to this: Will God be enough for you if you break up? If you treasure Christ above all else and trust Him to sustain you when everything falls apart, you can survive a breakup. Like the Psalmist Asaph, you will be able to humbly say to God, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)
No Matter What, Grace Abounds
As someone who transferred colleges to be closer to my now-husband, I can tell you that you will probably never be 100% certain whether or not you should move. I can also tell you moving was one of the hardest and best decisions of my life.
But if you move and realize it was the wrong choice, my hope is that you would be able to say you looked before you leaped. God’s grace abounds for you in that situation, but that fact doesn’t mean you should skip the process of seeking the Lord’s guidance. Seek first His kingdom and His glory, and you will not be disappointed.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Further reading: Should I Move, Should I Stay? (Genesis 46:1-30) by Steven J. Cole