You hear a lot of discussions about people having long-distance relationships. There are articles and books and all kinds of advice floating around devoted to lovers separated by great distances.

What no one seems to address is when the problem is short-distance relationships. What do you do when you’re dating someone you really like, but there is just no ‘buffer zone’. Maybe he lives right next door, or maybe he works in the same office—on the same team even?

The Problem With Too Close For Comfort

While short-distance relationships may seem like a dream to some people, they’re far from ideal. In the very beginning it’s nice to see the person you’re dating every day, but you don’t get a break from it. Even if you wouldn’t want to go on a date that day—say you had an allergy attack, your nose is red, your eyes are puffy—chances are, you’re going to have to run into him. This can actually be very frustrating if you’re at the stage in which you don’t feel comfortable being seen without make up or when you’re too out of it to fuss with your hair.

What no one seems to address is when the problem is short-distance relationships. What do you do when you’re dating someone you really like, but there is just no ‘buffer zone’.

As the relationship progresses, sometimes being so near to each other can make it feel unnaturally rushed. You’re just dating for two months, but already you feel like an old married couple who has been living together. Before you know it, sharing meals or sitting around together doesn’t feel like a privilege, they feel like an obligation. At least when you have a respectable distance from each other every day, you can look forward to those stolen week nights, or the big weekend dates. When you’re always on top of each other, the only thing to really look forward to is more of the same tomorrow… and the day after that… and the day after that.

You get no privacy when you live or work too close— you don’t necessarily want to drag a new love interest into all the drama of your life right off the bat, but he’s always there, so in he gets dragged. Your friends and family comes by, he meets them before you’re ready for big introductions.

The only thing to dread more than short-distance relationships is how they might look after breaking up—you cringe and hope it never comes to that. But that’s not exactly the best reason to hope a relationship works out.

Some Things You Can Try

You can take some initiative to try and curb the problem. You should both talk about the situation first, and talk about trying to avoid each other sometimes. Yes, deliberately avoid each other. If you live right next door, agree not to knock on each other’s door certain nights. If you work together, agree to go to your respective cubicles and go on with your business, or not to go out to lunch or dinner together every day just because you’re both there.

Say, “Will you excuse me for a while?” That’s right—when you don’t feel like talking, or introducing him to your dad who just came by, or when you don’t want him to hear you unload your friend drama on the phone, excuse yourself and step away.

Don’t rush into things. Take it deliberately slow—even more slowly than if you were miles apart. Let him go out with his friends, and you go out with your friends. Don’t invite each other everywhere or tag along just because you’re there when plans come up.

Try to at least create the illusion of distance and space so you have a break from each other and a chance to miss each other.