The Pros And Cons Of Being In A Long-Distance Relationship
By: Kelly Spears
Updated November 06, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Long-distance relationships can be difficult, but they can also be rewarding. Whether you met your partner online or you're weighing the pros and cons of staying together after an indefinite separation, there is much to consider.
In this article, we'll examine the statistics of long-distance love and its advantages and disadvantages. We'll also share tried-and-true tips for keeping the flame burning across the miles, as well as a few helpful resources for long-distance duos determined to make their love last.
According to the New York Post, approximately 60% of long-distance relationships work over the long term. In fact, more than half of individuals in long-distance partnerships believe absence really does make the heart grow fonder, according to a 2018 study. This means that you've got statistics on your side.
Maintaining any relationship takes effort, dedication, and understanding. And while it may seem like the distance between you could amplify problems, some studies suggest that long-distance relationships are the strongest relationships of all.
Unfortunately, heartache is unavoidable when you love someone from far away. By weighing the pros and cons, you and your partner can determine whether to make your relationship a priority, or consider other options.
The Pros of Being in a Long-Distance Relationship
People enter long-distant relationships for many reasons. Existing couples may enroll at colleges on different coasts, or land their dream jobs in different cities. Thanks to advances in technology, there are countless websites and apps to meet potential partners from all around the globe. Many pairs begin their relationships online despite being hundreds or even thousands of miles apart. Both new and long-time couples can benefit from long-distance love in the following ways:
Your Connection Isn't Purely Physical
If you've ever dated someone primarily due to a mutual physical attraction, you know this type of relationship can fizzle out quickly. Since long-distance couples can't rely solely on physical chemistry, they must learn effective communication skills, and work on building their emotional connection.
Long-Distance Relationships Build Trust
Trust is a key component in any relationship. If you and your partner are committed to making your relationship work despite the distance, discussing your expectations and concerns in the beginning can lessen the chance of unnecessary heartache. Since the vast majority of long-distance duos can't be in touch 24/7, individuals in long-term relationships learn to respect their partner's time while enjoying their own solo time, too. They also tend to get into a rhythm by checking in with each other at various times throughout the day, which can help build trust and instill a sense of comfort.
There is typically an adjustment period when couples go from seeing each other regularly to entering a long-distance relationship. Be patient with yourself and your partner during this transition.
Long-Distance Love Strengthens Your Bond
Because building and maintaining an emotional connection is essential for long-distance love, couples who make their relationships work from a distance typically have strong bonds. They may communicate in a multitude of ways, from phone calls, emails, and texts, to FaceTime dates and letters tucked inside thoughtful care packages. By mixing up communication, the relationship remains fresh, and the bond continues to strengthen.
It Helps Determine Whether Your Relationship Can Survive Stress and Distance
Most long-distance couples look forward to being together one day. Distance is a stressor for even the strongest of couples, so if you and your partner handle the separation well, your relationship will likely withstand stressful situations.
You'll Truly Appreciate Your Time Together
Anticipation builds as long-distance couples look forward to their next meeting. These pairs tend to truly appreciate the time they spend together, and the holidays and events they experience side-by-side become that much more special.
The Cons of Being in a Long-Distance Relationship
While ups and downs are expected in any relationship, distance can intensify negative emotions. It's difficult to kiss and make up when you and your partner are hundreds or thousands of miles apart. A long-distance relationship can negatively affect a couple in the following ways:
If you and/or your partner have trouble communicating, now is a great time to sharpen your communication skills. There are many excellent resources available, including the award winning book, 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work-Anywhere!Consider reading this book with your partner and checking in regularly to discuss—and practice—each skill. Keep in mind that text messages and emails can be difficult to interpret whether you're in a new relationship or have been with your partner for years. In many cases, long-distance couples agree to discuss important topics via phone or video chat rather than text or email.
When you're in love with someone who is in another city, state, or country, feeling lonely is unavoidable. Surrounding yourself with loving, supportive family members and friends can lessen loneliness. It's also important to be open with your partner when you're feeling blue. To beat loneliness, some couples chat on the phone while watching their favorite TV shows or movies. Others surprise each other with occasional gifts to brighten their partner's day. Making plans for the next time you’re together is also an excellent way to beat those long-distance relationship blues.
Lack of Physical Intimacy
If you value physical intimacy, trying to love someone from a distance can take a toll on your mental health and overall wellbeing. Lack of a physical connection can also wreak havoc on a relationship, especially if you and/or your partner express yourselves through physical touch.
In his bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman highlights the five different ways people experience love. Along with words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time, Chapman explains that some individuals prefer to communicate through physical touch. Those with this love language feel most connected to their partners when they are holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc.
Potential for Jealousy and/or Lies
As mentioned previously, trust is a must when it comes to long-distance love. If one or more partner lacks trust, the relationship is bound to end on a sour note. A stable long-distance romance requires making honesty a priority. One or both partners must work through any deep-seated trust issues to make the relationship work long term.
Life is unpredictable, and some long-distance couples eventually drift apart. It can be difficult to maintain a relationship across the miles when the responsibilities of everyday life get in the way. Along with prioritizing your relationship, it's important to allow for flexibility. If you have a standing phone date with your sweetheart every Tuesday night at 10, but you're invited to a movie with friends, coordinate another time to connect with your partner. Maintaining a social life is important, both for you and your long-distance love.
Use Caution When Meeting People Online
Many long-distance relationships begin online. Whether you meet a potential partner on a dating app or website, always use caution and don't ignore any red flags. Once you feel comfortable communicating with the other person, suggest a video chat. Don't rush the relationship; if the time feels right, meet the individual in person, if possible, and always choose a public meeting place. In some online dating scenarios, people are blindsided when they find out the person they've been communicating with for weeks, months, or even years, turns out to be someone completely different from the persona he or she has portrayed online. Never ignore a gut instinct. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
Helpful Resources for Long-Distance Couples
Keeping any romantic relationship going strong can be difficult. Add distance to the equation, and there's no getting around it—you simply have to commit to doing whatever it takes to make your relationship work. The components of a strong, successful, happy relationship are slightly different for every couple, so finding what works for you and your partner is the key to long-term success. The following resources will help you and your long-distance love build a stronger connection:
With advice articles, quotes, gifts, and activities to help you and your partner feel more connected, this website is chock-full of information and creative ideas for long-distance couples.
- 201 Relationship Questions by Barrie Davenport
Whether you're in a new relationship or you've been with your long-distance partner for years, this book will strengthen your bond. The questions are thought-provoking and will help you get to know your partner on a deeper level.
Described as "the bible for long-distance relationships," this popular book offers practical tips for long-distance couples. While it's intended for women, the tried-and-true tips and tricks will work for virtually any couple.
How Online Therapy Can Help
Individuals and couples in long-distance relationships can benefit from professional advice. Online therapy has been proven effective in dealing with complicated relationship issues. One study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy examined the benefits of online therapy for couples experiencing a strained relationship. The study notes that the majority of couples avoid seeking out therapy due to various concerns, including perceived stigma, logistical issues, and cost. The study notes that online therapy platforms are an effective way of dealing with those concerns, providing increased accessibility and flexibility, at a lower cost than traditional counseling.
When you are unable to meet face-to-face to discuss your relationship, BetterHelp offers convenient, confidential, affordable online counseling. They'll match you with a licensed therapist who will help you communicate effectively, and teach you the necessary skills to build a healthy, lasting relationship. And because BetterHelp allows you to avoid commuting to an office, you can spend more time working on your connection with your partner, and less time sitting in traffic. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Mark has been extremely attentive to everything that I disclose. He's not only provided me support but insight and encouragement to let me know I'm on a good path to self improvement and discovery. Furthermore, Mark has provided me valuable insight on my romantic relationship, specifically with learning more about the relationship dynamics and how to build a stronger, healthier relationship."
"Cathy has been wonderful for me and my husband. We were in a bad place and she saved our marriage. Luckily, my husband connected with her and was able to take her advice. She also was a huge support for me, not sure how I could have gotten through those rough times without her."
Long-distance relationships can cause great challenges, but they also provide opportunities to build a thriving, long-lasting romance. By combining the information and resources provided in this article with online therapy, you can weigh the pros and cons of your long-distance relationship, and make decisions based on your needs, both as individuals and as a couple. A lasting, fulfilling relationship is possible—all you need are the right tools, and an open mind.
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