“In true love the smallest distance is too great and the greatest distance can be bridged.” — Hans Nouwens
Though it cannot be seen or touched, love is arguably the strongest force involved in maintaining human relationships. It travels across time and space, from one heart to the next, creating memory and positive associations between people, places and things. If you’ve ever been in love with someone thousands of miles away, you will have experienced firsthand the power of love, which can overcome distance and turn hours into mere seconds.
While it is not often the ideal situation to be romantically involved with someone in another part of the world, long distance relationships can sometimes be the necessary means to a happy ending. Not all long-distance relationships are built to last, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope at all. By examining the pros and cons of this type of romance, you’ll be better able to decide if this is the right kind of relationship for you.
Pros of long-distance relationships
May be the only way to continue the relationship
For budding couples like those on the TLC show 90 Day Fiancé, a long-distance relationship may be the only way to explore the possibility of a romance. With the advent of technology, our globe has become smaller and smaller, giving users access to parts of the world they would never have seen before, and all from the comfort of their computer screen or cellphone. From the online chat rooms of the 90s to dating apps and social media, the love of your life could be a few clicks and a thousand miles away. In fact, about a third of new relationships between 2015 and 2019 began online. If you find yourself falling for someone on the other side of the screen, taking your time to date long-distance before moving to the other side of the world is a good way to build trust and get to know one another.
You get to develop strong emotional intimacy
The greater sexual freedoms experienced by more modern generations have dramatically changed the dating game. Our fast-paced modern lifestyle allows us to hook up with as many people and as often as we like. From one-night stands to third date sex rules, dating has changed as the world has progressed, and would-be couples often find themselves hopping into bed before they really know one another. If you’re looking to develop the emotional bonds before establishing physical ones, a great benefit of long-distance relationships is that you get to build emotional intimacy. The lack of physical closeness will force you to find other ways to connect as a couple, which can make your relationship even stronger in the long run. The amount of talking needed to maintain a relationship without sex will also build your communication skills, and force you to share more about yourself than just what you had for dinner last night. Watching the same film at the same time, or video calling while you run errands, will help you feel as if you are doing activities together, creating that sense of closeness that ties two people together for the long haul.
You’ll have more time for yourself
Relationships aren’t easy, and require a lot of time and energy to grow and maintain. And as an entire person, you require a lot of time and energy to maintain as well. If you find you’ve been longing for some more time to devote to yourself, maybe a long-distance relationship is what you need before you decide to call it quits. Some distance between you and your partner could give you the space you need to focus on yourself and figure out what it is you really want, without letting go of the relationship.
With more time to spend on your own, you can introspect on a much deeper level and figure out your individual goals and future plans outside of the relationship. Finding the best version of yourself will make for a happier, healthier union in the long run. You’ll also have more time to devote to learning new skills and developing your hobbies, or to finally get that business idea off the ground. You can spend this time finding what truly makes you happy, outside of the relationship.
You can explore your options
If the glitter of a new romance has begun to fade, or you enjoy someone’s company but don’t want to be tied down just yet, a long-distance relationship could give you the space you need to explore your options. Spending time with your partner on a regular basis might hold you back from truly discovering if there isn’t someone else out there for you. If there’s some distance between you two, you can be sure to devote as much time as you need to figuring whether or not they are the one you want to be with. And you won’t have to worry about bumping into them while one a date someone else, like this guy.
Technology males it easier to stay in touch
Technology has made it much easier to keep in touch, and long-distance dating need not be how it was just a few decades ago. Before emails and social media, it could take weeks or even months to exchange letters with your sweetheart. One letter took 138 years to travel a mere six miles in France. These days, you can talk face to face, in real time, using apps like FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp to send instant messages and video call. With technology, you can reinforce the strength of your relationship by spending as much time together as your mobile data package allows.
Time becomes more meaningful
Everyone gets annoyed with their partner once in a while, it’s human nature. Couples who spend a lot of time together can often rub each other the wrong way, while those who see each other less frequently tend to look more forward to the time they do have to spend together. The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever, and seeing each other less often can put the spark back into a flickering candle. If your relationship has started out long-distance, you’ll find that the honeymoon phase lasts longer than if you were seeing each other every day, which can increase the chances of your relationship going the distance. Seeing each other on those rare occasions will be a more meaningful experience, creating strong positive associations of your partner in your head.
You have something to look forward to
While it may not be easy keeping a relationship going from different cities, the time between each physical visit with your partner does give you something to look forward to. You get to talk about what you’ll do when you see each other and make fun plans for the future, and it makes the whole idea of spending time together more exciting. If your other half lives in a city or country you’re not familiar with, these visits will give you the chance to explore different foods, cultures and languages. You can plan your vacations so that you spend time in a different town or city each visit, or meet halfway in a country neither of you has been to before.
Something else to look forward to is the end of this phase of the relationship. If you set a date for when you would like to finally be living in the same place, it will give you both something to work towards.
Cons of long-distance relationships
Can be costly and time consuming
Whether it’s a three-hour drive once a week or a flight out of town every few months, long-distance relationships can be costly. Even keeping in touch using technology requires a laptop or smartphone, and consistent data or WiFi access. If you aren’t very financially stable and worry that you won’t be able to afford the required financial input, this kind of relationship may not be for you.
No time to sort out issues
Couples that spend physical time together may fight once in a while, but they also get the chance to sit down and hash it out regularly in person. Because you won’t be seeing your partner very often, you could find serious issues getting swept under the rug in favor of keeping the peace and moving on. Maybe you prefer to speak face to face and aren’t comfortable talking about sensitive issues over the phone, or you need physical closeness to truly open up. Whatever the case may be, if you have a fight this afternoon and are only seeing each other in a month’s time, chances are you won’t want to talk about the fight when you finally have the opportunity to be together. Bringing up sensitive topics that could lead to arguments won’t seem like a worthwhile way to spend what precious little time you have, but not bringing up issues could lead to important conversations being put off, which can weaken the relationship over time.
Can be emotionally taxing
Like a marathon, long-distance love requires a sustained effort over an extended period of time, and not everyone is cut out for that. If you’re the kind of person who often forgets to call your partner when you said you would, or who finds themselves postponing or changing plans according to how they feel on that day, you’re probably not suited to this type of relationship. It can only work if both partners are on the same page, and most long-distance romances fail because one or both partners don’t put in the necessary effort.
These relationships can also be emotionally taxing, requiring a large amount of trust and vulnerability to be successful. Since you can’t see what your partner is doing, you need to be comfortable with taking them at their word when they say they’re at home, in bed, alone on a Friday night, or when they tell you that the person popping up more and more on their social media feed is ‘just a friend’. Lack of trust can lead to feelings of jealousy, which if left unattended can grow and destroy the relationship.
You also need a strong sense of self to be able to fight off the feelings of loneliness that will inevitably come from missing your partner. Going out to eat or watch movies alone, or being the only one without a partner at your friends’ weekly game night, things like these can take their toll after a while and you need to be emotionally mature enough to deal with these feelings in a healthy way.
Lack of physical intimacy may lead to cheating
Most long-distance relationships fail within the first four to six months if they aren’t going to go the distance, with 40% of all long-distance romances ending in tears. One of the biggest reasons relationships fail is because of cheating, to which long-distance romances are especially vulnerable. The lack of physical intimacy often drives one or both partners into the arms of someone much more available, who fills the pressing need for sexual gratification. Once this has happened, it can be very hard to rebuild trust, more so when you can’t verify whether what your partner tells you is the truth or not.
May find your lives moving in different directions
Couples who spend too much time apart can find their lives growing in different directions. If you’re still in college and your partner has just entered the workforce, it can become quite easy to lose touch and find you have different priorities. The lessening amount of time you have to devote to each other can change things for the worse; if one of you has to move cities for a new job and needs to work extra hours to establish themselves, the other could start to feel neglected. As people, we are influenced by our environment, and it’s hard to grow together from opposite sides of a weekly video call.