A Case for Long Distance Relationships

longdistanceDating is hard -there is no doubt about that. From the first broken heart until the moment “I do” is said, waiting to meet your future spouse can be a painful ordeal. It’s frustrating enough looking in your zip code, but dating can be infinitely more difficult when the person you love lives farther than a town or two away.

Every love story is different. Some people meet their intended over coffee and donuts after Sunday Mass or while browsing through albums at the record store. Others meet their mate when they join a running or book club. Whether it’s been scrolling through online profiles, waiting by the water cooler at work, or chatting up singles at the local bar, the majority of people would probably agree that building romantic relationships is much easier to do when your intended lives nearby, and not a few hundred miles.

Today, however, technology makes it possible for romance to endure the dreaded long distance relationship, or “LDR” as I will refer to it as from here on. What happens when your boyfriend must pursue an advanced degree across state, your girlfriend has to accept a job across the country, or your significant other is deployed overseas to serve our country? You may have even met someone on eHarmony who lives 1,000 miles away, and have concerns about pursuing the relationship. While not for everyone, distance is not a death sentence to the single looking for love.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Anyone who has spent significant time away from their significant other knows it to be true. Sometimes we take for granted the daily interactions we have with others, but there are few things better than seeing the person you love after missing them for an extended period of time.
LDRs give those involved events to look forward to, like visits and eventual relocation. When those moments come they are incredibly gratifying, and having something to look forward is a wonderful feeling. Couples who do not see each other as often as others may appreciate the time they spend together more than those who hang out daily.

A Unique Type of Intimacy

A study out of Cornell University revealed evidence that couples who were in LDRs (after dating for 3 months in person) typically had fewer daily interactions, but when they did interface it was often more meaningful and for longer periods of time. Distance forces a couple to get creative in order to build real intimacy -they do not have the luxury of regular dates or movie nights in. On a positive note, having a date on Skype also keeps couples less distracted by Candy Crush and more on the person in front of them.

It seems that couples in LDRs seem to reveal more about themselves, allowing them to get to know more about their partner than is typical of a traditional relationship. They share more intimate details of their lives -ambitions and insecurities, hopes and hurts. This sharing and vulnerability can help to build a solid foundation for a relationship. Vulnerability has to be appropriate of course. The risk of sharing too much is heightened with this type of contact, but if a couple can chastely limit the amount of intimacy they share, they can grow together.

The Purpose Driven Relationship

Couples willing to commit despite distance are likely looking for more than just a hook up. It’s easy to grow tired of connecting with someone on Friday night only to learn that they aren’t looking for a relationship. A willingness to commit to a romance involving distance implies that the couple is ultimately looking for their spouse.

Some of the challenges faced by couples in LDRs offer them the opportunity to continually assess the progress and purpose of their relationship. The focus of the relationship is forced to remain beyond the physical. LDR couples look forward to the plausible future of the relationship. With the goal of the relationship in mind, couples can devote a healthy amount of time to discerning whether or not they are with their future spouse.

Know Thyself

Time away from your love can lead to important introspection. Are you the jealous type? Do you have habits that you don’t want your partner to know about? Having a partner who spends significantly more time with his hometown friends than you can bring negative behaviors and emotions to light. The time between seeing your significant other in person allows for reflection on what you’re feeling, whether it’s reasonable or not, and how to move forward.

Bottom Line

LDRs are not easy. While it’s exciting to look forward to quality time with your better half, it can be expensive to travel. Although distance does make the heart grow fonder, extended time apart may cause doubt and insecurity. It’s also possible to falsely idealize a person you don’t spend a lot of time with, and it can be a painful experience when your image falls from that pedestal. LDRs offer a unique opportunity to grow in one’s personal/spiritual life, but require creativity to grow with your partner. Despite the difficulty, it is possible to have a fulfilling and successful relationship regardless of the distance.

  • matt
    Posted at 21:53h, 15 January

    So true for me. My wife lived 2 hours away when we were dating.