The journey to love looks different for everyone. In fact, people find love and companionship across vast distances. So, maybe you’ve been wondering, “Do long-distance relationships work?”
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of navigating romance across miles and time zones. Whether you’re currently in a long-distance relationship, contemplating one, or simply curious about the upsides and downsides, we’ve got you covered.
What Is Considered a Long-Distance Relationship (LDR)?
Generally speaking, if you can’t see each other a couple of days per week, that’s considered a long-distance relationship. One hour by car is most likely feasible every day (heck, that’s even some people’s commutes!), but two hours might be pushing it.
Think about it like this: Would you be able to travel to and from your partner’s home in one day? If not, you’re most likely navigating a geographically distant relationship.
Let’s start out on a positive note with the upsides of having a relationship that’s long distance.
You Learn Effective Communication
Your entire long-distance relationship is built on communication because that’s almost all that you can do. You have to learn how to communicate with your partner because you have a finite amount of time for conversation.
Another reason that you have to jump on the communication train quickly? You can’t rely on body language. Often, you’re only hearing each other’s voices or seeing each other from the shoulders up on video. Both people learn effective communication from the get-go to make the relationship survive and thrive.
You Develop Trust
For any healthy relationship, trust is crucial—and even more so for a long-distance relationship. Because you’re not with each other every single day, many long-distance couples have to develop a keen sense of trust that they’re partner is fulfilling promises or previously set expectations.
You Learn Endurance
Dealing with long-distance challenges can make you stronger as a couple. Many couples don’t deal with significant relationship difficulties until later on in their partnership, while long-distance couples deal with all the challenges that a geographic separation can bring. If you know that you can successfully jump these dating fatigue hurdles, like communication, trust, scheduling conflicts, and so on, chances are that you can handle future challenges together.
Another part of relationship endurance that long-distance couples develop is being able to handle future separations (due to travel, a temporary job, and so on) more easily. If you can get the hang of a relationship that’s miles apart, you’ll be able to handle a couple days or weeks without each other.
There’s a lot of Independence
A benefit that many long-distancers (yes, we just made up that term) tout is their independence. Both people can keep their preferred schedules without having to fit around their partner’s plans. You get more alone time, which some people need to recharge and reset, and you have more time to focus on your goals, whether that’s mastering a hobby, growing your career, or tending to family needs.
While missing your partner is definitely a challenge of long-distance relationships, learning independence can give each person confidence in themselves.
You Have a Strong Emotional Connection
Long-distance relationships naturally don’t involve as much physical intimacy. These couples must rely mostly on conversation, which can lead to revealing each other’s innermost thoughts, fears, feelings, joys, and so on. While your physical needs might not be met on a daily basis, your emotional bond with your partner might blossom.
Time with Each Other is Sacred
They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case, it’s true. Because long-distance couples spend so much time apart, that makes the time they do have together extra special. Every moment feels sweet because you know that it will end eventually—whether that’s in a couple of hours or days.
One of our long-distance relationship tips is to try not to plan too many things when you do see each other. Couples might feel inclined to pack in as much as possible for their time together, but make sure to schedule time for just being. That could look like a slow morning while you drink coffee and make breakfast, a day spent talking and reading in a park, or just cuddling and feeling the warmth of your partner’s long-missed embrace.
Unfortunately, we can’t have a pros and cons list without the cons. After all, it’s helpful to understand the long-distance relationship challenges so that you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
Communication Can Be Difficult
Communication is hard enough with couples who live in the same city and even more so when you’re miles apart. We’ve included communication under both pros and cons for long-distance relationships because, well, it’s challenging!
When you’re long distance, you have to deal with different work and social schedules and possibly even different time zones. You can often feel like two ships passing in the night. This makes communicating particularly difficult, and the less contact you have, the harder it will be to emotionally connect.
Tip: Set expectations for how often you want (and are able) to talk to each other over the phone or on FaceTime. Is that once a day or once a week? Set a day and time that you’re both free to ensure that you’re not missing each other.
You Might Feel Lonely
This is probably the most obvious of all the long-distance cons. With two people living separately, it’s only natural that feelings of loneliness might creep in.
One of the best long-distance relationship tips is to keep yourself busy when you’re not together. Schedule after-work exercise classes or happy hours, socialize on the weekends, get a pet, or start a new hobby. Make sure that you’re living life to its fullest even though your partner isn’t there to share it with you daily.
The Lack of Physical Intimacy Can Take a Toll
Physical intimacy is important in every relationship. Without it, it may feel like your needs aren’t being met, which can cause tension and even resentment.
It’s not always possible to avoid these feelings, but there are some practical tips to help keep them at bay:
- Buy a “partner pillow” that you can cuddle when you’re missing your person.
- Communicate often! Make sure that you and your partner are talking to each other on a frequent basis to fulfill emotional intimacy needs.
- Send flirty texts to each other throughout the week to keep the romance alive.
- Always have a visit planned.
Planning for the Future Isn’t Easy
Long-distance relationships are usually temporary. But that means that one person will most likely have to uproot their life for the other eventually when you’re both ready to settle down. Planning for the future can be difficult given the amount of compromise and sacrifice that’s needed.
You Might Have Insecurity
If your relationship is new, it might be difficult to trust the other person completely. You might develop feelings of insecurity if they don’t answer your call or text right away or seem distant when you do connect on the phone or on video. You might also wonder if they’re serious enough about you to try to make this relationship work.
It’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of thoughts and questions in your mind. But an easy way to get answers is by—you guessed it—communicating.
Ask your partner if they prefer casual dating vs. a serious relationship. Aligning on this from the beginning will help you understand if this is a partnership worth pursuing. It’s also important to take a pulse on how you’re both doing each day or each week. Maybe your partner is dealing with car or house issues and has a lot on their plate. Perhaps you have family or friends visiting and are too busy to talk. Before jumping to conclusions when there’s a missed phone call, take steps toward understanding what you and your partner are going through each week.
Do Long-Distance Relationships Work?
Yes, long-distance relationships work if you’re both willing to put in the effort to communicate, trust each other, stay emotionally connected, and schedule in-person visits.
Relationships take work, no matter how near or far you are. Make sure that you’re on the path to relationship success with these tips from Tawkify.