The internet is replete with information on how to make long-distance relationships work or how to approach the complexities of this life. But not enough is written or said about the benefits of having to live away from your partner. That is why most people are unnerved by this prospect and find themselves wondering, “Are long-distance relationships worth it?”
In the age of tandem screening and “Netflix Party”, the distance between two lovers is not as major a challenge as it used to be. Often made easier on the tongue and shortened as LDR, long-distance love has never been seen as easy. But globalization and technological advancement that often force people physically apart have also given us ways to shorten the distance.
Now is the time when it may finally be possible to say that the benefits of LDR outweigh the challenges. How? Let’s figure it out by addressing questions like are long-distance relationships worth it, how to make them work, and what are the red flags to keep an eye out for.
What Is A Long-Distance Relationship
- Case 1: Rory met Seanne, from across the Atlantic, through an online dating app, nine months ago. They have never physically met. They might only be able to meet when they would have saved enough for a return ticket. They have learnt to deal with the uncertainty in their relationship by taking one step at a time
- Case 2: Susan and Phil have been married for 2 years and live in Geneva, NY. Susan works in publishing and had to recently move to the Berlin head office to cover for her boss who was going on a sabbatical
- Case 3: Andy is dating a Marine who is from the same city as him. His name is Scott. His training keeps him away most of the time
- Case 4: George and Judy have lived together for more than 15 years. Judy has recently had to move 400 miles away to look after her ailing father. She left home thinking she would be gone for a few weeks. But it looks like she would have to stay longer
In all of the four cases above, it is clear that the couples are in a long-distance relationship. There are three other things that are clear:
- A relationship can require a couple to live apart from the very beginning, with partners having never met or never having lived close. Or the need for distance may come into an existing relationship at a later stage
- There can be many reasons for a relationship to go long-distance: leaving for college, work obligation, career advancement, lack of funds to relocate, or caregiving obligation
- None of these facts decide the outcome of the relationship
How To Make Long-Distance Relationships Work?
Long-distance relationships may have many obstacles, but there is nothing love can’t overcome. Technology and relationships are closely linked in today’s times. Pew Research reported, “24% of internet users with recent dating experience have used the internet or email to maintain a long-distance romantic relationship.”
It is one of the main reasons that living separately from your partner has become more feasible and a tad more bearable. Being constantly in touch through phone calls, text messages, and video calls has made it easier for people to deal with the uncertainty that living apart from a significant other may bring.
If you wish to, you could see your partner go through their chores, you could share a meal with them, watch a film together synchronously, order hot soup for them when they are sick, or a massage, and even have sexy date nights over video calls where you operate the sex toy in your partner’s hand with an app on your phone. But what truly makes a long-distance relationship work is:
- A lot of patience
- Proper planning and sticking to schedules
- Effective communication skills
- Ample trust
- Love and understanding
- Creative ideas
- Lots of surprises
- Commitment and willingness to make it work
Related Reading: 35 Long-distance Relationship Activities To Bond Over
There is one more thing that makes such a relationship work – an end in sight. In this article, speaking on the importance of physical touch solutions for long-distance relationships, psychotherapist Dr. Aman Bhonsle (Ph.D., PGDTA), who specializes in relationship counseling and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy said, “Usually a lot of LDRs suffer when they have no end in sight. When there is no deadline tied to the distance. A relationship has to be indexed in certain practicality, of being under the same roof eventually.”
But, if it takes so much patience and effort to make them work, are long-distance relationships worth it?
Are Long-Distance Relationships Worth It? 15 Reasons They Are
Do you believe in the adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, many people do. Many people believe that being away from each other for a while strengthens the bond between partners. Distance allows people to view the relationship from a different perspective and allow themselves space to nurture their individuality.
Case in point: the marriage sabbatical. A concept that resurfaces in media and discussion boards every few years, and points toward the need for partners to take time away from the monotony of long-term “togetherness” and pursue personal development. An opportunity for some long-distance loving may be a blessing in disguise for the same reasons. Here are 15 other unique benefits of pursuing a relationship across cities, countries, continents, or time zones.
1. Intimate conversations become frequent
When you live away from your partner, you spend a lot of your time with each other on phone calls or video chats, maybe even more than in most proximal relationships. In a study of 1,000 Americans who were or had been in a long-term relationship, 69% said they talked to their partner more during their time apart.
You find creative ways to make the most of your time with each other and build emotional intimacy despite the distance. Couples tend to give a lot of importance to connection and sharing when they are not physically together. Zoom Dates, Netflix Parties or Amazon Watch Party, texting, and sexting are taken seriously. They make commitments and keep them. Additionally, many people find opening their hearts out over text or call much easier than face-to-face.
2. There is greater commitment to the relationship
This is one of the major advantages of living separately from your partner. There just has to be a great level of commitment to the relationship for an LDR to work. You have to be honest and committed to not just your partner, but also to yourself. Adjusting your everyday schedule according to the convenience of both partners requires a lot of effort and commitment.
You may have to sacrifice your sleep and cancel plans with your friends just to make time to communicate with your partner. But this makes you even more committed to the relationship and makes you realize how even a half-an-hour conversation is worth the sacrifice you’ve made. It also makes your partner realize that you value them and want to be with them.
3. Emotional intimacy is at its prime in a long-distance relationship
Free-flowing communication and greater commitment ensure that emotional intimacy is at an all-time high. This makes partners feel emotionally closer. Subconsciously partners tend to compensate for the lack of physical intimacy by allowing other forms of intimacy to grow between them.
They try to share experiences, even if from a distance. Partners may try to connect intellectually by reading the same books, for example. One of the benefits of LDR that makes it worth your time is how much couples come closer together in trying to replenish the loss that physical distance may cause.
Related Reading: 5 Mistakes Couples Make In A Long-Distance Relationship
4. You get a heightened experience of love
Believe it or not, one of the pluses of living apart is that it tends to enhance your love for your partner. The absence of your partner truly makes the heart grow fonder. Your emotional needs take over your physical needs. You pursue the relationship because you are in love, and that makes it all worthwhile.
You end up thinking of more ways to work on your relationship. You appreciate your partner more, something that often takes a backseat in proximal relationships. You realize all the positive things about your partner that are making your relationship work. This eventually has a positive impact on your relationship.
5. LDR is an exercise in patience and empathy
What is a long-distance relationship all about? Patience! It is both a key and a test when there is distance between you and your partner. Your patience levels will grow by leaps and bounds in this trial. Every time you want to see your partner but can’t, or they miss their date with you due to time zones, or the internet conks off, or you just cannot bear the time spent apart for a day longer is an exercise in patience.
This not only helps you understand your partner better but also helps you grow as an individual. You develop empathy as you are forced to imagine your partner’s circumstances. This emotional maturity equips you in handling all future conflicts in the relationship.
6. It gives you a reality check
In other relationships, sometimes, you ignore seemingly minor issues that could eventually have a serious impact on the equation you share with your partner. In a long-distance relationship, you find the perspective of space and time to analyze the red flags. Trust issues, lack of commitment, intimacy issues – whatever they may be – become apparent. You are able to gauge how strong and healthy your relationship is, understand where your relationship actually stands, and how far you are willing to go to make it work.
7. The little things matter
One of the most beautiful rewards for being away from your partner is that you learn to appreciate the little things they do for you. Even an “I love you” text in the middle of a meeting feels like the most beautiful gesture that makes your day. You celebrate the small, inconsequential moments with each other through phone calls or texts because you want to stay connected all the time. When you meet in person, you value the togetherness all the more.
8. You never get bored
In other relationships, sometimes, people get bored of each other or want some time off as some degree of monotony sets in. However, in an LDR, you never run out of things to do or ways to make each other feel special. You crave time together. That is what makes this arrangement special. Most of the time apart is spent thinking about the different things you can experiment with or do for your partner.
9. The sex only gets better
LDRs take away the monotony from sex as well. Since you do not sleep together every night, you look forward to being intimate with your partner when you meet in person and compensate for it in ingenious ways when apart. Contrary to popular belief, physical intimacy can get better when the distance between partners grows.
Provided, the couple has a constructive, exciting, and experimental approach to filling the gap. Video calls, sexting, massages on order, self-pleasure, and app-controlled sex toys also called long-distance sex toys are amazing tools (probably invented by couples living away from each other) that couples can use to stay satiated and feel connected even during their spells of separation.
10. You start planning like a pro
Planning small surprises – and making use of all the available resources for them to be perfect – is one of the many ways LDR couples can keep their relationships exciting. You have to plan birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, surprise visits, and other special occasions, which might just make you realize how good you’ve become at it. You begin finding creative ideas and new ways to show love.
11. You get to travel
Why are long-distance relationships worth it? Because you get to travel a lot with your significant other in tow. Packing your bags and visiting your partner is your own mini vacation with your partner. Or you get to find and explore a different city, to spend quality time with each other.
You cherish it all the more because you know you have time constraints. In fact, if you live in two different cities or countries and you visit each other, there’s a lot you can explore together. It’s something to look forward to.
12. You make your time together worth it
Does distance make love stronger? It definitely does, since it makes you value your time together. At the same time, it brings out the creative person in you. You want to make the most of your time with each other and think of different ideas and ways to make it more fun and memorable.
People staying together might take each other’s presence for granted, but not the ones who have to live apart. They plan dates, staycations, family meets, and activities together. They try to make every moment together memorable.
13. You devote more time to your career
Sometimes, people end up having to move away to a new city for career growth. This allows them to give their full attention to their work, especially if that’s the reason they are apart in the first place. They become more focused and often spend more time at work, leading to amazing results at the work front.
Add to that the support of your biggest cheerleader in the form of your significant other, who is as happy as you are to see you succeed, even if only from a distance. This sense of achievement can boost your self-esteem, which, in turn, has a great, positive effect on the relationship.
14. You get your cherished ‘me-time’
One of the perks of being pushed physically away from your partner because of your circumstances is that you have time for yourself. Staying away from your partner gives you time for introspection and self-reflection. You also realize that your relationship with yourself is the most important. You get ample opportunity for personal growth as well.
You can pursue hobbies or do the fun and exciting things you always wanted to. Start the thriller you always wanted to write, pamper yourself, go on a solo trip, enroll in a course in photography, binge-watch that guilty pleasure of a TV show that you love, or be more diligent with your garden. The options are endless.
15. You get to know yourself better
You experience new situations, emotions, and feelings. It is a new phase that is both exciting and overwhelming. The relationship seems like an adventure and you, for sure, have a great story to tell. You grow as an individual. You learn what you are capable of. You get to know who you are when alone and how you like to spend time. If you both are married, then you learn to handle the bills, the kids, the house, and the pets on your own.
Related Reading: 12 Signs You Have Found Your Soulmate
When To Call It Quits In A Long-Distance Relationship
Having spoken plenty on the value of distance between two lovers, it is time to lay down some warnings. How this relationship dynamic will work in your case depends on the general emotional health of your bond. It is important to be on the lookout for signs that your relationship is becoming toxic, or even unsustainable.
If it is, you need to either address the issues or let the relationship go. Take a minute to take this short quiz. This should help you notice LDR problems or red flags and help you to make the difficult decision of when to call it quits in a long-distance relationship:
- Do you find it hard to trust your partner? Yes/No
- Do you worry they might find someone else? Yes/No
- Have you two stopped scheduling time together? Yes/No
- Do you go for days without talking to each other? Yes/No
- Have you been feeling more and more distant from your partner? Yes/No
- Have your and your partner’s life goals diverged? Yes/No
- Have you stopped seeing a future with them? Yes/No
- Is there no end in sight? Yes/No
- Is the distance affecting your mental health? Yes/No
- Has the relationship started feeling exhausting? Yes/No
- Do you feel like cheating on your partner? Yes/No
- Are you having a hard time communicating these feelings to your partner? Yes/No
If you answered with a “Yes” to between 1 to 3 of these questions, you must let your partner know about your feelings. It is possible that your partner is not aware of the difficulties you are facing. Now is the time to put your communication skills to good use. If you answered with a “Yes” to between 4-6 of these questions, your relationship crisis is urgent. Deal with it with the urgency it seeks.
If you answered with a “Yes” to 7 or more of these questions, the relationship, especially in its current arrangement, is definitely not working out for you. Seek external intervention in the form of relationship counseling to find out the best way forward for you. Should you need that help, professional counselors from Bonobology’s panel are here to help you.
- Many couples find each other online and start their relationship from a distance. For several others, distance comes into an existing relationship at a later stage due to various reasons
- A healthy long-distance relationship is based on communication, trust, planning, patience, creativity and commitment
- Thanks to technology, the benefits of an LDR outweigh the challenges
- Distance allows people to view the relationship from a different perspective and gives them space to nurture their individuality
- If you witness signs that your long-distance relationship is becoming toxic, you must urgently address those issues
All in all, being geographically apart doesn’t have anything to do with the unconditional love you have for your partner and the emotions you share with them. It can be stressful at times, but if you generally feel a sense of positive override in your relationship, then distance will never be an obstacle.
There is no particular timeline for a long-distance relationship but, on an average, it can last up to 7 years. However, some studies have claimed that an LDR tends to end much before the 7-year time span. Plus, a lot depends on the understanding and compatibility between the couple and how well they are able to deal with their issues.
They have many advantages. They teach you patience, you appreciate each other more, and value the little things your partner does for you. You also learn to value the time you spend together. Boredom doesn’t creep into your sex life. You also learn a lot about yourself.
They can be healthy if you keep the communication going and do not get too possessive, insecure, or clingy in the relationship. You must be wary of trust issues creeping in. While you get to have your own space and a lot of time for yourself, which you can enjoy, both partners must put in the required effort to keep the relationship healthy.
Distance can be great for a relationship. As they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Long-distance loving can positively impact your life and relationship, and bring you closer to your partner. But only if you actively learn how to make long-distance relationships work.