We live in a world that’s becoming increasingly connected – and hence, smaller – all thanks to technology. With gadgets, social media and dating apps making geographies irrelevant, the possibility of people starting or continuing relationships from miles apart is higher than ever before. But do long-distance relationships work?
We spoke with Gopa Khan, a Mumbai-based mental health therapist, to ascertain whether long-distance relationships can be viable in the long run and how can couples maintain an emotional connection when they’re physically apart.
Do Long-Distance Relationships Work?
We asked Gopa, ‘Do long-distance relationships work?’ Here is what she said:
Long-distance relationships are a big no for me. Any relationship needs a stable foundation. A base that is strong enough to make it last in the face of the different challenges that life throws at us.
I had a client who after eight years of a long-distance relationship had the guy finally tell her, “No, I don’t want to get married.” They were together for eight long years but the relationship ultimately did not culminate in marriage.
Related Reading: 12 Ways To Build Intellectual Intimacy In A Relationship
An online, long-distance relationship is never strong enough. You live thousands of miles away from each other and have only met in person a few times. Do long-distance couples talk every day? Yes, they may talk over the phone or even on video calls. However, you would not really know if you are compatible or not, unless you spend a considerable amount of time together.
However, there are exceptions to this too. For instance, if you are married, have kids and the husband stays abroad for work-related purposes and comes home once a year. Or say, in the case of people in the army, where serving personnel have to spend months away from their families.
These are also long-distance relationships but with a stable foundation. The distance puts a strain on the bond between the couple even in these cases. However, the one big plus here is that these people are married, ultimately they come home to their spouses.
Related Reading: Twin Flame Connection – Definition, Signs and Stages
Why Long-Distance Relationships Don’t Work?
So, what are some of the biggest long-distance relationship problems? Why long-distance relationships don’t work? Gopa weighs in:
1. Hard to be on the same page in a long-distance relationship
When you are committed in a long-distance relationship and not married, you live in different cities and have wildly different lifestyles from each other – the problem that arises is that you are always presenting the best side of yourself. Almost as if you are in the honeymoon phase.
When you actually start living with the person, you get an eerie feeling that they’re not the same person they used to be. That’s one of the reasons why 37 per cent of long-distance relationships fizzle out within 3 months of the couple living close to each other, according to a study.
This is bound to happen in a relationship which began or continued for a long time, as a long-distance relationship. When you meet each other occasional everything seems hunky-dory – simply because you present the best version of yourself.
You don’t get to see the true personality of the other person and vice-versa.
2. Insecurity is among the biggest long-distance relationship problems
Insecurity is one of the biggest long-distance relationship problems. This can become even more pronounced if one of the partners is insecure by nature. I had a client who used to go abroad for work-related purposes. Whenever he called his wife, who was staying back at home, he’d ask “Where are you?”…Put the tracking back on your phone….Where did you go?”, “Oh, you’re having fun without me…”
The man’s insecurities led to a lot of problems between the couple. Even when he was in the same city, he exhibited this insecure personality which makes it extremely difficult for either of them to cope up in the relationship at times.
Similarly, domestic and family life is extremely difficult for those in the army, especially when they are posted to border areas. The lack of communication services and connectivity can lead to an emotional distance among such couples. However, army guys often know how to stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship and manage it beautifully.
Related Reading: 100 Questions To Ask Your Boyfriend
3. Risk of extramarital affairs in long-distance relationships
When you examine why long-distance relationships don’t work, the ease of straying emerges as a recurrent theme. Long-distance relationships make it easier for people to get into extramarital affairs. This is because emotional and physical distance can drive people into a place of loneliness, which can eventually take a toll on their relationship.
It takes a very evolved level of maturity, immense understanding between couples and a solid foundation for such relationships to work.
What Is The Success Rate Of Long-Distance Relationships?
Statistically, a large percentage of long-distance relationships do not work out. According to a survey, 42 per cent of these relationships don’t work out in the long run. That’s why I don’t recommend a long-distance relationship unless it is for work-related purposes. Even then, the couple has to be prepared for a slew of challenges that will crop up in making the relationship work.
I know of a particular case where a woman went all the way to Australia to meet her long-distance lover and found out that he was a taxi driver! A fact that he had concealed from her.
In another case, I know of the wife being so attached to her parents that after her marriage, she went and stayed home with her mother and father for a year-and-a-half! She even had a kid with her husband. Their relationship suffered in this case because a relationship depends on the mutual interaction, the emotional and physical connection.
Now, I’m not generalizing and saying that all long-distance relationships are doomed to fail. It simply depends on how much effort you are willing to put in for this relationship. It also depends on the maturity of the couple. A long-distance relationship works only when it has a strong foundation to support it.
Related Reading: 15 Characteristics Of A Healthy Relationship
How to stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship?
If you are in a long-distance relationship, you must have wondered how to keep your partner happy? How to stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship? On this, Gopa says:
A long time ago, I met this professor couple who lived in different cities altogether. One of them was in Mumbai, the other was in southern India. They both had stable government jobs, so neither of them want to quit and move. Their holiday schedules, however, almost overlapped.
They made their marriage work simple by being together during holidays – the summer holidays, the Diwali break and so on. They would visit each other, and that is what kept the relationship going.
The wife brought up the kids with her in Mumbai, and it was a successful marriage. They stayed apart for a major part of their relationship and subsequent marriage. After her retirement, the wife moved to live with her husband.