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?
The long-distance relationships statistics show that more than 58% long-distance relationships work. And respondents in the survey said that a long-distance relationship can be as fulfilling as a geographically close relationship. The survey shows that 50% people started their relationship online and 75% college students have been in long-distance relationships.
Surviving a long-distance relationship for a long time can be agonising but thanks to video chats, a proper planning to meet at intervals and long distance-relationship activities that you can plan over time, people are successfully making 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. Here is what she had to say.
Related Reading:18 Long Distance Relationship Problems You Should Know
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. But I would say I am old-school new-age relationships are redefining the long-distance relationship concept and are sailing through it.
Related Reading: 12 Ways To Build Intellectual Intimacy In A Relationship
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.
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 Khan says maintaining a long-distance relationship with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife is not an easy job. Our expert tells you the issues that often crop up.
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% 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 occasionally 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.
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.
Cheating in a long-distance relationship is not that difficult. It takes a very evolved level of maturity, immense understanding between couples and a solid foundation for such relationships to work. Otherwise a long-distance relationship always runs the risk of an affair happening. Emotional affairs are rampant in long-distance relationships.
4. Sex life takes a severe beating
If your relationship takes off online then there are some online relationship advice you must follow. One of which is keeping your sex life intact. Sometimes masturbation helps in a long-distance relationship but most often what happens is with time the physical intimacy wanes.
As time passes by the longing and desire becomes less. Also if you start dating online and do not meet for months then you may not even know if you are sexually compatible.
Sexual intimacy can become an issue in a long-distance relationship and people often drift apart because they start feeling the lack of intimacy in the relationship.
Related Reading: 18 Things To Know Before Starting A Long-Distance Relationship
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. Some people make all the effort to pump in romance in a long-distance relationship and ensure that they are happy despite the distance.
It also depends on the maturity of the couple. A long-distance relationship works only when it has a strong foundation to support it. But I have also seen that couples survive long-distance relationships for years, bring up children in the process, look after ailing parents and carry out all their responsibilities.
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:
- Talk regularly over video chats
- Have a schedule when you would call, text, Facetime each other. Maybe when you wake up and have breakfast, or maybe at the lunch break at work you can connect to each other
- Your partner might be busy at work, but stay connected on text. However, do not expect them to reply immediately
- Keep each other posted about who you are hanging out with, or about your evening plans. But you don’t have to text them when you leave for the grocery store
- Communication is the key to staying emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship
- Share your day, your happiness, your disappointments, despite the distance. So that when you meet you will feel you have never been away from each other
- Try to meet once a month at least for some action between the sheets. To be emotionally intimate you have to be physically intimate too
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 wanted 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.
If you do not make the effort to keep the communication going you tend to grow apart in a long-distance relationship. That’s when the distance starts affecting a relationship.
Statistics show that almost 60% long-distance relationships work and 40% do not work.
In order to ensure a long-distance relationship does not fizzle out you need to keep the communication regular through calls, texts and video chats. You need to work on emotional intimacy by sharing details about your life and keeping the communication routine and scheduled.
Just share your day, have a sense of humour, talk about the boss who stole your idea at the meeting or the new recipe you tried at home. About the neighbour who has become a friend or about what you intend to do in bed the next time you meet.
If a partner starts cheating or dumps you in a long-distance relationship then there is no possibility of two people getting back together. A breakup over a long distance kills a relationship forever.
The hardest thing in a long-distance relationship is when you are going through a tough time you miss the support of your partner. When you are unwell or struggling with issues like finances or job stress you want your partner beside you. That’s when a long-distance relationship becomes the hardest.