Can Long Distance Relationships Work?

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Several years ago, a friend landed a great job at a Wall Street firm right out of college.  While she was working there, she met another employee who was a good looking, successful guy originally from Australia.

They started dating and seeing each other most every day and night.  After they’d been together for eight months, his Work Visa expired and he needed to go back to Australia.

After he left, they spoke on the phone every day, twice a day.  He flew her out to see him twice for several weeks each visit, and he came back to see her as well.  This went on for about five months, and the last time she flew to Australia he proposed.

Flash forward to today….they’ve been happily married for ten years later and have three absolutely beautiful children.

My question is — Can long distance relationships work?

As I usually acknowledge, every situation is certainly different, and I can only speak in generalizations. However, I think one primary, important, difference is how a long distance relationships begins.

I believe my friends’ situation worked well because they had a chance to get to know each other every day for eight months before he moved away.
If a relationship begins where each person lives far from each other and the primary way they have to get to know each other is over the phone or electronically, I believe this can cause some issues truly getting to know the person, even if you also visit each other.

Why?

Well, one reason is people only let you see a small percentage of who they are when you start dating.
And if the only method of getting to know them is through texting, email or the phone, you’re most likely not going to be able to see all facets of the person you’re involved with.

When you don’t have the opportunity to see who they are on a daily basis, it can be tough to truly know them….seeing someone regularly, most people can only stay on their best behavior for so long.  I mean, it’s exhausting, isn’t it? But I’m pretty sure I could keep up the Facade of Perfection for a pretty damned long time if I was only IM’ing and having a phone conversations.

Even visits or vacations aren’t likely to be a good yardstick of who they really are as a human being.

Why am I saying this and being such a party-pooper?

Mainly because if you only see each other every four months, a few things happen. First, you want to take advantage of the time you have together, so days and nights are booked-up.  You’re going to dinners, spending time with friends so they can meet him/her, having sex (I mean, four months is a long time to wait, so gettin’ it on is going to be pretty important to both of you), and your time is going to be full of super-fun things to do.

And why not?  You see each other so rarely you want to make the most out of your time together.  Of course, keeping so busy with fun stuff can make it more difficult to see who they really are, at least to the extent you need to see it. How do you know you want to move to be closer to this person if you don’t see the inner-workings of who they are?

Additionally, when you finally get to see each other, people are often reluctant to bring up stressful or important topics….since you don’t see each other that much, men and women sometimes feel they don’t want to ‘ruin’ their limited time together by bringing up a subject that may result in a getting pissed-off with each other.

Even if you think you’re seeing who somebody really is through your periodic visits and phone conversations, until you continuously spend a large amount of time with them, there’s almost no guaranteeing what you thought you saw is what you were really getting.

I know some of you probably think I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, which is always entirely possible.

But for God’s sake, if that Dateline guy can pretend to be a 12 year old girl for weeks before pervs find out it’s really a sting operation run by a 44 year old dude with a Camera Crew….if you’re legitimately who you say you are (man/woman, over the age of 16,gainfully employed), keeping up appearances via AT&T and Skype really ‘aint that tough.

Footnote: That being said, I should also note there are also plenty of people who’ve had long distance relationships that work out beautifully. I think if people visit each other quite often, they can get a good look into the person’s character.

Additionally, living close to each other only gives you more opportunities to see who someone is, and doesn’t guarantee you’ll  know a person 100%….there’s certainly enough people who don’t know the person they’re marrying, even after living near them for quite some time.

Comments

16 Responses to “Can Long Distance Relationships Work?”
  1. susans says:

    I’m not sure a long distance relationship can truly work. I’ve never seen it happen, but I guess it could.

  2. JohnF says:

    Part of the issue is people get lonely if they’re only seeing each other and getting laid really infrequently, which increases the chances people will cheat. Especially the more insecure person in the relationship.

  3. JackieK says:

    Yeah, I agree with John — I think if you have an insecure person in a long distance relationship you have a big potential for them to see other people….and you’ll never know! All you’ll have is a bunch of calls that go to voice mail, and you think they’re working.

    But I’m sure long distance CAN work, but only if people move closer to each other relatively quickly. Otherwise, what’s the point.

  4. My husband and I started long distance and dated that way for 3 years, first seeing each other on my off kid weekends. Then he met the kids and came in more and more. He moved here and lived here for about a year or so before we got married. His job is in DC, we live in Houston, and he is gone at least 2 weeks every month and that includes weekends. Some weeks it works and some it doesn’t. But, I was single for a while and like my space and my time with the kids alone and just as equally like my time with him here when we are a family.

  5. AnnQ says:

    Lee – I agree about personal space…I LOVE having time to myself! I think it’s so, so important and lets you stay true to who you really are. I also love how your relationship developed with your husband…a fabulous example that you don’t have to be local for things to work :-)

  6. Secretia says:

    It would take a lot of masturbation on both sides (no pun intended of course) for the couple to be faithful to each other. Loneliness is a huge factor that can kill off the relationship too, the need for companionship is a powerful one.

    So I say, for a limited time it can work, but do not rely on miracles, they are like casino promises and lottery tickets.

    Secretia

  7. I do think long distances can work. But like you said, the key is that the couple has lived in the same city for a good chunk of the relationship. For example, my boyfriend and I have been dating 3 years, But this year, I’m on internship about three hours away from where he is in graduate school. We’re about 7 months into it, and it’s been fine.

  8. AnnQ says:

    Secretia – I agree….I’d probably have to keep myself pretty tired that way to last in a long distance relationship for more than several months. :-)

  9. AnnQ says:

    Lily – And in your case, three hours isn’t even that bad…especially after having been together beforehand!

  10. JennyMac says:

    I have done it successfully, but its hard and not very fun.

  11. I agree with you, Ann. I think LDRs can work just fine IF they start out the way your friends’ did. If not…I won’t say they NEVER work out, but the odds are certainly against them.

  12. Different strokes for different folks… but I agree with most of what you say. I don’t think that long-distance relationships are a good idea, in general. In my experience, it works for up to a year or so IF you had sufficient time to get to know each other well enough before “splitting”. But real love is not about phone conversations, Skype and big-time celebration on the few occasions you meet in person… it’s about the daily grind, seeing the worst sides of each other, sticking together through unemployment, depression and other random drama. I wouldn’t commit to someone without having gone through a couple of crises together… and you can’t do that if you’re in different countries and have spent only a couple of months together in real life! Sorry, I guess I am quite a party pooper, too!

  13. Tracy says:

    I dated my husband of almost ten years long distance for roughly 18 months. It works if you want it to! My husband and I always say it cut through any b.s. up front (e.g. trust issues) because we weren’t together all of the time.

    I have friends who have been together for 10+ years who started long distance and have quite a few friends now who have been dating long distance between one roughly six months and the other over a year. You certainly have free time to do what you love without having to be at someone’s beck and call while you can really focus on each other when you’re together. I even have a neighbor who’s lived married via long distance for almost two years (after 19 years of marriage). They’re adorable when they’re together! Would you rather settle with someone because they’re close by or truly love the one you’re with regardless of whether you’re physically together all of the time?

  14. Many people would think that long distance relationships cannot work because the two individuals involved are away from each other. Therefore they cannot see each other and show how they really feel through human contact. But there are some couples who manage long distance relationships that they remain committed with each other. This article will give some dating tips for couples to use when engaged in long distance relationships.http://http://www.adultfriendclub.com/blogs/idea-for-making-long-distance-relationship/

  15. JD says:

    Couture Cookie is 100% right..I was in a LD for 8 years..CA for me and NY for him, it was great at the beginning, falling in love, great sex.. we never wanted to say or do anything to upset one another..everything was always perfect… holding hands..flying out to see eachother…..we never wanted to ruin the moment…… one thing we never talked about at the beginnnig of our relationship which is so important is who will be the one to move ? we kind of ignored it because we didnt want to face the fact that neither of us wanted to move. I owned my own place and he lived with his family and loved his city…he did not make as much money as me..so for me to start over and look for work and a place to live, a new job, etc..yeah sounds like an easy task but in reality its not, it brings on a lot of stress……again, I really couldnt depend on him too much since he did not make much money.

    You have to put so much work into a LDR..you have to spend weekends alone, some holidays, birthdays, etc and you will spend a lot of money flying there all the time..and vice versa.

    You will grow resentful at times …Sometimes you will feel that he isn’t there for you..even though he calls you everyday, tells you he loves you…you still have to go through everything alone…bad days, good days..and dont forget, this goes for any relationship..people change, feelings change..

    I think the first step – 6 months into the relationship – is asking WHO WILL MOVE ..before you take another step further..if you drag it on…ONE of you will get hurt more than the other.

    And remember, even if you move, doesnt guarantee a happy ending, all relationships take work whether its in your State or not.

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