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Will Long-Distance End Our Relationship?

I used to think that diving into a long-distance relationship too soon could become a deal breaker, unless my partner and I had built a strong foundation and spent ample time together in a stable relationship. After all, constantly missing each other’s moments of need, like craving a hug or seeking emotional support, could probably wear us down over time. A friend once remarked on her breakup, saying, “Yeah, by the time I fought through it on my own and recovered from the fever, their check-in and care package were already too late.”


Indeed, the challenges of geographical separation, time zones, lifestyle differences, daily routines, and culture backgrounds may seem insurmountable. We question if we could really pull all these together. We hesitate if we could possibly make our relationship work. 

However, I was surprised to learn from studies that long-distance relationships aren’t necessarily at a greater disadvantage than those in close proximity. Various factors impact the quality of any relationship, and distance is just one hurdle that we, as a couple, must creatively address to grow together. It’s more about negotiating our beliefs and expectations surrounding long-distance to forge a satisfying relationship despite the physical gap.

Moreover, it’s increasingly common for people to relocate for work, education, military service, and other opportunities. People might meet while traveling or working in different cities and continue their connection afterward. With the rise of dating apps and experiences like the COVID-19 pandemic, long-distance relationships have become more prevalent. Globalization and technology have bridged the physical gap, enabling relationships across continents.

So, perhaps long-distance doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Maybe we can view it as an opportunity rather than a barrier, finding ways to strengthen our bond despite the miles between us.

For example, Gretchen Kelmer et al. in their study indicated that partners separated by distance tended to perceive “being trapped” less often. This separation allows individuals to have more time and independence to pursue personal interests, expand their social circles, engage in hobbies, and make choices beyond their romantic relationship.

Consequently, they can then share their new discovers, activities, and reflections with their partner, enriching each other’s perspectives.

So, if we find ourselves in a long-distance relationship, how can we better prepare for it? Here are some ways to begin:

  1. Discuss the expectations, routines, and behavioral agreements with each other. Here are some ideas:
    • How often do we communicate with each other, and whether it’s through phone calls, video chats, and or text messages?
    • How long do we talk to each other, and can we establish a schedule for it (such as weekly or bi-weekly)?
    • Would it be possible for us to try video chatting while engaging in our own daily activities (e.g. folding clothes, cooking) to simulate being in each other’s company? Research suggests that such video call can foster a sense of closeness between couples, but we can also explore other creative ways to connect.
    • Are there any specific details we should share or discuss with each other beforehand, such as the types of friends we’re spending time with, meetings we’re attending, or activities we’re participating in?
    • What are our preferred ways to express and receive love and affection despite the distance, and how can we maintain our sexual intimacy while being apart?
    • How can we plan for in-person visits, and how do we handle unexpected changes with flexibility?
  2. Trust is built through showing up for each other consistently, even in virtual interactions. But trust can also be reinforced when both partners respect each other’s need for space, as long as clear communication remains a priority.
  3. Talk about the level of commitment and future plans openly. Make sure you both are on the same page, whether it involves a long-term commitment leading to eventual cohabitation. Discuss details such as when, where, and how this transition might occur.
  4. Express gratitude towards each other for the commitment and trust that have been established and maintained. Small gestures like surprise gifts, love letters, or arranging meal deliveries can go a long way in nurturing the relationship. Understand that a sustainable long-distance relationship is as challenging as a successful geographically close one. It just requires a different skillset to overcome it as a couple. 
  5. Live our lives fully, recognizing that our partner is not our entire universe. While they hold significant importance, it’s essential to remember that we are the creators of our own experiences and destinies. Prioritizing personal growth and fulfillment is crucial for both partners, ultimately enriching and enhancing the relationship.

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