Do long-distance relationships work?
Physical closeness is by no means required for fulfilling, successful relationships. In fact, partnerships can improve with distance.
When intentional effort must be put forth to maintain a relationship, a deeper bond is facilitated. Relationships become stronger with distance--with couples working harder to convey intimacy and affection. Research shows long-distance couples exhibit 'equal or even more trust and satisfaction than their geographically close counterparts.' Members of distanced relationships report greater relationship quality and dedication levels, whereas closer relationships show higher feelings of being trapped.
With increasing feasibility, long-distance relationships are far from uncommon, with millions of Americans living apart from their spouses. Given modern technology and the many platforms available, especially in the wake of coronavirus-imposed social distancing and stay-at-home orders, staying digitally connected is easier than ever. And studies show video chat actually mimics shared, face-to-face living.
More time spent physically together is not linked to satisfaction, and studies find no disadvantages in relationship quality from long-distance dating. Too much time together can actually pose problems. Personal space and individual goals are healthy, while cultivating one's own interests is vital to maintaining a happy lifestyle and partnership. If someone were to pass up an educational or career opportunity due to distance from their loved one, it could lead to resentment later on. Plus, when couples work together to create and share schedules for when and how it is best to communicate, they're practicing enduring and transferable skills, while their shared time can be made richer.
Relationships are hard enough to maintain, let alone without adding the extra burden of long-distance. Recent research indicates that 40% of all long-distance relationships fail, and of these, 37% of relationships end after three months of the couple moving apart.
One of the major reasons long-distance relationships don't work is because they lack some essential characteristics. According to board-certified counselor and integral life coach Michael J. Formica, successful relationships share ten elements, five of which can be missing from long-distance relationships: transparency, communication, truthfulness, date nights, and sex.
A recent survey of couples who had been in long-distance relationships reinforces these notions by revealing eight 'relationship killers,' including lack of progress in the relationship, growing distant, lack of sex, differences in social lives, and money issues due to traveling.
Couples' ages may also contribute to the failure of long-distance relationships. Statistics show the average age of such partners is 34. With 62% of this age group living paycheck to paycheck, traveling to visit their better half or sending regular gifts can add to their financial strain. As money plays a vital role in showing affection and support, the lack of it can strain a relationship to the point of breaking.
Even if couples do survive the challenges of being apart, one-third of partners terminate their relationship within three months of reuniting due to loss of autonomy, time management issues, rising conflict, and heightened jealousy.
Taking everything into account, falling and staying in love with someone hundreds of miles away isn't easy. That's why it's essential to determine whether a long-distance relationship is a suitable option beforehand.
- A German study from 2010 revealed that long-distance relationships last, on average, 2.9 years.
- A 2018 survey by KIIROO found that couples in long-distance relationships (couples living more than 132 miles apart) communicate electronically much more often than couples in regular relationships. “The average long-distance couple will send each other 343 texts every week and spend eight hours a week talking on the phone or video chatting.”
- According to academic research, about 75% of college students have been in a long-distance relationship at one time or another.
- Census data revealed in 2018 that over 3 million married people lived apart from each other, with a large percentage choosing to do so for work opportunities.