Wikipedia says that a long-distance relationship (LDR) is an intimate relationship between partners who are geographically separated from one another. Various reasons cause people to move away from their families, friends, and partners. Job/career and education are the most common reasons for Long-distance relationships.
Every relationship requires hard work and effort. But long-distance relationships come with their own set of unique challenges. These challenges are often different than normal geographically close romantic relationships. A long-distance relationship requires more effort from both partners.
Geographical distance is generally perceived as a challenge to romantic relationships. According to myths and popular beliefs, long-distance dating relationships are difficult and most likely to be unsuccessful (Helgeson, 1994; Sahlstein, 2004). The reason behind it can be due to the perceived difficulty and risk for breakups. (Guldner & Swensen, 1995; Rhodes, 2002)
Challenges faced in a long-distance relationship
Some of the challenges faced in a long-distance relationship is mentioned below,
Even with the growing technological advancements communication remains the most common challenge of a long-distance relationship. Text messages, e-mails, etc do not carry our emotions. Voice and video calls are better substitutes but it is still no match for face-to-face communication.
Once there is distance-time management becomes a very big issue in terms of a relationship. Adjusting to a new lifestyle in a different place is hard. Also when the partners are unfamiliar with each other’s changing new routine, it becomes problematic to manage time.
Away from the old life people tend to get caught up in their own lives that which affects the time they put on their relationship. Sometimes people are into their careers so much that they forget to make time. This does not only happen to couples but also to families and friends, unfortunately.
One of the major problems of LDR is the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty. The lack of physical presence of the partner makes it more intense. In a Long distance relationship, one partner moves to a new place, or both of them shifts to different places. And it can cause insecurity as they get used to their new lives without the other. New friends, new routines, and new lifestyle changes the dynamics of the relationship.
Insecurity can be related to future concerns over the presence of significant others in respective partners’ life which can make one feel neglected and insecure about their importance in their partner’s life.
One of the most serious problems in an LDR is growing apart. When they spend time away in different surroundings with new lives they experiencing new things as individuals.
They grow and that might be different than what is expected of them. Spending time alone and adjusting to a new life can become a new normal which results in drifting apart from one another.
Lack of Physical intimacy:
According to Sternberg’s theory of Love, the three main elements in a complete love are Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment.
- Intimacy: Closeness, bonding, connection
- Passion: Physical and sexual attraction
- Commitment: certainty of the relationship
These three components are very important in a romantic relationship. The build-up of negative emotions in a Long distance relationship is mostly because of the non-existent physical intimacy.
Physical attraction plays a great role in a relationship. The need for intimacy is a part of our primal urges. So the lack of it causes many issues in a long-distance relationship.
Surviving in a long-distance relationship:
It is not easy to maintain a long-distance relationship. But some steps can help an individual overcome the challenges.
Communication is very important in a relationship. But having an organic and fluid communication pattern in a long distance is the key to solving most of the problems. Instead of following a fixed routine, it works when communication happens naturally.
To survive a long-distance relationship one needs to hold off their assumptions. Instead of directly jumping to a conclusion they need to calmly think about the whole situation. It is very easy to make assumptions. But analyzing the situation and proper communication can easily ward off any misunderstanding and assumptions.
It is impossible and impractical to meet each other often in a long-distance relationship. But they should make sure that they meet at least once or twice a year. Both individuals need to commit to them to make that distance temporary. They need to work out towards a future where both of them spend their lives together.
Open to Change:
In a long-distance relationship, people change and they do not stay as the same person. People grow and start a new lifestyle. Individuals need to be accepting and understanding of these changes in their partner. This could save them from growing apart and feeling insecure about the changing lifestyle.
A long-distance relationship seems very hard and problematic to maintain. But some researches prove that long-distance relationship has a lot of positive outcomes as well.
A study by Sara Mietzner and Lin Li-Wen shows that long-distance relationship couples gained some Major relationship skills like trust, patience, and better communication. Also, those who were in a long-distance relationship before are skilled in time management, independence, and non-physical intimacy. (2005)
Another study by Emma Dargie, Karen L. Blair, C. Goldfinger, and Caroline F. Pukall indicated that there are few differences exist between long-distance dating relationships and geographically close relationships. These results indicate that individuals in long-distance dating relationships are not at a disadvantage to individuals in geographically close relationships. (2014)
As another study stated individuals in long-distance relationships generally reported higher levels of relationship quality. Also, they showed higher levels of dedication and lower levels of feeling trapped in their relationships. (Gretchen Kelmer, Galena K. Rhodes, Scott Stanly, and Howard J. Markman, 2012)