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August 15, 2014
by Casey Truffo, LMFT

Can Long-Distance Relationships Work?

August 15, 2014 04:55 by Casey Truffo, LMFT  [About the Author]

Will It Work?

If you're contemplating a long-distance relationship, there are a lot of things that you should consider.  Really, it would be best to hear stories from others who have been in long-distance relationships.  These stories may lead you to think about things you may not have considered, especially if you’re entering a new relationship and you are still in the "ga-ga" phase.  Take time to think about everything involved before you jump into a relationship that is long distance.

First, realize that every relationship takes commitment and hard work from both people.  Long-distance relationships are harder to keep on track for many different reasons.  These are some of the obvious things to consider:

There is limited communication. 

Thanks to modern technology, there are several ways to see your honey's face, such as FaceTime or Skype, but how fulfilling is that and can you truly feel an intimate connection with someone via electronic devices?  A lot of times if both people are committed to daily text messages, emails, and the like, it's possible that the relationship can move to electronic communication only which makes communicating odd when the two of you are actually together. 

The future is questionable. 

If you are involved in a long-distance relationship, your first sign should be that you aren't living within the same area code, city, state, or country.  If you met online or started talking as the result of an introduction by mutual friends, that is different.  Your relationship (if you can call it that at this point) is brand new and you probably don't know each other well enough for one of you to commit to moving for the relationship to blossom.  However, if you are choosing to entertain a relationship while living across the country from your significant other, you are both likely established in your careers, maybe you have a house or a condo, and maybe you just purchased a rental property.  Neither of you can just quit your job, sell your house, and move across the country in order to be together.  Hmmm...maybe you could.  Would people think you're crazy?  What if things didn't work out?

One of you (or maybe both of you) is lonely. 

Most people either choose to cheat or choose not to cheat.  However, even people with the best intentions of remaining true to their significant others may not do well with being separated for long periods of time.  Loneliness becomes real.  You meet new people every day, and you start looking at some of them who you find attractive.  Then you go out and have a few drinks with friends, and BAM!  You decide something to the effect of, "What my other half doesn't know won't hurt him/her."   A few days later, you realize that your other half may be feeling the same things and doing the same things, including thinking, what you don't know won't hurt you.  

There is no trust or there are jealousy issues. 

As you know, either by experience, or because somebody told you a long time ago, mutual trust is the basis for every healthy relationship.  If you don't have mutual trust, you don't have much of a relationship.  And if you don't have much of a relationship, what is the point of trying to maintain one that is long-distance?  Along with trust issues comes jealousy.  Jealousy is not something that should be present in any relationship.  When your significant other isn't anywhere near you and you are jealous, your relationship is going to fail.  Jealousy is not only bad for any relationship, it is also bad for your health.  If you find yourself sitting around wondering, "What is she doing now?", or "Who is he eating dinner with tonight?” you are on the wrong path. 

You Can't Afford the Cost. 

The cost of a relationship?  Yes.  The cost above and beyond the normal cost of lunch, dinner and a movie, or drinks after work.  Consider the cost of the long-distance telephone bills, the airline tickets if you're flying back and forth to see each other, a hotel if you're meeting in the middle, the extra gas for your car, and so on.  

You and Your Significant Other Are Not on the Same Page. 

Your intentions when entering a long-distance relationship will be the determining factor if you can handle the separation or not.  Keep in mind that being apart for a long period of time can mean different things to different people.  Make sure you and your paramour are on the same page.  For instance, if one of you has to move to another country for 18 months for your job, what will that do to your relationship?  Do you both feel badly about your pending situation?  Does one of you feel like you will have a year and a half vacation to do whatever you want with intentions of then returning to the other?  Does one of you feel that your heart is breaking even thinking about 18 months apart?  Be sure to know exactly what this means to your relationship.

More To Consider 

Here are more considerations that are equally important, maybe more important, that probably haven't crossed your mind when contemplating a long-distance relationship.

The Loss of Physical Contact Will Be Hard. 

After being away from your significant other for several months, you will miss hugs, touches, and just togetherness, i.e., holding hands in a taxi, walking down the street arm in arm, etc.

You May Not Recognize Signs of Unhappiness or of Joy. 

If you walk into a room and your significant other's eyes look red and blotchy, you immediately know something happened that caused grief.  If you're texting and emailing, you have no idea.  Likewise, if your other half had a great day at work and did something extraordinary and got recognized, you immediately see sparkling eyes and a great smile.  If you're texting and emailing, again, you have no idea. 

Prepare Yourself: The Relationship May End. 

Although it's possible to maintain a long-distance relationship if you can see an end, for the most part, if no end is in sight, it's not going to happen for many.  For example, if your other half is in the military, is on assignment for their job, is attempting to find a job near you, etc., you will probably get through your long-distance relationship, knowing an end is in sight.  Even if your honey has to leave for a few years, if there is an end date known from the beginning, you can probably make it through.  However, in the case of, "We both have our established careers, we both have houses in different regions, and we both are near our families and friends, we both..."  (You get the picture.)  It's probably not going to work.  If you commit to a relationship with distance, create your own end date.  Although it sounds harsh, if you are the romantic type or the jealous type, it is the healthy thing to do.  For example, decide that if things don't change within two years, five years, and ten years (whatever works for you) you are ending it and moving on with your life.   

Promises, Promises. 

Long-distance relationships are basically built on promises; promises of what your life will be like when you're finally together.  "When we're together, we will [fill in the blank]."  These are the promises that are spoken when you are apart.  The question is, will the promises be fulfilled? 

How Do You Get Support from Your Long-Distance Love during Crisis? 

Yes, life is full of surprises and every now and then you are thrown a crisis.  What if your parent passes away and you live in New York and your other half lives in Oregon?  What if a sibling is diagnosed with cancer or needs a kidney or bone marrow?  Again, you live in New York and your other half lives in Oregon.  What is your best friend is in a terrible accident?   How do you get immediate support (which is what people need) when you are presented with a crisis situation?  Guess what?  You don't.  On the other hand, if your other half gets the first available flight to New York to comfort you and be with you in your time of need, what happens to the plans you made to be together 2 months from now for a mini-vacation?  Will there still be money for that get-together?

Before Jumping In-

Before "jumping in" or "agreeing" to a long-distance relationship, you both have to be totally committed to making it work, both together and separate.  If you can see an end to the separation, it may be easier to wrap your head around the idea.  However, if no end is in sight, only you and your partner can decide if you are up to the challenge, if you can handle not seeing each other very often, and if your heart is tough enough to take it.  Most times these relationships come to an end when there is no definite end date in sight, coupled with the fact that life goes on, no matter where you choose to live.  Careers advance, friendships are born, and all of the sudden you realize, "This is crazy."  For whatever reason long-distance relationships fail, if you have ever been seriously committed to one, congratulations.  You were open enough to take a chance that most people wouldn't.  If it worked out in the end, kudos!  If not, you have that experience under your belt and know how things go in that situation.  Would you do it again, or would that never be an option for you?

 If you are contemplating a long-distance relationship, either by choice or by your other half's choice, and you are having trouble making sense of it, you may benefit from speaking to a professional.  The staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County are trained professionals to help you through your issues and to help you better understand your feelings and face your fears.  Call us today at (949) 430-7389 or use our on-line scheduling tool to book your appointment.  We would be glad to meet with you to help you through this rough spot.

About the Author

OC Relationship Center OC Relationship Center, LMFT

We started OC Relationship Center because we believe that relationships are the place where everyone should feel the safest and experience the most joy. And that is what our entire mission is based upon. That relationship may be with someone you love, live with, work with or even yourself. Our caring, professional and licensed clinicians want to help you with the skills to get what you want in your relationships - whether you are single, dating, living together, married, divorced or widowed.

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Newport Beach, California
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Phone: (949) 220-3211
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