This is a Mars vs. Venus entry, meaning I’m going to share my male perspective, and then at the end of the entry you can click over to my blogger friend Katy’s blog for the female perspective on long-distance relationships. I’m qualified to give the male perspective because I’ve been in a number of long-distance relationships as well as short-distance relationships. And because I’m a man.
Long-distance relationships are not healthy relationships.
That is not to say that they can’t succeed, if you measure success by the metric of “can you survive the time you’re apart to someday be together again.”
You can see those success rates for the four types of long-distance relationships on the chart below.
Technically, any of these can succeed. Those in which you start dating in the same city have a greater rate of success, as you get to know a person in person for a while before the distance comes between you. And it helps if there’s an distinct end in sight–say, you know you’re going to live in the same city again after she comes back from Italy or he gets out of med school.
But take out any of those factors–or both–and your success rate drops. If you have no foundation in person and there’s no end in sight, you’re going to spend a lot of time, energy, and money on something that most likely won’t work out.
I wanted to get that out of the way because I know people–maybe you’re one of them–who have successfully gotten through long-distance relationships and are happy they endured all the trouble. If you ask these people for advice, they’ll tell you that long-distance is a lot of work, and hopefully they’ll give you some good tips.
Here’s the thing: Relationships are hard enough without factoring in distance. Once you factor in distance, they become outright unhealthy. Here are the four key reasons:
You’re constantly catching up. When you’re not sharing common experiences, every conversation contains some amount of catching up. Now, this happens in any relationship, but not nearly on this level. What if I told you that from now on, you had to spend 30 minutes of your day recapping your day–experiences, thoughts, feelings, etc–with someone else? Doesn’t that make you cringe? I’m not saying that every long-distance relationship is like that, but because you’re not sharing common experiences, a decent amount of catching up is inevitable.
Note that sex isn’t on that list. I think that fostering chemistry is a really important part of a relationship, but I actually think that can work in a long-distance relationship. Absence makes the heart grow hornier.
So what do you do if you’re about to embark on a long-distance relationship? Or maybe you’re already in one? I’d say call it quits. There are plenty of fish in the sea. (That’s my single male perspective.)
But of course you’re not going to do that. We all have that glimmer of hope that we’ve found that special someone and we’re going to fight through the distance. So if you do it anyway, here are five pieces of advice to follow:
Don’t talk every day. Be intentional about this, and be consistent. Not only is it unhealthy to try to talk every day for an hour or so, but it’s unsustainable, and when you realize it’s unsustainable and try to change it, you’ll give her/him the impression that something is wrong. So from the very beginning, establish ground rules about communication. Talk on the phone for 30-45 minutes a day, 4 days a week. Pick the days. Keep those boundaries. If you really care about the other person, give them the freedom to continue living their life.
Katy and I said we’d list both pros and cons to long-distance relationships, and I’ve pretty much only written cons. The pro is that it might not suck as much as I’ve predicted it will, and maybe you’ll get past it and end up with someone you truly love.
But I highly doubt it. 🙂
I haven’t read Katy’s take yet, but I’m eager to see her female perspective. Click over to check it out here. And if you’d like to check out our previous Mars vs. Venus entry on flirtation, click here.
What would you add to what I said above? How many long distance relationships have you been in that have failed or succeed? Did they feel healthy to you at the time?