Mars vs. Venus: Can Long-Distance Relationships Work?

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:

  1. Credit: Going the Distance movie, Poster design by P+A / Mojo.

    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.

  2. You’re missing out on real life. I’ve been involved in 4 or 5 long-distance relationships, and in each one, I spend all this time on the phone or on e-mail instead of actually living life. The two of you are literally taking a break from real life to catch up and get to know one another. Usually you’re so caught up in each other that you can’t see it until you take a step back and realize everything you’ve missed.
  3. When you’re together, it’s unnaturally intense. Imagine if I told you that after four dates with a girl or guy, you needed to spend every minute of a 3-day weekend with her/him. 72 hours straight. That’s crazy talk, right? That’s not natural. That’s not healthy.
  4. You don’t get to know the person for whom they really are. When I’m dating someone, I want to see how she interacts in all sorts of situations. What is she like when she goes to the grocery store? What is she like in the morning? At night? With friends? With friends she doesn’t even like? When she’s had too much to drink or too little to eat. I want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. In long-distance relationships, you mostly just get the good. You’re getting little snapshots of the person’s life, not a feature-length movie. It’s really not an accurate portrayal of who the person is.

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:

  1. Credit: Like Crazy movie

    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.

  2. When you do talk, make that the only thing you’re doing at that moment. Seriously. This is really important. Don’t half-ass your conversations just because the person isn’t there to see you. Don’t be playing solitaire or surfing the web or cleaning the kitchen. You know how annoying it is when you call someone and they’re distracted by five other things. It makes you feel really unimportant, doesn’t it? Don’t do that to someone you care about. Videochats can help. It’s tough not to give someone your undivided attention on videochats.
  3. Talk more about what you think than what you do. If you follow this, you have a shot at avoiding the feeling that you’re always catching up. Thoughts and ideas are things you can share together, no matter the distance. Let the person see what you do when they’re actually there with you in person.
  4. Don’t talk about the relationship. Okay, maybe spend 5% of the time talking about the relationship. Like, the bare minimum, whatever that is. But don’t spend every conversation talking about how much you miss the person and how you can’t wait to see them and what you’ll do when you finally see them and when you’re finally going to live in the same place again. That crap will kill. The. Relationship. I know this for a fact. Once you start spending all your time on the relationship (and really, this applies to any type of relationship), you start to lose sight of all the other ways you connect with the person, all those amazing conversations you had before there was a relationship to talk about.
  5. Make sure you don’t use your girlfriend/boyfriend as your therapist. When you get in the habit of talking to someone on a regular basis, it’s human nature to use them as a sounding board for everything in your life. But you have to be careful about this. Because it’s so easy to share every problem you’re having with your significant other, you might stop spreading those aspects of your life around to your other friends as well. It becomes a burden. There’s a difference between being honest, open, and vulnerable and flat-out using someone else. Don’t use people. Especially not the ones you care about most.

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?

47 thoughts on “Mars vs. Venus: Can Long-Distance Relationships Work?”

  1. Why weren’t you around when I was in my LDR?

    Point number 3 from your list is so spot on…when you do get together, it’s unnaturally intense. I had friends complain about this because, of course, when you only get to see your boyfriend twice a month, you want to spend all that time together. SO INTENSE. No socializing. No getting to know friends (which is KEY in a relationship). No “hey, let’s grab some Indian food tonight” dates that aren’t necessarily planned ahead.

    Anyway, my LDR was on and off for 3 years and it about killed my hope that I could have a healthy relationship. While my current manly love is 45 minutes away, it’s completely different and the whole dynamic is so much better. We don’t talk every night and there has been plenty of “get to know you” time.

    I think LDRs can probably work if you have two people who, like you said, have an definite end in mind and a more-than-human ability to trust each other.

    Reply
    • Ansley–I’m sorry I didn’t write this back when you had your previous LDR. And yes, I totally agree about the intensity. It’s too intense. When you’re there in the moment it’s hard to realize it because you’re so swept up in the other person, but from a distance or hindsight it just seems weird. It’s too much.

      So, 45 minutes away now…that begs the question: How far away do you have to live to call it “long distance”? I think everyone has a different answer to that question. An hour away might feel like long distance to me.

      Reply
      • As you well know, things aren’t perfect. 45 minutes is still a good distance but in Birmingham, it’s pretty hard to get anywhere in less than 20. It takes me 20-25 minutes to get to Anne’s house, for example.

        However, for me, 45 minutes is completely do-able (is that a real word?). I think I would say an hour or more in long distance. We’re still close enough for him to drop by with pizza for lunch (which he’s doing tomorrow!) and then head to work and for me to go up to his place to do some target practice on Saturday.

        Obviously, it would be easiest if we lived together, which we will someday. Until that happens, I’m happy.

        Reply
        • Ansley- I’d agree with you for the most part that 45 minutes isn’t really that much of a distance for a LDR, especially when you can make time to see each other on the way to work or for a quick lunch. Anythig father away, like an hour or more (as I recently dealt with) just seems like a hassle, and made me really stop to consider if trying to continue that relationship was worth the time (other factors besides distance contributed to ending things there). I’ve realized that the older I get, the closer I want the person I’m dating to be. Maybe that’s a little petty, but I already spend enough time in the car to commute to work, so driving a great distance for a date isn’t something I care to do at this point.

          Reply
          • Yeah, it’s amazing the difference between 45 minutes and one hour. My LDR was 2 1/2 hours away and that just takes it out of you. 45 minutes is close enough for a day trip, so no extended, uber-intimate 3 day weekends needed.

            I also agree on the age thing. I’m 30 and don’t want to do the long distance thing again. Maybe if it was someone amazing like, oh, I don’t know, Jamey Stegmaier *winks*….

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            • Ansley and Katy–I think I’ve been spoiled by relationships that are about 5 minutes away, so a 45 minute drive seems like long-distance. 🙂 My radius on OkCupid is, “Can I see your apartment building from my balcony?”

              I agree that age plays a factor. And Ansley, I’m flattered. 🙂

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  2. Hi, Zia’s friend here again (remember that QR code question years ago that only I answered?).

    Boy this hit me in the wrong spot tonight. I’m typing this in bed next to my fiancée, whom I met in Japan and with whom I have had to endure long periods of separation due to her living in Europe after Japan. Now we are living and working in the same city, finally, and getting married next year.

    The longest we were apart was 6 months. Then she came to visit for Christmas and then went back to Spain. I was scheduled to go to Spain in February. It was barely 2 months to wait, and those two months were the worst separation period of all: we had nothing, then we had Christmas together, and then we couldn’t wait to be together again.

    I question your statement that you have had 4 or 5 LDRs. Were all of these with people you had barely met before the distance started? In which case, it seems like you experienced long-distance dating, not serious relationships.

    In a typical relationship, you aren’t constantly with the other person, and so telling each other about your days is completely normal. While on opposite sides of the Atlantic, I loved going out and experiencing stuff JUST so that I could tell her about the people I met, the things I did. In no way did recounting things detract from my life or my enjoyment of our conversations. So there go key reasons 1 and 2. As for 3 and 4, as I said, a true LDR has to start not so long-distance; otherwise, it’s just online dating.

    Talking every day is far from unhealthy in most situations. Imagine you were married to someone, or at least living with them. You would talk to them every day, no? To bring someone into that level of intimacy when they cannot physically be there, you should talk every day. Not to say that it should be a drag, or an obligation, such that if you miss it then there are overly hurt feelings. But, despite wonderful other opportunities presenting themselves, if you are serious about your LDR, you should make the time. Every. Day. I speak from experience when I say it is sustainable, at least for 6 months.

    But I wholeheartedly agree with piece of advice #5; only speak with them every day if you really want to. If you don’t want to, then your heart really isn’t set on the person, and so you should probably just break up. If you want to casually date someone long-distance, without the feeling of urgency to talk to her, it’s probably not sustainable to hold both your feelings at the same level of “meh,” and so you should probably just break up.

    I guess I half-agree with your other three points of advice. Overthinking the relationship when it’s in limbo is a horrible idea. And turning every session into an emotional meltdown or regression therapy will kill interest in talking. You don’t want to kill that; that’s all you have going for you.

    Finally, that Going the Distance movie pretty much sucked. Chemistry is vital to LDRs, and Barrymore and Whatshisface had none. I spent most of the movie wondering why they were bothering.

    Resuming my RSS-feed-lurker status in 3, 2, 1…

    Reply
    • Andrej–Thanks for your response, and congrats on your engagement (and on overcoming the distance).

      May I ask if you maintained healthy friendships and other personal passions during those times when you were apart from your fiance?

      Yes, most of my LDRs started with no in-person foundation. However, one was actually quite serious. I’m a little surprised my post made it seem like I took them lightly. I was fully committed to that one (it lasted 13 months), very much in love, and very close to engagement.

      I agree that telling someone about your day is normal in any relationship. It’s not what I’d prefer to talk about, but perhaps some people enjoy that type of conversation on a daily basis. I don’t blog about my daily activities because I think even the highlights are boring to the vast majority of my readers. I wouldn’t put a girlfriend through that. 🙂

      I also agree that talking every day is far from unhealthy in a relationship. However, talking on the PHONE every day can be very unhealthy, especially if they’re big chunks of time every day (it goes back to my question above about whether or not you maintained healthy friendships and personal passions despite what appears to be daily phone conversations). Even if I’m dating someone in town, I don’t talk to them extensively every day. I need some days when I can focus on other things, and it’s very freeing to me if a girlfriend grants me that time and space. It makes me value the time we do spend together (or talking on the phone in LDR) more than if we talk simply due to a predetermined expectation.

      It’s interesting that your advice is in stark contrast to mine on that point. Obviously it worked out for you, so I completely value your advice. However, I’d say it’s important to CONNECT in some way every day, but not necessarily spend significant amount of time on the phone.

      Thanks for your thoughts, and again, congrats on making it through an LDR!

      Reply
  3. Jamey, I could write a book on this. I was involved in 3 LDR’s, the first lasted a whopping 2.5 years (an eternity for LDR), the 2nd crashed and burned after 10 months, the 3rd was transcontinental (the mega LDR) and I’m not even sure it was a relationship. What I will say is that because of the forced intensity of these relationships, the highs were really high and the lows were low b/c of the frustration of not being able to talk to the person, in person etc.

    I agree with most of your points here but this is told from the perspective of, no offense, failed LDR’s. I think with the right person, catching up about your day wouldn’t feel like a chore. I did spend a lot of time on the phone and sometimes even wasted half a day, which is really crazy. You go through the motions of having a relationship but you wonder after a while, is it just someone I e-mail and talk to the phone? You have all the emotional intimacy without the upside of being able to be spontaneous, do everyday things together etc.

    I have heard of successful LDR’s where couples did spend every moment together and got closer. These couples all had something in common: they knew they were going to get married or had an end goal at some point. That’s key. Because circumstances work against you in a LDR, having a fixed end point, I agree, is so important. Also, I’ve heard of couples sharing the time despite the physical time difference, i.e. we both go see the same movie by yourself (can you say depressing…esp. if it’s The Notebook), then chat about it afterwards.

    Last, I think LDR’s look more appealing during certain stages in life. When you are young, it seems so romantic and the intensity can be addicting/ feeling like you are in your own bubble. Looking back, I regret it sometimes because I think I could have experienced college more fully had I not been engrossed in my LDR’s, which at their best points included flights in and out of St. Louis sometimes twice a month. Sometimes, it says something about ourselves if we choose to be in LDR’s–maybe we want someone a little unavailable, a little at a distance ourselves…

    My verdict: don’t do it unless you know you are destined to be with the person and will get to the end goal no matter what. There are plenty of (local) fish in the sea. You get to know a person much more quickly in-person. There’s always an exception to every rule but generally, I don’t think LDR’s end up well.

    Reply
    • Jen–Thanks for your thoughts. It sounds like you have quite a bit of experience with LDRs. (And you’re right, all of mine are failed LDRs, although I tried really, really hard with the 13-month one. I would actually wager that the vast majority of LDRs are failed LDRs.)

      I can definitely see how having a shared end goal makes LDRs a lot more palatable. At least then you don’t have to have the daily conversation about “when are we ever going to be together?”

      I also agree that we romanticize LDRs to a certain extent, whether we’re young or old. We want to feel like we have something so special with that we can overcome the distance.

      Lots of local fish in the sea–I like that! 🙂

      Reply
  4. 2 Things.

    I’ve been in twolong-distance relationships. One only lasted about 5 months. I graduated college and moved back home, so we had 2 months togehter and 3 months distanced (6 hour drive). And it absolutely didn’t work. I think the hardest part for me was the commitment to frequent phone calls. I still had a life here in St. Louis and friends who wanted me out and doing things with them. I hated feeling guilty if I ignored a phone call from him because I was out with my in-person friends. Or if I took the call from him, that I had to sneak away from my friends so I could have a quiet conversation. It felt unfair and like I was splitting myself in half. Apparently he thought I was moving to Ohio for him at some point, and when I took a full-time job in St. Louis, he stopped talking to me completely with no conversation about it ending. I have no idea where he is now – that makes me a little sad.

    I recently tried to initiate a sort of long-distance thing with a different guy in Ohio. (This makes it sound like I love Ohio guys. Maybe that’s true… buy I really dislike Ohio as a state actually.) I was on and off with this guy in college, never getting the timing right. Then I saw him on a visit and the spark was there. I told him how I felt. And he responded that I was being selfish and he wished I had never told him anything (and then repeated that again over a few hurtful texts). I was angry about that, but now (a few weeks later), he was probably right. I have no intention of moving to Ohio. So in telling him what I thought, I was really saying, “How about you stop your Ohio life and move here to be with me?” and I’m embarassed by how unfair that actually was to him.

    So those are two of my encounters with long-distance anything. I don’t think either went well. And the other one (which I didn’t include) also didn’t go well… but I’m still on good terms with the guy, which is a plus. 🙂

    Reply
    • Elaine–Interesting that Ohio seems to be the common factor here. Perhaps you should try a different state?

      I like how you touched on the tug-of-war that comes with living in different cities. In my major long-term relationship, I was happy in St. Louis and the woman was unhappy in her city, and she wanted to move together to a completely different city (we’ll call it “Springfield”). I wouldn’t have minded her moving to St. Louis, but I also worried a little bit that if things didn’t work out, she would be stuck–at least temporarily–in a place she didn’t want to be. So I encouraged her to move to “Springfield” and planned on moving there. But moving there meant giving up everything here in St. Louis and starting over from scratch, and that didn’t quite feel right either. I don’t think there was a right answer.

      Reply
      • I’ve given up on Ohio. And you’re right – moving for someone is a HUGE risk. It immediately accelerates the relationship and puts a lot of pressure on both people to make it work at all costs. That’s always scared me cause I prefer taking my time.

        Unrelated: my coworkers read your blog now. They have two questions for you (cause they love cats and have pretty much read any cat-related post you’ve made now): 1) What happened to the little black and white cat? 2) When did Walter enter the picture and how?

        Reply
        • Elaine–Thanks for sharing the blog with your coworkers! They can find the Walter story (before he was named Walter) here: https://jameystegmaier.com/2012/02/a-weird-love-story/

          As for the little black and white cat, I’m sorry to say that he didn’t work out for me or Biddy. We kept him for a trial period, and he was just too wild. More wild than most kittens. The key difference was that he couldn’t learn that claws hurt when they go into human skin. Walter learned that within days. I decided after that experience that if I ever got another cat for Biddy, it would be a fully grown cat, not a kitten. I hope the little guy ended up in a loving home, and the Humane Society is $240 richer for that trial period, so I feel fine about it.

          Reply
  5. My sister and her fiance were in a long distance relationship for 2 years. There was an additional year of long distance friendship. They didn’t meet while living in the same city, and at the beginning they didn’t know they would be getting married at the end.

    They’re getting married in 2 weeks. This can and does work for people.

    I’m not saying it was easy for them or that everyone can do it, but they were able to make it happen with a lot of intense weekend visits, phone and skype conversations and vacations during the summer. And, of course, it helped that their friends were supportive and understanding of the fact that their relationship was important enough to pursue, even though it meant that there was less time for them. (Doesn’t that happen with any relationship though? Less time for friends?)

    I can’t imagine my sister being any happier than she is now, about to marry the perfect man for her. And imagine if she hadn’t pursued it because she read a blog that said it was better to date locally…hmmm…

    Reply
    • Adrienne–Congratulations on your sister’s upcoming wedding! That’s great that she made it through a 2-year long-distance relationship–like I said, they certainly can be successful.

      You make a good point that “less time with friends” is a symptom of any romantic relationship. I think healthy romantic relationships monitor that symptom closely and try to share some of that friend time if the couple lives in the same city. The problem with LDRs is that you don’t really have a choice.

      In all fairness, Adrienne, you don’t really know what would have happened with your sister if she chose not to pursue this long-distance relationship. She may have found another amazing partner in her and had a very healthy relationship with him (I don’t think these things are black and white, all or nothing, but that’s a separate debate on whether “the one” exists versus many “the ones”). I applaud her success and am happy for her and you.

      Reply
      • Thanks! We’re super excited for the wedding (I’m sure you know the feeling since your sister just got married, too)!

        Okay, it was totally unfair of me to say she couldn’t be as happy as she is now(for the record, I don’t think “the one” exists), but she probably would still be looking or wondering what could have happened with her fiance. I am willing to stick with that.

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  6. I met someone through a friend on an out-of-town trip when I was 21. He and I immediately hit it off and started doing the LDR thing. We were about 90 minutes apart at that point, so it wasn’t too bad, and I was absolutely crazy about him. Then, he took a job in Puerto Rico for a few months. It sucked, but it was manageable because there seemed to be an end in sight. Plus, we always had such a great time when we were together that it was worth it to wait it out, right? This guy was amazing. He came back for a few weeks, and then flew out to California for another job. The infatuation was still strong, and I knew beyond a doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

    On a trip out there to visit, we drove to Tahoe and got married. A few days later I had to leave to go back to Missouri, and the first entire year of our marriage was an LDR. He finally came back (yay!) but still traveled quite a bit for his work, usually being gone for a few weeks and then home for several days. When we decided to start a family, we thought it was best that he find a job that didn’t require travel, and at last (3 years in) we settled into a “normal” relationship.

    And it was great…for a while.

    I think at that point we were still almost in kind of a honeymoon phase because we’d spent so little time actually in the same room. Rather quickly, our differences starting surfacing. Differences that were never brought to light before because the LDR masked them.

    Big differences.

    You hit it right on the nose with #4 on your list of cons—I didn’t know who he really was as an everyday person, and vice versa. And it turns out that our differences made us extremely incompatible. I found out that he has a pretty bad temper is quite uncompromising in almost every aspect of life. Things are very black and white and his opinion is the right one. He found out that I don’t enjoy doing a lot of the same things as him, or spending my free time in the same way (apparently people who like to read are just lazy. ?) But when you’re spending these intense bursts of time together in an LDR, you’re not acting like you usually do. You’ve got a big smile plastered on your face and your days are structured very differently. Maybe you go out and do a bunch of stuff together, or maybe you spend all day in bed with each other. But that’s probably not how you spend your weekends when you’re apart or in a non-LDR. You just don’t get to see each other for who you each really are. It’s interesting, because I was very young, but still thought I’d covered myself by making sure we were in agreement on the “big” issues. I failed to take into consideration that the little things that can kill a relationship too if there are enough of them.

    After about 6 years of marriage, counseling, and enough attempted reboots at the relationship, we both finally realized that we were happier apart.

    And you know what’s funny? We get along great now that we don’t have to deal with the little things anymore.

    We’re both free to spend our time exactly as we want, and I don’t have to worry about an argument because I didn’t load the dishwasher correctly. There were a lot of factors that tore the marriage apart, but I really feel that the fact that we were in an LDR caused things to seem better than they would have if we hadn’t been in two different cities. I’m not saying that LDR’s can’t work just because mine didn’t, but you have to approach things very differently than you would with a local relationship.

    Reply
    • Katie–Thank you SO much for sharing this story. I’m sorry that things didn’t work out with your husband, and I’m glad that you still get along (that’s great for your daughter too).

      The examples you gave supporting #4 are part of my experience too (albeit in a shorter relationship in which we never actually lived in the same city). I think every relationship has that period of time when everything seems amazing, but you get a feel for all those small things a lot faster than in an LDR.

      Reply
    • Thanks for sharing this, Katie. When you are at different stages in life and your goals differ, it may add to the burden. Good post. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Also, where did the numbers in the chart come from? Or are they just made up to demonstrate that success rates increase/decrease depending on factors in the relationship?

    Reply
    • Good question about the chart. I used the completely unscientific method of making up those numbers out of thin air. They’re purely demonstrative.

      Reply
  8. I think it is a given that long distance relationships require more effort. However, since I’ve had great relationships of all kinds I can say with certainty that I agree with the notion of similar goals.

    In addition, a friend of mine, who lives in Mexico not only had an LDR but they met online. He is happily married now and they both live in Cancun.

    Ultimately, I don’t encourage these or discourage them. Sometimes, when your heart and head agree, and you have similar goals with that other person, you make things work. Relationships require effort, period. With that said, yes, evidently, it is easier to be in the same city. But I would disagree that the distance is the ultimate symptom. Normally, other things interfere coupled with the distance and vice versa.

    Reply
  9. I know I’m several months late on this conversation, but I thought I’d add my two cents…

    I’m currently in a LDR that’s going on about 6 months now. I agree on some of your points, like spending so much time on the phone that you stop going out with friends… but personally I don’t find it at all unhealthy to talk to someone everyday and “catch up”. Isn’t that what people in all forms of relationships do? Admittedly, I’ve never lived with a boyfriend…. but I figure even couples who live together must have some “catching up” to do most days.

    As for point #4 (and also #3 to some extent), I disagree wholeheartedly. Spending 3 or 4 days together at a time means we DO see all aspects of each other. For us, it isn’t like a mini vacation every time we see each other, we still have everyday things to do… work, grocery shopping, hanging out with friends, etc! We see the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between! This is in stark contrast to nearly EVERY other relationship I’ve had. With past boyfriends, I would see them a few times a week, sometimes for nights out and sometimes for nights in. But if one of us wasn’t feeling like being together for whatever reason, like a sudden grumpy mood or something, we could just postpone our plans and see each other in a day or two. That’s not possible with a LDR, so we’ve been able to see every aspect of each other.

    Anyway, just my opinion!

    (Also, it’s worth noting that I work for an airline, so I get all the free flights I want, and my boyfriend can get very discounted flights. That definitely takes a lot of strain off the relationship, because we get to see each other a couple times a month for 3-5 days at a time, but we don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of traveling so much. So that might explain why this particular LDR is easier than many others.) =)

    Reply
    • Lynn–Thanks for chiming in! It’s never too late to join the conversation. 🙂

      I can definitely appreciate your perspective, and I’m glad to hear that you feel like you’re in the midst of a healthy relationship. As for the “catching up” that couples do, I think it comes down to the couple and to the type of conversation the couple enjoys. Personally, I want to know what the other person is thinking or what made them think that day more than I want to hear about what they did that day. Perhaps that’s just personal preference. I think with LDRs, you tend to trend towards talking about what you did that day so you can feel like you’re a part of each others’ lives, but that type of conversation gets old to me really quickly. So perhaps that’s just personal preference.

      You have a great point about seeing all sides of the other person during the “mini-vacations” you share with them when you’re together. I definitely have not been at my best at times, and the one girl I dated for a while in an LDR was often moody and down. However, I feel like I should put out the term “mini-vacation.” It’s an accurate term, because for at least one member of the couple, that’s exactly what every trip is. But a healthy relationship, in my opinion, is FAR from a vacation. It’s not normal (nor is it healthy, in my opinion) to take a complete break from normal life every time you’re with your significant other. And yet you have no choice but to do that in an LDR. I think that’s what bothers me about them so much–the very structure of an LDR is an the unhealthy version of a relationship.

      Perhaps some of this is my distaste for the idea of making someone my world. I see so many relationships where the two people get so caught up in each other that they neglect everything and everyone else around them (and then they come crashing down when the relationship fails and they realize how distant they are from their own life). In an LDR, especially during those mini-vacations, you’re making someone your whole world for those 3-5 days, and that scares me. And even on a daily basis, picture yourself out at a bar with friends when you get your nightly call from your boyfriend. You can’t take the call at the table, so if you decide to take it you have to excuse yourself from your friends. You’re literally removing yourself from your life to entertain someone else who is hundreds of miles away.

      I know, I’m hugely cynical about this whole thing. 🙂 There are many success stories with LDRs when they people finally live in the same city and can have what I consider a healthy relationship at that point. Or they realize at that point that the LDR blinded them from a lot of things that they could have seen fairly early on in a same-city relationship.

      Do me a favor–mark on your calendar to return to this entry one year from now and share your future perspective on LDRs. Hopefully by then you’ll be happily living in the same city with your boyfriend. Or maybe you’ll have broken up amicably for reasons completely unrelated to the LDR. But maybe you’ll also have some future hindsight about LDRs that my readers might find helpful and interesting.

      Reply
  10. I have to agree.I’m in one right now and really taking a toll on me.Sometimes I feel like giving up. It seem like I’m used to it but after being the military and moving around for so long its gets really boring and hard. I’m in Louisisana and he is in North Carolina.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear that, Chelsea. Long distance relationships are really difficult. What is difficult about it for you?

      Reply
  11. My high school sweetheart and I are in a LDR. Long story short- he broke up with me before college, I had naively wanted to try LDR but he wasn’t ready to commit. We both are sad it’s over though. After several weeks in college, he tells me he regrets breaking up. At that time I wasn’t over him and all the feelings of wanting him were so strong, but I did really appreciate being single during my entrance to college. Anyway things brewed up over the months and we got back together near the end of first semester. I just don’t know what to do though. I am not sure if he is the one I’m destined to marry; but I do not trust myself to know, with my age and limited life experience, how I would know that. And the thought of being in a LDR with no clear end goal is dauntingly scary… even though I don’t know if I can think of a more and more serious lifelong relationship, I know that right now, he’s the only guy I want and I can’t imagine myself with anyone else today, tomorrow, or the next day (but how do I know about next 4 years? 10 years? ah!)

    Reply
    • Blair–That sounds really rough. Do you feel that your LDR is holding you back from being fully present to your college experience and your personal development, or is it enhancing those things? Is there any chance that you or he could transfer so that you could date in person?

      Reply
      • No, I don’t feel held back, as we are both pretty understanding of the need to build a strong group of friends and to build lives outside of each other. Even when we were together in the same place we did not want to be attached at the hips, to encourage our individual developments. In fact, if anything, dating long distance gives me more time in my schedule to study etc that I would have otherwise spent on dates with guys if they were local. I just am not sure how wise it is to be in a LDR right now when we both have no clear end goal about us and much less our future goals and careers..

        Reply
        • It sounds like you two actually have a really healthy LDR…and yet you’ve expressed lingering doubts in both of your comments. What is the root of those doubts? Goals and careers are pretty far down the road at this point, so is there something going on right now in you that is doubting the relationship itself, not the LDR aspect to it?

          Reply
  12. I think LDRs can absolutely work if the goal is to maintain an already established relationship for a set period of time. But I don’t think it normally works for people who have met briefly and want to build a relationship, even though there are exceptions. Distance makes the heart grow fonder for a while, but after some time feelings just start dissipating. Out of sight, out of mind. Skype chats are unnatural and forced. You don’t get that natural build-up of feelings and excitement coupled with intimacy that forms that special bond. Those spontaneous meet-ups on weekdays. Totally agree with number 3. Spending every minute of a weekend with your SO is just too much, and isn’t healthy. It’s like those Skype-calls where you really appreciate seeing/talking with SO, but it’s just forced. Also, in an LDR you have to go all in pretty soon, which I think is the main problem. You can’t play it out and see how it goes, you have to act on a limited amount of info, and since a lot is at stake one or both usually decide it’s not worth the hassle. That is both my own experience and that of my friends, all in our late 20s and looking for something serious.

    Reply
    • Well said, Lars. It’s been a while since I wrote this entry, so it was interesting to hear your point of view.

      Reply
  13. This was a very interesting post to read. since you had mentioned somewhere that is never too late to leave a comment, i am doing it now 😛
    i met someone online and felt something so special was going on between us since the first days we were talking. something clicked in me in a way that words cant explain .the first weeks of texting were so much intense,we have so much in common , and i like everything about him exept the fact that he lives 14h away. It is very foolish of me to be falling for someone i have never met, but believe me i can’t help it. Or maybe it is bcs for the moment i have no one else around and near who attracts me more than he does. i have never believed this virtual things before,and i don’t know what is happening to me now bcs i can’t get him out of my head. we text during the day,talk about different things but never had really deep conversations .And he has never called me on the phone,or skype and things like this and i don’t know why ..Also,sometimes we go a day or two without talking and i don’t know what to think about this. (maybe he is seeing someone and unfortunately there is nothing i can do about this 🙁 ) . Anyway, i am hoping he will come to meet me soon (even thinking about this makes my blood racing) and then will see what i will do about this. Maybe someone won’t like the other or we won’t like each other, and we won’t need to get into this complicated LDR thing . who knows !
    wish you all the best
    L

    Reply
    • Lory: Thanks for sharing your recent experience, and I certainly hope for your sake that it’s real. I think you’re also seeing some of the red flags (no phone calls or Skype). Hopefully you can find a way to meet so you can see if the guy is who he portrays himself to be in e-mails.

      Reply
        • Thanks for your answer ! I know i have to be careful and take things easily and be prepared for anything :/ . I would like your opinion about sth . What do you think i should do to test him ( if he is seeing sb else or he is real with me ecc ) about his feelings towards our situation ? These last 3 days he hasn’t texted me . Should i ignore him or behave distant when he does ?
          Thanks in advance
          L

          Reply
          • Lory: If you’re going to be in any relationship (much less an LDR), open and honest communication is really important. I don’t advocate testing him or doing anything just to get a reaction out of him. Simply write to him, express how you’re feeling, and ask him to be direct with you about why he’s been out of touch. Make him feel safe to reply honestly and there’s a good chance he will.

            Reply
  14. Hi,
    i’m not currently in a LDR but really interested in how it works. even though i don’t believe i’d get into one. the only one i’ve been into lasted for about a month and i had the feeling i was dating my phone/computer and my own illusions.

    may i ask you how long your 4-5 ldr lasted? and what were the reasons of the break ups?

    happy to read you

    Reply
    • Charlie: I was in a few LDRs that lasted a few months at most, but the big one lasted over a year. We never lived in the same place as each ever. The reason for that break up is that I realized I didn’t like her that way anymore. I honestly think I would have ended that relationship far sooner if we had lived in the same place–LDRs seem to stretch things out.

      Reply

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