We all know the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but does anyone really believe that anymore? My guess is no, because of the negative stigma associated with long-distance relationships.
My boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship – he lives in Ohio, and I live in London. That’s a whopping 3,948.81 miles (6,358.83 km), which includes a five-hour time difference. Despite the distance, we are doing incredibly well. Which apparently everyone ever has a hard time believing, because society has been conditioned to believe that long-distance relationships “never work out.”
Recent research out of Cornell University published in the Journal of Communication suggests that in fact, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Researchers found that compared to geographically close couples, long-distance couples contact each other more often, and they feel more intimate with each other. The long-distance partners shared their feelings without being coaxed, which led them to feel closer to their partner. Obviously, these long-distance partners felt more committed to each other, despite seeing each other less often (Jiang and Hancock, 2013).
Discovery Fit and Health posted an article called “10 Reasons Why Long Distance Relationships Just Don’t Work.” I’ve read it, and I think some of their reasons are easily dispelled, so I’ll break a few of them down here.
10. Communication Breakdown: DF&H suggests that relationships conducted via long-distance technologies (Skype, texting, phone calls, etc.) become less personal and therefore less fulfilling. I disagree completely. I feel that the only way to make communication less fulfilling in a relationship is to lose interest in communicating with each other.
8. The ZIP Code Rule: This rule makes me feel a bit ill. Basically, the “ZIP Code Rule” states that it’s “not cheating if it happens in another ZIP code.” If you wanted to be in a relationship, you wouldn’t cheat on your partner, ever. And if you were dedicated to your long-distance partner and your relationship, you wouldn’t cheat on them. Even if “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Being lonely at night because your partner lives far away is no excuse for cheating.
7. Lack of Trust: DF&H says that long-distance relationships are a breeding ground for trust issues, which is completely true. I agree that trust is a huge part of a long-distance relationship. It might even be the most important aspect of a long-distance relationship. Which is why you need to establish trust BEFORE you commit to a long-distance relationship. If you don’t trust your partner to be faithful to you, maybe you should rethink whether or not you should be in your long-distance relationship. As my boyfriend puts it, you need to be able to “take a leap of faith” with your partner.
6. The Cost of Keeping in Touch: As half of a partnership that spans the distance of an ocean, I totally understand this one. Flights and phone bills are expensive! However, I believe if you really want to see each other, you’ll find a way to make it work.
3. Different Expectations: In any relationship, different expectations can lead to trouble in paradise. Which is why, to avoid this problem, honesty and transparency are the best policies, in my opinion. Before I went away to live in London, my boyfriend and I sat down and had a superrrrrrr long conversation about what our expectations were in terms of communication and where our relationship was headed, and it has definitely helped us.
2. Separation Issues: Duh, this one seems a little bit obvious. Everyone deals with separation differently. Some people handle it really well, and some people crumble into an emotional disaster. However, in my case, the initial separation anxiety receded, and the relationship was stronger for it.
Society, please stop feeling sorry for me because I elected to enter a long distance relationship. Sometimes the distance is hard to handle, I will admit. But that doesn’t mean that I’m just going to throw in the towel and call it quits. Everything good and important requires patience and isn’t always easy. And that includes, in my case, my long-distance relationship.
Blair Starnes studies Forensic Mental Health at Kings College London. She runs and life saves in her free time. She is happily committed in a transatlantic relationship. Read more on her webpage here.
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