Beyond the first few months of giddy affection, few romantic relationships are easy. Some look that way, but usually that’s because two people are putting in a lot of work behind the scenes. Long-distance relationships are even harder.
Of course, with the right mindset, plenty of emotional preparation and lots of work throughout, long-distance relationships can and do work out. But many potential pitfalls await every hopeful attempt at cross-country love. What are reasons long-distance relationships just don’t work? Here’s a clue: Romances rarely come to a boil when conducted by fax.
Couples in long-distance relationships have to make up for a serious lack of face time. In this modern age, there are plenty of alternatives: phone calls, text messages, instant messaging and pretty much any other communication technology developed since the carrier pigeon. However, much of our hasty electronic communications are hammered out in shorthand, and this can easily become the native language of long-distance relationships.
If you and your significant other (S.O.) are in a long-distance relationship, it’s a sign that your lives are different enough that circumstances prevent you from living in same ZIP code, state or even country.
Maybe you just met but don’t know each other well enough to move to the same city. While there’s strong chemistry, both of your lives are chugging along on parallel tracks. You can’t just sell your house, quit your job and move. Or can you? And what if you moved but it didn’t work out? What if he or she moved to your city (or into your home)? Would it be a dream come true or a suffocating nightmare?
The “ZIP code rule” establishes the scoundrel’s primary philosophical question when it comes to monogamy: Is it cheating if it happens in a different ZIP code from the one occupied by your S.O? And all too often, the conclusion is: “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” As a bonus, if the S.O. does find out, he or she will likely be too far away to key a car or smash some plates. A cad will behave like a cad no matter what, but the chances are perhaps greater when his or her S.O. lives far, far away.
If you’re currently in a long-distance relationship and have just read the preceding section, you’re probably freaked out by now. And by freaking out, you may just jeopardize an otherwise healthy long-distance relationship. (Sorry about that.)
Plenty of relationships end because of trust issues (whether real or perceived), and long-distance relationships are a minefield of them. There’s really no way of knowing whether or not an S.O. on the other side of the country is cheating on you. But remember that close proximity offers no guarantees, either. A healthy, monogamous relationship requires of its participants a moral compass, ethical grounding, commitment and devotion. A trusting relationship has a lot to do with your personalities, your dating histories, your behavioral patterns and whether you’re naturally a jealous person.
While you were once able to meet for a sandwich and hang out downtown, getting together with your S.O. these days may mean booking airline tickets and securing hotel reservations.
For people in romantic relationships who live in different regions of the country, a few yearly visits to maintain the relationship could cost big bucks. Add to that long-distance phone bills, the shipping costs for care packages, and going all-out when you do get to spend time together, and you may be looking at a pretty pricy love connection.
Depending on the personalities and approaches of both parties, maintaining a long-distance relationship can be time-consuming with little in the way of return on the investment.
The frequent e-mails, phone calls and cards sent through the mail take up a lot of time and effort, and as it turns out, keeping up with each other’s news isn’t necessarily the same as growing closer.
You’ve done everything in your power to keep your long-distance relationship going strong, but it still seems like it’s faltering. You write letters, keep up with your S.O.’s life through phone calls, and plan frequent get-togethers whenever your schedules allow. So why isn’t it working out?
What we — and our partners — expect out of a long-distance relationship goes a long way in determining our happiness and the success of those relationships.
“Long-distance relationship” can mean different things to different people. It may mean “heart-wrenching tragedy” to one person, while for the other partner it means “year-long vacation.”
Nobody likes to feel abandoned, and that feeling can rear its head when one member of a romantic couple moves out of town. The weeks and months leading up to it are likely to be colored by the impending physical separation. The anxiety and even anger that can result can drive a couple emotionally apart before they’ve even stopped sharing a location.
Many long-distance relationships are the result of not having a better answer to shifting circumstances that require two people in a relationship to live in different cities or regions.
With lease arrangements, career concerns and indecision, long-distance relationships can represent a holding pattern. Life doesn’t naturally maintain holding patterns for very long. A couple in a long-distance relationship may not even notice the seismic change that is pulling them apart emotionally. Interests, values and friends may cause them to drift apart slowly and subtly. Or, depending on how different the two living environments are, these foundation-shifting changes may occur quickly and noticeably.