Recently I offered some advice on long-distance relationships to a friend whose significant other will soon be moving to another city. With three successive long-distance relationships in the 1990s under my belt, I have some opinions on this subject. Here they are:
- Everything in a long-distance relationship happens in slow motion. Especially fights, which in my case sometimes took months instead of hours. Distance makes communication harder, and I think that’s true even now, with Skype and cheap long distance, neither of which I had back then. (Hell, in my first LDR, we didn’t even use the Internet; we wrote letters. By hand. Yes, I’m old.)
- The distance has to be temporary. You’re not in an LDR by choice; it’s because of things outside your control: work, studies, immigration law. You’re making do until you sort those things out (find a new job, graduate, get a visa) and one of you relocates to be with the other. If you’re not actively working toward that end, or if the end is not clearly in sight, the relationship will gradually fall apart.
- You’re forced to get serious, fast. It’s hard to date casually over coffee and see where it goes when you’re half a continent away. Sometimes you end up skipping that stage if your relationship goes long-distance before it has the chance to get serious on its own. That’s not always a good thing. If you were heading in that direction anyway, lucky you, but you also run the risk of breathing life into a relationship that, if it wasn’t an LDR, would have run its course in a month or two. (And now that it’s an LDR, everything takes longer, and what might have ended in a month now takes a year for you to figure out. Bummer.)
Despite conventional wisdom, long-distance relationships aren’t necessarily doomed, nor are they always a bad idea. They’re just harder to do, and have pitfalls that typical, same-city relationships don’t. Because they require more of an emotional investment, and can take a long time to fall apart, it hurts more when they fail. And, with very few exceptions, they only succeed when the long-distance aspect doesn’t last very long.