If you probably searched for “3 harsh facts about long-distance relationships”, I am here to give you even more than 3.
Is your relationship with your partner about to become a long-distance relationship? Here are some harsh facts you need to brace up to as you prepare for this journey.
A writer for Bustle.com expressed that a long-distance relationship can be a blessing in disguise if you learn to maximize it; Laura Stafford asserts that long-distance relationships are considerably more stable than geographically close relationships. But even then, a long-distance relationship can potentially crumble all you’ve worked for in your relationship if you are not well prepared to face these 7 harsh facts.
Trust me, having a long-distance relationship (LDR) is not the most pleasurable experience for any romantic relationship. Oftentimes, they are not planned but long-distance relationships are almost always inevitable. The stats below tell more…
Statistics of LDRs
A study done in the United States in 2005 showed that 14 to 15 million people reported being in a long-distance relationship. This number remained at 15 million in 2015. 3.75 million married couples are reported to be in long-distance relationships. 75% of all engaged couples have, at some point, been in a long-distance relationship, while around 10% continue to be in a long-distance relationship even after marriage.Wikipedia – Long-distance relationship
Common reasons why people find themselves in a long-distance relationship include having to work in a different location, and schooling, among others. LDRs are prevalent among college students (75%), while occupations like military service, oil-exploration workers, etc, have also been closely linked to long-distance relationships among married couples. The impact can be considerably harsher in cases of military non-distance relationships where there may be restrictions on communication.
Preparing for a long-distance relationship
You now see from the statistics that most of us, including you, will be in a long-distance relationship, at some point in our emotional lives. It becomes important to prepare adequately for this feat.
Part of the preparations for LDRs might involve you becoming aware of the harsh facts about long-distance relationships, as you will see in the next section. While some of these harsh facts may be hard to accept, they will give you a clue of what to expect in your long-distance relationship and how you can work around them.
8 Harsh Facts About Long-distance Relationships
When it comes to LDRs, several questions readily come to mind – Do LDRs last; do they ever succeed, and so on. The facts presented here about LDRs may be harsh as stated, depressing or even discouraging. But as you go through them, in response to your secret questions about LDRs, I need you to understand that several people have succeeded in their long-distance relationships, and so can you.
1. Loneliness hits harder in a long-distance relationship
From my own experience, not all days are busting and energetic. Some cold days are especially depressing when you start feeling lonely and in need of a companion. If you are single, this is the time when you wish to find a partner (GF or BF). But if you are in a long-distance relationship, you miss your partner even much more than if you didn’t have one.
Modern communication allows you to put a call to your partner when you miss them. They can even afford you to see them face to face, but as long as your partner is not physically present with you, the experience is not always the same. You feel like you are in a relationship with your phone or your laptop, instead of an actual human being.
The loneliness hits harder in a long-distance relationship because you are unable to get companionship elsewhere as you would have done if you were single. It’s like your hands are tied and no one else understands how exactly you feel.
Your family and friends might make the situation more uncomfortable for you, by introducing you to other opportunities to find comfort. They may never understand why you have to give up “real-life relationships” and available potential partners near you for someone at a long distance.
2. You can gradually lose intimacy when in LDR
With the right energy, adequate understanding and communication, partners can come out of their long-distance relationship happily ever after. But this is a harsh fact almost everyone in a long-distance relationship would face up to.
Intimacy is enhanced by physical bodily and eye-to-eye contact which are absolutely lacking in your long-distance relationship. The feeling you get when you share a hug with your SO, or when you see them walking toward you in daylight with a smile on his/her face cannot be achieved over a phone call or video call.
Physical contact matters and with time, you might start experiencing a loss of intimacy with your partner. It feels like you are gradually losing feelings for them but don’t worry. Hold on to the memories of the past you shared and be hopeful about the future when everything will restore to normalcy in your relationship.
Sometimes, because of your longing to keep in touch with your partner and to reassure them that you still love them, you might find yourself contacting them more than they find convenient. Also, the romantic words, gestures or phrases you use to trigger emotional chemistry in your partner over the distance might start losing their potency. Hence, you regularly need to plan physical visits with your partner.
3. Your LDR can cost you a lot of money
In order to meet your physical needs which cannot oftentimes be obtained from your voice and video calls, we have established that you need regular physical visits in your long-distance relationship with your partner. Even if weekly, monthly, bimonthly or whatever, you have to keep it regular and unfailing.
Long-distance relationships are not cheap as you might have thought before. Asides from spending on dates, every other expense practically remains there. Obviously, you need consistent internet and data for telecommunications. And even, the cost of regular travel, flight tickets, and logistics can be overwhelmingly high, depending on your distance apart.
Tim C., who lived in Australia but was in a long-distance relationship with his SO in the United States, shared his experience of how they would spend between $1,500 to $2,000 for a round trip to and fro. Due to the cost, they could not afford regular monthly visits and had to postpone visits several times. The good news is, after about six and a half years, they got back together happily with their son.
Finally, depending on your individual locations and your duration apart, getting back together can be considered very expensive as well. You will have to give up your old life, break leases, pay off debts, and process your travel documents to finally reunite with your love. Some of these might require the services of a lawyer for smoothness.
4. There is a higher chance of infidelity in LDRs
Dr Dana Mcneil has described infidelity as the unfortunate reality in many long-distance relationships. Infidelity is a problem common in both in-town and long out-of-town (long-distance) partners but the idea of “out of sight, out of mind” makes it even worse felt in LDR.
Maintaining a strong connection over a distance is difficult even for the most loyal partners. This is because most of us get into a relationship so we can have a person by our side who is there for us both physically and emotionally to comfort and support us through life. Now, the temptation to physically connect with another person who can give you a hug immediately, put their arms around you, snuggle with you on the couch or have sex with you, is one strong reason why infidelity is many times likelier in a long-distance relationship than a regular one.
5. You change differently at the end of your LDR
If you have ever spent a good time with your SO before the status of your relationship changed to long-distance, you will understand how much change affects your relationship with your partner when you reunite. Change is a constant in everyone’s life but this would not make so much impact if you have not been so bonded with who someone was in the past.
At the end of a long-distance relationship, your partner can suddenly feel like a completely different person. You may also appear very different to your partner. This means there is a lot to catch up on after many years of being separate from each other.
These changes can create unanticipated instability and incompatibility in your relationship, which can require time to adjust to or lead to an unexpected end.
Aside from the behavioural and personality changes that occur in a long-distance relationship, one or both partners will experience a sudden change more than the other in order to be together. For example, they might have to give up their current job, sell or give away possessions before migrating, and bid farewell to new friends and family in the old location. These are some things you also need to adjust to at the end of a long-distance relationship.
6. Breakup is more likely in LDRs
According to Wikipedia, about 40% of couples in long-distance relationships end up in a breakup. It was shown that problems begin to arise at about 4 to 5 months into the long-distance relationship. Most of these issues are the result of the combination of loss of intimacy, infidelity, lack of effective communication, and loss of affection between one or both partners; and could degenerate into major misunderstandings and eventual breakup.
Shockingly, out of the 60% of long-distance relationships that survives to the end of the relationship, academic researchers have reported that 37% of long-distance couples break up within 3 months of becoming geographically close. Couples are just as likely to break up during the distance phase as they are after distance ends. This is due to the changes and incompatibilities that set in during the period of LDR.
7. Possibilities for lack of trust
A study was done in 2020 among 311 individuals comprising of people in a long-distance relationship with no face-to-face contact, those with regular face-to-face contact and a third category comprising those in geographically close relationships (GCR). Results showed that those in an LDR with regular face-to-face contact were significantly more certain about their relationship than those without face-to-face contact. However, there was no statistical difference between those in GCR and LDR overall.A relational uncertainty analysis of jealousy, trust, and maintenance in long‐distance versus geographically close relationships – Research Gate
This means that distance, alone, does not translate to a lack of trust in a long-distance relationship. A combination of other factors like lack of communication, poor expressions of feelings, etc, are factors that can increase the likelihood of loss of trust in a long-distance relationship.
Face-to-face contact with your partner in a long-distance relationship increases the satisfaction, commitment and trust in LDR partners, and vice versa.
8. Your life will pause while others move on with theirs
Whether your family and friends understand your relationship or not, you will find that everyone else’s relationship will continue to progress, while yours may feel like it’s at a standstill. You will see your friends getting married and having kids, while you are still trying to figure out how to reunite and settle down with your partner.
Your friends will celebrate special events with their partners but you won’t have the same luxury. Sometimes, it may feel like you are the odd one out, and it’s not about to change any sooner. You might feel obligated not to attend such parties organized by friends because while they will be able to attend with their partners, you might need to set that time aside to connect with your partner over a video call.
Trying to meet the demands of your long-distance relationship can make you distance yourself from people in the “real world”. This is particularly evident if your partner lives in a different time zone or keeps a schedule different from yours.
Common Problems of Long-distance Relationships
If you were here for only 3 harsh facts about long-distance relationships, you’ve now got a handful of them. Right? But apart from these important facts about LDR, let’s briefly look at some specific problems associated with LDR.
1. Different time zones, different schedules
If the relationship distance involves two locations with different time zone, partners will need to find a special way to solve the problem of differing time zones. You can be up and bubbling in the afternoon, while your partner is out there snoring in the middle of the night.
Also, as most LDRs are often linked to one or both partners’ professional or educational pursuits, schedules can also be different. Such that, you might be busy at work or school when your partner is available for a conversation.
2. More attention is required to interpret common cues
Communication is not only a function of speech. Body gestures, postures, facial signs and so on, are often used to convey the entire message presented by someone. But since you are at a distance, it can be difficult for partners to understand each other.
Some non-verbal cues that can depict that your partner is not happy, or that they are, can be missed over long distances. Hence, in order not to misinterpret conversations, a great deal of attention is required to interpret non-verbal, non-visual cues over a call.
3. Conflict resolution is harder when both are not understanding
Have you ever had a fight with someone who is not willing to have the quarrel with you to its end? Take, for instance, you are arguing with your girlfriend but she is trying to walk away. Most times, you would not allow her to leave because you want to settle things first.
On the contrary, you do not have the ability to stop your partner from leaving when they get angry or annoyed over your conversations. Thus, to be able to handle conflicts in a long-distance relationship, patience, understanding and mutual respect are greatly required.
4. Third-party can easily ruin the relationship
Third parties are generally the cause of many breakups in most relationships, including geographically close relationships. A third party refers to any other person aside from both partners in a relationship. Third parties are often notorious for stirring up conflicts in a relationship
Whereas third-party influence can be felt in both short-range and long-term relationships, the effect is considerably worse among partners in a long-distance relationship.
5. It can sometimes feel unreal
Sometimes, you may wonder if you actually do have a boyfriend or girlfriend. You might begin to imagine if it is worth the wait when there are more people dying just to be with you.
Distance, they say, makes the heart grow fonder. This proverb describes the feeling of greater affection between friends and lovers who are kept apart. But under inadequate conditions, the opposite is often the case – distance makes the heart go colder.
For LDRs, it is important to understand that it is completely natural if you begin to imagine your relationship as a mirage after spending a long time apart without any physical contact.
How To Make Your Long-distance Relationship Work
Not only is a long-distance relationship an almost inevitable experience for everyone, but the seemingly harsh facts about it are also very real in most long-distance relationships. So, instead of rejecting LDR or denying its heart-wrenching possibilities, anyone can channel their energy into making their relationship work, irrespective.
1. Communication is key
Effective communication is very vital in every relationship. Effective communication means you are able to send and receive messages adequately. You need to be able to convey what you mean in a way that your partner understands. You also need to listen attentively to understand them when they speak over the phone.
Communication is one of the basic things often corrupted by distance. Once the problem of communication is thoroughly fixed, distance stops being a barrier.
Technology has come to our rescue in this regard, but the job of effective communication, good listening and attentiveness will never be taken over by these devices. You need to deliberately pay attention to your partner when communicating with them, especially over a long distance.
Effective communication over long distances takes two important things into account – paying attention to your partner while they speak, and never assuming what was not said. It is better to clarify what you are not sure about rather than assume what they did not mean.
You should be available to your partner when they need you. Schedules can be tight but if you plan a communication time with your partner, you should do well to keep to it. Availability does not only refer to the willingness to answer the call but also to your psychological readiness to genuinely hear from your partner.
3. Spice things up
Over time, the same words you used to arouse emotions in your distant partner will become stale. You have to be innovative in your romantic gestures so that you can keep your partner romantically stirred up towards you.
Sending gifts like postcards, jewelry and flowers is another way to spice things up in your long-distance relationship, even though these can be expensive.
4. Don’t stop trusting
Trust is a major ingredient in any relationship, and once it is lost, doubts can creep in. When you give into your doubts about your relationship, you find yourself creating problems where they did not exist, but if you are trusting, you are able to dispel your doubts and focus on what it.
People can lose the trust you had for them. So, before you stop trusting someone, they should have done what can warrant it. Particularly for a long-distance relationship, you need to trust your partner and stay committed to the relationship, maybe until they actually break your trust.
5. Make efforts to visit each other
While it may be difficult to go on regular dates, outings and parties together with your long-distance relationship partner, you can make it a point of duty to plan visits with your partner on a regular basis.
When busy schedules encroach into your planned routine, you must know when to compulsorily put an end to your distance apart. You may part ways again, then meet again, and so on, until you end your long-distance relationship happily with your partner.
6. Stay committed
Challenges and problems can arise in any relationship but the determination to overcome them together is the force required for every relationship to succeed. This determination is what is referred to as commitment, and it is what makes the difference between a relationship that worked and one that didn’t.
Here, you saw 8 harsh facts about a long-distance relationship. You also some common problems of long-distance relationships, as well as how to make your LDR work.
I will wrap it by saying again that even though LDR can be tedious, enervating and exhausting, several people have shared their success stories of how they pulled through.
The likelihood of breakup and infidelity are significantly high in LDR, but with the right effort, you can make your long-distance relationship work out as anticipated. The bond is always stronger if you survive the storms together.
|↑1||Wikipedia – Long-distance relationship|
|↑2||A relational uncertainty analysis of jealousy, trust, and maintenance in long‐distance versus geographically close relationships – Research Gate|
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