Long-distance relationships are becoming more of a reality in today’s world, but there sure are pros and cons of long distance relationships. With access to technology such as SmartPhones, video conferencing, and social media, two people across the world from each other can remain constantly connected.
In fact, research shows that people in long distance relationships find video and audio chats to offer more intimacy than other forms of communication, so these forms of technology may make long-distance relationships more possible and even more successful.
While technology does make long distance relationships easier, this type of relationship is not for everyone. There are several pros and cons of long-distance relationships, and it is helpful to learn about them before getting serious with a long distance partner.
What is considered a long distance relationship?
A long distance relationship (LDR relationship by abbreviation), is one in which people are geographically separated. For example, two people who dated throughout high school but go to college in separate states are often considered to be in an LDR relationship, which is actually rather common among college students.
Everyone may have a different definition of what constitutes an LDR relationship, but some research suggests what is considered a long distance relationship.
For example, a 2018 study in the European Journal of Population defined an LDR relationship as one in which two people had to travel an hour or more to see each other. In addition, a survey of people in long distance relationships defined an LDR relationship as two people living 132 or more miles apart.
It may be difficult to give an exact definition of what constitutes a long distance relationship, but in general, if most communication occurs via phone, email, or video chat, instead of regular face-to-face interaction, the relationship is likely long distance.
It is also important to keep in mind that there are two types of long distance relationships. Some couples may begin living in the same city or within close proximity, and then one may move away, due to a job opportunity, for example, turning the relationship into an LDR relationship.
On the other hand, some people may meet via the Internet or while on vacation, and begin a relationship, so that the partnership is an LDR relationship from the start.
Long distance is hard, so a successful long distance relationship requires both members of the partnership to have certain traits that allow the relationship to last. According to PennState University, the following traits are the keys to a long distance relationship:
Trust: Being apart means you have to trust your long distance relationship partner to be faithful, even when you cannot see each other, and they may have opportunities to hook up with other people.
Independence: Long distance partners spend a significant amount of time apart, meaning they cannot depend on each other for happiness or social connection. It is important that those who chose a long distance relationship have their own interests and friendships outside of the relationship, as well as the ability to function independently throughout life, without having to rely on a partner to make decisions or provide constant reassurance.
Commitment: Being in a long distance relationship requires both people to be committed if they want the relationship to work. A lack of commitment can lead one or both parties to step outside the relationship to be with someone who lives closer.
Organization: Being separated by distance can make it difficult to connect, so both partners need to have the ability to organize their schedules to make time for phone calls and video chats. They also need to be able to plan for face-to-face visits, so staying on top of schedules is important.
Given the fact that an LDR relationship requires these key traits, you may be wondering, “Can long distance relationships work?” The answer is that yes, in many cases, they do work, if people are willing to put forth the effort. In fact, a survey of those in an LDR relationship found that the long distance relationship success rate is 58 percent, and these relationships tend to get easier after the 8-month mark.
If you and your partner are in a long-distance relationship, looking to make it work, watch this video.
30 main pros & cons of long-distance relationships
Consider the following pros and cons of long distance relationships to help you decide whether you are willing to commit to a long distance partner, or whether you want to continue a relationship when your partner has to move miles away.
For certain personality types, long distance relationships come with advantages, such as the following:
You may have a stronger emotional connection with your partner because the relationship isn’t entirely physical.
Long distance relationships build trust because you have to rely on your partner to stay faithful to you, even when you are apart.
Time spent together feels special since you and your significant other do not get to see each other as often as couples who live in closer proximity do.
You will have the time to focus on your own goals, such as career aspirations if your partner is far from focusing on their own goals.
You will have more leisure time to focus on your hobbies.
You have the flexibility to do what you want, when you want, without having to run your plans by your partner.
You can get some much-needed alone time to unwind without having to worry about caring for your partner.
Being in a long distance relationship allows you to travel when you visit your partner.
You may find that there is less conflict in your relationship when you have time apart and are not constantly around each other, leading even the strongest of couples to become annoyed with each other from time-to-time.
The break you get from each other when living apart can prevent you from taking your partner for granted. When you are together all the time, you may value each other’s company less, but the advantage of a long distance relationship is that it prevents this from happening.
Being able to handle distance between the two of you demonstrates that you and your partner can survive through significant stress on the relationship, suggesting that you will weather future storms together.
You and your partner are likely to appreciate each other more when you cannot see each other daily, like those in conventional relationships can.
Since you can only communicate via technology instead of in-person, where you can read body language, you and your partner will learn to become stronger communicators. You may only have the opportunity to communicate via text messages or short phone calls, so you will have to develop strong communication skills.
The ability to stay committed to your partner even when hundreds of miles apart shows that you are dedicated to each other and truly care about one another.
While there are certain advantages to long distance relationships, there are also problems that can arise with LDR couples. Here are some disadvantages of long distance relationships that you may encounter:
There may be a temptation to step outside the relationship to have physical or emotional needs met.
The two of you may struggle with jealousy and feelings of insecurity since you are far apart and do not know what the other person is doing at any given time.
Jealousy, loneliness, and trust issues that arise through a long distance relationship can take a toll on your mental and emotional health.
A long distance relationship may be expensive since the two of you will have to travel to see each other. In some cases, this may even require paying for a flight across the country.
Long distance relationship communication problems can arise, because it can be difficult to read emotions and determine a person’s feelings via text. Without seeing body language face-to-face, it can also be difficult to decipher a person’s true feelings and intent over the phone or via video chat, leading to miscommunication.
It is difficult to resolve conflict when in a long distance relationship. Two people in a conventional relationship can meet up to discuss an issue in person. In contrast, LDR couples may have to rely on exchanging text messages over the course of the day or scheduling a phone call at a time that works for their different schedules. This can cause conflict to brew and remain unresolved.
The two of you can grow apart, as your lives may begin to head in different directions, since you are living separate lives.
Sex certainly isn’t the only necssary component of a successful relationship. Still, you may find that there is a lack of physical intimacy in your LDR relationship, creating strain or tension within the relationship.
LDR relationships are typically only a temporary solution since not many people desire to live their entire lives miles apart from their significant other. If you cannot find a way to be physically together at some point in the future, the relationship may not succeed.
It can become exhausting attempting to maintain a long distance relationship. Being apart means you will need to prioritize regular phone calls and check-ins with your partner, but you may find that this gets in the way of daily life, especially if you are living in different time zones or are balancing the demands of a busy schedule.
Technology is beneficial, but it is not always 100% reliable, so you may find that there are times when you cannot connect with your partner because Internet service is poor or there is a malfunction with your video chat app.
This may seem obvious, but if you are in an LDR relationship, you will probably miss your partner, and you may even feel as if you yearn for them at times, but you don’t have the option to simply hop in the car and drive across town to see them.
Getting to see your partner face-to-face can feel exhilarating, but as soon as it is time to part ways and return to your normal life, you may feel let down or depressed.
On the rare occasions that you do get to see your significant other, you may feel pressured to make the most of every minute together, leading to anxiety. You may feel as if you cannot relax and enjoy yourself if you are pressured to always be doing something special.
There are both pros and cons of long distance relationships, and you should consider these if you are thinking about entering an LDR relationship. If you and your partner are committed to making it work, there are plenty of pros of long distance relationships. On the other hand, if you cannot overcome some of the problems with long distance relationships, such as trust issues and loneliness, a more conventional relationship may be the best option for you.
In some situations, if you and your partner have a solid relationship established, and simply must be in an LDR relationship over the short term. At the same time, one of you finishes school or completes a job assignment in a new city. The disadvantages of long distance relationships may be tolerable until you can be in close proximity again. Regardless of your situation, you and your partner should weigh the pros and cons and determine whether you are truly committed to staying together despite the distance between the two of you.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.