To be or not to be in a Long Distance Relationship?

Image credit: Kaboompics

I met my ex when I was working in London over the summer. We had only spent three weeks together before I had to go home. We took turns to visit each other and Skyped messaged and emailed a lot. Due to the 8-hour time difference, sometimes we’d “watch” the other person sleep while the other was working. Sometimes, my laptop would get overheated. We would send each other pictures of where we were or what we were doing - it almost felt like we were with each other. He knew I liked his cologne, so he posted me his hoodie that he’d sprayed his cologne all over. He knew I wore my pearl earrings everyday, so he got me a pearl bracelet. Even though we’ve broken up, I still wear it now and it still reminds me of him. I am really old school; I’d send him handwritten cards and letters every once in awhile.

After several such long distance relationships that have not worked out, I have told myself not to have another one ever again. But when one is in love, one’s rationality just goes right out of the window. Relationships are hard and they take a lot of effort, as much as we would like to believe otherwise. From my personal experience, I have learned about some pros and cons of long-distance relationships, that I hope will help anyone deciding whether to commit themselves to one.

PRO: More me time
This is my favourite, because I love tranquil solitude. Spending time alone gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice. It gives you a chance to clear your mind, focus on yourself and think more about what you really want. Once you have a clear goal towards your future and learn to be independent of one another, it’ll be easier to build a stronger relationship.

PRO: More time with friends and family
You get the best of both worlds: Being in a relationship, whilst spending more time with your friends and family, who are as important as our partners, but whom we tend to neglect when in a relationship simply because of the time constraints.

PRO: Do whatever you want
I like to look good when I am with my boyfriend, yet at the same time, nothing beats my pyjamas. When he is not around, it means no make-up and no shaving. Guys tend to have no idea how much time it takes for girls to get ready for a date, and sometimes it is nice to not have to go that extra mile.

PRO: You always have something to look forward to
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes it takes being away from someone for a while to realise how much you really want him/her in your life. You’ll have to be willing to spend a lot of time apart in exchange for a little time together though. Personally, I had a countdown gadget on my phone counting down to the day I’m in his arms again. But I believe anything worth having is always worth the wait, and being in a long-distance relationship truly highlights that.

PRO: More meaningful interactions and communication
I have grown to hate seeing couples that stare at their phones when I cannot have my boyfriend by my side. Because time together is so precious, we always try to make the best of it. I have come to appreciate that in relationships, what matters is quality, not quantity. In fact, some studies show that long-distance relationships fare better than face-to-face ones, and I can see why.

PRO: You know it’s more than physical
LDRs do not rely on physical love. If two people can love, trust, respect, and support each other from a distance, it says a lot about their relationship. For example, you learn to develop a sense of trust more quickly, because trust is the key to a happy long-distance relationship. For me, I guess I was confident enough in myself to believe that he would not cheat on me, but also I trusted him and wouldn’t mind him hanging out with his female friends. I learned not to overthink things, which is always valuable in relationships.

CON: Missing each other
Missing someone is torture, and on bad days it’s almost unbearable. I felt jealous when I saw my friends with their partners; I would wish he was with me, I missed being held. The worst part for me, though, was wondering if he was missing me as much I did him.

CON: Time difference
If you thought the distance was bad, the number of hours just made things worse. Pretty often, I would stay up and suffer the next day, which is hardly a good system to have in Cambridge.

CON: Your phone is your life
I became obsessed with my phone, and used it constantly to stay connected. Sometimes, I would have illusions of my phone buzzing in my pocket. Plus, my phone battery only lasted a couple of hours, so I had to carry around a portable power bank or look for a socket in the library or café.

CON: The cost
I spent a lot on plane tickets, hotels and getaways. Additionally, talking about money was inevitable, and became a big part, in my relationships, because I had to talk about splitting the costs of these things. This is not necessarily a problem for all partners, but certainly for some.

Despite the difficulties to expect, there is some consolation in knowing that there are others in the same situation that you are facing. In the US, there are currently approximately 14 million couples in long-distance relationships, and 3.75 million long-distance marriages, which constitutes 2.7% of all US marriages. Plus, 32.5% of college relationships occur over long distances. In fact, 10% of marriages in the US start out as long-distance relationships. It is certainly not impossible to make things work.

Ultimately, there is no knowing whether you should get into a long-distance relationship or not. One thing I can say is that once you have decided to do it, it is important to commit, and not give up easily. Establish what you and your partner want and work towards it together by communicating honestly. It is all about making plans together.

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