Love is simple four letter word; a word with infinite amount of definitions, a word that is often misused, a concept that very complex. Survey a thousand people and ask what they think the definition of love is and each person will give you a different definition, but every couple has a common goal: to be able to spend the rest of their lives with one another. While some couples are lucky to encounter a minimal amount of obstacles throughout the duration of their relationship, others aren’t so lucky. A common obstacle of a modern relationship is long distance. The transition between a geographically close relationship and a long distance relationship can be tricky and unfortunately, not every couple can last through it. In the past, relationships were generally geographically close because there wasn’t the technology available to sustain a long distance relationship, but in today’s society, accessibilities such as online dating and video chatting are available, which make long distance relationships more common.
In any relationship, communication is key; whether it is verbal communication or physical interaction. Geographically close relationships are similar to long distance relationships in the sense that the amount of verbal communication does not vary significantly. Resources such as texting, phone calls, and video chatting are available and allow couples to maintain frequent verbal communication. However, long distance couples rely more on technology as a main source of communication because physical interaction is not available. Physical interaction is important because information and emotion are portrayed through body language, hand gestures and facial expression. According to a study, by relying more on phones as a primary source of communication, misunderstandings increase because of the lack of visual cues. Geographically close couples have the advantage of being able to obtain physical interaction whenever necessary and better avoid miscommunication, whereas long distance couples tend to see each other, on average, less than twice a month.
Physical interaction is also a source of comfort. According to this article, studies show that kissing helps reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Also, hugging boosts oxytocin levels, which eliminate the feeling of loneliness and anger, and boosts serotonin levels, which better a person’s mood. Having physical interaction will contribute to building a strong relationship, for it improves trust and communication. Long distance relationships are at a disadvantage in this aspect because physical interaction is not available as often.
There is an assumption that long distance relationships are more likely to fail. The average time of separation is about 14 months, but the average time before the relationship breaks down is about 4.5 months and the most common reason for them to fail is due to unplanned change. Many couples do not realize the change needed during the transition from a geographically close relationship to a long distance one. Adjustments such as how often they will communicate and visit each other need to be made, along with the realization that both partners are now living separate lives. Another reason long distance relationships fail is due to trust issues. Although there is no statistical evidence to prove that long distance couples cheat more, couples tend to worry more about their partner’s cheating because they feel separated and out of the loop of their partner’s life.3 It is cliché that long distance couples are more likely to cheat because of how they are portrayed in movies. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Mikaela(Megan Fox) walked in on Sam(Shia LeBeouf) in bed with another woman, shortly after he moved into college. Movies always show one partner cheating on the other in a long distance relationship, thus creating the cliché that cheating is more likely to occur. It is normal for these worries to occur because it is easier for a partner to lie about what they’re doing when they are not around. This is where trust issues comes into play and can lead to the breakdown of the relationship. In a geographically close relationship, partners typically know their partner’s schedule and are able to trust their partners due to closer vicinity.
The biggest difference between geographically close relationships and long distance relationships is mutuality. In a geographically close relationship, it is more likely for partners to have mutual friends, to develop bonds between each other’s families, and to be familiar with the cultural landscape. With long distance relationships, both partners are living in two different locations with different cultural landscapes and the unlikelihood of having mutual friends. It is also harder to progress the relationship or develop bonds between their families, which is shown to be an important asset of a healthy relationship. The lack of mutuality can cause couples to become distant and lose common ground.
Long distance relationships are more common in today’s society and are not always done by choice. Although online dating is available and more people are willing to commit to a long distance relationship, other couples do it because of military deployment, job reassignment, or most commonly, college. There are differences between a geographically close relationship and a long distance one, and sometimes the transition can lead to the break down of the relationship. The key is acknowledging the differences and adjusting to a new lifestyle.
- The Science of Smooching
- Long Distance Relationship Statistics
- 10 Reasons Why We Need At Least 8 Hugs A Day
- Long Distance Relationships FAQ