If you watched the Naked Brothers Band on Nickelodeon like we did, you remember Nat Wolff singing “Long distance relationships will kill you,” while wearing cowboy attire. It sounds silly coming from a kid, but Nat Wolff had a point. Long distance relationships can be tricky.
Can long distance relationships survive? It depends. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a relationship’s success. We’re here to evaluate long distance relationships and explain why they may succeed or fail.
What is a Long Distance Relationship?
In order to understand these relationships, it’s important to define them. We define long distance relationships, or LDRs, as living over two hours away from each other, making regular visits more difficult. Also, when discussing LDRs, we’re only talking about dating. We’re not talking about married couples who experience long distance because of the military, NASA, etc.
How Can Long Distance Relationships Survive?
There are a lot of factors that play a role in a relationship’s survival. A relationship can’t solely fail or succeed because the couple is long distance. There are many factors and behaviors that can improve or hinder the couple’s chance of staying together. Below, we included what is needed to achieve a strong LDR and other factors that play a role.
1. Consistent Communication
Good communication is the foundation of every relationship. It’s even more important for long distance couples, who cannot see each other regularly. Communication level is something both partners need to agree upon. How often do you text or talk on the phone? What role does FaceTime or Skype play? And finally, how often will we visit each other?
However, communication isn’t just about the means or the frequency, it’s also about how well a couple can communicate with each other. Learning each other’s communication style is essential, as is how you work as a team to solve problems.
If you can’t trust your significant other, the relationship is over. Trust can be even trickier in LDRs because you don’t spend as much time together. It means that you and your partner live different lives and spend time with other people. You have to trust that your partner is faithful and honest from a distance.
3. Building a Foundation Prior
LDRs are mor likely to succeed if the couple built a foundation before becoming long distance. Starting a relationship long distance can be trickier, because at first, you don’t know each other that well. Even a year into the relationship, you could be in the honeymoon phase because you haven’t spent enough alone time together. Also, you haven’t faced a lot of challenges as a couple. When you spend a lot of time with someone, they see every version of you. If you only spend a limited time together, you’re not getting the full picture.
Age and maturity level play a role. Young people are less likely to make an LDR work because they’re still finding themselves. They also might not be ready for the level of commitment an LDR takes. While there are exceptions to this, typically young people don’t handle the added responsibility as well. So before starting an LDR, consider this and that it’ll be more effort than dating someone close by.
5. Time Spent in an LDR
The time spent together in an LDR also can be a major factor. If the situation is temporary and there’s a plan to live close by or together post-LDR, it’s much different than having no end in sight. Maybe it’s a temporary situation for completing a graduate degree and then you have every intention of living together after. But if you have no plans in the next year or two to live closer, it can make the relationship progression more difficult.
How much effort are you willing to put into the relationship? Ask yourself this before starting an LDR. Are you willing to drive hours to see each other and if so, how often? Are you willing to go to events stag because your partner can’t always join you? Are you okay with always counting down the days until the next visit? You have to be willing to put extra effort into the relationship and accept the fact that you won’t get as much time as you want.
7. Financial Resources
However, the effort can be made easier based on your financial situation. Those with more financial resources have the freedom to send more on transportation to visit or on couple’s vacations. If you can’t afford to make the trip often, it gets harder. Financial resources and job flexibility provide the couple with more options, which is a privilege.
8. Exiting the Honeymoon Phase
We briefly mentioned the honeymoon phase above. Leaving the honeymoon phase while in an LDR is essential to a lasting relationship. How long does it last? That depends on the couple. It can fluctuate from a few months to a few years. The honeymoon phase starts at the beginning of a relationship, when everything is new and exciting. But eventually, all lasting couples need to learn to be together post-honeymoon phase. Say you live together after an LDR and are still in the honeymoon phase, you’re in for a major adjustment period.
9. Plans for the Future
At the end of the day, both of you have plans for the future, which may or may not include each other. Your career plans, marriage and children can also play a factor in whether the relationship lasts long-term. What if your dream jobs are on opposite coasts? Also, do you have a timeline for marriage and children, or are you not interested in either. These conversations need to happen early because ideally, you should be working toward living in the same area, or you two won’t last.
Why Do Long Distance Relationships Fail?
Sadly, there are plenty of reasons why most couples can’t make LDRs work. While this isn’t an exclusive list, these are some of the main reasons we’ve seen for LDRs ending.
1. Trying to Stay Together After High School
A typical reason long distance relationships don’t work after high school is that the couple are still learning about themselves. You go to college, meet new people and everything changes. There are outliers that make it work, but it’s not the norm. Most people aren’t the same when they start college and when they graduate.
2. Going Separate Ways After College
Another reason couples can’t survive an LDR is because they choose different paths after college. After seeing each other all the time and then going long distance, it can be hard depending on how far away you are from each other. Plus, you’re both facing new challenges, whether it’s getting a job or going to graduate school.
3. Meeting on Vacation
Who doesn’t love the idea of a vacation fling? On vacation, people are more relaxed and open to exploring opportunities. But once you get back to regular life, especially if you don’t live close by, it’s usually the end of the relationship. If you go in expecting a fling, that’s great. But if you developed amazing chemistry and want to see where things go, it’ll be tricky. You both have sperate lives in different places.
4. Wanting Different Things
We mentioned plans for the future above. Ultimately, a big reason for a breakup is wanting different things out of life. Knowing what you want, or at least having a rough idea, is essential for where the relationship is going.
5. Growing Apart
Even if your relationship starts strong, it’s natural for two people to grow apart, even if they love each other. You might not be the same person you were when the relationship started. You’ve grown, changed, experienced new opportunities and that’s okay. We just recommend being honest.
6. Meeting Someone Else
A big fear for long distance couples is what if they meet someone else? There’s a chance they will, or you will, especially when you’re both young. There’s always a possibility for someone to seek attention or crave intimacy because they don’t feel they get enough from the LDR. Or by chance, you could just meet someone you click with more, who fits better with your lifestyle.
7. Conflicting Career Choices
We discussed planning for the future and your career, but what if an opportunity comes out of the blue? Say you already live a few hours apart, but you get an opportunity even further away, do you consider it even if it changes the entire plan? A lot of couples face this choice: the relationship or the job. It’s important to discuss if you’d stay together in this scenario and if you’d ever move for the other.
8. No End in Sight
This ties into some of the previously mentioned factors. If there is no end in sight and neither of you are willing to compromise, the relationship naturally comes to an end.