Do Long-Distance Relationships Work? Here’s What Research Says

A long-distance relationship is an intimate relationship between two romantically involved individuals that are living geographically apart from each other, with very little or no face-to-face contact.

The questions of whether or not long-distance relationships really work for people involved in them have been asked for ages. Apparently, the reason for this is that more people are now finding themselves in romantic relationships with people who are not physically with them for long periods of time.

Usually, when people are in love, they develop the urge to see each other very often; to hold and kiss and cuddle and just be there for each other physically. But when distance sets in, it becomes confusing, especially for people who are experiencing it for the first time. They become curious to learn about what they should do and not do when dating at a distance. They become anxious about their partner’s state of mind and whether or not they are being faithful wherever they are. Long-distance relationships can be thrilling when handled right but it is also dreaded by many people.

Does Long-Distance Relationship Work?

The short answer to this question is ‘yes’. Long-distance relationships are not doomed. They can actually thrive. Like other kinds of relationships, long-distance relationships are also made up of real-life people who either have the will, or not, to make things work no matter what.

In fact, a 2010 German study revealed that long-distance relationships were more stable than geographically close dating relationships because people dating from afar were more idealistic and had more positive reminisces. However, this study also showed that people dating from afar often tend to have issues and separate when they eventually come together.

In another 2018 research conducted by KIIROO, studies found out that long-distance relationships have a 58 percent success rate. Most of the people who meet online tend to become very fond of each other and build up great anticipation before eventually meeting physically.

How Long Do Long-Distance Relationships Last?

It has been found out that most long-distance relationships only last a couple of years and some months. A German study conducted in 2010 made some findings revealing that the average length of a long-distance relationship was 2.9 years. This is less than half the length of a proximal or physical relationship which is usually expected to last about 7.3 years.

However, it is not all long-distance relationships that fail to work. Whether or not a long-distance relationship works is dependent on a number of factors including how much the couples involved are willing to exert themselves and find a balance in their love life.

Long-distance relationships

What Qualifies As A Long-Distance Relationship?

What really qualifies a relationship to be called long-distance? Can long-distance be used to refer to those who are simply not living with their partners? Absolutely not! You can’t say you’re having a long-distance romance just because they are not with you in your house.

A long-distance relationship is one in which you and your partner cannot see each other as regularly as you want because the distance between you is significant. In a 2018 survey, respondents said living at least 132 miles away from each other is the official qualifying factor for one being in a long-distance relationship.

People in this kind of relationship, according to the survey, also text a lot. Long-distance partners send one another about 343 texts per week. They also spend as many as eight hours at least every week video chatting or just talking on the phone.

Why People Get Into Long-Distance Relationships

People get into long-distance relationships for a number of reasons. Many of these reasons have to do with situations beyond the control of the couple involved in the relationship. Undoubtedly, the reasons below are not the only reasons why people get into long-distance relationships, but they are the most common.

College Calls

For some people, school is one reason why they get into long-distance relationships. In fact, school is one of the main reasons why many people are loving from afar. Young people in college who fall in love while at home have to settle for long-distance relationships when school resumes and they have to go back to college. In this case, they have no choice but to go to study.

In other cases, some students fall in love while in school and then during the holidays, they are separated for some time. During this time, they have to accept the reality of long-distance relationships.

Long-Distance Relationships

Work Calls

For other people, it’s all about work. People like soldiers who are transferred to distant places for long periods at a time for service, have to be content with loving their partners from afar. There’s nothing they can do, it’s part of the job. Apart from military work, there are many other kinds of work that have sent lovers far apart over the years.

‘We Met Online’

In this age of high connectivity because of the internet, people now meet their significant others online. Many people go online to find love on dating sites and some of these people end up falling in love with someone who lives thousands of miles away from them. When this happens, the only option available to them for some time is a long-distance relationship, at least until they finally meet up in person.

Why Some People Are Skeptical About Beginning Long-Distance Relationships

There are many people who just don’t like long-distance relationships for a number of reasons and they are hardly to blame because maintaining a love for someone from afar requires a lot of hard work. The whole thing requires an incredibly high amount of careful planning and navigation to succeed and not many people can successfully work this out.

People who have been in love with someone far apart from them have given some reasons why they don’t like the idea of long-distance romantic relationships.

The Lack Of Frequent Intimacy

In the 2018 research conducted by KIIROO, many respondents agreed that the lack of frequent sex with the people they love is one major reason why they don’t like long-distance relationships. In fact, 31% of respondents claimed that the lack of sex was the hardest part of that distance dating arrangement.

Lack Of Physical Contact

In the same research, some other people agreed that the general lack of physical contact was a major turnoff. For this set of people, it was not just about having sex, the ability to just hold the person and feel them close was very important. The research showed that 66% of respondents indicated that the hardest thing about being in a long-distance relationship was the lack of physical intimacy.

‘My Partner May Cheat’

For many, the idea of long-distance romantic relationships is not appealing at all because they feel their significant other will cheat when they are far away. This notion about long-distance relationships scares some people away from engaging in it. They prefer a situation where they can see their partner very frequently.

Long-distance relationship

Are There Any Benefits Of Being Separated From Your Lover In Long-Distance Relationships?

Many people hate to be in long-distance relationships for a number of reasons. However, the truth is, there are quite some positive benefits of being far apart from your romantic partner.

Your Emotional Bond Gets Stronger

In the current age and time, many people equate sex with relationships. In other words, society today is so obsessed with sex as evidenced by its frequency in the mass media, that people are made to believe that having sex is the primary reason for people coming together to develop a romantic relationship. This has made the emotional bond between romantic partners so weak that only sex keeps their relationship alive.

However, when you start a long-distance romantic relationship, you get the chance to do away with this school of thought that relationships are all about sex and you start to develop a stronger emotional bond with your partner that is beyond physical caresses and sex. This allows for a more mature and fulfilling relationship.

You Get To Appreciate The Time You Spend Together

Many romantic partners who are living together tend to take each other for granted. They also tend take their partner’s body for granted since they can have sex whenever they like, and then they fight over small matters which can lead to a breakup.

However, long-distance relationships teach you to value your partner more. You crave them and see how important they are to you. This time apart helps bring you even closer in ways that being constantly close may not achieve.

You Start Having Deeper Communication

When you are far apart from your romantic partner, you tend to get a little more serious with them. People who spend all their time together may not see the need to ask some questions about where they are headed. They tend to just enjoy the moment; however, long-distance relationships afford you the opportunity to do something more than that. It makes you start asking serious questions and have deeper communication that helps to tell you if you have the same ideology as your partner and if you are heading in the same direction.

Signs Your Long-Distance Relationship Is Not Working Out

When in a long-distance romantic relationship, you must take careful stock of whether or not your romance is working. There is no point in trying to build a relationship that you are not sure will work out. Be careful to make sure that the romantic partner in your life is also invested in you and the relationship.

Below are some warning signs that things are falling apart.

They are now making excuses to not communicate with you

In the beginning, talking was very exciting and you two could not wait to get on the phone to talk about how the day went or what you were planning for the next day. However, now, things have changed completely. Your partner no longer likes talking with you and makes excuses not to hear you speak when you call them. They pick your call but then tell you they can’t talk now. They’ll call you later. They’re always busy now.

This is a red flag and it should not be taken for granted. Wanting to talk to your partner is simply the least you can do for them and when this stops coming, then it means their attention has been taken off you.

They’re no more available 

When you started talking with your partner at the start of your long-distance romance, they were always available to you. You didn’t have to make much of an effort to reach them. When you call, they always answer and excitedly start telling you about themselves. But, now they don’t even answer the phone anymore and they don’t reply to your messages as soon as possible; sometimes, they don’t reply till two days later.

This is a very red flag. Your significant other should not avoid your calls, and then fail to get back to you as soon as possible. When things get to this state, you’re already being left on your own. It’s best to understand that it’s not working out anymore.

They’re now leaving you out of their plans

In the beginning, your partner was always excited to tell you about their plans. To fill you in on their next step and even ask for your advice on how to go about it. However, this has stopped completely. You no longer know what they are doing and they don’t volunteer to tell you much.

This is also a red flag. It goes a long way to show they are getting tired of the relationship.

They’re no more affectionate

Previously, there was a lot of affection in your communication such as calling yourselves by fond names when you send text messages. However, they no longer show you that kind of affection. This is also a red flag and should be addressed.

Long-distance relationships

You argue more now

In the beginning, you argued less and often settled things quickly. However, these days, you argue a lot more about very little things and they are less eager to settle matters. This is very telling and should not be ignored.

How To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work

Technology Plays A Big Part In Their Success 

Technology has helped a lot of people in long-distance dating arrangements. In the KIIROO survey, 88 percent of respondents claimed that the use of technology greatly helped them to feel a lot closer to their partners through video calls and other means, throughout the time they were in long-distance relationships. A PEW Research also shows that 24% of people who use the internet and have had a recent dating experience have agreed to have used the internet to keep the flame in the long-distance romantic relationship alive.

A 2015 research revealed that people in long-distance romantic relationships tend to use social media a lot more than other couples. Of course, this is no surprise at all. Because this is what keeps the relationship alive among other things. In the modern age, long-distance couples have so much at their disposal to make their romance work. As a result, today, more people are becoming open to long-distance romantic relationships.

Long-Distance Relationship Tips To Make it Work

Here are certain things you have to do if you want your long-distance relationship to work out.

Show them you are there for them

Even though you are not physically present with your partner, you can still show them you are there for them in their times of need. Put them first and try to solve their problems. It has been established that a happy relationship is one in which partners frequently and successfully respond to the other’s emotional calls. Do this and your relationship will thrive.

Do things together

We live in an age where things have been simplified by the internet. You can actually do things together with your partner online to create that bond you seek. For instance, you can plan to take a walk together while talking on video calls. You can also play an online game together or sing together if you want. This has been proven to work; marriage therapist, Liz Colizza, explains that when couples have shared experiences in their long-distance relationship, it increases the cohesion of their relationship.

Talk dirty with each other

Fill your fantasy with romantic moments with your partner. Play romantic truth or dare games and get intimate with each other over the phone. You can even choose to spice things up more. This will help with intimacy issues.

Remind yourselves what you love about each other

Talk often about the relationship you have and what you love about what you share together. Also, talk about yourselves and tell yourselves about what you love about your personalities. Repeat words of affirmation to your partner and keep them blushing. Set the standard of mutual affection high every time with them.

Create trust between yourselves

Be very transparent with your partner when in a long-distance relationship. This is very important. The realization that they can trust you will make them melt every time. Nobody functions well in relationships when they can’t trust their partners. Be open, Be honest. Be affectionate.

Key Takeaway:

A long-distance relationship may not be for everyone, however, with self-sacrifice, dedication, frequent and genuine communication from both parties, you can make some astounding progress simply because you would have built a strong bond to keep yourselves together.

Joanne Lawrence
Joanne Lawrence
Joanne Lawrence is an experienced journalist and lifestyle blogger based in London, United Kingdom


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