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For a long distance relationship to work, both parties must be equally committed because staying in a long distance relationship is not the “path of least resistance.” You are either 100% committed or wavering on the edge – and if you are wavering on the edge, it is pretty obvious.
I can’t count the number of friends in “normal” relationships who have stayed in relationships because it was easier than ending it.
Or, more specifically, we have both decided that we communicated most efficiently when we lived in different cities.
When we had to work for it (Skype, email, video messages, etc), we treasured what the other person said. Between study abroad, job transfers, the “two body problem,” and a million other reasons for couples to live in different cities, long distance relationships are becoming mainstream.
Some people haven’t figured out how to be independent in a relationship.
[For more, check out: The Hardest Part of a Long-Distance Relationship – 12 steps for making it work] You can go weeks without shaving. If Ryosuke and I didn’t specifically set aside time to have a heart-to-heart, we could go days, weeks, or even months without talking about how he really felt when I put my feet up on his chair during dinner [hint, he didn’t like it]. [For more, check out: Don’t Blame the Distance – 6 Tips for Skyping During a Long Distance Relationship] During the nearly two years of long distance, we would chat on Skype for an hour each morning (my morning, his evening) and an hour and a half each evening (my evening, his morning). We came to the conclusion that if we didn’t set aside an hour a day to talk about our feelings, emotions, insecurities, and dreams, those thoughts often got swept under the rug and replaced with more “fun” topics like “did you see what Clarissa posted on Facebook? ” or “I think they should model the next Disney princess off of me because…” Some of the best conversations we had were living in separate cities – at 8am in a dream-muddled half-awake state while eating leftover Udon for breakfast. Crystal Jiang, of the department of communication at the City University in Hong Kong claims “Long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.” (You can read her full transcript, here) A similar study by Cornell University revealed that while couples in a “normal” relationship tended to have more daily interactions than couples in a long distance relationship, the couples who had hundreds of miles in between them tended to have longer, more meaningful conversations.
After all, don’t rock the boat if everything is going smoothing. Sure, it wasn’t fun to sleep alone, (and face it, being in a long distance relationship can be grueling, lonely, and frustrating) but man… The university told 63 heterosexual couples, half of which were a long distance relationship, to keep a communication diary and spend the next couple weeks completing questionnaires about their relationships.
The distance between the couples varied between 40 and 4,000 miles.
But when we live together like most “normal” couples, we only vaguely listen to what the other person says in between Netflix episodes, our weekly jog, and arguing over whose turn it is to take out the garbage (it is always his turn). Once upon a time, boy met girl, they fell in love, and lived happily ever after in the same house for the next three generations. Or, if not mainstream, at least more socially widespread.
Every time I tell someone that doing the whole “long distance relationship” thing actually strengthened my relationship, they laugh. And more than anything else, these long distance relationships are becoming a viable alternative to breaking up.