Circumstances sometimes require couples to spend long periods of time apart. Maybe a job-transfer is necessary or one person is going away to school. Maybe a couple is already living apart and wondering if the relationship is going to make it. Distance adds difficulty to a relationship but some couples do survive the long distance relationship and emerge stronger than ever.
According to David Coleman, “the dating doctor” on the Web site datingdoctor.com, “A long distance relationship is any relationship between a ‘committed’ couple in which both parties live at least three hours apart and cannot see each other on a given day if they need or wanted to.”
Coleman said long distance relationships often lead to unfortunate breakups.
“If one person does not move closer to the other, 90 percent of all long distance relationships end within a year, 95 percent within two years, 98 percent within three years and 99 percent within four years,” he said.
There are many reasons long distance relationships are usually short lived.
One reason is that people sometimes force communication to occur every day by phone. Daily phone calls cause huge phone bills and arguments over mundane topics since two people usually have nothing new to talk about since they just talked the day before.
Couples also have a tendency to e-mail too often. E-mails can be misinterpreted and couples sometimes say things in writing they can never take back.
People also crave physical affection. They miss the other person’s smile, eye contact, scent, touch and kiss. A phone call or letter cannot replace physical interaction and because of this people tend to look for the missed affection somewhere closer and more convenient.
Another reason these relationships often fail is simply because people grow apart and develop new interests.
Sometimes even if a couple survives the long distance part, they may still break up when they reunite. This can happen because they have gotten so good at being apart, they find they are no longer good together in the same place.
To give a long distance relationship a valiant effort many guidelines and rules must be followed.
“Don’t talk everyday,” Coleman said. “Let some time go by so that you actually look forward to hearing each other’s voice or seeing their words on your screen.”
Do not argue over an e-mail and try not to argue over the phone either. It is best to have important discussions in person the next time you see each other so that nothing is misinterpreted.
Dave Sutton, a counselor at Student Health Services said communication is also a key element in long distance romances.
“Try not to blame each other for not feeling okay about the distance, recognize and talk about the feelings of freedom, disappointment, and abandonment and try to make mutual decisions,” Sutton said.
Blayre Stiller, a senior interior design student, has been in a long distance relationship for a little over three years. She lives in College Station and her boyfriend lives in Austin.
“The number one disadvantage is that we have limited time together,” Stiller said. “We rely on three day weekends, spring break, summer vacation and any time we can get off of work.
“Time management, commitment and trust are the key things that have helped the relationship,” she said.
Stiller said couples should take advantage of opportunities to speak with one another and work on maintaining trust.
“Take advantage of instant messaging and e-mail, or get a cell phone with great long distance,” Stiller said. “The most important thing is to have lots of trust and patience when you live far apart.”
Effective communication, clear expectations and commitment to the relationship by both parties, independence, mutual respect and making time together quality time are key tips to making a long distance relationships work.
To help, keep occupied while away from your partner. Get involved in organizations or causes that you personally believe in and put meaningful things in your life other than your significant other.