Once upon a time it was all so simple. We hooked up with someone in our near neighborhood and lived happily – or unhappily – ever after, as the case may be. Before the communications revolution, long distance relationships (LDRs) were a rarity, and our choice of lovers – both good and bad – was usually restricted to people living close by.
Now, though, it’s a different ballgame. With the opportunities opened up by the internet and fast travel, distance is no longer a barrier to falling in love, no matter where in the world two people may happen to live. But can long distance love ever be the ‘real thing’ – and does it actually work?
Let’s take a typical scenario. You meet on line, you find you have a lot in common and you click at once. Although you haven’t yet met in person, you sense there’s something exciting going on. There’s just one small issue however – you don’t live within easy traveling distance and getting together could present a challenge or two.
The Path of True Love
Finding true love is never easy, as anyone who’s been searching in vain for that ‘special someone’ will readily affirm. Sure, there are plenty of people we’re sexually attracted to and who we can get on with fairly well. But how many are there we can genuinely fall in love with, or with whom we’d want to spend the rest of our lives?
Why, then, be put off by a couple of obstacles when we think we may have finally found ‘The One’? The path of true love never runs smooth, it’s said – maybe because we have to test out our feelings in order to prove they are real. The lovers in mythic stories had fire-breathing dragons to overcome. Compared to that, surely a few miles between us aren’t an especially big deal?
Apparently not – if the growing number of couples falling for each other on opposite sides of the world is anything to go by. Once considered a big no-no because of the huge strain they imposed on a relationship, LDRs are gaining in popularity as it gets ever easier to handle the drawbacks – and the advantages they offer for some people become increasingly apparent. Let’s look at the pros and the cons.
The Deal Breakers
The high cost of telephone calls and traveling – which can obviously impose a big strain on finances – is one of the biggest LDR gripes. Talking to each other needn’t be expensive though, if we subscribe to a discount long distance phone plan, use a free internet telephony service or set up a webcam link. Journey costs can be minimized by availing ourselves of cheap advance-booking fares.
The practicalities of traveling to see each other are never easy – and especially so when two people are living in different countries or states. Obviously, the greater the distance, the less frequent the visits, the less time available to spend together, and the greater the strain on our relationship.
When the Cat's Away
For those who say LDRs can’t work, it’s the physical separation that’s generally the hardest thing to cope with. Webcams and phone calls can bridge the miles by keeping us in verbal and video contact, but they’re a poor substitute for physical intimacy. Although it all depends on our individual needs, for some people the lack of regular sex is the ultimate deal breaker, driving them to look elsewhere.
For this reason, if we’re at all insecure by nature, concerns about the other person’s faithfulness during periods of separation can severely test our trust in them – and may even destroy the relationship. If we can’t contain our fears that when the cat’s away the mouse will play, LDRs may not be for us.
When Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Well, not in all cases it’s true – people who can’t bear to be out of each other’s sight for more than a few hours can find it impossible to endure. But for many couples, who actually thrive on a bit of time apart, the answer is a resounding yes.
It’s the monotony of ‘normal’ relationships – the lack of surprises, the always knowing what to expect – that sometimes takes away some of the magic. Certainly, there’s much less opportunity to get bored in LDRs – and every time we do get to meet up, there’s something new and interesting to explore.
One thing everyone’s agreed on is the high excitement factor of LDRs. Sex may well be less frequent, but its intensity can more than make up for the intervening periods of abstinence. Sex in LDRs is never dull or samey, never loses its thrill – and whenever we get together it can feel like falling in love all over again.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds
People who value their independence swear by LDRs as the best way to enjoy a fulfilling life of one’s own while benefiting from the security of a committed romantic relationship. No chance here of losing our sense of personal identity as can sometimes happen when we’re always around each other: there’s a lot more time to explore our own interests rather than constantly having to fit in with someone else.
There’s more time, too, to devote to our work and career advancement without having to worry about neglecting our partner’s needs. LDRs generally tend to improve a couple’s professional prospects – although ultimately whoever decides to move home to join the other person may have to make some kind of compromise.
How to Make Your LDR Work
First and foremost, a word of caution. Be careful you’re not involved with a time waster – someone with no genuine desire for a real relationship who uses LDRs as a kind of diversion, often with several on the go at the same time. Unfortunately there are plenty of these types around - recognize them by the fact that they keep stalling on meeting up.
Always insist on a first meeting within a month or two and never get in too deep, say ‘I love you’ – or propose marriage (yes, it does happen) – just on the basis of a photograph and a few telephone conversations.
However well you may appear to get on in cyber space, you can never be 100% certain about the physical chemistry until you’ve actually met face to face. Schedule in regular long weekends together to properly test out your feelings before you make a major commitment such as moving or giving up your job.
Bridging the Physical Gap
Statistics show that people in LDRs who keep in daily contact have a much greater chance of staying the course than those who don’t. Talking regularly to each other about everyday stuff helps to make you feel more of a real part of each others’ lives. It also provides a constant reminder that you’re committed to a ‘significant other’.
Nowadays it’s a small world and it’s never been easier to bridge the miles using state of the art communications methods. Email, text messages and mobile calls can have you instantly talking to each other any time, any place – while webcams have totally revolutionized LDRs, facilitating ‘live’ video dates not too far removed from the real thing.
Out of Sight Doesn't Have to Mean Out of Mind
At the same time, don’t overlook the value of good old snail mail. There’s nothing like receiving a hand written love letter in the post to get someone’s heart a-fluttering. When you can’t show them you love them in person, it’s a great way of keeping the passion hot – something that’s especially important to work on in LDRs, where ‘out of sight’ is often also ‘out of mind’.
Giving each other a personal keepsake – a photo or any small object that carries your personal vibrations – is another effective means of helping to keep you in each other’s heart. Some people also like to fix a set time every day when they tune into each other telepathically. This can build a strong psychic connection between you that stands your relationship in future good stead.
The Proof of True Love
If you’ve come through a LDR successfully, you have a lot to be genuinely proud of. Like the lovers in tales of old, you’ve slain all the dragons and proved that your love is strong enough to endure the trials of separation. Having passed all the tests with flying colors, you have the basis for a sound ongoing relationship – and no matter what life decides to throw at you, you should be capable of withstanding it.
Clearly you’re willing to allow each other plenty of space without being eaten up by jealousy. You’ve resisted all kinds of temptations to give up on each other and have proven that ultimately there is only one person in the world for you. Not least you’ve shown you can communicate effectively, even under the most difficult circumstances.
If you’re capable of dealing with all this – and more – the bond between you may well be unbreakable. The likelihood is that your relationship is very special indeed. Maybe it’s ‘written in the stars’!
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