Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships. Do long distance relationships work out? About 20 years ago I was in a long-distance relationship with a guy who lived in another country. We met while he was doing business in San Diego and when deciding to date each other we did the standard taking turns visiting each other arrangement. As a Marriage Counselor, I see about 1 out of 10 couples who are in these types of relationships. Despite striving to manage their situation, the challenges don’t always make for a successful outcome.

Long Distance Relationships

Statistics show that about 14 to 15 million people in the United States considered themselves in a long distance relationship (2005). Furthermore, of that 14 million, almost four to four and a half million of these couples are in a non-marital relationship (The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships).

  • 4.5 months is the average time before a long distance relationship breaks down
  • 40 % of all long distance relationships ends with a break-up
  • 70 % of all failed long distance relationships fail due to unplanned changes

There are various reasons people are in long distance relationships. The couples I help include those in the Military and individuals who are away for extended periods of time because of their employment. A third of all people who claim they are in this type of relationship say these are college relationships.

The Internet and the economy have played a large part in fostering these unions. Online dating has made individuals more willing to give long distance a chance as virtual relationships can enable people to develop real connections even if they live on opposite ends of the country. Of course, there are drawbacks to this arrangement as individuals want their partners in the same town to enjoy activities and events together rather than have to do them alone or with other people.

There’s actually no evidence suggesting these relationships will survive, but they’re not any more likely to end than another kind of relationship. Naturally, long distance couples have to make an effort when they want the relationship to last.

More than two-thirds, which is an overwhelming majority of long distance end when the couple does not plan for changes in the moving forward process. A couple that has been in this current situation, at some point will need to make some adjustments in order to make the relationship last. This doesn’t mean that any relationship that doesn’t plan for the changes is expected for failure. Just long distance couples have more work to do.

On average some couples think this status quo may only last about 14 months, others may end after less than five months if the couple feels it will not work.  This could be in part because couples in long-distance relationships are more likely to worry about their partners cheating than those in close proximity relationships. However, there is no evidence suggesting that those in long distance relationships are more likely to cheat than others.

I was in my long distance relationship for 18 months. It had it’s pros and cons. The time apart was nice in that I had a lot of independent time to myself. The cons were obvious in that my partner was not present for a lot of what couples do together and the intimacy building opportunities were not optimized hence the relationship did not move any further than when it had run its course.

As a Couples Counselor I help people who have moved from living apart to actually moving in together, getting married and living the day-to-day life they longed for, only to realize the ‘red flags’ they once ignored, the incompatibilities they chose to deny, and the effective communication they never learned, and more importantly, the conflict resolution skills they never acquired, made the relationship not worth the wait. In my case, the man was “never wrong” and he never really wanted to live in San Diego. We never had the talk about the change and when I initiated one he changed the subject or gave me a bunch of reasons why it wasn’t happening sooner rather than later. As I tend to say in session, talk is talk, behavior is the truth.

And some people like being in long distance because it gives them the security of being in a relationship but not having the responsibilities that actually come with a full-time one.

So if you’re in a long-distance relationship…..how’s that working out for you? Status quo works for some people as the “what’s in it for me” factor is different for everyone.  If you need help in moving from status quo to something that works for you please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

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