On the other hand, sometimes a LDR brings incentive to disconnect, Jeff pointed out in our email exchange:
“About seven years ago I was dating a girl who lived about 12 hours away. We’d been in the same city for the first eight months of the relationship, but after I finished grad school I took a job five states away. When she decided to break up with me about nine months after I moved, she said, ‘Our phone conversations just aren’t very interesting anymore. You don’t seem excited to talk to me. I don’t feel like you really tell me about your life.’
While that relationship had several other issues of concern, I had to admit that she had a point. In retrospect, I realized that I had become so tired of the ache of missing her that in effect I boxed up my feelings and put them on a shelf; I actually felt some motivation to try to think about her less frequently.
I guess I figured I could take those feelings of affection down off the shelf when we talked on the phone, and then put them back after the conversation. But of course, feelings don’t really work that way, and instead I just became more withdrawn from those feelings, and found it harder to show her affection when we did talk.”
Perhaps this is why 63% of BustedHalo survey respondents said long-distance relationships could only go on for one- to three years before the couple needed to move to be together, or end the relationship. And during those LDR years, 48% of BustedHalo survey respondents said, at a minimum, a couple should see each other every month to keep the spark of the relationship alive. (Some 44% said three times a year might also work as an absolute minimum.)
Can it work?
For young-adult Catholics, questions of intimacy and pressure to ‘make up’ for lost time during romantic weekends together can bring up a host of difficult moral and interpersonal dilemmas.
And it’s not just high emotional costs that make LDRs a challenge: A 2006 article in Women’s Health cited research that quantified the monetary cost of LDRs at $278 per month. Travel and long-distance phone calls add up.
But for committed couples, LDRs can work—at least in the short term. Joseph, 29, said when he and his wife first married, he worked in Los Angeles and his wife lived in Denver. “We spent two years in this way, and I was back virtually every week. It forced us to focus on the substantial part of our relationship when we saw each other… but ultimately we chose to move and live together full time for emotional reasons,” he said. “Long-distance relationships tend to allow both partners the space they need to consider their feelings and to make the most of their time together. Still, there is a limit to how long a relationship can last like that before the distance grows larger.”
For more ideas on how to make a LDR work for you, check out The Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide: Secrets And Strategies from Successful Couples Who Have Gone the Distance and other books on the topic. And share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org