Long distance relationships are becoming much more common these days, and they have become much easier to manage with modern technology. Back in the early 90’s while I was living in DC but dating someone in New York, we did not have cell phones, email, text messaging, Facebook, or any of the other modern forms of communication that so many of us now take for granted. It was not easy, but we managed to talk regularly, write letters and at least once a month one of us would make the trip north or south to see the other. We looked forward to those weekends together, and the rest of the time, we focused on what we needed to do for work, school, etc. This went on for about two years, until it was time for one of us to either make a move or part ways. At the time, we were totally in love, and parting ways was not an option, so instead we got engaged and managed to stay together for 12 years. Ultimately, it did not work out, but at least we gave it a shot.
The biggest risk with long-distance relationships is that it can be very difficult to gauge what a person is really like– when you don’t see someone all the time in their daily routine, it is quite possible that they are hiding some of their nastiest habits. Almost anyone can be on his/her best behavior for short periods of time, and it is human nature to want to hide our greatest flaws when we want someone to like us, so it does not have to be some methodically thought-out plan to keep certain things secret, it could be quite subconscious. This is why I always caution people to proceed extra carefully when embarking on a long distance relationship.
Despite the complications of a long distance relationship, there are many benefits to having your own space in the beginning. After spending quality time together, it is nice to be able to decompress on your own and process your feelings. Too often, I see people that live in the same area get very close, very fast. Distance forces you to pace the relationship more, and it causes you to really think whether it is worth the investment of time and energy, versus sticking with something easy because it is so convenient.
To develop any relationship takes commitment by both parties, but long distance ones force this issue sooner rather than later. Assuming both parties are interested in working things out, I believe it is much easier these days to facilitate regular and quite affordable forms of communication, including email, text, Facebook, Skype and WhatsAp. Keep in mind, however, that any written form of communication can always be misconstrued because you can’t hear someone’s tone of voice, and very few people seem able to say, “hey you hurt my feelings by…” Instead, we tend to either lash back or withdraw, and neither one of these options is particularly healthy. When in doubt, I say pick up the phone– nothing beats the sound of a loved one’s voice, except obviously, seeing them in person.