The Benefits of Long-Distance Relationships

Tyra Wu ’19
Assistant Features Editor

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but does this apply to long-distance relationships? Most people believe that such relationships are less happy and more likely to end than relationships that aren’t long-distance. However, according to a study in the Nov. 2013 “Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy,” the quality of long-distance relationships is not significantly different from that of geographically close relationships.

Hannah Francis ’16 has been in a long-distance relationship for about seven months. During this time, she has learned that effective communication requires conscious effort.

“Because our primary mode of communication is via writing in letter or messenger form, I have to be more vulnerable expressing feelings to keep the emotional connection there,” Francis said. “I think the exchange of emotions has improved the depth of our relationship and allowed us to remember the humanity and imperfections in each other, when so often in written communication we can be selective about what we say or reveal to the other person.”

For Mary Taylor ’19, communication has also played a large role in her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, who goes to college in London.

“I’ve learned to be very, very clear, because if not, arguments can arise very easily because you can’t see each other. Skyping rather than talking on the phone is super helpful because if you can see each other’s faces, it’s a lot easier to understand how you meant something,” said Taylor.

Couples have to make effort to find time to talk with each other. With modern forms of communication like Skype, text messaging and email, it is now easier than ever to keep in contact with people far away.

In addition to strengthening communication skills, the challenges of long-distance relationships can improve a couple’s bond by establishing trust, independence and patience.

“You have to wait, and there’ll be days when you can’t talk at all, and it’s fine, because after that time you’ll be able to talk, and it’s still the same relationship you had before,” Taylor said.

The inability to show affection can be frustrating; however, the distance can also encourage couples to think of creative ways to express their feelings for each other.

“You can find anything online to send to the person: I’ve had pizza delivered and cookies sent via stores that are local to my boyfriend,” Francis said. “The internet rocks for little surprise gifts.”

Furthermore, being apart can make time spent together even more enjoyable.

“I think that it has made me very appreciative of time we have together but has also allowed me to be more frivolous with my time when I do get to be with him,” Francis said. “To be blatantly cheesy, time has a warped way of passing when we’re together, and I think accepting that has been eye-opening, when I’m typically very efficient with time management. But mostly, as much as it is wonderful to be in a distance relationship, being together is always the best.”

In the end each couple faces different challenges, whether it is a long-distance relationship or not.

“Ultimately, it’s worth it to stay with who you’re with because it would be harder not to have that person in your life,” Francis said. “I don’t think it’s anyone’s position to judge a long-distance relationship until they’ve been compelled to be in one themselves. Obviously it’s not ideal, but better in than out.”

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