You've heard it often and so have we: distance makes the heart grow fonder. Based on our respective experiences, we've discovered this doesn't always hold true, and we know why.
Relationships have four dimensions that work together to make a connection with someone else fulfilling:
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1. Intellectually. Relationships that are long-distance can fulfill this dimension through great telephone chats, emails, IMs and exchanges of information. Admiration, stimulation and love can grow in this dimension quite easily because they are centered in what you know, understand and want to share with each other. The impact of distance on this dimension is low.
2. Emotionally. Distance can introduce some, well, distance. When one person experiences upset, frustration, fear, sadness we want the support that sometimes only a loved one can give with hugs, kisses, hand holding, back rubbing and eye contact that reassure, comfort and remind us of the loving support right beside us. These physical gestures that provide emotional support are not possible at a distance.
One could argue that talking could be emotionally supportive, and we are not discounting that. But sometimes, there are just no words. Likewise, when you are happy, get great news and have something to celebrate, you want to share these highly emotional moments with the one you love too. Emotional engagement comes from a combination of the senses of sight, sound and touch. The impact of distance on this dimension is high.
3. Spiritually. Distance can be a nuisance but not necessarily a dealbreaker. Celebrations of holidays and a shared sense of values are all part of a couple's spiritual life. Oftentimes — but not always — couples with the same faith find spirituality an easily shared dimension because each person has grown up with similar spiritual experiences and heritage. It's not about any one religion or necessarily about being of the same religion. It's more focused on an openness to spirituality and interests each person has in sharing experiences in this dimension. It is rooted in respecting and supporting the spiritual fulfillment for each other. This makes for a greater relationship with more depth. The impact of distance on this dimension is medium.
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4. Physically. Distance can be difficult. The only way to deal with this dimension is to be diligent about dissolving the distance. To reach out and touch someone, without saying a word, is an irreplaceable connection. It says "I love you" on a whole different level. Touch is a great experience for us as human beings and is an integral part of a loving, sustainable relationship. Without physical contact and presence, a relationship at a distance is doomed. Keep reading ...
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