The Pros And Cons Of Long-Distance Dating

Dating someone long distance? Advice on the LDR (long-distance relationship).

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Sunday Tollefson lives in Tacoma, Washington while her boyfriend of six months lives 2,306 frequent flier miles away in Ashburn, Virginia: a classic LDR. "I never imagined I could develop a romantic relationship with someone who lived on the opposite side of the country," she says. "But I did, and I'm so glad." 

New Yorker Melissa Braverman, on the other hand, hasn't had the same luck. She had a long-distance romance for well over a year with a man in Los Angeles. "We went through all of the highs and lows of long-distance love," she says. "But the number-one high ended up being cancelled out by the corresponding low—namely that the excitement and drama of being so far apart became impossible to live up to during our brief stolen moments together."


So what makes Tollefson's relationship work when so many others fizzle? Most dating experts agree that the extra mileage adds a major challenge in the quest for lasting love. The relationship becomes harder to maintain after the newness wears off, and you have to start addressing if, when and how you'll live in the same zip code. 5 Questions To Ask Before Relocating For Love

To make it work, you and your other half will have to jump in with both feet and put in a lot of extra effort. So before you begin a long-distance love affair, consider what's involved—the success or failure of your relationship may depend on it. 


First thing first: Can you go the distance? If you have a deep bank account, lots of frequent flier miles, a flexible work schedule or a desire to get out of town, seeing a partner far away can be feasible and fun. But if you're already on a budget, hurting for vacation days or hate traveling, flying off to see a partner can become miserable—well before you reach elite traveler status. And Brandi Hamrick, a Florida-based relationship coach, warns against relying on credit cards to foot the bill, saying that the debt could lead to resentment.

Beyond time and money, the distance also means you can't see each other on a whim. San Francisco-based Carla Borsoi, whose boyfriend of about a year lives in Austin, Texas, misses sharing little celebrations, like good news at work or special events with mutual friends. She also misses those sweet bonding rituals that usually come with new relationships, like getting surprise visits at work, or leaving handwritten notes on each other's cars. Not having your other half nearby can also be tough when you have a bad day, want a hug or need help with a task.

If you're insecure or prone to jealousy, you may not want to admit it, but long-distance dating will accentuate those feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, and set you on a fast path to breaking up. When you live in two different cities, you can't keep tabs, and you simply have to trust that nothing's going on. "The kind of people who will do best are realistic, honest and open people who are willing to talk about the harder realities of relationships," says Tina Tessina, author of The Commuter Marriage.

When you start out long-distance, the dynamics of communication and courting will be different. It's important to take the time to get to know each other fully. "You can have all kinds of chemistry [and only find out later that they're] narcissistic, inconsiderate and unreliable," Tessina stresses. And even though you might think that because you're in different cities you'll communicate less, you may actually communicate more. "We talk a lot," Borsoi says. "Every day, even if it's just a short text or IM exchange, we converse." That's more than some regular relationships. And when distance is a factor, the talking generally goes deeper into feelings—and sooner.


When dating, you typically wonder if the other person likes you as much as you like him or her. But long-distance dating requires you to lay all the cards on the table. There isn't as much ambiguity about feelings, which can be a good thing if you're comfortable with being open and honest, and if you have no patience for playing games or wondering endlessly about where you stand.

Still, Hamrick believes that every successful long-distance couple should look at the future concretely, not just abstractly. For example, partners may live in different states because one has children in school while the other has a good job. But they may reassess their arrangement once the children start college, perhaps considering marriage and/or a relocation.

Of course, it's easy to get bound up in fantasy when you see each other so rarely. Each reunion brings heightened sexual excitement, yet you miss out on the comfort and pleasure of becoming relaxed and familiar with each other. Tessina indicates that "when you do make a face-to-face visit, it's playtime—like vacation, where the two of you play house." The vital thing is to make sure you have extended time together, so that you can get a realistic sense of your compatibility before you convince yourselves that he or she is "the one."


The bottom line is that good love is hard to find. So when you feel strongly about a potential partner, it's a shame to rule out a relationship due to distance. "There are problems with every relationship, but it's how the problems get handled that matters," says Hamrick. "The long-distance relationships I have seen that didn't work probably wouldn't have worked if the people lived next door to each other—sure, it might be more convenient to stay around longer if you live nearby, but it would have more than likely ended." If you both understand the pros and cons, and think that you can both handle the extra effort that long-distance dating requires, why not give it a try?

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