The Benefits of Long-Distance Relationships

Michelle Overman, LMFT
Updated on December 2, 2020

Conventional wisdom tells us that it’s a bad idea to get involved in a long-distance relationship. However, research has illustrated that this notion may no longer be correct. In fact, up to 75% of college students and nearly 3 million adult couples live apart every year. Studies are showing people who engage in long-distance relationships tend to have more meaningful conversations, more intimacy, and more intentionality. That part may seem mind-blowing at first, but when you think about it more, the conclusions actually make some sense. In today’s world, you have countless ways to connect with people. Technology such as Skype and FaceTime allows you to see loved ones face-to-face. Long-distance relationships are therefore better equipped to succeed than in the past.

Long-Distance Relationships

These couples are required to make time for each other daily where time together is not a given. When they do get to see one other, they are trying to soak up every moment they can. If done well, studies show that these couples can be just as strong and successful as those who see each other every day. What once may have seemed impossible is no longer, and in reality is entirely doable, even providing some benefits along the way.

The Pros of Long-Distance Relationships Include:

Equipping Couples With the Resilience to Handle Even Tougher Times Ahead in Their Relationship

Even with all the available technology, in-person relationships tend to be easier to maintain. Long-distance relationships can be difficult and couples, no matter how incredible they are, will struggle at different points. When these couples are able to continue to work through tough moments due to their long-distance situation, they will become strengthened in ways that could prepare them for potential challenges in the future.

Helping Couples Become Excellent Communicators

Couples that live far apart learn communicate well. Whether it’s communicating the logistics of when and where they will talk or planning the next time they will see each other, couples have to develop the skills to communicate. On a deeper level, they have to learn to communicate about sensitive topics at times when they are not able to see or hear each other, such as when texting or speaking over the phone are the only available options. Living apart can allow individuals to cultivate these types of skills that will only benefit the relationship overall.

Pushing Couples to Have a Relationship Beyond Physical Intimacy

Sex and physical intimacy can be important aspects to most relationships. If that is removed or becomes very infrequent, couples are able to focus on the other necessary parts of their relationship. The physical part of the relationship, while it may be wonderful, can become distracting or limit interactions to being superficial. Long-distance couples have the opportunity to strengthen the non-physical, yet invaluable, aspects of their relationship.

Allowing for the Development of Deep Amounts of Trust

Trusting someone you cannot be with regularly may be difficult at first. When paired with a lack of communication or a history of dishonesty, building trust can become a major challenge. However, deep trust can be developed over time and will help diminish the insecurity or fear common to many long-distance relationships.

Helping Couples Learn How to Maintain Their Sense of Self

Couples who spend significant amounts of time away from each other are left with the choice of either being alone or creating a social life for themselves. Long-distance relationships can empower both individuals in the partnership to develop their own life. During this process, a person has the opportunity to learn how to find happiness on their own, understand themselves more deeply, and create a sense of identity. When a couple consists of people who have a strong sense of self, it has positive impacts on the relationship.

Preventing Co-Dependency

Losing yourself in a relationship is unhealthy. A relationship involves lives coming together by people sharing their personal world and creating a new one together. Long-distance relationships can help you maintain your own identity, potentially preventing people from becoming co-dependent.

Maintaining a Sense of Excitement

When couples do not have the opportunity to see each other as often, every moment they spend together can be precious to them. You want to make every moment count, so couples tend to work extra hard to enjoy even a quick weekend together here and there. In some ways, as opposed to other relationships, this can keep the excitement alive and well almost as if you are newly dating again.

Helping Couples Have a Deeper Appreciation for Each Other

When time is limited, it is more difficult to take advantage of each other. You might find yourself noticing and valuing aspects of your partner you might not have noticed before. It helps you cherish the small things about them that make them stand apart. Cherishing each other is an important part in creating a happy, long-lasting relationship.

Some Added Perspective

In reality, these benefits can lead someone to actually believe in the idea “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” If done well, long-distance couples can create great habits like being intentional and being more aware of their partner’s needs. Without developing those qualities, their relationship would not survive.

Some of the challenging aspects of being involved in a long-distance relationship can actually be molded into strengths. Successful long-distance relationships involve two people who are willing to put in the work. In essence, it forces the couple to do those things that regular couples should be doing anyway, but often don’t.

Nonetheless, relationships are always going to have their challenges. The problem is that while many couples seek counseling when they hit hard times, couples living far apart often feel that they don’t have this option. They therefore try to work things out on their own, giving up if they are unsuccessful. However, the same technologies they use for virtual communication can also be used for counseling. In fact, there are a number of options, including some reputable and well-regarded online marriage counseling providers that can help.

So, if you and your long-distance partner are committed to working hard to be together and grow as a couple, you will certainly find yourselves enjoying some of the many benefits of a healthy, long-distance relationship.

Michelle Overman, LMFT

Michelle is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families.

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