There’s that old saying: sometimes you find love in the most unlikely places. But, what if that place isn’t even in the same area code?
As the world becomes increasingly globalized through the internet, it’s now easier than ever to meet people online and potentially find yourself falling for someone on the other side of the globe. In fact, according to the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, more than 7 million people in the U.S. consider themselves to be in a long distance relationship.
But despite being relatively common, long distance relationships (LDRs) tend to be looked down upon. When you tell someone you’re in an LDR, usually their first reaction is, “Why?” In some ways it makes sense. There’s entire TV shows like Catfish and 90-Day Fiance dedicated to showing what happens when long distance online love goes terribly wrong. Also, friends want their friends to be happy and how can you be happy if the person you love is thousands of miles away?
There’s a long held belief that distance eventually kills romantic connections. However, interestingly enough, research from Cornell University in 2013 paints a very different picture of modern day LDRs. While examining the communication and interaction between 63 couples in long-distance relationships, the researchers found that not only can couples survive long distances, they can often be healthier than traditional relationships, too.
According to the research outlined in Mic, when communication is essential, such as in an LDR, it becomes much more meaningful. In the 2013 study “Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder,” professors L. Crystal Jiang and Jeffrey T. Hancock found that romantic pairs communicating over long distance created stronger bonds. As Dr. Jiang said, “Long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”
A 2013 Queen’s University study of LDR couples also found the further apart the couple was, the better they were doing with respect to satisfaction, intimacy and communication.
Thanks to the flourish of technology like texting, Facetime and Skype, while the rest of us are splayed out on the couch with our partners, phones and the latest season of Game of Thrones, long distance couples are using this time to actually talk and connect. Touché!
Plus, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Without having to focus on the mundane problems of everyday life together, you can focus on the important stuff: developing a deep sense of intimacy and trust across the miles.
While it’s exciting to hear that LDRs aren’t doomed, it doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. If you’re thinking of messaging someone who isn’t local, here are a few things to consider.
- How far away are they? Are you willing to travel?
Could you easily drive to their city within 1-2 hours, or does visiting your online love require you purchase a plane ticket? Before you send that first message, it’s worth taking a moment to consider these questions. Would you be open to spending time and money to explore this relationship? If the idea of travelling makes you run cold or just doesn’t fit with your current budget or lifestyle, you might want to stick to messaging local singles.
- Are you willing to move to be with them?
You don’t have to bring this up right away, but it’s definitely something worth considering. If they live in another city, would you be willing to relocate to be with this person? Would they be willing to relocate to be closer to you? If neither of you are open to the possibility of moving, it’s probably not worth pursuing the relationship. After all, LDRs need to have an end – that is, a point when the relationship is no longer long distance.
- Are you willing to let go of the fantasy?
One of the things that makes LDRs so romantic – but also problematic – is the sense that whenever you’re together, it feels like you’re in vacation mode a.k.a not real life. If you’re going to make it work, you need to be willing to push past the vacation vibes and work through actual day-to-day issues together.
At the end of the day, LDRs are what you make of them. Whether you decide to message a potential long distance love interest or not, it all comes down to your own personal comfort level and what you’re willing to put into the relationship.