Lovehacker: Are Long-Distance Relationships A Terrible Idea?

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Dear Lovehacker, Are long distance relationships ever a good idea? Do you have any tips for making them work? Thanks, Wonton

Hi Wonton,

Although I have the urge to yell, "Christ no", the answer is yes, long distance can work. But you have to fight for it.

Sadly, my experience hasn't been positive. I once dated a guy doing a music degree in Lismore and things were incredibly strained.

Lack of regular intimacy and face-to-face contact is hard enough but then you have to throw the jealousy, schedule conflicts, FOMO and cost into the mix.

Don't underestimate that last one either. I dropped a lot of money on overpriced Rex flights back in the day. Keep things as equal as possible - make sure you're both visiting each other and that it isn't one person's responsibility to wear the majority of the cost.

In general, your relationship has to be strong in the first place for it to work.

We got together right before he moved away, so we didn't know whether it would work under normal circumstances.

As a result, a lot of problems that arose got blamed on the distance. If we had any long term exposure beforehand, we would have figured it out sooner.

If you are in a similar long distance situation, met on holiday or found each other online, it's important that you don't go from one extreme to the other, no matter how tempting it is. Don't make any life changing decisions until you have spent quality time together - even if things seem to be great.

It's likely that most of your time has been on the clock. You know that you only have a couple of days, a week, etc. It's perpetual honeymoon mode. You squeeze as much fun, special outings and sex into it as you can because the clock is ticking. But that isn't sustainable.

It's also very different to dealing with each other every day. Before changing jobs or moving, you need to make sure that you would actually be compatible.

The last thing you want is to move interstate after building everything up in your mind, only to discover that it doesn't work.

If one of you can take the time off work, I would suggest a trial move for a few weeks or a month. A long trip is another possibility but that isn't ideal. A holiday isn't real life.

If you do go for the latter, try staying in places where you have to cook and tidy up after yourself, such an Airbnb. Try to make things and normal as possible and see if it works.

I would also recommend not moving in straight away after doing long distance. I know it's exciting to finally be together but if it doesn't work out it's going to be so much harder to move out. Try living in the same city first, dating and having sleepovers. Baby steps are good.

This advice may be superfluous if you were together before extenuating circumstances forced the distance. So how do you keep things working?

Knowing the end-date can make it much easier to cope with. Is it temporary or long term? Is the person staying behind willing to relocate? You should know the answer to these questions before they or you move away.

Once it happens, make time to talk every day -- whether that's a phone call, Skype chat, texts or playing a game. You can even do long distance movie nights with services like Gaze, Synaptop and Rabbit. In fact, the latter let's you share pretty much any experience you want.

I'll let you discover that one for yourself.

Like with any other relationship, communication is the most important part of making long distance work. You need to establish what you're both comfortable with and be present in each others lives.

Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].


Comments

    Some great points. Be alert to the possibility that a long distance relationship may mask a person's less desirable traits. People tend to be on best behaviour during LDRs. If you notice any unpleasant tendencies, you can be relatively certain they will be even more pronounced when the long distance period comes to an end.

    Last edited 24/11/16 2:18 pm

    @psyartisan

    Absolutely! That definitely happened in my experience for both of us. We weren't right for each other and did things that the other didn't like -- but it flew well under the radar for a long time.

    My Wife and I did this for over 18 months. We had an end date but that kept slipping further and further back. One thing we had to be mindful of was the emptiness that could bring on depression. This might not be the same for everyone but we were living together for a good two years, then she got a job elsewhere and when she was gone there it was, it got worse after each visit and also over time

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