It’s not uncommon for couples to be challenged by long distance. Whether it’s spending a semester abroad, relocating for work, or having to move back home to help a loved one in need, having to spend some time in a long distance relationship while each partner does their own thing is becoming increasingly common.
If you ask the average person whether they think love can survive, or even thrive with the issue of geographical distance at hand, they are likely to say it’s destined to fail at some point. It seems to be a general consensus that long-distance relationships are less likely to succeed. Is there truth in this?
A recent study by Dargie et al. (2014) attempted to find out what makes a long-distance relationship work. The study compared the experiences of over 1,000 people; men and women in long-distance relationship with those in geographically close relationships.
Surprisingly, the study put the myths that long-distance relationships are less satisfying and less likely to succeed to rest, given that certain factors are met (couple do not have high anxiety levels, the bigger the distance the more the relationship is appreciated, having a positive attitude about the relationship). It revealed that people in long-distance relationships reported having the same level of relationship satisfaction—and sexual satisfaction—as their geographically-close counterparts.
Despite the negative stereotyping, long-distance relationships may be higher-quality and more stable than many of us assume. It turns out that distance does actually make the heart grow fonder.
– Matthew Bartolo is a counsellor specialising in Sex & Relationships. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples, and runs the sex education services within Willingness. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.