As our lifestyles grow busier by the second, an estimated 14 million couples in the United States consider themselves in long-distance relationships (LDRs). And the numbers are increasing thanks to technology and the rising online dating scene.
Though LDRs can be hard to maintain and hardly ever feel like those portrayed in romantic comedies, research has seen a growing list of benefits to being in one. If you're one of the 14 million, help stay motivated with six significant benefits to being in an LDR.
While those in LDRs talk less frequently, a study from the Journal of Communication discovered these same individuals actually formed stronger bonds with more substantial communication than couples who lived near each other. These conversations not only tend to be deeper and more meaningful, but the communication skills and habits built between the two become a major asset in communicative effectiveness throughout the relationship.
Creates independence and interdependence
Sure LDRs can be alienating, but they also help push the individual to try new things--strengthening confidence and independence. By also developing interdependence, the partners' dynamic can become more resilient as the two maintain their individuality.
According to psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, "The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent. This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values."
Greater intimacy and sexual desire
Cornell University discovered couples in LDRs were very much attracted to their partner thanks to an unabashed vulnerability in disclosing more with them. Not only does this openness broaden attraction, but it fuels sexual desire and passion as well. Sure, LDRs lack physicality like traditional relationships, but some couples manage around the hurdles capably through candid conversation and creative use of technology, without fearing judgment or criticism.
LDRs are hard work and sometimes leave you feeling either contemplative or depressed. But here’s the thing about hard work: as Teddy Roosevelt says, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Many couples have credited their time apart with helping to see more clearly of how much they really wanted to be together. And that includes the devoted hours of Skype, Google Hangouts, late-night phone calls, air or road travel—all of it. Therapists regard this conscious effort of commitment as “deciding versus sliding,” meaning their choice to be in an LDR is active and not something pieced together over time.
Not only can a little distance amp up the romance between you and your partner, but researchers at Northwestern University discovered the 3.5 million married Americans who live in separate homes due to work reported being less anxious and depressed than those living under one roof. As if that wasn’t enough good news on the health side, according to reports by SafeFood, couples in LDRs tend to eat smaller portions, thus maintaining a healthier weight.
Since long-distance relationships are rooted in emotional intimacy--shared values and interests rather than the physical--these same couples are less likely to confuse lust with love. Meaning they are genuinely in love. In 2013, CNN found a growing number of couples who met online reported they fell in love before they ever met in person.
While it might seem odd for some, it was true for Casey Guadagnini and Matt Lockwood whose budding online friendship blossomed into a full-fledged romance, despite being an ocean apart. Though the pair are glad their love developed at a distance, the now happily married couple said it was hard.
“As hellacious as it was,” Lockwood tells The Washington Post, “that whole period of not being able to see each other, when the only way you can communicate is to talk—it makes you pretty strong.”
Psychologists at Chicago University reported those who met online and fell in love reported higher relationship satisfaction because of these exact benefits, as opposed to relationships based on chemistry alone—a quality that fades first in many long-term relationships.