How Distance Fosters Successful Relationships

Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

The two relationships that come to mind when I read this: my relationship with my parents and my relationship with my boyfriend. In college, the boyfriend and I had a long distance relationship. I was a freshman and he was a senior when we started dating. After he graduated, we had nearly three years playing the long distance game. We made a point to see each other once per month, with the exception on the semester I spent in Northern Ireland. That particular distance showed me a lot about the boyfriend. 

I’m not sure how many couples would do this, but my boyfriend and I Skyped 2 – 4 times per week. During lunch periods, I would give him a call. He would have woken up a little early for work just so he could talk to me. It meant a lot to me that he was comfortable with me studying abroad at all (some of my friends specifically mentioned their romantic relationships of reasons why they weren’t studying abroad) and it meant even more that he would go out of his way to have a monotonous conversation with me.

Honestly, our conversations didn’t differ too much from the norm. We still do the same thing during our commutes home from work. Using our Bluetooths, we frequently talk as we drive, asking riveting questions such as:

>  “How are you?”

>  “How was your day?”

>  “Anything interesting happen today?”

>  “What did you have for lunch?”

Maybe that sounds terrible to some people, but I think it’s important. Maintaining an intimate relationship involves being intimately involved in each other’s lives. People change every day, with every new experience. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll lose them.

Family and friend relationships are a little different. I don’t know how it is that you can be separated from friends and family, only to interact with each other as if no time has passed when you do get together, but it happens. Certainly distance has some kind of influence there.

Distance defiantly made me fonder of my parents. I’m not sure there is a specific reason I can point to. In college, I was an hour away from my parents and still saw them often enough, but I was viewed as a child. When I came home, I was always quickly reminded that college was about more than fencing and friends.

Once I graduated college, moved further away and started working, things changed. Is it that they finally saw me as an adult? I really don’t know. All I do know is that my relationship with my parents has never been stronger. Honestly, I don’t think our relationship would be nearly as good if I lived close to them. I’m not saying that’s a rule for all parental relationships, but it’s certainly true for mine.

This photo, “Long distance love” is copyright (c) 2014 Dvortygirl and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.. The image was cropped to create the featured image.
This photo, “Long distance love” is copyright (c) 2014 Dvortygirl and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.. The image was cropped to create the featured image.

I actually feel bad. Many of my friends call their parents once a week, if not once a day. Here I am calling my parents maybe once every two weeks. This distance works, though. It allows both myself and my parents to live our own kind of adulthood. I’m not nearly as conservative as my parents and there’s no way I’d feel able to be myself living close to my parents. There’s nothing wrong with how I live my life or with how my parents live theirs. I just feel like our preferences clash. With a bit of distance, those differences don’t matter. They don’t clash. That allows us to come together and enjoy each other’s company.

Perhaps there is a similarity there with romantic relationships. Distance allows people to live independent lives. People are allowed to grow into themselves without worrying what one or the other will think. I think this is especially true for parental relationships, where so much of childhood is spent trying to achieve the goals parents set. If a child never distances themselves at some point, they are never given true ability to come into their own. In romantic relationships, especially in the beginning, it’s much the same. Early in a relationship, people are often concerned about impressing the other. They may invest the effort in learning what the other person wants and try to meet that expectation. Distance allows that couple to maintain their individuality.

One of the reasons I insisted on living by myself for at least a year was to foster that individuality. Once you come into adulthood, I don’t think it’s healthy to be dependent on parents, lovers or anyone else. A person should be able to entertain themselves and solve many problems on their own. We all need help and we all appreciate the company of our loved ones, but we don’t want to be a burden.

Distance makes the heart grown fonder because it fosters our own individuality and provides the room for us to become our best selves. The reason why we love and are loved is because of who we are. Anything that enhances who we are inevitably enhances the love.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? How did it work out for you? Do you think long distance relationships that fail fail because of the distance or because of the people involved? How does distance differently effect relationships with your friends, family and lovers?

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12 thoughts on “How Distance Fosters Successful Relationships”

  1. I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for four years! We’re planning to close the gap next year and though I’m excited, I also think of missing everything and everyone (especially my mother) here but it will help me to be more independent and mature. 🙂 Anyways, LDR will work depending on the people involved. It’s not really the distance, but it sucks big time.

    1. Exactly. I think my relationship worked out because we had a close distance relationship for a year before the distance. That gave us some ground work and commitment to work off of. Still, the “L” word wasn’t used until we were long distance. I think it helped we are both rather independent people. We love each other, but we don’t need to be all over each other 24/7 to be happy. Even when we move in together, we will probably still take time for ourselves.

  2. Long distant relationships are very tricky. They will fail because of the people and not the distance. By that I mean the conversation and interest they keep. You will know if it’s worth keeping just base on that. With family it’s a different story. You grew up with them and that relationship has fostered then and how you behave when you see each other will depend on the levels of comfort you fostered with them before moving apart. I get my brother call me randomly just tell me a silly childhood incident even we may not have spoken for months before. Romantic relationship on the other hand it will not matter how far or close you are. Knowing it’s right will make all the difference.

    1. I agree that it depends on the people. I have seen some people who just can’t deal with the separation and some who can. I think it all depends on what a person needs in a relationship. Some people are more independent and can handle long distance. People who need more of a constant companion probably won’t be able to do the same.

  3. It was the same with me and my mother, too. I went to a boarding school at a very young age, and I didn’t like it at all without her for the first year. But during the second year, I was able to learn more about and understand myself better. I made some of my best friends over there. I sort of started liking living without my mother. 😛 you know, there was no one to tell you what to do all the time. The schedule of the boarding school started growing on me, and I got used to the routine.
    My mother and I, both have learned how to settle issues when our interests don’t match. Because know we know that being close to each other is the most valuable thing, rather than wining every petty little argument.

    1. I think it comes with understanding who we are as individuals. When you first enter the world, so much of life is dictated by what other people tell you. From the parent perspective, you are a person who needs to be told what to do. The only way to really break that is to put some distance between – effectively disabling a parent’s ability to dictate the going ons of your life. When they see you continue to succeed, they know you are fine on your own.

      I think we, as children, also reach an understanding of just how much our parents did for us, despite any flaws we my perceive them as having. Again, this is only really something that can be felt with distance because you are forced to do things on your own without using them as a safety net.

  4. I have never been in a long distance relationship but I know many people who have done that or are doing so now. Most are successful that I have observed. I think long distance relationships fail because of the people involved. At the same time, I think distance could definitely be a factor if there is not a good foundation built before being apart. Maybe not though! Distance affects my platonic and familial relationships positively – I value time spent with these people much more since we are far away from each other most of the time. 🙂

    1. For me, the foundation was everything. Without that, the distance wouldn’t have worked.

      I think distance is a good indicator of commitment as well. My boyfriend is not the type of person to travel of his own accord. Even for good friends and close family, he almost never offers to travel long distances for them. But he did for me – every other month – for years. That’s something that really stuck with us. We’ve been able to communicate out commitment across distances.

  5. I’m in a long distance relationship now. Ok, so he is an hour away, but he was 6 hours away for a few months. It works well for us. We are both independent people, and we would smother each other if we saw each other every day. We might go a few weeks without seeing each other. Honestly, it is all that much sweeter when I DO see him.
    We talk every day. Often more than once a day. I don’t know if it makes a difference that we are both older, both divorced. Maybe, maybe not. I DO know that I’m very comfortable on my own, and that makes a big difference in how I handle the distance.
    Paying attention and being interested in each others daily life is important. There is always a danger that you will take your partner for granted when you are together all of the time. That’s what I found during my marriage. I’m sure it’s not the case for many people.
    Long distance certainly isn’t for everyone. I realise that. It really does depend on the people – like ANY relationship. 🙂

    1. My boyfriend and I are similar to what you describe, but I don’t think the smothering thing will happen. We’re currently looking at moving in with each other (after 5.5 years of dating) and I still think we’ll be independent people. We’ll both want to play our individual video games or read books. Not that we won’t also hang out together. We’ve just done really well, having lived close to each other the past year or so, at striking a balance. I really think distance helped us though. We were both so young when we met, that it really helped us come into our own without losing ourselves in each other too much.

  6. I have been long distance relationship with my ex and our relationship not going so well. The distance between us make we always worry about small thing that should be not. We also fight each other because one of us not calling/texting every day and many more. I think distance is not the only reason for how long the relationship will be last but we should ask ourselves how much we love our lover

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