What Is a Long-Distance Relationship

To make a long-distance relationship work, you need to know what it is and what it isn’t.

A long-distance relationship (LDR) is a romantic relationship where partners are separated by a geographical distance. Long-distance relationships are great a short while, but with time they become increasingly difficult to maintain.

No doubt, being away from your partner can be demanding and challenging.

Today, I’d like to show you another way to see a long-distance relationship. A way where you can avoid suffering, pain and distress by understanding what a long-distance relationship is and what it is not.

What Is a Long-Distance Relationship?

To understand what is a long-distance relationship, we should get clear on what is a relationship, what is a romantic relationship and how the distance affects a romantic relationship.

  • A relationship is an interaction between two people who decide to share their time and space.
  • A romantic relationship is an interaction between two people that involves sexual intimacy.
  • A romantic long-distance relationship is an interaction between two people that should involve sexual intimacy but doesn’t due to distance.

A long-distance romantic relationship differs from a regular romantic relationship in that partners don’t share their space.

How Does the Distance Affect a Romantic Relationship?

The fact that you don’t share the space in a long-distance romantic relationship has its downsides, but it also has some benefits.

Here are some benefits and disadvantages of living apart from your romantic partner.

Benefits of Living Apart from Your Partner

  • Extra time to spend on your personal life goals and ambitions.
  • Spending more time on hobbies, study, work or having fun.
  • Having all your space for yourself.
  • No need to accommodate anyone else into your schedule and the arrangement of your space.

Disadvantages of Living Apart from Your Partner

  • A Different way of communicating.
  • Easy to misunderstand your partner.
  • Hard to express your feelings.
  • Lack of physical intimacy.

How Do You Start a Long-Distance Relationship?

If you are starting a new long-distance relationship, I’m glad you’ve come across this article.

There are three ways you can find yourself in a long-distance relationship:

  1. Starting a new relationship with someone you met online.
  2. You met someone on holidays or during a trip, you like each other and want to start a long-distance relationship.
  3. You are in a relationship and have to live separately due to work or college.

Starting a long-distance relationship can be fun and exciting. And this is your opportunity to get it right from the beginning. Once you understand what a long-distance relationship is, you can decide if it’s for you or not.

Here Are some Tips for Starting a Long-Distance Relationship:

  • Before you start looking for a partner, ask yourself, what do you want from this relationship.
  • Knowing what you’re looking for in a partner will make it easier for you to choose the right one.
  • Understand your values, beliefs and preferences.
  • Make it clear for yourself what you want to achieve at the end of this long-distance relationship.
  • Are you looking for a friend, a casual relationship, a fling, or maybe you want a more serious relationship and perhaps marriage.
  • Consider the cost of travelling to see your special someone.
  • Who is going to move when you decide to live together.

What Is It like Being in a Long-Distance Relationship?

A long-distance relationship is like having a relationship with someone who isn’t there.

In regular romantic relationships, couples spend a lot of time together, talking, going out, having sex. Long-distance relationships are different in that technically you are together, but physically you are not. So apart from visiting your long-distance partner, the only things you can do together are online.

Many couples struggle in a long-distance relationship because they have the same expectations from a long-distance relationship as they do from a regular one. Suppose you fail to see a long-distance relationship for what it is. In that case, it can quickly become a struggle with misunderstandings, negativity and fights.

If you have the means to visit each other as often as you like, you can make it work. But for many couples in long-distance relationships, visiting each other is a luxury. It means that you can rarely see each other and sex is reserve for special occasions. 

While in a normal romantic relationship, sex is a part of your everyday life, in a long-distance relationship, it can become an issue. Modern couples reach out to technology, trying to satisfy themselves and each other with interactive gadgets.

These toys vary from kissing devices connected with the phone app to remotely controlled underwear. While it can be fun to play games for some time, it doesn’t replace the intimate touch of the person you love. 

Unless you have the time and the means for regular visits, you will have to deal with the lack of physical intimacy. Having a romantic relationship without sex for a long time can lead to sexual frustration. If you don’t find a way to see each other frequently, one of you may be tempted to sleep with someone else to satisfy their sexual needs.

At this point you must be asking if long-distance relationships ever work?

Long-distance relationships can work great for a short time. You still need to adjust to a different way of communicating and find a way to maintain physical intimacy. You can make your long-distance relationship fun with gifts and games.

What Are the Stages of a Long-Distance Relationship?

A long-distance relationship has 7 stages:

  1. Starting a long-distance relationship
  2. Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship
  3. Making your long-distance relationship work
  4. Moving in together after a long-distance relationship
  5. Living together after a long-distance relationship
  6. Marriage after a long-distance relationship
  7. Ending your long-distance relationship

These stages aren’t set in stone. They are more of a guide to help you navigate your long-distance relationship.

In reality, you may already have a relationship before you have to make it work long-distance. Marriage is a pinnacle of having a relationship for some, and it is unnecessary for others. You may also end your relationship at any stage or live happily ever after.

How Do You Navigate a Long-Distance Relationship?

In some ways, long-distance relationships are more challenging to navigate than regular ones. The communication in a long-distance relationship is different from when you talk face to face. Mainly because without seeing each other, it’s challenging to navigate your conversation and respond accordingly.

Unless you confirm with your partner, you can only assume what they mean. Without having them next to you, it’s hard to know for sure how your partner feels. 

While communication in a long-distance relationship can be challenging, it also has its benefits. When you communicate via text messages, you get more time to think before you reply. The downside is that it’s easy to misinterpret your partner without seeing their facial expressions and body language.

Long-distance brings many uncertainties into your relationship. If you don’t deal with these uncertainties right away, they can leave you with many doubts in your mind. Unresolved doubts will lead to unnecessary worries and anxiety. If you have insecurities, they can turn into jealousy resulting in a controlling behaviour that can ruin your relationship.

In a long-distance relationship, verbal and written communication are your only means to express yourself. So if you don’t say something, there’s no way for your partner to guess if something is off. That’s why misunderstandings are quite common and hard to solve.

If you want to have a healthy and successful long-distance relationship, you should learn to navigate it. And the way you do it is through effective communication.

Do Long-Distance Relationships Work?

There are many reasons why people find themselves in long-distance relationships. Some are out of choice, and others more out of necessity. You can make your long-distance relationship work one way or the other. First, ask yourself, is it healthy and is it worth it?

Whatever your circumstances may be, romantic long-distance relationships aren’t meant to last a long time. So, while they can work for a short period, they are not a long-term solution.

Long-distance relationships work in one of two ways:

  • A healthy relationship with clear communication and regular visits; or
  • A struggle to survive the long-distance, while feeling horny and frustrated most of the time.

Most couples in a long-distance relationship see living apart as a challenge and make a lot of effort to overcome it. They try to persevere when it gets hard and try to make it work when they feel horrible. In truth, all that effort and suffering comes from trying to make a long-distance relationship into something that it is not, a real romantic relationship.

To make your long-distance relationship work, you need to agree with your partner on what it is and how long it’ll last. Once you know what a long-distance relationship is, you will be able to handle it the right way. When you realise what a long-distance relationship is not, will help you avoid disappointment from false expectations.

A Long-Distance Relationship Is:

  • A period in a relationship when you live apart from your romantic partner.
  • A great way to start a romantic relationship with someone new.
  • A short-term solution to maintain a connection with an existing partner.
  • An opportunity to be in a romantic relationship and have the time to pursue your life goals and ambitions.
  • A way to reassess your current relationship from a different perspective.

A Long-Distance Relationship Is Not:

  • A sustainable romantic relationship for a long time.
  • A long-term solution to maintain a romantic relationship.

What Is an Open Long-Distance Relationship?

Although open relationships aren’t for everyone, they can work very well in long-distance relationships. If your relationship is at stake because of the lack of physical intimacy, an open relationship may be the solution.

An open long-distance relationship is when partners remain romantically involved but are also free to have intimate relationships with other people.

Love is a special connection that is beyond physical intimacy alone. Many people have a problem sharing their partner sexually with others because they have a sense of ownership. The idea of two people in a relationship belonging to each other is deeply rooted in our thinking.

But the reality is that relationship isn’t about owning another person. A relationship is about sharing your time and space with someone who contributes to your life in some way. A romantic relationship, for example, satisfies both physical and emotional needs. That’s why two people in a regular romantic relationship often don’t need others as much.

Physical intimacy in a long-distance relationship can become an issue. This issue can be solved by having an open long-distance relationship.

If your love is emotionally strong, sex with other people isn’t enough to break it.

What Is a Healthy Long-Distance Relationship?

A healthy long-distance relationship is when both partners enjoy their relationship while having fun with extra time and appreciating the space they have for themselves.

It can be confusing to be in a romantic relationship without being able to touch your partner. But if this is your reality, the worst thing you can do is to obsess about the lack of physical closeness.

It’s unhealthy to think about things you can’t do because you will feel more powerless, depressed and frustrated. You’ll end up spending too much time texting and talking trying to compensate for the lack of physical closeness.

Excessive communication takes away the time you could spend doing something interesting, which you can then share with your partner. Over communication also leads to dull conversations and a boring long-distance relationship.

By thinking about the limitations of a long-distance relationship, you are neglecting your life and your relationship.

Instead, you can see your long-distance relationship as an opportunity to catch up with your personal life. You have the time to do what you love, spend time with friends and family, and catch on your life goals and ambitions.

Communication is one of the keys to a healthy long-distance relationship. Talk to your partner and agree on several aspects of your communication:

If you would like to know if your relationship is a healthy one, this workbook will help you figure it out:

Are Long-Distance Relationships Worth It?

Being in a long-distance relationship is worth it if it’s a healthy relationship. 

A healthy relationship is when partners have trust, understanding, and fantastic communication to share their feelings and solve their issues. Being in a long-distance relationship can be a lot of fun, or it can be hard work.

If it works for you and your partner, then great. But if it doesn’t, it can get complicated very quickly and may not be worth the trouble.

Recognising a long-distance relationship for what it is will help you manage your life, your time and your expectations. Once you know what long-distance relationship is, you’ll stop trying to make it into what it isn’t.

Long-distance relationships are different from living together with your romantic partner. The two aspects of a relationship that distance affects the most are communication and physical intimacy.

It’s easy to misinterpret your partner when your only communication is via online means. Without seeing your partner and feeling their presence, it’s hard to tell how they are feeling at a time and what exactly they mean. Misunderstanding can lead to confusion and result in pointless arguments and fights.

A romantic relationship involves physical intimacy. In a long-distance relationship, a lack of physical intimacy can lead to sexual frustration and anxiety. Without physical intimacy, your relationship is more of a friendship, which probably isn’t what you want.

The unfulfilled need for physical closeness and frequent misunderstandings are common causes of breakups. With this in mind, let’s see if it’s possible to have a long-distance relationship that’s healthy and successful.

Staying in a long-distance relationship for a short while can be great. You can catch up with your personal life, go out with friends, and do the things you always wanted but never had the time to do. But a lot of couples don’t see it that way.

Couples in a long-distance relationship usually see it as a struggle. And when you see your relationship as a struggle, it makes it almost impossible to see the good parts.

If all you get from your long-distance relationship is suffering and still trying to keep it going, you should ask yourself why you do it? Is it really worth it?

Do Long-Distance Relationships Last?

Some couples believe that if they survive the distance, their relationship is a success. It might be so if the objective is to be together regardless of how you feel. 

Long-distance affect relationships in ways that can change your relationship forever. Some couples persevere through the long-distance relationship just to break up shortly after their reunion.

If you want to have a healthy and successful relationship, you should know how to handle the distance. And part of it is knowing how long your long-distance relationship will last.

A long-distance relationship can last until a couple moves in together or ends the relationship. For example, if both partners are committed to their relationship, they can make it last for years. But are they happy during this time?

Sometimes the sense of duty, commitment and promises can override your feelings. In other words, you try to maintain a long-distance relationship even if all it brings is bad feelings.

Without feeling your partner’s presence and sex, the need for physical intimacy can get too much. When this happens, you or your partner might find someone else. 

Cheating in a long-distance relationship is a result of an unfulfilled need for sex, that hasn’t been addressed in time. In many cases, cheating (sleeping with other people) is mixed with distrust, but that’s not always the case. There’s a difference between trust and the need for physical intimacy.

Couples in long-distance relationships can feel deprived of physical closeness. But, if you have understanding and trust, you can talk to your partner about your feelings and needs. In doing so, you’ll be able to find a solution that works for both of you.

Many couples are in a long-distance relationship out of necessity rather than choice. It’s quite common to feel afraid and insecure when you don’t know what your partner is doing, and you miss them like crazy. You start having persistent negative thoughts and create stories that aren’t true.

While something may not be true, if you think about it long enough, it becomes part of your reality. And since this fake reality is based on negative thoughts and assumptions, it will bring you even more suffering and pain.

Ironically, these very same insecurities can give birth to jealousy and distrust. After some time, they may lead to arguments and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This kind of problem happens when you try to make a long-distance relationship last when it’s not working.

The longer you make your long-distance relationship last, the more disappointed you will be because of the lack of physical intimacy. Unfulfilled needs result in desperate behaviour that will affect your relationship, whether you are aware of it or not.

To say that long-distance relationships never last would be incorrect. While it may not be a healthy or happy relationship, you can make it work all the same if you choose to.

What Is a Successful Long-Distance Relationship?

A long-distance relationship is successful when it helps you achieve your goals.

Long-distance can be a burden, but it can also be an opportunity. It gives you the time to reflect on your personal goals and get a different perspective on your relationship.

In regular relationships, when partners see each other every day, they get used to it. Then relationship becomes a habit and partners take each other for granted. When you are in a long-distance relationship, you get to appreciate every moment during your visits. And if you manage your communication well, then every time you speak can also be very fulfilling.

If you want a successful long-distance relationship, you should know how long the distance will last and how you will maintain an emotional connection throughout this period. It would help if you also planned how and when you would communicate, how often you can visit each other, and a specific date for getting back together.


In a romantic relationship, you need physical intimacy; without it, your relationship is friendship.

Couples believe that a long-distance relationship has to be hard. There’s a lot of drama surrounding couples who live apart. And much information out there is about tips for surviving a long-distance relationship.

A long-distance relationship is not a real in that it limits physical intimacy, which is an integral part of a romantic relationship.

You can look at a long-distance relationship as a phase in your relationship. While it can be challenging, it’s also a perfect time for you to learn about each other’s personalities, values, and beliefs.

Often, a long-distance relationship comes as:

  • A new romantic relationship with someone you met on holidays or online.
  • A period of living apart from your partner because of study or work.

To have a healthy long-distance relationship, you need to agree with your partner on how and how often you will communicate. Keep your conversation topics diverse and exciting. And avoid excessive communication.

To make your long-distance relationship work, you need to define what a long-distance relationship means to you and your partner. Talk about how long it will last and what do you want at the end (e.g. to move in together or travel the world).

It’s easy to get used to being with your partner and take them for granted. A long-distance relationship allows you to reassess your current relationship from a different perspective. 

In a romantic relationship, you express sexual attraction through physical intimacy and sex. When you are in a long-distance relationship, the only way to express yourself in this way is during your visits or trips together.

Discuss the terms of your long-distance relationship. For example, are you exclusive, or are you free to get involved with others in some way? 

As long as you’re honest with each other, you’ll be able to discuss any preferences you may have. It’s better, to be honest, and let the other person decide if they are ok with it than hide your feelings and needs in fear that your partner will not accept them.

Suppose you are already in a relationship before the long-distance. In that case, you can enjoy personal time and space, provided the distance will last a few months. 

Sometimes long-distance can last for some years, like in the case of going to college. In that case, you’d be better off having a break or agree on an open relationship. It may be heartbreaking to say goodbye, but if you are meant to be together, you will be able to do it when the time comes.

In a long-distance relationship, it’s common to have doubts. These doubts lead to insecurities, which leads to jealousy and in turn, can grow into distrust. If you have doubts, you should feel free to share them with your partner.

Trust is the foundation of any relationship. And if you can’t trust your partner, then it’s time to reassess your relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of a long-distance relationship?

A long-distance relationship allows you to meet interesting people online and get to know them better. You can also stay in a long-distance relationship with your current partner in case you need to live apart for some reason. Long-distance relationships become pointless when all they bring is struggle and suffering. Ask your self if such a relationship is worth your time, or can you be happier with someone else?

What does a long-distance relationship teach you?

A long-distance relationship teaches you the importance of effective communication and understanding. Because if you don’t have effective communication with your long-distance partner, you won’t be able to have a healthy and successful relationship. Without seeing your partner, it’s easy to misinterpret what they say and how they feel. Misunderstandings result in confusion and lead to unnecessary arguments and fights.

What are long-distance relationships like?

A long-distance relationship is like having a romantic relationship without physical intimacy. You can maintain it for a short period, but at some point, it will lead to sexual frustration and anxiety. So make sure you visit each other regularly and aim for understanding instead of arguing. On the bright side, the distance also allows you extra time to do the things you enjoy with people you love, and you also get to have plenty of personal space.

What is normal in a long-distance relationship?

In a long-distance relationship, it’s normal to expect a lack of physical intimacy. If you don’t work on your communication, you can also expect a lot of confusion and unnecessary arguments. Lastly, you can expect to have a lot of time for yourself, but it’s up to you to make the most of it. While many long-distance relationships fail, you can make it work, provided you maintain trust, understanding and intimacy. In a long-distance relationship, normal doesn’t mean healthy. Normal is what most couples do. But then most long-distance couples struggle, suffer, and break up.

What is an open long-distance relationship?

An open long-distance relationship is when partners remain romantically involved but are also free to have intimate relationships with other people. The key to a successful open long-distance relationship is trust and open communication. If your relationship is at stake due to the lack of physical intimacy, you should consider an open relationship. It’s ok to give it a go, as long as you can talk about it and stop it if it doesn’t work for either of you.

What is a healthy long-distance relationship?

A healthy long-distance relationship is when both partners enjoy being with each other and can also make the most of the extra alone time. Many couples suffer because they can’t see each other. But few recognise the benefit of having personal space and spare time to do fun things with people they love. While there are ways to keep your long-distance relationship exciting, it should only be a short-term solution until you can live together.


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