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Long-Distance Relationships Mislead

When in long-distance relationships, we make every effort to put our best side forward so that our partners would not have a chance to see who we truly are. This is not an effort to deceive them as it is more of human nature to put a façade for those we are trying to woo. Unfortunately, accentuating our good qualities is not what keeps us in relationships as it is our partners’ ability and willingness to tolerate our “not-so-attractive” side. Since no person has a natural tendency to expose their unpleasant side, none of us intentionally gives our partners the valuable experience to learn about us more than what we want them to know and vice versa.

In long-distance relationships, we cheat ourselves out of the experiences that come from the physical proximity when we are near each other. The physical closeness affords us the pleasure of intimacy that is unparalleled by none, but more importantly it forces us to deal with each other and tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies in moments where they are not being intimate. And non-intimate moments are a great opportunity to learn about one another.

Without the experience of being close to one another, we cannot say that we have learnt enough about our respective partners to take the relationship to the next level. All we learnt from long-distance relationships is exactly what we wished to learn from our partners: how much they love and miss us and that the feeling is mutual. As much as love is an important ingredient in relationships, compatibility and realizing that compatibility are as important. Long-distance relationships are not a good tool to assess compatibility, and thus they do not give us an honest picture of our relationships. It is easy to love and commit to love when all is going well; which is always the case in long-distance relationships.

The real test of relationships is each party’s ability and willingness to tolerate the other, and as much as one might think it is possible to assess that from afar, it is impossible to eliminate the fact that we choose to reveal only the side we wish to reveal and not a tinge more. There is a limitation of self-exposure that should put all of us on notice that long-distance relationships are not a good measuring stick in terms of the future of actual relationships. 

But this is not to say that long-distance relationships are doomed to fail. Not necessarily. It only means that they do not determine the fate of our relationships when they finally resume.

Dedicated to Ms. J.

About the author

Dr. Tseday is a clinical psychologist and one of the country's leading experts in marriage, relationships, and self development. She advocates a unique and at times controversial approach to the dynamics of marriage and personal development, the necessary element for a successful relationship. Read more »

One Comment

  1. Desperate
    Posted 03/10/10 at 2:48 AM | Permalink

    2 1/2 years ago, I started a long-distance relationship. He was staying 1 1/2 hours away from my city. We got together on weekends and sometimes once during the week time. After one year we married. Two months later I was pregnant. Everything was fast. But even now, we are still away from each other. We are not living together. Everything you said is true, but one thing missing: sometimes you really need someone to hug you, etc…

    Two days ago, I learned that my husband had a relationship with another woman before we married. I found their chats. They were flirting and inviting each other to their houses. I also found his chats with other girls that he found from different web sites during our marriage.

    When I asked for an explanation, my husband told me that the chats were before our marriage and that the chatting was to only feed his ego. I am really sure that my husband really loves me and I love him very much. But I don’t trust him anymore not only about the past but also not for the future. And this makes my feelings worse. He begged me to forgive him, but I don’t know if what he did before won’t happen again, since we will still be away from each other. I don’t know if the feelings of loneliness or whatever will not make him do the same thing again. I really don’t know what to think or what to do right now. I just know that long-distance relationships when married is not the correct type of relationship.

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