Is it possible for two people to be in a long distance love relationship?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A new research study shows that relationship satisfaction, longevity and closeness in a long distance relationship (LDR) is statistically close or equal to that in a geographically close relationship. This goes counter to common sense expectation that is based on a "tradition" of geographically close love relationships and marriage. We might ask if the "tradition" presents an accurate view and what the statistics are for how many couples are in LDRs.

Multiple studies have measured relationship quality and compared couples in LDRs to those in geographically close relationships. Couples in LDRs report identical levels of relationship satisfaction, intimacy, trust, and commitment. (Former Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships)

Is the idea of an historical tradition of geographically close relationships an accurate one? If we consider what we know of the lifestyles of groups like the Vikings, the Greeks, Romans, and Medieval and Renaissance Europeans, we realize that for significant periods of time, these families were distanced by repeated wars. An example of this is detailed in Homer's Iliad and, more dramatically, The Odyssey. In addition, in many countries it was quite typical in earlier centuries for families to be distanced because of men going off to work in jobs removed geographically from their homelands, as in mining operations in early America and Nairobi. This was evident in places like South Africa and even Switzerland, which drew Italians to available jobs, in the mid- to late-20th century.

The thing that is really new in LDRs is the circumstances surrounding contemporary distanced relationships, not the fact of distanced relationships. Technology, equal work and career commitments for women as for men, distance commutes for pleasure rather than necessity, social freedom in morals and mores, the lessening of marital and familial commitment and longevity, and the expectation of shared leisure, family and entertainment experiences.

Notwithstanding, certainly since World War II the pattern has been to work and love where you live in a geographically close pattern creating geographically close (proximal) relationships. As per recent studies, 30% of Proximal Relationships (PRs) and 27% of LDRs broke up after 6 months while 25% of PRs versus only 8% LDRs broke up after 1 year. A new study by Crystal Jiang of City University of Hong Kong, published in Journal of Communication (July 18, 2013) states that her "research provides compelling support for the opposite side [of common opinion] – long distance is not necessarily inferior to geographically close dating."

Thus if our opinions are based upon historic precedence, accumulating data and statistical indicators, as they should be, then it is safe to say that it is possible for two people to be in a genuine, satisfying, emotionally close and successful LDR.