At first blush, the idea of distance dating can be daunting. Trust me, I know. Living in a different city/state/country than a significant other is challenging. It requires a lot of extra effort and sacrifices that same-city dating simply does not demand. However, in my experience, I have found that going the distance can teach you a few very powerful lessons that factor into a happier and healthier relationship in the long run. Here are the top 3 lessons I have learned from long distance dating:
1. Long distance dating improves communication:
Here’s the stone cold truth: long distance cannot work without solid communication. I won’t lie to you, communication is more challenging during long distance, and it requires more effort than a same-city relationship, but while this may seem intimidating, it can provide you with many opportunities to improve your communication as a couple.
Communication during long distance is all about going the extra mile (obligatory distance pun, sorry) to keep your significant other in the loop; it requires you to think from your significant other’s perspective.
Example: Mark works as a Sports Anchor for a TV station in North Dakota, which means he spends a lot of time driving to different locations to do interviews and get stories. I am subscribed to his station’s app so that I can watch his broadcasts, but this app also sends text alerts of the city’s breaking news. One day when Mark was driving a few hours, I got a notification that there was a bad car crash in the city he was driving through. This made me a little nervous, so I gave him a call to make sure he was okay.
Now, whenever Mark is driving significant stretches for work, he goes out of his way to text me when he arrives to his destination. This is something I never asked him to do, but he knows that it will give me peace of mind if he lets me know he has safely reached his destination. Mark views this as a kind action he can take to keep me in the loop, rather than seeing it as an unnecessary extra task. Distance dating teaches you to be aware of the other person’s thought process, and it coaches you to be considerate in the way you communicate with each other.
2. Long distance dating takes the focus off of the physical
Don’t sign up for distance if you don’t think you can handle cutting out the majority of the physical side of your relationship. There will be times that you will see a couple walking hand-in-hand as you drive down the street, and in that moment, you wish for nothing more than to have your significant other beside you in the passenger seat, holding your hand. There will be times that you just really want a hug or a kiss from your boyfriend/girlfriend, but you know you won’t be getting one for another month. And it’s hard. I won’t sugarcoat it for you.
But it’s worth it. Long distance gives you a chance to build the emotional side of your relationship without advancing the physical. I believe that this is something that can really protect a relationship. It forces you to slow things down and build the trust, friendship, and emotional connection that a lot of people fast-forward through to get to the physical aspects of a relationship. When you date long distance, you know for a fact that the person cares about being with you for who you are as a person, rather than what you can give to them physically, because any expressions of physical affection are so few and far between. In the words of Chris Harrison, you know that they are in the relationship “For the right reasons.” Bonus: if you’re practicing abstinence, it makes it a lot easier.
3. Long distance tests your commitment to the relationship
In some ways, long distance is a sacrifice—you don’t get to spend a lot of time together in-person, which can be challenging, especially if your top love languages include quality time or physical touch. However, finding someone who is willing to give up some of the perks associated with same-city relationships shows a high level of commitment to making the relationship work.
I know that for me personally, doing long distance has strengthened the confidence I have in my relationship, because I am with a person who wants to date me, even though our circumstances are not ideal or convenient. Long distance is not for everyone, and not everyone will experience long distance, but doing long distance can test a relationship by showing you how committed you (and your significant other) are to the relationship. I believe that it gets a lot easier to tell whether or not you genuinely can see a future with someone if you know you are willing to put in the extra effort that distance demands, and take on the challenges that come along with it…and that is a powerful lesson that worth the extra mile.