Everyone knows that long-distance relationships are hard work, but here is something you may not know: being in a long-distance relationship—at least for a season—can actually be good for you.
1. You get to know each other very well
When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you have nothing to build your relationship with but words. Recent research suggests that long-distance couples talk less frequently than those who live in the same city, but that their interactions tend to be deeper and more meaningful. Talking at this deep level helps you as a couple get to know each other very well. In the process, you also develop communication skills and habits that will help your relationship in the long run.
2. You are less likely to confuse lust with love
Attraction in a long-distance relationship tends to be based primarily on a foundation of emotional intimacy and shared values rather than physical intimacy. Being attracted to someone mostly because of the conversations you have (rather than the sex you share) is not an iron-clad guarantee of long-term relationship success, but it certainly helps.
3. You get to road-test your trust
When you are far away from someone you love, it can be difficult to keep your imagination in check. When your partner is out without you and having fun, it can be easy to second-guess them and let jealousy get a foothold in your mind. Being in a long-distance relationship forces you to recognize and confront some of these types of insecurities. It lets you practice trusting and being trustworthy. The confidence and sense of security that you can gain as a result? Priceless.
4. You learn to communicate and resolve conflict well
In a long-distance relationship you have nothing to do most of the time except talk to each other. In the process, you learn to connect deeply and communicate well. No matter how good you are at communicating, however, you and your partner will experience misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and conflict at some point.
When you’re far apart from each other, it takes even more trust and skill to negotiate these challenges. Couples who learn to address and resolve problems and conflict over distance equip themselves well to deal with future challenges in-person.
5. You really appreciate the time that you do spend together
Seeing each other less frequently helps you fully appreciate the time that you do spend with each other. You learn to savor time together regardless of whether you’re doing something mundane like grocery shopping or living it up at a fancy restaurant. Since feeling grateful is a surefire way to increase your happiness, this sort of appreciation both feels good in the moment and also provides a long-lasting mood boost!
6. You make more memorable moments
When you’re in a long-distance relationship you put more effort into making your time together special—you’re more likely to branch out and stretch to make a moment memorable. Maybe you play tourist in your own town, try a new restaurant, take a trip somewhere romantic, or have a picnic in your own backyard. When you do crazy things or work hard to make a day special, you create moments that carry particular power to shape your memories and flavor your personal story. These vivid memories become important and positive touchstones in your relationship.
We live in a world where many things come fast and easy. We can send a text or an email and get a reply almost instantly. We can grocery shop online and have it delivered. We can buy instant oatmeal, instant noodles, and instant coffee. Just like decent coffee, however, good relationships require some patience.
Long-distance relationships seem custom-designed to teach patience, and patience is a powerful life skill. Patience helps you tolerate minor frustrations without getting stressed. It enables you take a long-term view of situations and problems. It stabilizes you in the face of life’s challenges. And, trust me, if you ever have children, you will need it in spades. When you are being patient in your long-distance relationship you are not just nurturing love, you are developing your character.
8. You have more time to pursue other passions and interests
I wouldn’t advocate being in a long-distance relationship because it frees up your time, but extra free time can be a silver lining to living far apart from your loved one. Don’t spend every spare minute on Skype with your partner. Instead, use some of your extra time to do things that are fun or fulfilling—read books, work out, do something creative, spend time with other friends. Investing in other passions and relationships isn’t betraying your long-distance lover, it’s making you a more well-rounded, interesting, and happier person.
9. You develop independence
When you’re on your own most of the time you must learn how to tackle most challenges that daily life can throw at you—from getting your car serviced to making dinner or managing finances. When times feel tough, your partner can offer emotional support but won’t be able to sweep in and fix things for you. Like many other aspects of long-distance love, this rarely feels fun in the moment. You will, however, grow in self-sufficiency and independence. This, in turn, will only make you more attractive to your partner.
10. You cement your commitment
There are no two ways about it—long distance relationships are hard work. Settling down for a Skype date on a Friday night when you’d rather be spending some time snuggling can leave you feeling wistful at best and downright depressed at worst.
But here’s the good thing about hard work: the things we have to work for are often the very things most worth having. Many long-distance couples credit their time apart with helping them see just how much they really did want to be together. Persevering in the face of the distance helped make them even more committed to the relationship.
And after that? Well, if your relationship can survive long distance, it can survive most other things as well. Hopefully, the personal strengths, trust, and communication skills that you develop during your time in a long distance relationship will serve you well as a couple for many years after you have closed the gap.