Although stereotypically, long distance relationships (LDRs) are usually romantic in nature, we can have long distance relationships with our family and friends and everyone has been in a long distance relationship at some point in their lives. Long distance relationships go as far back as cave times and although they found ways to survive, the internet age and rise in mobile technology has definitely made LDRs much more feasible.
A research study done by the journal of communication argued that the separation of long distance relationships has no negative effect on the relationships themselves. The argument made in the study is that couples in long distance relationships tend to try much harder to maintain their relationship. However, as someone who has been in a long distance relationship myself, the most common problem facing LDRs is communication.
Although romantic LDRs have a very different dynamic to long distance relationships with family and friends, they all tend to have the same problem of communication. As someone who has been in a romantic long distance relationship, the phone can either be your best friend or worst enemy. Arguments over the phone tend to be more exaggerated and people’s intentions and opinions can often be misunderstood. This can also be a problem in non-romantic LDRs. As an international student who is either running from work to class and trying to keep up with life in general, it can sometimes be difficult staying in touch with family and friends.
Although a major problem is miscommunication or lack of communication, people in long distance relationships can sometimes over-communicate. This might not sound like a negative thing but as a first year international student who is arriving at a large campus like UofT, it is easy to fall into the trap of becoming antisocial and only communicating with those back at home. Unless a student makes an effort to make friends on campus and interact with his mates, homesickness and the need for familiarity can lead to the student being glued to their phone or laptop. This also plays out in romantic LDRs and it can be hard as a student to draw the line and create a balance between how much time you’re skyping with your partner and spending time with your new friends.
Another difficulty one can face in long distance relationships of any kind is that the two parties involved will be having different life experiences and this can significantly affect the type of conversations they could have. For example, No 17 in this Buzzfeed article. In romantic long distance relationships, especially in university, the individuals involved will have different experiences and this might affect the way they communicate with their partner, or don’t.
Although long distance relationships have their own unique problems, that does not mean that they are more doomed to fail compared to other types of relationships. Essentially, it is all about creating the right balance in your relationship and ensuring that the technology available works for you, not against you.
Crystal Jiang, L. and Hancock, J. T. (2013), Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. J Commun, 63: 556–577.