The Effects of Distance on a Developing Relationship

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Navigating a new relationship is supposed to be fun and exciting, but when distance interferes with the getting-to-know you stage, various challenges can arise. There are ways to overcome those challenges, however, if you anticipate them ahead of time. So long as both members of a couple are fully committed to each other, the effects of distance on a developing relationship can be overcome.

1 Living Separate Lives

When couples are maintaining a long-distance relationship, they are missing out on being a part of each other’s day-to-day lives and social circles. The problem with living these separate lives is that you aren’t as easily identifiable as a couple, which can lead to a distorted view of availability by others. If your friends or classmates view you as single, simply because your better half is never around, you may find yourself in situations that could make it difficult to remain faithful. Frequently bringing your new love up in conversation, along with sharing photos and stories with your friends and loved ones when appropriate, can sometimes counteract this problem, suggests Marie Hartwell-Walker, licensed psychologist and marriage and family counselor, in the Psych Central article "The Challenge of Long-Distance Relationships."

2 Reduced Intimacy

Obviously, intimacy suffers when there are miles separating an otherwise happy couple. When you can’t hold the one you love or share even just the simplest of touches, the divide between you can start to feel greater with time. Fortunately, current technological advances make maintaining intimacy easier than ever before, explains Suzanne Phillips, licensed psychologist and co-author of the book “Healing Together,” in a PBS article she wrote titled "Love in Long-Distance Relationships." Take advantage of video chatting and frequent text messaging when you are yearning to share whatever intimacy you can with your partner from afar.

3 Amplified Insecurities

All relationships have a level of uncertainty, but for some, distance and time apart can magnify certain insecurities and lead to negativity and criticism festering in a relationship, explains Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the "Psychology Today" article "Love From Afar: Staying Close While You Live Apart." You may find yourself feeling more jealous in a distance relationship, constantly worrying about who your love is with and what is happening when you are not around. The best way to combat those feelings is with open and honest communication. Remember to keep yourself busy as well though, so that you don’t start smothering your partner with your need for reassurances.

4 Unequal Sacrifice

If both members of a couple aren’t fully committed and accepting of the distance relationship, or when one person feels as though he or she is sacrificing more than the other to make the relationship work, frequent complaints and arguments about the arrangement can quickly lead to the demise of your pairing, explains Hartwell-Walker. When it comes to the location of schools or first jobs, often bridging the divide isn’t as simple as some would hope. Should you decide to maintain this relationship, you both need to accept the limits that distance places on your pairing, finding a way to compromise equally in order to make the relationship work.

Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.