Are Long-Distance Relationships Worth It?

Ask Demetria: They don't always work out, but there are things you can do to stay connected.


I'm contemplating a long-distance relationship but don't know if I should. Should I? --N.C.

Um, not a lot of details for me to give a specific answer to your question, but I'll try. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of long-distance relationships. When friends or clients ask me if they should pursue getting to know a guy who lives out of state -- usually someone they met on vacation or at a work conference, occasionally online -- I advise them to have fun but not to get too serious.

And I specifically say "a guy" because while guys ask me a lot of questions, I've only heard women ask about LDRs. Sure, guys date long distance, but most don't contemplate doing it with any seriousness or move toward a relationship unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

The common male refrain for dating distance is the "45-minute rule," meaning that the travel distance between you and him should be under 45 minutes if you want a reasonable expectation of an actual monogamous relationship. This applies if you're in the same state or even city. There are plenty of New Yorkers who find that seriously dating someone in Harlem is implausible if they, say, live in Brooklyn.

In the best of circumstances, you get to know each other and enter into a relationship while in the same state, and then a job or school takes you somewhere else. A quick note about that: If you're a dating adult and your partner moves out of state and doesn't ask you to come with him or her (unless, of course, that person is going into the military), then you're missing the red flag being waved at the bleeding bull -- you. Your partner doesn't know how to tell you goodbye, and the move might be for many reasons -- and one of them is to get farther away from you. See the writing on the new driver's license and bow out gracefully.

The second-best circumstance is that you luck up and find someone who has a plethora of frequent-flier miles or has an immediate relative who is a pilot or stewardess, so you can see each other often -- and by often I mean at least twice a month. Even in this ideal LDR situation, expecting monogamy is akin to delusion. I know tons of people in committed LDRs, and while they are emotionally bonded to their out-of-town partner, their other parts are often bonding with someone else on the weekends (or weekdays) that their partners aren't around.

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Maybe things would be different if both parties were in the same state, but they're not. If long distance is the way you want to go, get on board with the idea of an open relationship. Pretending to be monogamous just adds a layer of deceit and imagination to an already inconvenient situation.

Maybe I just know shiesty people. Admittedly, folks don't call me to say how well their relationships are going, and perhaps the negativity I hear so often taints my perception. I acknowledge that there are people who don't cheat and are loyal, and that some long-distance relationships work and even result in marriages.

There's hope for the optimists. Here's how to swing the odds further in your favor.