What I’ve noticed in my experience and research, is that some people, mostly those who don’t have a LDR, or those who don’t believe in LDRs, or even more so people who have gone through a failed LDR, will often claim that such relationships are NOT REAL relationships.
But this feeling, unfortunately, is not limited only to people who don’t have, don’t believe in, or have failed a long distance relationship, it’s also us long distance lovers, that we feel sometimes that what we have is the illusion of a relationship, and not a REAL romantic relationship.
And it’s easily understandable why people may feel and believe so.
There are solid reasons to think this way: long distance relationships seem as a waste of time, they seem doomed to failure and often with no potential future together; they seem as unsatisfactory and painful because our partners are not close to us to touch, kiss and make love to them, and all we do is to wait and miss each other like crazy.
All these reasons could lead us to think and feel like long distance relationships are not REAL!
But here’s my question to you…
What makes a relationship REAL?
Often even classic relationships don’t seem REAL, people stay in them just for the sex, or due to lack of other options, or just because of the money, because of the kids, other people’s opinions, due to personal insecurities and so on… and yet nobody questions if those relationships are REAL or NOT.
What Makes A Relationship Real?
Well, here’s my take on the realness of a relationship, be it long distance or not.
Reciprocal Love and Commitment = Real Relationship
Which means that if you love your girlfriend, and your girlfriend loves you, and you are both committed and dedicated to make this relationship work: then your relationship is REAL, no matter if there is 10.000 miles between you or 0 miles. If, however, one of these conditions is missing, reciprocal love or reciprocal commitment, then you have the illusion of a relationship, no matter if you’re close or far away from one another.
Long distance or not, as long as your primal need to love and feel loved is met, I see not reason why your relationship would not be REAL!
So it’s not the distance that determines whether a relationship is REAL or not, but the existence, or lack of, Love and Commitment.
And people had such relationships from the beginnings of humanity: soldiers going to war or to army, travelers going around the world, people forced to work in other countries, nowadays students who study abroad, and lovers who meet online; all these people having long distance relationships! How can you tell them that the love they carry in their hearts is not real?
And while it may be argued that for a long distance relationship to be realistic, the age of the partner, the nationality, the financial situation and the possibility of one of the partners to relocate would have to be RIGHT…
…these are but barriers that can be overcome and have been overcome by thousands of long distance lovers so far, because as long as there is love and commitment, you have the biggest motivator in the world to overcome these barriers. Of course not always it is possible, but more often than not, it is.
When The Realness Could Be Questionable?
Now there are, however, a few special cases when the “realness” of a long distance relationship could be reasonably questioned. Let’s see what these are:
1. When there’s an uncertain future ahead.
A question of “realness” would arise in the case of people meeting online, or even in person, but having no idea if they would be able to ever close the distance. Here it would be somewhat reasonable to see such a relationship as an illusion, and yet again…
What is the definition of a real relationship? One where there is a reciprocal feeling of love and commitment to each other.
Right! So, the fact that at this moment there is no clear plan of how and when you’ll close the distance, doesn’t mean that you should give up and label your relationship as an illusion.
As someone well pointed out to me recently “if the only thing that is “wrong” with a relationship is the distance, then I’d be stupid to throw it away!”
The realness of a relationship is not necessarily determined by your possibility to see each other in person and have sex regularly, or hang out and watch movies together, but more importantly by a reciprocal feeling of belonging to someone you deeply care about, at least for a while.
2. When it’s a naive and short term infatuation.
The realness could be also questioned when people meet online, and then become infatuated and obsessed with someone who they’ve never met and barely know anything about.
I wouldn’t call a Long Distance Relationship a few weeks of chatting with someone one through email, chartrooms, Facebook or even Skype… because that’s nothing else but a dating ritual, that could eventually lead to an LDR, but its still not one yet.
There is a difference between long distance dating and long distance relationships.
One means DATING (and thus getting to know each other), and the other means having a RELATIONSHIP (and being in love and committed to one another).
We often mistake these two and we say that Long Distance Relationships are not real, when we actually mean that long distance dating is not real because it’s uncertain and even dangerous sometimes.
But, while the online dating part may start as an illusion, as soon as there’s been a few months of sincere communication ON SKYPE (not just emails, chatting and texting) where people could really see who that other person is, and a reciprocal feeling of love has grown between them, there is no reason why that relationship would not be seen as REAL.
3. When there is NOT a reciprocal feeling of love and commitment.
Some other circumstance of where the realness of an LDR could be questioned is when there is NOT a reciprocal feeling of love and commitment among partners. The moment when a long distance relationship gets to a point where one partner is not fully committed and dedicated to make the relationship work, and he or she has somewhat “checked out” of the relationship, then that’s when that relationship becomes nothing else but an illusion for the partner who actually cares.
Such a relationship would be one where young people would go to different colleges, and they (or one of them) would enthusiastically look forward to having fun and enjoying their student lives (partying, drinking, being promiscuous) while also hoping that their long distance relationship will work out. In this case a long distance relationship would resemble more of a “support system” than a real relationship, a transitory romance between what was and what will be, when people move to a new and unknown environment.
4. When low self-esteem fuels the relationship.
The worst circumstance however is when people recently met online, they know very little about their partner, and yet they seem to “fall in love” even if there is no certainty that their new-found partners are feeling the same way about them, there is no possibility for them to meet very soon, and yet they became obsessed with them, and they’ve already decided that this person is the one.
That’s when the actual danger lies, but as long as you don’t forget to use your rational mind, not just your naïve emotions, and you one-by-one reduce all the illusionary barriers… (the lack of truthful information about them, uncertainty about their feelings, finding a way to meet them in person and so on) you may very well find out that it’s a very real and down to earth relationship that you’re having, one worth fighting for. But if it’s not the case, that’s okay too.
And the problem is that mostly young teenagers between 15 and 18 get into such relationships, and then idealize their relationship, get naively attached to someone who they’ve constructed more in their heads than those people actually being that way in real life.
What happens is that due to insecurity and low self-esteem, we tend to find validation of self worth in a relationship and in our partner’s affection for us.
And so the problem is that if we are fairly young and we’re too shy to actually meet a girl in our city, then when we meet a girl online in a chat room, and we talk for days in a row, and due to our personal insecurity we tend to get very attached quickly to that new person because she they give us what we need – love and appreciation; even though that may be the case of an obvious “impossible love”.
I am not here to say that such scenarios would never turn out fine, and people would never end up being together for real and live happily ever after, what I mean is that more often than not, people neglect their real life and potential for love close to them, for an illusionary relationship with the wrong person, fueled by their low self-esteem and need for validation.
These are a few scenarios that could challenge the realness a long distance relationship. And as you can see, in some of these cases, there can still be a real relationship in spite of the “unreal” appearance, while in others there are reasonable concerns of how “real” those relationships are.
But overall, long distance relationships, or as they are often and sometimes mistakenly called nowadays “Online Relationships”, just like online businesses – sound fake to many still. But there are thriving businesses online that make real money, and there are thriving relationships online that are based on real love.
And because such concepts are still new and have been around for a little over a decade, people are still skeptical. So be patient, don’t get angry when someone shows disbelief in your relationship, and tell them that the realness of a relationship is not determined by the distance, by how you met or how you communicate, but by the love and commitment that you have for each other.
Just A Different Type of Relationship
Therefore, the truth about long distance relationships is not that they are NOT REAL, but that they are just a different type of relationship. That’s all.
And a very special type of relationship by the way, one that is not meant to last forever, because in the end a long distance relationship is just a temporary circumstance of your REAL relationship, no matter if you know when you’ll be able to close the distance or you don’t know yet. You are still going to do so, or break up. You can’t go like that forever.
So my last suggestion is that, as long as there’s love and commitment, you see your long distance relationship as a REAL relationship and treat it accordingly – enjoy it and celebrate it with it’s goods and bads, until you change “this circumstance” to a classic relationship.
And don’t let anyone tell you what is REAL and what it not when it comes to your love life.
You are the one to decide that, and if you feel like it’s real then it is real. I strongly believe that you’re perfectly wired to evaluate that on your own, especially after you’ve read this article.
With great dedication,