How Long-Distance Relationships Set You Up For Romantic Success

In the wise words of Hilary Banks, “Long-distance relationships don’t usually work out. I mean, look at 'The Little Mermaid.'” Her sister, Ashley, argues, “Yeah, but they ended up together.”

Hilary’s response? “Yeah, with the help of a lobster! Do you know a lobster?”

My first long-distance relationship didn’t work out. I didn’t have a lobster, so maybe that was the reason why. Maybe it was the distance, or maybe it was because the guy was a jerk. Maybe it was all three combined. I’m not sure exactly, but I am sure I would do it again.

I’ll admit I used to be that person who looked at long-distance couples absolutely dumbfounded.

"Why do that to yourself? You barely know each other, yet you’re jumping into a pretty serious commitment?"

Next thing I know, I’m dating a guy going back to college a thousand miles away from where I go to school.

Of course I missed him a lot. I missed being able to have that honeymoon phase in person instead of on Skype.

I missed being able to go out to parties with him and spend rainy days Netflix bingeing with him, like most couples do.

But to my own surprise, I found a couple of things about long-distance dating that made it worth the trouble for the beginning of any relationship.

Long distance forces you to answer two questions that could save you a lot of time:

1. Do you trust him or her?

2. Do you trust yourself?

It’s really easy to ignore these questions when your boyfriend or girlfriend is with you all the time because the lack of space between you two doesn't allow you to test your trust.

No one else will enter the picture and tempt you to cheat when your arms are around each other, and there’s no questioning what the other person is doing when you can see him or her right across the room.

For most couples, you don’t bother dealing with that question until much later on.

But once you’re deeper into a relationship, coping with the fact your gut tells you not to trust him or her (or yourself) is much more difficult to do when you’re already so emotionally invested.

When you start off your relationship with long distance, you’re forced to deal with the issue of trust from the very beginning.

You’re either going to form a strong bond of trust that will make you two feel closer than the distance puts you apart, or you’ll realize you need to end things.

If my last relationship weren't long distance, I don’t think he would have ever admitted to me he would probably cheat on me.

And, as much as the truth is an absolute blow sometimes, it’s better to find out and get out early than having the ugly truth hit you over the head down the road.

Another advantage to a long-distance relationship is the fact you can pace yourself. We’ve all been there: You get into a new relationship, and before you know it, it’s like you’re attached at the hip.

But how do you ask for space without creating a problem? You can’t, so you continue to spend all of your time together until you’re suffocating and problems arise.

I don’t think couples should jump right into the inseparable stage, and long distance gives you that necessary space.

Staring at Netflix for hours on end together isn’t an option, so you’re talking on Skype or on the phone instead.

You're truly getting to know each other and working your way into a more serious relationship instead of blindly jumping.

And, as selfish as it may seem, the distance helps you maintain a sense of independence. If it doesn’t work out, you haven’t lost your sense of self.

It happens too easily with a new relationship and feelings of love. You start envisioning your daily and future plans as a couple, and you stop doing things solely for yourself.

Maintaining some sense of an independent routine saves you from feeling entirely lost in the case of a breakup.

Long distance can give you these benefits and do your relationship a lot of good, but only under the condition that the distance is temporary.

It doesn’t work when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, making you more anxious and confused than excited to be together.

When you know it’s temporary, and you have a plan to be together in the near future, you’ll be able to appreciate the benefits.