When I first heard of the “two-week rule,” I assumed it had something to do with sex, being “chill,” and the patriarchy. The term is reminiscent of the “three-date rule” or “wait until you're exclusive rule.” I’m not a fan of the arbitrary rules straight women sometimes adhere to because of societal expectations of what they think men want, or what their female friends “approve” of. But I was surprised to find out the rule had nothing to do with sex — it's actually for established couples: the two-week rule in long-distance relationships is a “rule” that says “let’s try to see each other at least once every few weeks.”
From what I gathered via the World Wide Web, the two-week rule originated from a few different interviews with famous couples. Celebs travel a lot, and have to go on location for films for long periods of time. In 2011, Matt Damon told People that he and his long-time wife Luciana have a “two-week rule" that keep their marriage strong. When he filmed True Grit, Damon asked directors Joel and Ethan Coen "to board the movie so that I was never away from home for more than a week and they did that,” he says. “So I was working like two days a week and I would fly back.” Ah, to be a celebrity! But the logic stands— seeing each other often seems really important if you are going to be in a long-distance relationship.
Another favorite celebrity couple of mine, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman (adopt me, please!), adhere to the same practice. “We have a two-week rule. We’re never apart for more [than] two weeks. Just not being separated for Jurassic periods of time seems to help,” Mullally told GQ in 2017.
Spending actual time in the flesh with your partner every two weeks seems like a good way to make a relationship work, but why is two weeks the mark? FaceTime is a pretty amazing tool and that theoretically could help you make it through longer stretches of time without seeing each other. I spoke to dating expert Meredith Golden of SpoonmeetSpoon to get her take on why the two-week rule makes sense.
It’s About The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Celebrities travel a lot for work, but so do consultants, pilots, salespeople, and even students. “Constantly traveling for work can be lonely even in the best of circumstances,” explains Golden. “Knowing that you’re only X amount of days away from seeing your person makes the time away more bearable and gives you something to look forward to.”
This seems logically sound — I have to work five days of the week, but I make it through those five days because I know the consolation prize is the weekend. If you miss your partner, but you know you’re going to see them in T-minus five more days, you can push through the loneliness without getting in your head or worrying about the relationship.
And getting together in person is important. “Couples need to see each other and be reminded about why they like each other and chose to put the work in in the first place,” says Golden. “If many weeks are passing by in between actually being together, it becomes difficult to remember why it’s worth putting in the work.” A two-week span seems completely manageable to last without seeing your partner. (As a totally independent soul, I would actually kind of love a two-weeks on, two-weeks off situation.)
Even If You Can’t Make Every Two Weeks Happen, You Can Still Make An Effort
A two-week rule can be tricky to commit to if your relationship is bicoastal and you're not a celebrity who can afford a flight every 14 days. But remember, the most important aspect of this "rule" is not the exact timeline of when you see your partner, but instead about putting an effort into maintaining your relationship.
The most important thing you can do in a long-distance relationship is to “communicate!” says Golden. “It’s so important to be in touch daily when you aren’t in the same city.” It’s easy to get lazy, and let the texts, calls, or FaceTimes slow down when you are hundreds of miles away from each other, but it’s vital to keep in touch daily. Then, when you're in the same place, “plan fun activities,” adds Golden. Really take advantage of your time together.
And if you can adhere to the two-week rule, but after those two weeks apart find yourself feeling in a bit of a rut with your partner in person, don’t stress your relationship. “There can be some warm up time for a couple to fall back into sync,” says Golden. “I hear people worrying whether this is a problem, and it isn’t.” She likens it to returning to your office after vacation, even if you love your job — it can take a day or two to adjust.
Two weeks or four weeks, the most important thing about taking care of your relationship when it's long distance is to make time for each other, communicate your love to one another daily, and plan specific trips to see each other so that you both can look forward to your time together. You've got this.