Science Says Long-Distance Relationships Might Actually Be Better

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A new study out of Queen’s University suggests that long-distance relationships aren’t any more doomed than the rest of our relationships. Surveying couples with both setups, researchers found that the geographic distance between the pairs didn’t have much effect on their relationship satisfaction. Not only that, but long-distance honeys actually have their geographically closer counterparts beat in a lot of areas, like meaningful conversation, dedication, and airline miles. On the other hand, they don’t actually see each other, so, you know, pros and cons.

But according to researchers, those pros and cons mostly balance each other out. It’s not that participants — 474 women and 243 men in long-distance relationships and 314 women and 111 men who lived near (but not with) their significant others — report identical levels of satisfaction across the board, but the pluses and minuses work out to make the total happiness ratings more or less equivalent. Local couples get to do fun things like have sex and complain about the same weather, while far away couples get to do fun things like communicate on a deeper level and complain about different weather. So move heaven and earth to be with your beloved! Or don’t. Either way is probably fine.

If you are in it to (long-distance) win it, the study offers two recommendations for making it work for the long haul: be really, really certain you’ll be together someday, and be really, really far away from each other while you’re apart. Long-distance works best when the couples absolutely believe they will “eventually be together with their partner” — and that faith can be enough to sustain years of phone calls and transatlantic flights. And those flights should be transatlantic, at least, because the researchers also discovered that “the further apart the couple was, the better they were doing with respect to satisfaction, intimacy, and communication.” This is counter to my understanding of how time zones work, but I guess relationships depend on being simultaneously happy, not being simultaneously awake.

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