Guest Post: The Unexpected Benefits of Long Distance Relationships

What happens when you fall in love with someone from another country, and geography gets in the way? When you’re separated by time zones and international borders and even oceans, counting on those Skype video chats to get you through? Does it always mean hardship or, worse, heartbreak? 

Marghini, who writes the lovely blog The Love Blender, survived a long-distance relationship (LDR) — and discovered the unexpected joys that come from loving someone from afar. 

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Marghini and Mr. B.

We hear how Long Distance Relationships (LDR) are so hard all the times. The internet is full of suggestions, tips and tricks to survive through the awfulness of Long Distance Dating and most people state they would never ever accept to be in a LDR because they just need that physical presence that a LDR denies to lovers. Couples that are entering a LDR get comprehensibly worried and start frantically reading all the available materials about how to overcome the terrible hardship they are about to face.

Truth is, Long Distance Dating is not always so terrible: if anything, sometimes LDR can even be pretty good. No one ever talks about the bright side of Long Distance Dating and this contributed to generate a negative stigma around it. However, if a couple is healthy and solid, dating on a distance for a while can have a positive effect on both parties and strengthen the relationship all-around.

Around one year into my relationship with my boyfriend, I had to move back to Milan to complete my Master Degree, while he stayed in Beijing to work. We long-distance dated for over a year, until I graduated from my program and I joined him in Hong Kong, where he had moved to in the meantime. Sure, when we reunited we were both happy to be together again. However, in our case the distance did not turn out to be a big challenge and we navigated through that separation with relative ease. Not that just that: it was a great time for our relationship and we still cherish lots of memories from that period as some of the best of our life. I don’t think we are any different from many other couples out there and we didn’t do anything special to manage our separation: everyone can benefit from a LDR if it is approached with the right mindset.

First of all, Long Distance Dating is a great way to develop trust within the couple. A good dose of distance is a great trust-building experience for a healthy relationship: you have to trust your partner in this, otherwise it will never work out and it will drive you both crazy. Obviously this only works if the relationship does not have previous trust-related issues, in which case a LDR is probably a bad idea.

On top of that, a LDR gives you a lot of free time that you would spend with your partner otherwise. That allows you to cultivate hobbies, workout, learn foreign languages, hang out with friends and be awesome at your studies/ job. What a great chance! I firmly believe that we can only be amazing partners if we are amazing individuals first, and this is the perfect situation to actually put this principle into effect. At the beginning of a relationship we all tend to get a bit obsessive about spending a ton of time with our partner and doing everything together, but in the long run that is usually not the healthiest balance for a couple. A LDR forces you to be autonomous, gives you plenty of time to grow as a person and creates independency within the couple. Once the distance is over, you will both benefit from this, I promise!

Moreover, don’t forget how awesome it is to visit each other and spend time together during the separation! That is probably my favorite positive side of a LDR. When I think about the year my boyfriend and I spent apart, I remember blissful weekends, romantic strolls holding hands and amazing candlelight dinners. In between visits our desire to be together grew incredibly strong and as soon as we could see each other it felt like pure heaven. When you have limited time to spend together you really cherish it: special dinners, romantic trips and so on. Unfortunately, when you live in the same city (or in the same house) and you have a lot of chances to see each other, it is so easy to forget about the quality of the time you spend together: you end up glued to your smartphone during a supposedly romantic dinner or just watching television in total silence after a tiring day at work. When you are in a LDR this does not happen, as you really cherish the time you spend with your partner and put an effort in to make it special. When I think about my LDR, I actually miss the excitement that preceded our meetings and the absolute bliss of being together after such a long separation.

Let me just get this out: I am not trying to say that a LDR will be easy and pleasant for everyone. I am sure the way people deal with it has a lot to do with individual personalities and some may have it much harder than I did. However, I think it is good to put things in perspective and let people know that for some of them it may be tough, but for others it could very well be a positive experience.

I hope my story of Long-Distance Dating could provide a positive case study and take away some of the stigma that was placed over LDR. For me and my boyfriend Long Distance Dating was a good choice and it had a lot of positive effects on us. When the distance was over, our relationship was stronger than ever, because we used the separation as a chance to develop ourselves, cultivate our trust in each other and fall in love even more deeply, if possibly. That year taught us a lot about us as a couple and improved our relationship in ways we didn’t expect.

Often we don’t have a choice when it comes about separating from our partner; we just have to accept it as a temporary compromise. However, we have power over our attitude and we can choose how to live the experience of Long-Distance Dating. You can look at it as an opportunity of growth, enjoy the process and learn from it. Otherwise you can focus about the negative side, complain, cry and suffer through every second of it. Which option sounds better to you?

marghiniMarghini is an Italian Interior Designer, a nomadic soul and a cat lady. After living in Milan, Copenhagen, Beijing and Hong Kong, she is currently based in Taipei. She likes Japanese literature, swing music, urban gardening and her cross-cultural boyfriend. She writes about expat life, cross-cultural relationships and Third Culture Kids at The Love Blender.


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18 Replies to “Guest Post: The Unexpected Benefits of Long Distance Relationships”

  1. It is so nice to see a couple where the woman is Italian and the man is from a Cantonese-speaking area of China, sounds like my husband and I! It is quite rare and I’m happy to see it, finally! It sounds like you and Mr. B handle being in a long-distance relationship well. Come to visit Canada one day!

  2. You make an excellent point about taking each other for granted when you see each other daily. Yes, the smartphone comes out, you ignore each other for phone calls, etc.

    Or, in my Chinese-American guy’s case, you quit doing the laundry! Ah, for the days when bags of dirty laundry would disappear into the trunk of Mr. Wong’s car, only to return clean and neatly folded in baskets! Now Mr. Wong tosses the laundry in the machine, presses “start” and expects some sort of laundry fairy to finish the job. Sadly, sometimes the laundry fairy has no idea the laundry is in the washing machine and it sits there so long the load has to be run again.

    But I can live with this. If he quits cooking, though… (insert menacing minor chord of music).

    1. Quitting cooking is unconceivable. I think my relationship would be at serious risk if Mr. B quit cooking. However I am very lucky because he cooks AND does laundry. Yay!

  3. A very interesting post!! I can see how a LDR can have its perks. You can learn a lot about each other because of the distance. However, I think there has to be a plan to unite at some point in one place. I had one friend who was in a LDR for years which ended because there was no hope of living together in the same location.

    1. Hi Constance! I agree, a LDR has to have a deadline, otherwise it turns into a dead end relationship in my opinion. I was lucky as my LDR only lasted a bit over a year so it qas quite manageable!

  4. Uuuh! This is a world’s exclusive! I think this is the first picture of Marghini and Mr. B. together showing their faces that I have seen 😛

    I agree on the positive side about LDR. However it only works if you have a clear plan and a date when you will be together. If everything it’s in the air it gets too difficult…

    1. ahahahah Marta you are so on spot! This is the first picture with Mr.B and me together that is posted on the internet. Slowly slowly my privacy concerns are getting less strict and I see why it could be beneficial to show people our faces (every once in a while!).

      As for LDR, I agree on having a clear plan and a deadline, otherwise it gets too complicated..

  5. I agree with what she is saying about LDR, but I don’t think no one talks about the perks of being in a long distance relationship. A lot of people nowadays meet online or while traveling and have to make it work for at least a little while until they can be together. I’ve read a lot of articles about how to still have fun together via Skype. I’m finally ending my LDR this year and I am so happy to see it end. It did make us stronger and we got to know each other and cherish our time together. We also learned each other’s languages with the extra time we had apart. However, we had a set end date from the beginning and always made plans for the next time we would see each other. I think any more than a year or so, especially with no set end date, would be way too hard to handle. Communication is key in LDR, as with any relationship, so it takes a while to get used to but eventually it does get easier.

    1. Hi Monica!

      I am glad to hear your LDR was successful and you guys will be together soon. It is true, there are many ways to make a LDR more enjoyable and that certainly helps a lot. It gets easier once you learn how to handle the situation. With a bit of effort and a clear plan it is a challenge that can be easily overcome.

  6. I agree with the above comments that an end date is important to the mindset of the partners.

    I am currently away from my husband, he is working in China and I am taking care of our baby in the UK, but it’s only 6 months and fortunately he’s managed 2 visits during that time (he’s on his way now, eeeeeee!). It must be hard for him because there are 2 of us to miss but he fills his time doing sport and my days are full with the baby! For our relationship, there may be benefits too!

    1. Taking care of a baby while your husband is far away must be challenging. However, 6 months is a short period of time so I am sure it will fly! Once you guys will be reunited, you will enjoy each other’s company a lot 🙂

  7. So fascinating! I always thought I would do well in a marriage to someone who travels half the time. We would appreciate our time together that much more and wouldn’t take each other for granted. I had a long-distance marriage for a few months each year and it was so much more difficult than I expected. This was before there was e-mail in China and certainly no texting or Skyping. That said, I don’t think long distance should be a deal breaker.

    1. Hi Susan!

      Long distance should not be a deal breaker in a otherwise happy and healthy relationship, I agree. It takes a bit of effort and planning, but it can be managed. At the beginning it may be harder than expected until you get used to the situation, but ultimately once you settle into it it gets easier.

  8. All of this has been really true for me. My partner and I have been LDR a few times in the last 5 years, about to do it again, and while it’s always hard to say goodbye, I do like the time for my hobbies and studies, and I LOVE the romantic, fully present visits! Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. I am loving this blog in general and this blog post in particular, as I’m currently in an LDR with my Taiwanese boyfriend. For the most part we’ve done really well and the time has gone quickly, but every now and then you hit bumps, and a reminder like this was just what I needed! Thank you, Marghini and Jocelyn!

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