Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Poll: “Did Your Long-Distance Relationship Survive When the Separation Ended?”

Long distance relationshipA recent article in New York magazine quotes a study by Ohio State University researchers who found that a whopping “82 percent of couples who’d dated long-distance and then moved to the same city ended up breaking up.” And a separate study found that “a third of those breakups occur within three months of the couple’s reunion.” Researchers found that “many of the individuals actually missed aspects of their long-distance relationship, particularly their own autonomy and the novelty of only getting to see their partner every once in a while.” Since LDRs are more common than ever, due in large part to modern technology and the ease in which we can meet and keep in touch with people far away, I thought it would be interesting to poll readers who have had LDRs and find out how often their relationships ended or succeeded once the separation was over.

As most of you know, my husband, Drew, and I started off long-distance (I lived in Chicago and he lived in NYC when we met), but, when I moved in with him after a year and a half, we managed to make it work. It wasn’t always easy — I did miss some of my autonomy and I certainly missed the friends and life I left in Chicago — but the novelty of seeing Drew every day and not waiting weeks until our next visit never got old. Maybe that was the key. We actually really, really loved spending time together (still do, fortunately), and, above everything else, that was a guiding force for us. We’d also been lucky enough to spend a lot of time together even while long-distance due to flexible schedules and (at the time) cheap airline tickets. Visiting each other every 2-3 weeks over the course of a year and a half ensured that we weren’t just seeing idealized versions of each other and that at least some of our relationship had a basis in reality, even if that reality wasn’t the same one we’d eventually inhabit when we lived together (but then, when is the early stage of a relationship just like the reality of a more established relationship?).

Anyhoo, if you’ve been in a long-distance relationship where the distance eventually ended because one or both of you moved, would you share with us on how things worked out (in the poll below and in the comments if you want). Thanks!

[polldaddy poll=”8495731″]

Related Posts:

10 Signs You’re Ready to Move for Love

8 Tips For Transitioning out of a Long Distance Relationship

“In a Long Distance Relationship, Who Should Be The One to Move?”

8 Things You Need to Do Before You Move For Love

30 comments… add one
  • Miel

    Miel December 8, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Option f): Still in a LDR…
    .
    I’m just wondering what the control group for such a study can be. “82% of couple who ended the distance eventually broke up. For a age-matched control group, we found that couple who had been living in the same city all along broke up 85% of the time”.
    .
    I mean, we are not talking about divorce here. What is the percentage overall of “relationships that eventually end” ? If the divorce rate is still in the 50-ish%, then relationship break up rate is probably way higher.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 3:36 pm

      oh good point.

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    • Miel

      Miel December 8, 2014, 4:07 pm

      I read the actual study (from 2007 ! This is old !) and I couldn’t find the 82% figure. Basically they looked at college students who are in LDR (the range of relationship length was 2 months to 5 years) and looked at the ones who became “close distance” vs the one who stayed long distance on a 6 months period. Amongst the ones who became “close”, many of them separated. And thus over a 6 months period, couples were most likely to still be together if they hadn’t put an end to the distance yet. The hypothesize that some couple might wait until the end of the distance to officially break up (like you know, after coming back from a semester abroad, or after coming back to an internship… those are college students).
      .
      Other conclusion of the study was that couples who didn’t spent a lot of times together (face to face or on the phone/skype) would idealize their partner more and that would increase the chance of breakup in the end.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 8, 2014, 7:07 pm

        Another factor could be that the study was focused on college kids, who overall are young and probably don’t have as much relationship experience. I know MANY college relationships that ended once shit got real and graduation was right around the corner. It seemed either those particular couples either got engaged or they broke up.

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      • Miel

        Miel December 8, 2014, 8:33 pm

        The problem with a lot of studies like that is that they say “people in general do this, people in general do that” in their titles, their abstract, everything. And you need to be someone with a license for that precise journal to be able to read the actual article (so that’s nobody except people on university campuses and national laboratories), and only then you can dig into their method section and see “Candidate were students from the university of blahblah” and you’re like “yeah I know, you put a little add in the residence hallway and promise $10 for an hour of their time !”

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

    I’m anxious to hear everyone’s stories so come out and share!!

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  • mylaray

    mylaray December 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

    I wonder if it’s any different for couples who have never lived in the same city versus those who have.
    .
    I also wonder in general how many long distance couples who met online stay together. My best friend met her boyfriend on Twitter 5 years ago and she moved to his city at about 1 year. It seemed so crazy at the time to me, but it has worked out for them so far.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 3:40 pm

      On twitter?? How logistically does that work? Can you scroll through Twitter users by gender, relationship status, etc.? Or was it more of the case that they just started following each other and then started messaging? But wait, can you message people privately on Twitter? I didn’t think so. This is fascinating.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana December 8, 2014, 3:44 pm

    My first boyfriend and I went from being long distance, to being not really long distance (1.5 hours, and still saw one another most every weekend) and we were great, and then he moved 8 hours away and our relationship couldn’t sustain the return to distance after we had been back in the same area. I think long distance relationships are hard, and I would never ever seek one out again, but if two people really love one another and are committed and there is a definite time when it will end and both are okay with that (ours was at least 2 years, but probably more) I think it can work.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster December 8, 2014, 4:05 pm

    So I picked the breakup one because it’s closest to the truth. We dated for 6 months in the same city before we were in a LDR for 6 months. We broke up 6 months after he moved back to my city. I’m only just realizing that our relationship was chopped up into 6 month increments like that. Weird.
    .
    Anyways. Our relationship was best during the LDR portion. We were always excited to see each other, and got to explore a new city together when I visited him. I actually went to a DW meetup in DC while I was visiting him.
    .
    However, the bookends of our relationship in the same city were evidence that we are just not compatible in person. I don’t know why I kept thinking it would be different. And actually, the only reason I didn’t complain about it in the forums is because this was all so predictable:
    After we broke up he moved away again- to his home city on the other side of the country. We went no contact for a month, and then something happened in his life that drew me back in. We started talking again and it quickly snowballed into us communicating everyday (ok and sexting!). I justified it in my head by telling myself he was on the other side of the country so what harm could come? (Yes, this is foreshadowing, you clever reader) We fell into our old LDR pattern, and I actually missed him, although I still didn’t want to get back together. It was weird. Fast forward to last week when he was visiting my city for some interviews. He stayed with me for most of his trip. The first few days were great. And then he started annoying the shit out of me again and all the reasons we’re not together were apparent all over again. Plus, I felt like a dick because I’m the one who wanted out. He’s happy as a clam being miserable with me!
    .
    So yeah, we were only LDR for 1/3 of our relationship. But I think it still counts because we would have broken up waaaay sooner if not for the LDR portion.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 5:08 pm

      So what were the things that annoyed the shit out of you?

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  • avatar

    Sara December 8, 2014, 4:09 pm

    We were friends in college – but didn’t date until we lived 8 hours (drive) away from each other. Then he moved to my area – and we kept dating, got engaged, got married. After two years of marriage, we were long distance again – only about 7.5 hours away the second time. We idealized each other a great deal. We mostly loved our autonomy. We moved back together – and to a new state – 1.5 years ago, and we’re still married. Though both of us not having friends to distract us in our new area has allowed us to work on our newly “local again” relationship. Sometimes we miss living apart, which sounds weird to people who have never tried it. But, if we hadn’t been friends first (first LDR try)… and then if we hadn’t moved to a new area for both of us (second LDR try)… maybe we’d be part of the 82%.

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  • avatar

    MissDre December 8, 2014, 4:11 pm

    Oh man this is scaring me!!

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 4:13 pm

    I’M IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP, I’M IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP – isn’t it so cool that I am actually in a relationship even though it’s a long distance relationship?!!?!! I’m so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • avatar

    Que_Syrah December 8, 2014, 4:18 pm

    I was in a LDR (kinda. 2.5 hrs apart for 3 years)–we lived in the same place for our first week of dating. It was long distance but we spent nearly every weekend together while we lived in different towns. We both started job hunting in each others town after we finished our masters degrees (me: MLIS, him: MBA) and I got a great offer in his town. I moved into his apt while he was overseas for school. We lived there for 6 months, bought a house together, got engaged and then married. We’ve been in the same place and living together since 2011 and we’ve been married for a little over a year.
    We’ve had easily one of the craziest first years of marriage which finished with moving across the country. Life is good–and even better in the same place 🙂

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  • Portia

    Portia December 8, 2014, 4:56 pm

    So, I’ve done a couple of LDRs but one commonality was that if it was going to work or not didn’t actually depends on whether or not we were (or were going to be) long distance. I had a boyfriend in high school and we dated a year into college and I didn’t end it because the distance was to hard, I ended it because my friend told me he wanted to go ring shopping with her and my reaction to that news let me know I needed out. Me and Bassanio broke up for a few months a little bit into distance (well, we’ve done distance twice, so the longer-term distance) and I think it affected him more than it affected me. Distance is hard, but I like having my independence and it was built-in independence. But,
    .
    I’d also like to know whether they were looking at relationships that had started off long distance vs. ones that had become long distance. I think it does make a slight difference whether you start out doing distance or not. There is a getting to know you stage that definitely goes about differently depending on whether you’re in the same place. I’ve seen a couple of relationships where they started off distance and it was harder to see some of the incompatibilities when it was always one person hosting the other and someone was always on vacation. And the moving to the same place and moving in with the other person issues are definitely related but not always the same. I think it may be different if you’re a bit older and have had some fairly successful long-term relationships (particularly living together) under your belt to know what it looks like when it is and isn’t working.

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    • Portia

      Portia December 8, 2014, 5:14 pm

      It can be hard to focus on the relationship itself when you only get to see each other in short spurts and I found it hard sometimes to tease apart the feelings toward distance and the feelings toward the relationship itself. So, I can see how people would break up not long after getting back in the same place.
      .
      Also, when doing distance, it can almost feel like you just keep working toward the goal of not being long distance and focus less on the real relationship stuff, plus there’s a pressure to make the visits enjoyable. Then I can see how you would get confronted with it all at once after distance ends.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana December 8, 2014, 5:25 pm

        Yes, I agree with this. My best friend is in a semi long distance relationship, less than 2 hours and they see one another every weekend, and often for 3-4 days at a time as she is an NP and has a flexible schedule and he works for the government and has a very generous leave policy and a good deal of holidays, but people keep asking when they will get engaged and she keeps saying they won’t until they have lived in the same place for a little bit because right now, whenever they see one another it is a special occasion, a break from reality, they fill the time with fun activities and are always doing something because they capitalize on their time together. They have had serious conversations and obviously are a real couple-but haven’t really had to deal with the everyday monotony of being a couple who lives in the same area. I think a lot of times general incompatibilities get swept aside when couples are long distance because they don’t really come up as often and you get so excited to see the person and since its for such a short period of time little fights don’t come up as much. I know when my ex and I were a lot happier long distance, because we just weren’t compatible as a couple in reality but the distance can mask that at times.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 8, 2014, 6:58 pm

        I agree that incompatibilities get pushed aside. I fought a lot with my ex who I was in a LDR with, but overall our time together was pretty good because we were just happy to see each other again. I definitely KNEW certain things weren’t right in the relationship, but I was so focused on our time spent together and having a good time with him that they weren’t always addressed.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 8, 2014, 6:56 pm

        YES to this. I agree so much. The excitement of seeing the other person again can make it hard to focus on the relationship in and of itself. That was definitely true for me.

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  • Jill

    Jill December 8, 2014, 5:08 pm

    Well I’m in the it’s worked out camp! We did long distance (and I mean Michigan to London, so not driveable) for almost 3 years, and now we’ve been living in the same place for 1.5 and it is still fabulous. We met abroad and spent 4 weeks travelling together before heading back home, so we had a bit of get to know you time before splitting up, but I do think it was a bit easier since we had never been near each other, so we didn’t miss it. We talked ALL the time, and I think Addie has mentioned this now, but serious discussions tend to come up faster so we hashed things out early on. And since plane tickets were pricey, we didn’t get as many opportunities to visit, but we did spend 3 months, in a tiny campervan nonetheless, travelling together before getting married. I told my mom, if I can live with him in such a small space, with many opportunities to argue over directions and the stress of travel, we’ll be fine.

    We did choose to move somewhere completely new to both of us, which I think has helped a ton, because neither of us had friends or family to fall back on.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 5:11 pm

      I did mention that and you remembered! And want to know what else? I’M IN A RELATIONSHIP THAT IS LONG DISTANCE AND I’M SO HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

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      • othy

        othy December 8, 2014, 5:34 pm

        Wait, AP, you’re in a LDR? How on earth did I miss that? coughsarcasmcough

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray December 8, 2014, 8:58 pm

        Othy, I think you want to hear more about him… Right???

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      • othy

        othy December 9, 2014, 10:07 am

        Of course!

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  • othy

    othy December 8, 2014, 5:33 pm

    Othello and I were in a LDR for 3 years while I was in college. I spent summers living with him, but we didn’t get to see each other during the semesters (I’d go 16 weeks or so without seeing him). But being in a LDR really helped us develop our communication skills, which we were both terrible at when we were teenagers. We got engaged before I graduated, then moved in together and lived together for a year before we got married. And we’ve been happily married for almost 9 years. So other than the term ‘soulmate’, I’m totally in option one.

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  • LadyinPurpleNotRed

    LadyinPurpleNotRed December 8, 2014, 6:11 pm

    My boyfriend and I went long distance after dating three months. The distance (Chicago-Memphis and FL-Memphis) last two years and I moved in with him in May. There was some living together adjustment, but mostly smooth. So far, still working!

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  • Lyra

    Lyra December 8, 2014, 6:54 pm

    You guys probably know my story. We were together for 3 years long distance (besides summers which we spent together at our summer job), we both moved to a new location (he wanted to move in together, I said no way), we were in two separate towns but MUCH closer together, and we broke up. Being closer together definitely highlighted our differences to the extreme. We had some major issues before that anyway which I noticed but thought we could overcome…love is blinding.
    .
    NG and I are semi-long distance/I don’t think you can even call it long distance. He lives about an hour away from me now, but will move to my area once he graduates next summer. We see each other every weekend though and it definitely doesn’t feel like there is a distance. I’m super busy during the week so even if he did live in my area I’m not sure how often I would see him during the work week.
    .
    One thing is for sure, LDRs aren’t for the faint of heart. They’re hard work.

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  • avatar

    Nigeria December 8, 2014, 7:26 pm

    My boyfriend and I were long distance for 3 years, sometimes seeing eachother once every 6 weeks. I eventually moved to his area and we married within a year. We will be celebrating our one year anniversary on New Years’ eve! 🙂

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  • mandalee

    mandalee December 9, 2014, 12:31 am

    My husband and I were long distance for the first year of our relationship, and went from that to moving to a small town where we knew no one else and moved in together. It was a huge adjustment in that we went from seeing each other most weekends to literally spending every free minute outside of work together since we didn’t have any friends for those first few months. After we developed our own friends and spent more time away from each other it went much easier but we still refer to those first few months as the “deserted island” time of our relationship.

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