The Modern Long Distance Relationship

My husband and I after six months of being apart

My husband and I after six months of being apart

Long distance relationships are not what they used to be; nowadays with the aid of technology it’s easier to maintain a close bond with your significant other despite the miles between you. The first hand experience I have with long distance relationships stems from my personal experience. After a year of dating, my high school boyfriend ended up moving away to Puerto Rico, while I stayed behind in Florida. A decade later we are now married, and our relationship will  remain long distance for the next four months until my college graduation. I must be candid and admit that these last ten years weren’t strictly smooth ones; three out of the last ten years were hell for both of us. However, we came through the worst of it, and are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

From my experience, being honest and answering two questions as a couple, will help to ensure a relationship lasting despite the distance. The first question, is whether it is important to establish a date when the relationship will no longer be a long distance one; if the answer is yes, then it is vital to agree on the date when the relationship will no longer be a long distance one. If a decision is mutually agreed upon,  the proper steps must be taken to ensure that the agreement is honored by both parties. It is easier to endure the time apart if a couple can countdown to when they are reunited.

With internet services, such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook, and other social messaging outlets, communicating and staying in touch is easier than ever for long distance couples, which is shown in one of these 5 steps:

 

Having a long distance relationship is an alternative many college students consider rather than just breaking up. This allows both people to fulfill their academic endeavors without completely sacrificing the relationship; according to the  Huffington Post this is benefit # 5  out of the total 9 (exclusive) benefits of a long distance relationship:

5. They force you to be independent in your relationship.
We all know those people who lose themselves in a relationship. They become an extension of their significant other and, to be honest, lose that special “spark” that made you want to be friends with them in the first place.

Couples in long distance relationships rarely have that problem — because it is difficult to live vicariously through your significant other when you don’t share a zip code. Living apart from your significant other or spouse is a great way to preserve the essence of who you are even though you are in a relationship. You have your own friends, jobs, and social life. This is especially critical for younger couples (high school and college age) who haven’t yet cemented their independence in the “real world.”

 

“Idealization”, is a major risk that long distance couples may face,  as explained by an article posted by the Pacific Standard:

In June, researchers at Cornell and the City University of Hong Kong published a paper showing that long-distance couples feel greater intimacy than those who live in the same place. They found that members of these couples reveal more about themselves, and perceive their partners to be more revealing as well.

This is a form of “idealization,” or the tendency to view your partner and your relationship in an unrealistically positive light. It is a hallmark of long-distance relationships, a reason why many geographically remote partners feel more connected to each other than those who wake up in the same bed do. This effect is likely familiar to the three million married Americans and up to one-half of American college students who are currently geographically separated from their partners. Given these numbers, it’s also worth noting the flip side of idealization, which is that it contributes to making long-distance couples more likely, whenever they do manage to align their geographic trajectories, to break up.

Despite this, it is entirely possible to make a long distance relationship work as long as both partners are committed. As long as each partner is firstly honest with his or herself, and then with each other, both people can make sure that they are on the same page while helping to avoid wasting each other’s time. Ultimately, as long as the will to make it work burns brightly within each person, there are excellent odds for the relationship to be strengthened by the distance. The common sentiment is that if the relationship survives the distance, it can survive anything.

One of the tools for success includes continued and persistent communication, according to Dating Don’ts: How To Do The Adult Long-Distance Relationship :

1. Communicate early and often. Communication is crucial in any relationship, from your best friend to the people at the laundromat, but in a long-distance relationship clear and constant communication is essential. Think of all the times anything you say is misinterpreted or taken out of context. A sideways comment said out of frustration or stress can be bad, but is usually explained away face to face. That same comment over the phone or sent by text message or Gchat has the potential to develop into a giant bomb of hurt feelings and misunderstanding. Talking as much as you can about everything from how your week is going to the status of your relationship to the plot twists on “House Of Cards” is healthy for any relationship, but its especially important if you’re miles apart.

Another wise choice for couples who are long distance is to strategically utilize tools such as Skype and vacation time.  You can still stay connected by doing activities together:

Long Distance Movie Night

Long Distance Movie Night

 

There is even a new technology being developed by Indiegogo that allows realistic kissing between long distance couples:

 

 

 

 

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Polyamory vs. Monogamy

Plural Marriage: A not so distant future?

Plural Marriage: A not so distant future?

So what is polyamory? The word can be broken down into two parts, “poly” means many, while “amory” means love. Having many loves, or having more than one intimate relationship at once with the consent and acknowledgement of everyone involved, is the simple definition of polyamory. Honesty is imperative in polyamory relationships, but how each relationship works is up to the people involved. It can differ from the swingers lifestyle, because the emphasis is on building relationships with emotional bonds, which may not be a priority for swingers. Showtime’s reality show, Polyamory: Married and Dating focuses on couples that are polyamorous and provides a glimpse of the lifestyle.

More importantly, polyamory is becoming a viable alternative to marriage. The Atlantic  published an article emphasizing that families are radically different today than in the past, and that the law doesn’t reflect these changes in the legal choices offered. Diana Adams, a lawyer who lives a polyamorous lifestyle, was interviewed for the article, and answered a series of insightful questions:

How are you using the law to empower non-traditional relationships like yours?

Our laws are about 20 years behind what families actually look like. I’m working to create alternatives to marriage, because I think that if we could choose marriage affirmatively instead of it being a default, it would make relationships stronger. Marriage is an incredibly intense contract. It’s a legal-financial contract that you’re making, declaring that you’re going to be the other person’s social welfare state and safety net if they screw up. I mean, you’re signing the most important document you’ll sign in your life and people read it less carefully than a cell phone contract. People have no idea what they’re actually committing to and are horrified a lot of times when they find out.

What kinds of alternatives to marriage are available?

There are different options. Domestic partnership, for example, has tremendous possibility to create a more expansive version of what a relationship can look like. Domestic partnership was originally created as an alternative for gay couples who couldn’t legally get married. But then, all these surprising things started happening where these other kinds of people started using it for their own purposes. For instance, many elderly widow friends have entered into platonic domestic partnerships. It’s a situation like the Golden Girls. These are friends saying, “I live with her, and we watch out for each other, and I want her to be the person I can share my health insurance with.”

Another article by the Scientific American, titled New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You, also explored polyamory in the context of society. They report:

“an estimated 4 to 5 percent of Americans are looking outside their relationship for love and sex — with their partner’s full permission.”

On the topic of jealousy, the article explains the concept of “compersion“:

Take jealousy. If you ask most people how they’d feel if their partner had sex with or fell in love with someone else, the responses would be pretty negative: fear, anger, jealousy, rejection. Ask a polyamorous person the same question, and they’re more likely to tell you they’d be thrilled. It’s a concept called “compersion,” which means the joy felt when a partner discovers love outside of you. It’s similar to the feeling the typical person might get after finding out their best friend scored her dream job, Holmes said. But in this case, the happiness stems from a lover’s external relationships.

Furthermore, it explains that communication is key in making a polyamorous relationship function, and can be a skill that monogamous couples lack; however jealousy does exist for polyamorous people:

None of this suggests that polyamorous people are somehow immune to jealousy, Holmes said. But when jealously does occur, it’s discussed. The person feeling jealous is encouraged to examine their own psyche to find out what’s bothering them and which of their needs aren’t being met. Then the pair (or triad, or quad) can negotiate boundaries.

According to an article by the Calgary Sun, there is a resounding argument for humans being naturally monogamous:

Johnson claims that because we no longer live in small, close knit communities, “People now often depend on romantic love as their main source of social support.” She explains that the trouble with polyamorous relationships is they don’t fulfill our physiological bonding need to have “one person that we depend on, that we come first with.”

However, this claim doesn’t take into consideration the other side of the coin, which Paget, who wrote this article, elaborates:

Although life is easier when you have someone rooting for you, I’m hesitant to agree that monogamy is the only answer. Johnson’s theories discount the fact that humans can receive emotional support from other people besides their partner – whether that’s biological family or a “chosen family” composed of a closely knit network of friends.

As for Johnson’s assertion that couples in monogamous relationships have more satisfying sex lives, I’m sure many polyamorous people would argue that their sex lives are just as fulfilling, meaningful and scorching hot as those of monogamous couples (if not more so).

 

With more media coverage of polyamorous couples, can polyamory become a new social norm in relationship paradigms? Time will tell, but so far, our culture shows no hint of the stopping the process of evolution:

A poll conducted by Calgary Sun yielded the following results:

Question: Are humans meant to be monogamous?

Yes. 36.31%  (981 votes)

No. 45.67%  (1,234 votes)

Unsure. 18.02%  (487 votes)

Total Votes: 2,702
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