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16 Psychological Facts About Long-Distance Relationships

16 Psychological Facts About Long-Distance Relationships

Long-distance relationships are not easy, but they can be fruitful. They require a lot of work from both partners, extensive and effective time dedicated to communication, and an unwavering commitment to make it through.

This article is here to present you with 16 psychological facts about long-distance relationships.

Most of the time, two lovers do not decide to create a long-distance relationship.

They often don’t have a choice and love each other too much to say goodbye when geographical constraints are imposed upon them.

On a comforting note, long-distance can be just as good as when you’re near.

Yet, the psychological effects of long distances should not be underestimated. It is good to be prepared if you’re in such a relationship or getting ready for it.

The best way to do so is to know the psychological consequences of long-distance relationships.

Knowing certainly helps, as potential hardships will not take you by surprise.

This article aims to do just that by presenting – psychological facts about long-distance relationships to make you aware of what might happen and to help you develop a proper mindset for it.

Psychological Facts About Long Distance Relationships

Fact #1: You Will Be Scared

One of the main fears that might occur during long-distance happens when we see that our partner is out there enjoying life without us.

Most of the time, this happens through posts on social media. Sometimes, we may be left with a feeling that we’re being left out and that things are passing us by.

Psychologists call this phenomenon the Fear of Missing Out.

The fear of missing out is normal, especially if we are used to doing most of our activities with our significant other.

But since we cannot expect them (or ourselves) to stop going out and enjoying what life has to offer, we will probably be confronted with this phenomenon at least once during the time spent apart from each other.

The main way to cope with such a fear is simply to face it with mindfulness and acceptance. The situation cannot be changed, and your partner probably experiences the same things.

Although the anxiety of missing out on events going on in their lives might be inevitable, our responses remain malleable, and that should be the sole focus.

Fact #2: You Will be More Stressed

Psychological facts about long distance relationships

Being apart from your loved one is certainly a stressful experience. The separation anxiety intrinsically tied to our human psychology manifests itself in all its colors, which is clearly not enjoyable.

Nonetheless, this is to be normalized, because our romantic partner is a figure of attachment that we hold very dear to our hearts.

In fact, our brains experience a surge of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, whenever we spend prolonged periods of time away from our partners.

Feeling tense and stressed can be seen as a consequence of changes occurring in brain-wide neurochemistry, and this effect is common to all human beings.

Thus, in the first few weeks or months of the relationship, you might feel more tense than usual when talking to your lover.

You might feel your heart beat faster as you hear their voice on the phone and feel a little apprehensive about reconnecting with them.

Undoubtedly, being more on edge comes with more potential conflicts and arguments, and you should mentally prepare for that.

However, you shouldn’t expect this to last forever. It will eventually subside as you both get used to the new normal of the relationship. But at the same time, waiting it out is not the answer.

You should actively foster patience and motivate yourself to work out your conflicts when they emerge. With time and effort, stress will make space for peace, and trusting the process is a must.

Fact #3: You Might Feel More Lonely

It is to be expected: with your partner far from you, you might feel more lonely than they were around. This effect also has a neuroscientific explanation.

Indeed, as we move away from our partner, our brains experience dips in three neurotransmitters: phenylethylamine, oxytocin, and dopamine.

These three neurochemicals were high thanks to the physical closeness and sexual intimacy with our partner (oxytocin and dopamine) and the affectionate moments that contributed to building the love we feel for them (phenylethylamine).

Nonetheless, this depletion of brain hormones can be compensated when taking time to video chat for a relatively long period. Thus, this effect is reversible with proper efforts.

However, love cannot be reduced to hormones in the brain. The void our partners left in our lives should also be filled by new relationships or deepening existing ones.

In fact, we have more time to spend with our friends or to invest in making new friendships.

Whatever you may choose, something should be done to tackle loneliness. Otherwise, it can, unfortunately, lead to depression.

Fact #4: You Will Feel More Insecure and Possessive

When long-distance relationships start, couples often agree to communicate a lot about where they are and what they’re doing throughout the day.

This helps bring comfort to our potential doubts and worries. However, when our partner doesn’t respond to our texts after a few minutes or hours, our thoughts and emotions can start running wild, and insecurities can start creeping in.

Feeling insecure and possessive drives us to seek information about our partner’s lives, which comes in handy for communication purposes.

However, when these feelings are too strong, they can start making a mess in the relationship.

For instance, asking too many questions might feel like a police interrogation for our partners and make them feel that we are distrustful of them.

It is always useful to ask oneself the reason why such insecurities are triggered. Does it come down to trust, your feelings of being unworthy, or some other factors (our partner’s surroundings, social circle, habits, behaviors, etc.)?

It is important to be honest with ourselves when carrying out this assessment in order to communicate it to our lover.

Nonetheless, reminding ourselves of our partner’s efforts will help damper these feelings.

Some other useful things to remember are the innumerable reasons why our partners chose us, the ways in which they show us that they are sure of being with us, and the things they do to affirm that you are more important to them than any other person.

Fact #5: You Might Be Scared of Being Cheated On

Woman looking worried

In line with increased fears, possessivity, and insecurity, a major factor that you will probably be confronted with are the issues of trust.

In a culture that normalizes more and more the acts of infidelity and their frequency, it is only normal to apprehend such a thing happening to you.

The fear of being cheated on is one of the many consequences of being far from your partner and not being able to know their every move.

This leaves out a lot of blank space for overthinking. And when the thinking becomes negative and makes us feel bad, we might start predicting the worst-case scenario.

This fear is mostly yours to work on, although your partner can make effort to comfort you when it gets too intense.

In fact, discussing such things are incredibly important for long-distance relationships. Setting clear definitions of what it means to cheat is necessary.

Is it flirting, kissing, or sleeping with somebody else? Of course, your partner shouldn’t cheat, as it might mean the end of the relationship and a lot of pain associated with it.

But expecting it also brings pain, albeit in subtler and longer-lasting ways.

So, to be cheated on hurts, but being on edge about its eventuality can be just as bad. In that sense, trusting your partner is a must.

One should expect one’s partner not to cheat, or at least that they would tell you if they do.

Although it might prove good for some people, be wary of open relationships, especially if it comes from a fear of infidelity rather than a common agreement. 

Fact #6: But You Might Also Feel A Pull To Cheat

Although being scared of being cheated on is normal and will probably happen, you must be careful not to do so yourself.

A recent 2021 study by Ezgi Sakman and colleagues found that some people (especially those with anxious attachment) will be inclined to cheat because of the fear of being single.

As such, it is a sort of strategy to avoid the possibility of being alone if the relationship comes to an end by having other partners available afterward.

However, you must also be careful not to cheat as a way to compensate for your fear of being cheated on.

In fact, some people might want to cheat as a coping mechanism for the incessant and excessive apprehension of it happening to them.

By predicting that it will happen, they do it first to avoid feeling like they got played and to gain control over their fearful and anxious emotions.

So if you tend to fear being cheated on, be wary of your inclination to do so, especially if you have an anxious attachment style.

Mainly, if you’re having these thoughts, you are either trying to compensate for fear of being single or for fear of being cheated on and feeling like you have been fooled.

Working on these aspects will make it far less likely to do so, and discussing with your partner is, once again, a highly relevant thing to do.

Fact #7: The Spark Might Start Smothering

At some point during the long-distance relationship, things might start feeling a little dull and repetitive.

Calling on the phone to talk about the same topics, not feeling a little fire burning inside of us when we talk to our partner, and not craving their presence anymore are all signals that the spark between you two is smothering.

In any case, this period might be an inevitable consequence of long distance. Most couples will go through that phase, which can be the relationship’s turning point.

Most of the time, when this starts happening, a change needs to occur to reignite the flame.

You can start trying new things and new activities with your long-distance partner, or you might change the rules of the relationship too.

For instance, open relationships are possible as long as both partners are secure and safe enough in their relationship.

Otherwise, allowing each other to flirt with other people –without doing anything, of course- might help vivify the relationship.

Whatever you decide, be certain that you do it for the sake of the relationship and that you can tolerate it.

Fact #8: You Will Need to Be Creative

Think about the long-distance relationships facts

Changing the rules of the relationship might be one solution to reignite or maintain the flame of your love.

Another way is to be more creative with the activities you do with your significant other.

For example, instead of phone calls, try sending love letters in which you express how much they mean to you, or send a personalized gift that reminds them of that wonderful love you share.

Since physical intimacy can often be a problem for long-distance, you can also try new ways to recreate that intimacy while being far from each other.

For example, keep flirting with them, initiate foreplay on video calls, or talk about the sexy time you’ll have when you meet again.

Try to keep it varied and diversified to heighten the interest you have in each other.

At last, when you do meet again, try to do things that you never did before. Of course, while doing these things, the focus should be on each other.

However, doing new things together can deepen your relationship and help you explore parts of your partner that you haven’t seen before.

All in all, being creative with your relationship on how you spend time together will strengthen it and help keep the fire of your love burning longer.

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Fact #9: You Will Need to Talk in Each Other’s Love Languages

The feelings of insecurity described before may stem from a variety of fear and trust issues.

But another factor that can slowly kill the relationship is how we express and reaffirm our love for our partner, which is especially relevant for long-distance relationships.

Indeed, there is a multiplicity of love languages.

For instance, words of affirmation refer to the love language that consists of receiving spoken and written words of love, encouragement, and appreciation, to be told that one is thinking of us, and the like.

Another love language is acts of service, which implies doing selfless and thoughtful things to our significant other.

Love languages are easy to communicate with. So, to make the relationship work better, you need to know which love language you and your partner need and which ones you most often use.

Frequently, we ‘talk’ the love language that we need, but it might not be what our partner needs.

Discussing this can help learn how to love your person better and maintain a healthy relationship throughout the time spent apart.

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Fact #10: You Will Idealize Your Partner More

A 2007 study by Laura Stafford and colleagues found that couples that were geographically far from each other tended to idealize their partners more than those that were geographically close.

This is because not being near our loved ones makes us miss them more, which makes us daydream about them more frequently.

When that happens, our brains construct an ideal image of our partner that aligns more with how we want them to be than who they are.

We tend to magnify their qualities and their appearances, and this increases in function of how much we miss their presence.

However, this is a double-edged sword. While this idealization increases our motivation to commit to them and to connect more with them, it might become a problem upon reuniting.

Indeed, too much idealization can lead to unstable reconnections, as we might be confronted with a contrast between the ideal we made and reality.

Therefore, it is useful to remember that our partner has flaws and is not as perfect as our brains make it seem when we crave their physical company.

Being mindful of this tendency will allow for more realistic expectations since disillusionment can be very painful when we reunite with our lovers after idealizing them too much.

Fact #11: You Will Need to Lower Your Expectations

Woman looking sad and disappointed

To talk further about the expectations, there is an undeniable need to discuss them. Of course, both partners should only make realistic promises on what to expect from each other.

Making things clear is a necessity to avoid consistent disappointments and hurt feelings.

Still, we have the natural tendency to expect more than we can have, especially when this topic of conversation is left out for a while.

If you start feeling mad and upset about your partner’s behavior, there is probably something to do with what you expect of him/her.

The first step is to become aware of such expectations in order to discuss them healthily to avoid the unnecessary fighting that might come with it.

However, remember that not all expectations can be discussed in one go, and they have the tendency to fluctuate and change.

New things will come up throughout the long-distance relationship, and both partners should make them as clear as possible.

Setting expectations also involves setting boundaries when necessary and readjusting pre-established assumptions on the behavior of each partner.

This is a key point for the success of long-distance relationships.

Fact #12: People Will Try to Influence Your Relationship

It is no secret that the people close to you will worry about you and your relationship, especially when things get hard and start impacting your well-being.

Although they do not know the details of your relationship and how you experience it, your close ones will probably have their words to say.

The point here is not to undermine what others have to say about your relationship but to make clear distinctions between what you tell them and how it appears to them and how you and your partner experience things more intimately.

In fact, nobody can really know what is going on between you two, and not everybody can understand it.

Hearing what your friends and family say about your relationship might give you valuable insights into how to handle and perceive things and events over a long distance.

But still, be careful not to be overly influenced by your surroundings since it is easier to be when things are unclear or uncertain.

This is a nice reminder that, although they want the best for you, they don’t know better than you.

Fact #13: Keeping Long-Term Plans In Mind Will Become Essential

As you spend more and more time being apart from your partner, there might be times when the common vision of the relationship becomes blurry.

You might start thinking about where all of it is heading and what the relationship will look like in the future, and this can be quite scary.

When you start a long-distance relationship, you’re willing to endure hardships to make it work. That means your love for each other is advanced.

Still, a common vision about the future of the relationship should be set and consistently reaffirmed.

Do you plan to marry each other, start living together afterward, and make a life together? Whatever it may be for you, it should be a meaningful project.

This vision for the future will help you ground each other when things get rough. It is a great way to reconnect with your partner because it is something that you both aspire to have with each other.

Keep reminding yourself and your partner of where you’re heading and how close you are to getting there; it will help settle your uncertainties about the future and maintain the alignment of your wavelengths.

Fact #14: You Can Be Happier

Happy woman enjoying the beach

Not all psychological facts about long-distance relationships are bad.

In fact, research suggested that long-distance can be even better than relationships where partners are geographically close.

This might seem counterintuitive, but there are several reasons why that is.

First, you will be more likely to idealize your partner and probably idealize the relationship more, meaning that you will be more optimistic about it.

For instance, long-distance couples reported a higher likelihood that they would marry their partner and view a breakup as less and less likely to happen.

Another factor that comes into play is that most long-distance couples report less feeling trapped in the relationship.

That is natural since both partners have more time to spend doing what they want, whenever they want, thanks to the reduced necessity of physical presence.

Of course, commitments and efforts are still to be made, but long-distance can make things much more flexible.

The quality of the relationship may also account for the fact that long-distance can make you happier.

Indeed, long-distance couples reported having conversations of higher quality and that are less negative, having more fun with their lover, and being more likely to adjust the relationship.

This fact is a reminder that, even if it seems hard, you can thrive surprisingly well within long-distance relationships.

Fact #15: You Will Have A Powerful Opportunity to Grow

A long-distance relationship will force you to change. If you don’t, the relationship will likely become toxic and redundant, so you have no real choice.

There might be a pull to keep things as they were before, but that is simply impossible.

You will need to adapt to the change by changing yourself, and this change should somewhat take the shape of the direction set by the future you envision together.

Accepting this fact will save you a lot of burdens and difficulties.

Be certain that flexibility is a strong predictor of long-distance success, and the willingness to grow and evolve should be tied to the desire to keep the relationship as beautiful as it was before, albeit in a different way.

Perceiving the new form of your relationship as an opportunity for growth will improve its outcomes.

Whatever happens, you will have learned and developed a lot, which will also help with all the fear and insecurities described above.

No matter how hard it gets, trust that the process will lead to something positive and take the negative as fuel for more adaptive changes.

Fact #16: You Will See Relationships Differently

Couple enjoying a lavender field

When we are next to each other, we often get caught up in the fact that we should spend most of our time with our partner, that all of our plans should accommodate them, and that we should make them the center of our lives at all times.

But how good is that, truly? What long-distance relationships will do is change your core beliefs about romantic relations.

It will foster a way of seeing things that is much more easy-going, understanding, and flexible. This is one of the big facets of growth described above.

Not only will it make your relationship feel better for you and your partner, but you will also learn to appreciate things as they are and to let go of control.

Seeing relationships differently will drastically alter your life. Deep-seated patterns, schemas, beliefs, and behaviors will come to the surface, only to realize that they are essentially maladaptive for you in that relationship.

It will make space for new patterns to take place, and this will be for the better.

Conclusion

Long-distance relationships are challenging. They come with a plethora of psychological effects, both good and bad.

This article is for those who expect to start a long-distance relationship or just got into one.

With this knowledge in mind, you are now prepared to get into it with a clearer perception of what it might look like.

And remember, long-distance relationships can work, and you can be as happy as if you and your partner were close, if not more.

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