What is considered a long distance relationship?
A long-distance relationship is when two partners are separated by long distances or other physical, emotional, or circumstantial obstacles. Physical contact with each other is extremely limited and difficult. Daily physical contact is nearly impossible.
A long-distance relationship is difficult for any couple. It is important to keep in mind that long-distance relationships are not just long, but are also highly unique.
Most definitions of a long-distance relationship do not capture all the possible variations (until now).
Before we delve into all the specific details of long-distance relationships, let’s first establish what a long distance relationship really is (check out the full explanation below).
Long Distance-Relationship Definition (Best Explanation)
Long-distance relationships refer to committed relationships in which couples temporarily or continuously maintain connection and intimacy even though they do not physically interact every day. This is often challenging but worth it for those who can manage it.
The couple is separated by something physical, like distance, or something abstract, like cultural bias.
Some couples live separate lives because of the natural environment like oceans or difficult terrain, the socio-political environment, finances, or other equally restrictive obstructions.
Multi-state work commitments or extended overseas travel can force couples into long-distance relationships. Active military personnel on deployment also engage in long-distance relationships.
Regardless of whether the distance is concrete or abstract, it still restricts our relationship either externally or internally (and often both).
people can experience emotional distance just as powerfully as physical distance.
Note: This article is written from the perspective of couples living apart and separated by miles but all four types of long-distance relationships will be viewed equally.
4 Types of Long-Distance Relationships
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There are four broad categories of long-distance relationships.
All long-distance relationships are not created equal, so knowing what type you’re in is very important. Every long-distance relationship has the potential to be a healthy long-term relationship if both parties work hard at it.
The 4 Types of Long-Distance Relationships:
- Physical Distance—This is typically when you live in different states or countries and have long-term distance separating you.
- Emotional Distance—This is when the relationship has accumulated a fair amount of problems, stresses, personal issues, or insecurities that separate you from each other. Things like long periods of no communication can cause this type of long-distance relationship.
- Physical Terrain (Like oceans or jungles)—Physical barriers that cannot be crossed quickly seperate you from your partner. This includes dangerous neighborhoods, city-wide curfews, mountainess terrain, and more.
- Circumstantial (Like temporary statewide restrictions and lockdowns)—This is when circumstances prevent you from doing the things you would normally do in your relationship, like face-to-face dates, freedom of movement, intimate communication, and privacy.
In summary, any type of relationship in which the partners are not currently in close physical or emotional proximity to one another or are unable to meet face-to-face can be referred to as a “long-distance relationship.” It can take place as a result of separation by time (e.g., different work schedules), distance, (e.g., military service), emotion (trauma), or circumstance (working abroad).
To enter a long-distance relationship, you must live far apart from the one you love. Living long distances can prove challenging but it doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer.
Now that you know the four types, let’s look at what specific distances (3 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour, etc) might count as long-distance relationships. You might be surprised!
What Is Considered a Long Distance Relationship? (All the Answers)
The answer to the question, “What counts as a long-distance relationship?” is different for everyone. What is considered a long distance relationship by one person might seem like no big deal to someone else who lives in another city or under different circumstances.
The most common type of long-distance relationship is by physical distance, so we’re going to answer some specific time-related questions about what counts as a long-distance relationship.
Is 4 hours Away a Long-Distance Relationship?
If you live four hours from the person you’re presently seeing, then it is considered a long-distance relationship. It may be unreasonable to expect someone to drive or fly to visit you every day or even every weekend.
It’s really up to each couple to determine what makes sense for them.
You have to consider your work schedule and your free time when determining how much your long-distance relationships mean to you.
Still, four hours is a healthy amount of travel time. Especially considering we are talking about four hours one way for a total of 8 hours of round-trip travel. This significant distance makes daily visits all but impossible.
Is 2 Hours Considered a Long-Distance Relationship?
Since the word “long” is subjective, what if you live two hours from your partner? Is your relationship still considered long-distance?
In this case, I would say, “Yes” that two hours away is considered a long-distance relationship. Again, we’re talking about four hours of round-trip travel. While this is possible in a day, it can be severely difficult for someone who works or goes to school full-time.
Most likely, if you date someone who lives two hours away, you’ll probably only see them on the weekends—and possibly one night during the week.
Is an Hour Away Considered a Long-Distance Relationship?
The terms of a long-distance relationship can vary depending on where you live, but one hour is generally not considered long-distance.
Nevertheless, in some other places, an hour could be considered long-distance if you think about how long it would take to drive back and forth with traffic. Or taking into account other environmental or circumstantial barriers. In order to be certain, you must consider the location and situation.
For example, during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns, many couples could not leave their homes to see their partners despite living in the same region.
Therefore, a long-distance couple could theoretically live physically near to each other. However, current circumstances might prevent them from any kind of regular physical contact.
Is 30 Minutes Considered a Long-Distance Relationship?
If you live 30 minutes away from your partner, you are probably not in a long-distance relationship. In most cases, long-distance is considered anything two hours or more.
When a couple lives under that range (without other extenuating circumstances), they typically struggle with issues in their relationship that probably deserve attention before they ever move in together or get married.
What Is The Longest Long-Distance Relationship? (Statistics)
There is no fixed length of time that defines “long-distance”. It’s not unheard of for long-distance couples to marry and raise children while maintaining a physical separation.
This is a common trend in the military, where couples maintain physical separations due to job responsibilities. In t these instances, friends and family often lend a helping hand.
Websites such as Relationship Fire chronicle many articles on marriage, dating, and relationships along with tips on how to make any type of relationship more successful.
Here are some startling statistics about the longest long-distance relationships:
- The longest long-distance relationship on record spanned an astonishing 44 years!
- The furtherest distance between partners in a relationship is 12,371 miles (the distance between Santiago, Chile and Xi’an, China).
- 17 people in one study maintained a long-distance relationship without EVER seeing each other in person.
I hope these statistics give you hope that your long-distance relationship can not only make it but can also thrive—despite the distance or any other obstacle.
What Is The Shortest Long-Distance Relationship?
Usually, the shortest long-distance relationship is living less than two hours away from your partner. Anything under two hours drops into the “close-distance” range. However, some circumstances can turn any distance into long-distance by our inclusive definition.
Short-distance relationships can become long distance based on temporary or ongoing situations.
Therefore, the shortest long-distance relationship could be next door. As an extreme example, let’s say one partner is deathly sick and cannot host company for weeks or months.
Is this not a form of emotional long-distance?
If we can only communicate by video chat during a pandemic or during wartime, what makes our proximity in miles any less “long-distant” if we still can’t see or touch each other in person?
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Long-Distance Relationships
In my experience with (and research of) long-distance relationships, I ran across a series of related questions about this special type of connection. You may want to glance through these questions and answers to see if any resonate with you.
What are the benefits of long-distance relationships?
People always talk about the drawbacks of dating someone in another state or country, but we forget to consider the benefits.
There are many long-distance couples out there, and some of them actually stay together long term.
Even though it can be a tedious process, long-distance relationships can actually help you grow as an individual while still having a significant other in your life.
Here are some reasons why long-distance relationships really aren’t that bad:
- Communication is essential
- More time for yourself
- Develop independence
- You’ll learn to compromise
- You are less likely to take each other for granted
- There may be long distance, but you’re never really alone
You get long phone conversations that last for hours and long Skype dates where you spend time together from the comfort of your own room. Many couples do not communicate this much or “date” this cheaply, so you might see these as real benefits.
Communication isn’t always instantaneous which can help you understand your partner on a deeper level.
This long-term communication helps you establish trust and understanding with one another at a level that most couples don’t have the opportunity to develop.
In successful long-distance relationships, you learn to openly talk about your feelings because there isn’t any type of physical contact.
What drives people into a long-distance relationship?
People enter into long-distance relationships for many reasons. People either start off long-distance or transition to long-distance relationships for geographic, career, family, or financial reasons.
Often, long-distance long-term relationships come from people going to college in different cities, or living/working abroad.
There has been an increase in long-distance, long-term relationships due to the internet and social media connecting long distant lovers despite geographical distance.
How to ask someone for a long-distance relationship?
You ask someone for a long-distance relationship by clearly expressing your thoughts and feelings to your partner.
If the long-distance relationship is short-term, you will probably not have any trouble. A few months apart probably isn’t enough to end a relationship. However, you may still want to discuss how both of you feel and how you will keep your connection strong during the absence.
If the long-distance relationship is likely long-term, you might want to follow a more precise process.
Here is a process you can follow:
- Tell your partner how much you care about them and the relationship.
- Express your desire to keep the connection even at a distance.
- Share your fears and concerns.
- Listen to your partner’s thoughts and feelings.
- Validate their thoughts and feelings (let them know you understand and care about their perspective, even if you disagree).
- Directly ask for a long-distance relationship.
- If you agree, talk about when, how, and how often you will communicate with each other.
- Talk about expectations and boundaries that might impact your relationship at a distance (visits, trust, etc).
I always appreciate an example. So, here is a general template that you can change to fit your personality and circumstance:
You can say, “We are so good together that it would be a shame to let it go. I want to try a long-distance relationship. I know it will be hard and I know it’s likely to go long-term. I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. I would love to keep our connection while we are apart.
What do you think?”
Communication is super important in a long-distance relationship. How you communicate, the words and phrases you use, can sometimes make all the difference.
Learn some of the best relationship phrases to use by text, phone, or video call.
How often should you visit each other in a long-distance relationship?
How often you see each other depends on your situation. The closer you live, the more often you will probably see each other. If you earn more expendable cash, you will see each other more often.
Here are a few general rules of thumb:
- If you live 1-3 hours away from each other, try to see each other every weekend and perhaps once during the workweek.
- If you live within half a day’s drive, see each other at least every weekend or every other weekend.
- If you live a day’s drive but in the same state (or close state), see each at least once every other month.
- If you live in the same country but in far away states, once every 2-3 months might be more reasonable.
- If you live in another country, you might see each other once or twice a year.
How to not be clingy in a long-distance relationship?
It’s easy to act clingy in a long-distance relationship. Just like in a close-distance relationship, clinginess is a major turn-off for most people.
So, how do you avoid clinginess in a long-distance relationship? You must understand the importance of balance.
It is ok to crave your significant other’s attention and affection. You must be careful, however, that you don’t start seeing their attention as an entitlement rather than a gift. As long as you do not constantly put pressure on them, you both may be able to enjoy a reprieve from long-distance demands.
If your significant other is busy with work or school (or anything), that does not warrant a call every 10 minutes after he or she gets back online.
You can avoid clinginess by understanding balance, setting clear and reasonable expectations for contact, and managing your own feelings in healthy ways (such as meditation, deep breathing, exercise, and talking to a caring friend).
What is the hardest thing about long-distance relationships?
The hardest thing about long-distance relationships is the lack of physical contact and intimacy.
In long-distance relationships, physical affection like hugging, kissing, holding hands, and so on exist as rare treats.
It is tempting to surrender to the desperation for physical contact and affection from your partner. This especially becomes a problem when your relationship stretches into months and years.
It can be helpful to join online groups where people in long-distance relationships can support and encourage each other.
Long distance after a month—what to expect?
After the initial dread of going long-distance, the first few months will likely feel overly optimistic. It’s a strange “honeymoon” phase where you try really hard to make it work.
You grit your teeth and put on a happy face even if you don’t exactly feel it every day.
Eventually, usually at around the 3-6 month mark, you lapse back into dread and loneliness. But after the first month, you’ll still be on cloud nine. You might call and text each other constantly.
There’s nothing wrong with this stage, but just know it won’t last forever. Neither will the predictable backslide into dread.
Other people have made long-distance work. So can you.
There are actually stages of a long-distance relationship. People give the stages different numbers and different names, but they are essentially the same. Here’s a video that covers seven stages:
Long distance for a year—what to expect?
At the year mark, you’ve come a long way in your long-distance relationship. You’ve passed the “honeymoon” and “depression” stage. You’ve started building trust and habits that help you feel emotionally close despite the distance.
The long-distance gets easier. That’s not to say it will ever be easy. You just know you two will be together in the long run.
You have developed a history and track record of success that you rely on when things inevitably get tough.
Can a long-distance relationship work for 3 years?
Yes, a long-distance relationship can work for three years. Although three years is a long time, couples have successfully survived living apart for even longer.
Long-term, long-distance relationships require intention, visits, creativity, patience, trust, and deep love for each other. Couples with strong character and stronger connections can certainly make it work for three years.
Can a long-distance relationship last for 5 years?
Yes, a long-distance relationship can last for five or more years. It’s going to be rough, but you can make it. Just remember that the longest long-distance relationship lasted eight times as long.
Now, let me be honest. A long-distance relationship will probably not last through high school or college. It’s very likely you two won’t stay together during this time. However, it is possible to be in a long-distance relationship for 5 years if both partners are willing to deal with the inevitable problems and distance.
Military families do it, and so can you. It comes down to your grit, perseverance, and willingness to love each other across the miles.
Final Thoughts: What Is Considered a Long Distance Relationship?
If you’re going to try a long-distance relationship, you’ll need all the help and support you can get. Friends and family will provide most of it. However, to thrive, you’ll need every advantage.
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