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long distance relationship

Can long-distance relationships work?

Valliammal was heart-broken when her beau Marappan accepted a new job offer in Chennai. She couldn’t imagine a day without seeing him. Marappan, too, wasn’t very keen to leave his family and beloved behind, but he knew it would be foolish to pass up such a lucrative job. It was the first time the couple would live apart in two different cities. Their first thought was how to keep in touch. They decided to write letters to each other every other day. Wondering why not call, WhatsApp or Skype? Well, that’s because this love story dates back to 40 years when lovers didn’t have the technology to bridge such communication gap. However, being a committed couple, Valliammal and Marappan were determined to make their long-distance relationship work. They started exchanging love notes to each other, which was “not easy” initially, but they got used to it slowly. The distance helped them uncover the true nature of their relationship that endured the test of time and separation. Valliammal says that the distance helped them identify the loopholes in their relationship and fix them. “When we were in the same city, there were times we would fight. But as he shifted, we started missing each other, understanding each other’s needs even better. It helped us work on our problems, in a way, we matured,” Valliamal says.

Forty years later, Valliammal and Marappan are happily married with children who are now married.  Like theirs, there are many such heart-melting love stories that have stood the test of time, despite the distances. However, the general perception these days is that long-distance relationships are doomed. Whereas some relationships, be it real-time or long-distance, are too weak to last long, the love between a couple living apart can survive under any difficult situation if there is commitment and determination to make the relationship work.

These days, unlike in the times of Valliammal and Marappan, long-distance is a misnomer. Distances have blurred as couples can keep in touch through texts, video chats and phone calls. And, it is through these video calls that they evaluate and interpret mutual trust, patience and respect.  Kadambari Seth, a corporate life coach and counsellor, explains how her long-distance relationship with her then boyfriend, now husband, has worked successfully and why she vouches for such relationships. “He was in Bangalore and I was in Delhi. Since he was not earning back then, the pact was, I give him a call every day, and he writes me letters. This was years back, we didn’t see each other for months but these letters and those phone calls kept us going,” Kadambari said. Seth further opines that a couple living apart gets to enjoy substantial personal space and independence, which keeps the spark alive in the relationship. Living apart builds excitement and curiosity in both partners till they meet each other. They appreciate and savour the ‘us’ time together, whether it comes after months, or years. It then becomes more about spending quality time and understanding each other better.

It’s important to handle long-distance relationships with utmost maturity and care.


Couples in long-distance relationships share more profound and meaningful conversations, which can be “therapeutic” in many ways, as psychologist Amita Mani says. “First, due to the lack of proximity, there is a sense of subjectivity. A lot of times conversations between long-distance couples go to a deeper level, its more about how your partner feels or thinks, what are his/her beliefs, values,” says Amita. Secondly, living apart can help couples concentrate on their respective work and careers even better. There’s ample time to prioritise work, follow hobbies and socialise with friends. This can help in strengthening the social circle around them.

That being said, not everything is rosy in long-distance relationships. Sometimes, this very space, the individual life and career away from the partner can be detrimental to the relationship. Unless there’s a deep understanding, a mature commitment and complete dedication to the partner, the independence and space of living apart for too long can create a distance between the partners. This distance makes couples emotionally detached and look for emotional fulfilment in colleagues or friends, thus leading to work spouses. Given the emotional complexities, it’s important to handle long-distance relationships with utmost maturity and care.

It’s challenging, but doable when both partners are ready to invest in the relationship equally. Besides, as mentioned earlier in this article, technology has blurred distances these days. So, all it takes now is really understanding, mutual trust, loyalty and a deep sense of respect to make a long-distance relationship successful.

Edited by Priyadarshini Basu

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