There’s no doubt that being in a long-distance relationship comes with its challenges: trying to coordinate time to talk across different time zones, making plans to see each other when your work schedules or finances (or the current pandemic) don’t allow for it and going long stretches of time without that coveted face-to-face connection.
But as people in LDRs will tell you, there are also some positive aspects to the experience that you may not have considered before.
For more than two years, Missy Eames was living in New York while her now-husband Harley was living in Australia; the pair eloped in July at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, New York. The long-distance path was difficult at times but it also strengthened their relationship, she said.
“Long distance was not always ideal. It came with struggles, loneliness, longing and then a pandemic happened and made it a bit harder for a short time in our situation,” Eames told HuffPost. “That being said, the nature of our relationship has left us with tons of memories and experiences that are irreplaceable.”
Below, people who have been in LDRs, presently or in the past, share the surprising perks to their relationships.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
1. You don’t take the little things for granted.
“Sure, date nights are great. But we actually find ordinary life together downright magical. Morning hugs in the kitchen. Going to the grocery store together. Just seeing his toothbrush next to mine. Swoon!” — Cris Gladly
2. You get to maintain more of your independence.
“Perhaps one of the best things about a long-distance relationship is the space that you have. You have lots of time for the things you love, for yourself, for missing each other. You get the benefits of being in a relationship, but can still enjoy your free, independent life.
“As a person who’s been through two years of transatlantic dating — and going on six years of marriage — I believe that it’s healthy to retain some level of distance in a relationship, even for couples who do live under one roof. Maybe that’s a weekend away with your girlfriends while he’s fishing with his friends. Distance helps each of you stay self-sufficient and makes it easier to maintain respect towards each other.” — Olga Baker
3. You become pros at communicating.
“Being in a LDR has created a stronger level of communication than I think would have developed if we were in a ‘traditional’ relationship. At any given point, we had a 14-to-16-hour time difference between us, sometimes more if I traveled out west. This worked really well for me because I worked overnight shifts, so most of the time we were both awake at the same time. On days off, one of us either woke up early or stayed up late to ensure that we could talk to each other.
“Considering that months would often pass before we could see each other again, communication was all we had. In turn, I found that we were both very open about our emotions, how we felt about each other and how we felt about our situation moving forward. From almost day one, we have been very open and transparent with each other, and I think that made us stronger as a couple.” — Eames
“We actually find ordinary life together downright magical. Morning hugs in the kitchen. Going to the grocery store together. Just seeing his toothbrush next to mine.”
– Cris Gladly
4. You make the most of whatever time you have together.
“One of the perks was the memories we got to make when we’d see each other. On my weeklong trips to visit Dan in Portugal or Colombia, it was like a constant back-to-back date night because we had to pack it all in before I had to fly home again. We look back on those trips knowing that we spent such excellent quality time together in only seven days that it turned out to be like more quality time in total than the time that couples have together in a regular month living in the same place.” — Becca of @Halfhalftravel
5. You’re uniquely prepared for a pandemic.
“COVID has kept so many loved ones apart. But being in a long-distance relationship prepared me and my husband well. We already know exactly what to do to keep love strong and alive while apart. We’ve been doing those things for years!” — Gladly
6. You find creative ways to keep your sex life hot.
“It’s easy to let your sexual relationship fall to the wayside when you’re with your partner every single day, especially during a pandemic. But a thriving sex life takes work and commitment. In LDRs, people are forced to nurture aspects of their relationships that they might not have otherwise — this is especially true with sex. We don’t have a playbook for LDR sex lives so we can get creative with it. It can become a multimedia erotic love fest between nude pics, FaceTime sex, mutual masturbation and sexting.” — Gigi Engle, author of “All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life”
“You get the benefits of being in a relationship, but can still enjoy your free, independent life.”
– Olga Baker
7. You get to explore new places together.
“I love traveling and seeing other parts of the world, which is coincidentally how we met. Since we started dating, I have been to Australia two more times and my husband has come to America four times before moving here. During those trips, we were able to play tourist in our respective homes and even see bits of each other’s countries. In between those visits, we also got to travel together to Vietnam and Peru together. He proposed at Machu Picchu, which is something I will never forget. We figured that seeing each other would always require a flight on one end or the other, but we could break it up and meet each other somewhere, and then experience a new country together.” — Eames
8. Over time, two places start to feel like home.
“I get to live like a local in two cities on opposite sides of the planet. We have friends in both places. Favorite hangouts and coffee shops in both places. Two vastly differently environments now feel equally like home.” — Gladly
9. You’re forced you to make some tough, but ultimately rewarding choices.
“LDRs are not an easy feat. They take work, no matter how serious or mutually casual the relationship. These kinds of relationships make you answer the very nerve-wracking question: What do I want from this and am I willing to do the work to make it happen? This is a terrifying aspect of romance that many millennials and Gen Z babes avoid in the never-ending quest to try and be ‘chill.’ LDRs don’t really have room for ‘chill’ and force us to figure out our values and get clear about what we want. Ultimately, that can leave you with a relationship (or relationships) that sustain you and benefit you in the long-term.” — Engle
Long-Distance Love is a HuffPost series all about long-distance relationships and how to make them work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll feature advice for romantic relationships and friendships alike, with tips on how to keep your connection strong despite the distance.