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Some people haven’t figured out how to be independent in a relationship.

They become an extension of their significant other and, to be quite honest, lose that special “spark” that made you want to be friends with them in the first place.

It’s a bit odd, but some of the most romantic men and women I have ever met spent part of their time in a long distance relationship.

We all know those girls (and to avoid sexism, I will also say boys) who lose themselves in every relationship.

But when we live together like most “normal” couples, we only vaguely listen to what the other person says in between Netflix episodes, our weekly jog, and arguing over whose turn it is to take out the garbage (it is always his turn). Once upon a time, boy met girl, they fell in love, and lived happily ever after in the same house for the next three generations. Or, if not mainstream, at least more socially widespread.

Every time I tell someone that doing the whole “long distance relationship” thing actually strengthened my relationship, they laugh. And more than anything else, these long distance relationships are becoming a viable alternative to breaking up.

I’ve written a couple of posts on my blog about surviving a long distance relationship and the comment section of those posts are filled with men and women who are desperate to “win back” their significant other who has been slowly drifting away. One of the first (and most important) things I learned about long distance relationships is that it does not work if both people are not equally committed.

Even though it got a bit lonely, that security of knowing that he was just as committed as me was the best feeling in the world.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is one of those obnoxious and inspirational quotes everyone seems to tell couples starting out on their first long distance relationship. It would be a nice sentiment if it wasn’t accompanied by that nagging thought in the back of the speaker’s mind (that they are much too polite to actually say): I give them four months. However, a study in the Journal of Communications has shown that absence might truly make the heart grow fonder and that couples who participate in a healthy long-distance relationship can have more meaningful interactions than couples who see each other daily.

Oh, your boyfriend of three years is going to college out-of-state? Apparently you can judge how meaningful an interaction is. Science aside, my husband and I both agree that the nearly two years of long distance before marriage did the most to strengthen our relationship.

For a long distance relationship to work, both parties must be equally committed because staying in a long distance relationship is not the “path of least resistance.” You are either 100% committed or wavering on the edge – and if you are wavering on the edge, it is pretty obvious.

I can’t count the number of friends in “normal” relationships who have stayed in relationships because it was easier than ending it.

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