8 min read

What Kills Long-Distance Relationships & How to Beat the Odds

Why do some long distance relationships fail while others thrive? How can couples remain connected despite the distance?
The words "I miss you" written in condensation on a window
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57% of LDRs were either successful or close to success

As we live in a world more connected than ever with technology and the internet, many couples find themselves split up half away around the world.

Before, long distance relationships rarely happened. It would occur if one partner moved away for school, work, or the military.

Now with the availability of the internet, many long distance couples start their relationships online. 11% of people in one study on long distance relationships reported that they had never met their partner in real life. In that study, 15% of the long distance relationships began online. One study indicates that 10% of all relationships begin as long distance relationships.

Long distance relationships can work if both partners are willing to put in the effort. Both partners need to commit to do what it takes.  

My Experience

When I met my now-husband, we only dated around 6 months before I had to leave for an internship.

The idea of a long distance relationship terrified me. I had only heard about the negatives, the failures, and the painful breakups. Many people told me long-distance relationships never work but we couldn't let each other go. We decided to take a leap of faith and try it.

We did long distance for a year. I lived in England. He lived in Belgium.

It wasn't easy but we knew that by surviving the distance, we could survive anything. The distance did put our relationship to the test. Despite the challenges it posed, I would do it all over again a million times over.

Why Long Distance Relationships Fail

Long distance relationships have more challenges than in-person relationships.
Long distance relationships won't work if:

  • one or both partners are not willing to make the necessary work
  • there is a lack of trust
  • poor communication (bad or not enough communication was the biggest reason for long distance relationship failure)
  • the temptation of infidelity
Image of a rope starting to break apart.
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Signs Long Distance is Not Working

While we all want our happily-ever-after, sometimes we have to know when to admit it isn't working.

Here are some signs the long distance relationship is not working:

  • one partner refuses to communicate
  • there are strong persistent feelings of jealousy and insecurity that don't go away no matter what
  • you can't resolve conflicts healthily or the arguments linger over long periods of time
  • you feel more disconnected than connected most of the time
  • the negatives far outweigh the positives of the relationship
  • there is emotional or physical cheating and one or both of you are unable to move on

Long Distance Relationships And Cheating

There is the idea that long distance relationships means more infidelity. However, that is not the case. The rate of cheating in long distance realtionships was similar to in-person relationships. 22% of participants in a study reported some form of cheating in their long distance relationships.

Couples in long distance relationships who meet more frequently are less likely to cheat. For couples who met once a month, 68% of them were certain no cheating had occurred, compared to 46% of couples who met every 4-6 months.

How Long Distance Relationships Work

In order for long distance relationships to work, it requires more maintenance than most in-person relationships. The distance can bring out insecurities and jealousy.

In that same study, 52% of the long distance relationship participants had done long distance longer than one year.

It is possible to make it work for long periods of time, but they require:

  • Good communication
  • Trust
  • Endpoint

Let's explore these further.


Healthy Long distance relationships need a solid foundation of communication. Communication includes keeping the other updated on daily life happenings and also sharing vulnerabilities. Partners need to be upfront about what is working and what isn't in their long distance relationship.

Partners need to be able to be transparent about their thoughts and feelings.
Since the partners can't connect physically, communication is a way to strengthen the bond. Opening up and being vulnerable about fears and dreams help partners feel emotionally connected.


Nothing kills long distance relationships faster than a lack of trust. Trust is essential for growing that bond and surviving the distance.

It is the faith that your partner will be loyal to you, but also that they will communicate openly and honestly. It is the trust that you are both in this for the long term and you are both willing to do what it takes to make it work.

Without that trust, the relationship will crumble.

End Plan

For the best chance at surviving long distance relationships, there needs to be an endpoint. This is the point where you know you will be reunited.

It is important to have both visiting dates in mind and an idea of when the long distance will end entirely.

Visiting dates, or times when you are reunited temporarily, give the couples time to reconnect physically. It allows the couples to have something to look forward to, as well as help maintain the relationship.

Ultimately, the goal is for you both to be reunited permanently. Knowing when that point gives you that light at the end of the tunnel. Without it, it can be difficult to know what you are both working so hard for.

Are Long Distance Relationships Worth It?

In a study of 1,174 participants who had been in long distance relationships, 32 % said they would not choose to be in a long-distance relationship again.

That means 68% of them would be open to the idea of it again.

Maybe I'm a romantic, but if you find the right person then long distance relationships are more than worth it. Long distance relationships are hard but when you have someone who willingly shares the challenge with you, it becomes easier.

When my now-husband and I were dating long distance, there was a moment when I went through something extremely challenging and difficult. I was all alone in a foreign country with no friends or family around. The next day, he hopped on a flight to come and be with me.

That surprise visit stands as the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me. It was the moment I realized he had my back more than I could have imagined. That moment remains the pinpoint moment when I knew I wanted to marry him.

I always knew he was special, but the bond we created during the distance solidified us against all odds.

Looking back on our relationship, if I had the choice of our relationship having that long distance or not, I still would have chosen the distance.

It taught me many important lessons:

  • Some of the best things in life are worth waiting for
  • How to deal with jealousy and insecurity
  • How to effectively communicate and deal with conflict
couple with long distance relationships sending kisses over videocall
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Tips for Healthy Long Distance Relationships

1. Establish boundaries

Discuss what you consider cheating, how often you need to see each other, and how often you need to communicate. Having clear and precise boundaries means that both partners know exactly what to expect. This reduces the likelihood of one partner getting accidentally hurt if the other crosses those boundaries.

2. Have routines

Having routines can make you feel more connected with your partner. Things like always sending a "good night" message or one video call in the morning mean you look forward to those times.

3. Keep date nights

Treat your partner as you would in person. Have date nights. Get dressed up and then video call. Play a game or share a dinner. You can get creative to find new date night ideas to do at a distance (I've included some long distance relationship activities lower down).

4. Flirt

Keep it spicy. Make it clear to your partner that you miss them and you want them near. Compliment them. Tease them. Turn up the heat as you flatter them. Everyone wants to feel wanted, but it is especially important if you are far away.

5. Give Surprises

Surprises are an excellent way of showing your loved one that you care. It can be anything from ordering a pizza to their place, sending flowers, or writing them a letter.

There is nothing better than receiving a surprise and feeling cherished and loved.

6. Connect emotionally

Use the distance as a time to connect deeper emotionally. Talk about fears, dreams, and future plans. Fantasize about the moment you will finally be reunited together forever.

Woman in long distance relationship having a video call with her partner
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Long Distance Relationship Activities

If you are looking for fun long distance relationship ideas, I've got you. Here are some of the things I did during my own long-distance relationship.

1. Watch a movie "together"

Pick the same movie and have a date night where you watch it at the same time. You could listen to the movie with earbuds with one ear, and video call at the same time. You can discuss the movie and your thoughts as you watch along. Grab snacks, a drink, and cuddle up to your phone.  

2. Play games together

There are plenty of multiplayer games that can let you connect with your partner. It could be simple games like chess or checkers, or online multiplayer games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft. This gives you a fun way of interacting and overcoming obstacles together.

3. Have a "Cook Off"

Pick a meal that you will have a cook-off. Get the same ingredients and then have a fun competition of whose meal looks better. After, you get the bonus of having date night eating food together over a video call.

4. Do the boring things together

One thing that long distance relationships miss is doing the mundane things together. You don't get to experience walking to the bus stop, grabbing groceries, or cleaning. It may seem silly, but adding boring things can make you feel more involved and present in your partner's daily life.

5. Visit a museum together

Both partners can go to a museum or park on their end and share what they find. Video calls can make you feel like you are right there with them. Send pictures or videos of your favorite art pieces.  

6. Send something via slow mail

When everything is instant, receiving something via slow mail can really brighten your day. My husband still has those postcards I sent him. He appreciated those little gestures even more because they are special.  

7. Listen to songs about long distance relationships together

Want to get sappy and love-struck? These songs can be tearjerkers that make you appreciate the little moments together. Some of my favorites:


Long distance relationships are a reminder that love has no bounds. While they come with signficant challenges, it is possible for relationships to thrive despite the distance. Healthy long distance relationships need to have a solid foundation of trust, good communication and a endpoint in mind. Many long distance relationships do have their happily-ever-after.