Getting To Know You – Part IV

In May of last year, I started writing a series entitled Getting To Know You. The purpose of the series was to address some of the questions, concerns and misconceptions about online and long distance relationships. I became sidetracked and involved in other things, and never got around to finishing the series. Although it’s been nearly a year, a recent inquiry has inspired me to write another segment.

I have been in a long distance relationship for more than eight years — the relationship was initiated online, and my husband and I recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I am writing from my own experience and perspective. My goal is to help shed new light on the subject and work towards removing the stigma attached to these kinds of relationships.

Each part of the series address a different question or topic. In Part I, I addressed the question, “How can you fall in love with someone you don’t even know?” and explained my thoughts on what it is to truly know someone; in Part II, I discussed questions regarding liars and psychos on the internet; Part III addresses what to do if it turns out that the person you fell in love with online has bad breath or body odor, or if you’re not sexually compatible. I know these things may sound funny or superficial at first, but I believe they are legitimate concerns that deserve genuine responses.

Now on with the show! The next question I had wanted to deal with is:

Aren’t you worried he or she will cheat on you? Isn’t it easier to cheat when you’re in an online or long distance relationship?

I don’t worry about it, and I don’t think the distance makes it easier for someone who’s not inclined to cheat anyway. Someone who is inclined to cheat will do so even if you’re living in the same house together, so I honestly do not believe distance is a relevant factor.

Also, if you need to keep a physical eye on your partner just to feel secure in the fact that s/he is being faithful, you might want to reevaluate the relationship and whether or not you should be in it. I know that may sound harsh, and I don’t mean to be offensive. It’s just that I believe healthy relationships — conventional or long distance — are built on mutual trust and respect. If you have to be looking at a person to feel certain that s/he isn’t breaking whatever promise or commitment you’ve made to each other, you don’t have either of those things.

That said, relationships are as different as they are plentiful. As I’ve said before, I believe that consenting adults should be allowed to participate in any kind of relationship(s) they choose. Different kinds of people have different needs, and both/all parties involved in any relationship should be allowed to have their needs fulfilled in a mutually respectful and consensual manner.

I used to follow the blog of another couple involved in a long distance relationship. They were so sweet and seemed very much in love. They also had an open relationship. They were committed to each other, and agreed that they would be monogamous as soon as they were able to be together permanently. In the mean time, though, they were allowed to have sex with other (specific) people.

Is this cheating? I don’t think so, because they haven’t broken any rules.

This arrangement seemed to work for them, and I’m sure it works for other people as well. Mike and I, on the other hand, are 100% monogamous. That is the way we both want it, and that’s the way it is. Do we ever get lonely? Of course we do. But we’re lonely for each other.

I don’t worry that Mike will cheat and he doesn’t worry that I will. I am confident that being with someone else is as unthinkable to him as it is to me, and vice versa.

So, is it easier to cheat? Perhaps in the sense that it’s easier to get away with. But if you’re not inclined to cheat, you won’t be trying to get away with it in the first place, will you?

These are just my thoughts and opinions on the subject. There have been some studies of long distance relationships and the unique issues surrounding them. I can’t vouch for the credibility of the research or those conducting it, but some of what I’ve read squares with my own thinking, so I thought I’d include it:

Researchers have examined whether couples in long distance relationships have more affairs than geographically close couples. […] The good news is that all three studies showed that couples in long distance relationships had no greater risk of having an affair than geographically close couples. It seems that the risk of having an affair is related more to the quality of the relationship between the couple, and the personalities involved, than on mere opportunity.

The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships

In the next segment, I will conclude the series. I will share a few closing thoughts and perhaps link to some resources for people involved in long distance and/or online relationships.

Thanks for reading along.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On

12 responses to “Getting To Know You – Part IV

  • Selena

    “I don’t worry about it, and I don’t think the distance makes it easier for someone who’s not inclined to cheat anyway. Someone who is inclined to cheat will do so even if you’re living in the same house together, so I honestly do not believe distance is a relevant factor.”

    You’re right! It depends on if it’s in someone’s character or not. Skipper lived in a different state than I did when we met. He was in the army. What about marriages when one person has to be away from the family because of business? What it boils down to is exactly what you said. 🙂

  • Lottie

    Right! There are a lot of reasons couples may need to be apart for extended periods of time. People who aren’t inclined to cheat are not going to do it just because they’re away from a partner or because they think they can get away with it. Like you said, it’s about character!

    Glad to hear from you! 😀

  • saintpaulgrrl

    I think that you brought up some very valid points, Lottie. Geographical distance does not cause infidelity. Emotional distance, lack of integrity, immaturity, compulsions, and a host of other things cause infidelity, and those occur even when couples are living under the same roof.

    You and Mike rock! I wish you lots of happy years together. 🙂

  • Terra

    I agree with you 100%, after all while I live in the same house with my love I don’t always see him. We sometimes live on different schedules, he works I don’t, and so on. This doesn’t change anything, except that maybe we miss each other sometimes.

  • Lottie

    You’ve summed it up very nicely, Bonnie. I like the way you put it: “Emotional distance…”

    Thanks for the well wishes. I can’t wait for you to meet Mike.

  • Lottie

    Good point, Terra! Even when couples share a home, they sometimes have to spend a lot of time away from each other. I don’t think this puts them at any greater risk for having affairs. Like you said, it just makes you miss each other. That probably makes the time you do share together that much sweeter.

  • truthwalker

    Becky and I have what we call a “theoretically open marriage”. Each of us has never been with anyone else, and it is very unlikely that we will. But we call it that to keep in mind the real issue of an affair is not the sex, its the betrayal. If either of us wants to be with someone else, our spouse should be the first to know, not the last. When it looked like I would be in Korea away from her for a year, she and I talked about me having a mistress. (And her having a mister, I guess.) In the end we reached the decision, together, as a couple, that it wasn’t best for us. Not that it was wrong, or bad, etc. Just that long term, it wasn’t something we wanted to do. It turned out I didn’t need to go to Korea, but it seems to me the honesty it takes to talk about these things is ironically, exactly what keeps them from happening.

  • Lottie

    Thanks for sharing that, Truthwalker. From what I’ve read at your blog, and now this, it sounds like you and Becky have very honest, loving and solid relationship. The open communication is what makes it so strong, I think.

    Always glad to hear from you!

  • dam

    Good to be reading your blog again….This is an interesting post (as always). I’m with you on all points-cheating is in the character, not distance. All relationships are different–and have a right to be as long as both parties agree.

    Have you ever noticed when a man cheats on a woman, some people will place blame on the woman? (She wasn’t meeting his needs, she was a shrew.) It’s HIM, his character, not her. On the other hand, if a woman is cheating on her “other,” she’s considered, oftentimes, a slut or whore. There’s a double standard there.

  • Lottie

    Glad to see you around again too. 😀

    Yes, I have noticed that same thing! Definite double standard. Thank you for mentioning it.

  • Ariane5

    dam, that’s so right – Woman as Temptress – it’s women being held responsible, not only for their own sexuality, but that of men too, so that when men stray they can blame us and when we stray they can blame us too, how marvellously convenient!

    The thing that disturbs me about this is, it’s so often women who do this to other women. I watch a daily talk show here in the UK and I am really dismayed at the young women who go on there with serially cheating men who always viciously attack the women he goes with and who have to be constantly reminded that HE is the one who was in a relationship and did the cheating, not her.

  • Lottie

    Amazing, isn’t it, Ariane. I’ve never understood that mindset either.

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