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.