Surviving and Thriving in a Long Distance Romance (Part 1 of 2)

Maybe you met your partner in an Internet chat room or while visiting friends in another city. Or maybe you were high-school sweethearts who were separated because your universities were located in different towns. The good news is that you are now in love! The bad news is that you are separated from each other by thousands of miles.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This may be true, but is basking in a feeling of constant longing a healthy or practical way to conduct a relationship?

First of all, long-distance romances can lack true intimacy. No matter how vivid the video on the web-cam is, it is still not a substitute for a warm body under the covers.

Next, there is the jealousy factor. Your partner is far away, meeting new people every day and anything is possible in this world. Out of sight, out mind?

Thirdly, you might be asking yourself, "Are we truly building a future together?" or just leading friendly, but parallel lives that are boosted by phone calls, emails and occasional visits?

If the separated parties in the relationship are married, there is apparently less risk of romantic disaster than if you just met the person once or twice -- say in a chat room or during a holiday. In this case, you might be in danger of living in a safe "fantasy" that acts as an excuse for to avoid meeting new people or getting on with your own life. An unfortunate aspect of online relationships is that they often exist because one or both parties are actually trying to avoid responsibility, intimacy and commitment to a partner in "real life."

The bottom line is that most long-distance relationships exist because most people find it hard to walk away from a love that seems to be perfect in every way except for one -- he or she is not in your life.

Then there is the question of uprooting your entire life to be with someone else. This is not advised in the case of online relationships, unless you know the other party very, very well. People are like onions. You can peel off layer after layer and still, in the end, not really get to know them. Individuals with certain criminal dispositions, addictions or psychiatric disorders can be perfectly well for months and then suddenly turn into complete strangers. Most experts advise relocating to live with an online relationship only if you are emotionally and financially prepared to handle any surprises that may come your way.

For those couples who have been separated... [Continued: Long Distance Relationships 2]