Long-distance relationships are really, really hard, to grossly understate things; anyone who has ever been in one will tell you that. But what’s less often talked about is this: What happens when a long-distance relationship loses the distance? Once a relationship has successfully survived a separation, it would seem that the worst is over, but that’s not necessarily true, show a pair of studies on the subject.
Ohio State University researchers found that 82 percent of couples who’d dated long distance and then moved to the same city ended up breaking up, according to a 2007 paper in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships. A separate study, published one year earlier in that same journal, found that a third of those breakups occur within three months of the couple’s reunion. That paper found that many of the individuals actually missed aspects of their long-distance relationship, particularly their own autonomy and the novelty of only getting to see their partner every once in a while.
Research has also found that people in long-distance relationships are more likely to have idealized views of their partners — that is, they see their significant others in an unrealistically positive light. That perfect image you once had becomes harder to keep up once you’re around each other all the time. It seems there’s something to the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder thing.