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Can a Long-Distance Relationship That Begins Online Work?

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There are challenges for gay teens in long-distance relationships.

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Question: Can a Long-Distance Relationship That Begins Online Work?

Can long-distance relationships work? A gay teen, who has been meeting prospective partners online, asks for tips since most of them live in far off places.

Answer:

A gay teen writes to the community forum:

"I keep meeting all these great guys but they all live super far away from me. Any way to have a viable relationship even if you can't meet that person face-to-face?"

Here is what another teen has to say on the matter:

"Yes, you can have a long distance relationship but it requires a lot of effort, understanding, and love. There is also a good chance that these relationships won't last (it's sad but true). But I'm not saying it can't happen. Like any relationship, it also will need to be a two way street. Both of you will need to make the effort to maintain a long distance relationship and trust me it will be a lot harder than if your relationship wasn't long distance. There is a reason they say showing up is 60% of the work. In a long distance relationship, you are going to have to work with the remaining 40%, and really try and make it work."

Whether or not you decide to pursue a relationship will depend on a lot of different factors. About's Guide to Lesbian Life warns couples not to see a long-distance relationship as a permanent situation. "Most couples see the long-distance thing as a temporary condition. Eventually they want to be in a place where each can live together. Maybe you're apart while [your partner] in school or in the military. Have a plan and discuss what is going to happen at the end of that commitment."

Now this is tricky if you are a teen who meets another teen online and have never had the chance to live in the same place. But it is also something to keep in mind when deciding whether or not a particular long-distance relationship is worth pursuing.

But if you do decide to try out a long-distance relationship here are a few ideas that can help make it more successful:

  • Communicate regularly. Between cell phones and internet video chats, you have a whole world of ways to be in touch with your partner that weren't options for previous generations of long-distance lovers.
  • Be flexible. The same "rules" do not apply to long-distance relationships that apply to those that happen in the same place.
  • Trust your partner. Encourage your partner to have a social life and don't second guess his or her other relationships. You might feel jealous of the people your partner is hanging out with in real life, but remember, you have chosen to enter a relationship with someone far away and you have to allow them to live their life to the fullest.
  • Don't go looking for signs of cheating that just aren't there. The healthiest long-distance relationships tend to be those where people are encouraged to have active lives and hang out with friends.
  • Make an effort to get together in real life. Obviously this is really hard for teens, and it can be particularly for GLBT teens whose parents might not know about, or support, the relationship. But if at all possible, try to connect in person from time to time.

Long-distance relationships can be really fulfilling, but remember to keep your expectations in check. If you don't expect this one person to fulfill all your needs, you will probably have a lot more success with the relationship.

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