The Need for Co-Presence

Often, couples assume that as long as they manage a semi-regular schedule to meet in person, that it’ll be sufficient to keep their relationship healthy. While this is absolutely an essential part of maintaining a long-distance relationship, it oversimplifies and glosses over many of the key underlying risks.

When you’re only together for a weekend once a month, or a week every three months, you inherently end up falling into a distorted dynamic. The experience is either abnormally good, coloring expectations when you finally end up back together permanently or results in failed expectations where the hyper-inflated conversation and ease of expressing yourself digitally and remotely falls short when you’re suddenly face-to-face once again.

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Beyond this, the longer you spend apart, the harder it is to keep synchronized with each other’s daily life experiences, and to align on the evolution of interests and shifting life priorities. Over time, even if all other aspects of the relationship are fantastic, simply by being apart from each other, you miss out on the micro conversations and daily events which propel us forward through our lives. A bit like two ships sitting on still water side-by-side, blown by the same wind over time, subtle differences in the wind and the water will nudge the two in widely different directions.

This can be a profoundly challenging pitfall for many couples who, in all other areas, did and had something that was truly wonderful and worked. The love was there, the chemistry and alignment were there, but over time the difference in their life experiences during the period apart led them down a far less compatible path.

The longevity of many long-distance relationships is also often drawn out by the ease of coasting. If you were co-present, you’d face conflict, and that conflict or misalignment in needs would grow and be addressed more immediately. Long-distance creates a placeholder that leaves people committed and engaged, but only in a maintenance stage.

Often, after an extended period apart or the brief co-present period that started the relationship, followed by a long period as a long-distance relationship, the worst thing that can happen is that the two people find themselves living together. The fairytale collides with reality and a much less blissful reality rapidly sets in.

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