For humans, romantic relationships form an essential component of emotional development and meeting emotional needs. A healthy relationship can help a person to develop a sense of self and of loving and caring for another person. Within romantic relationships, there are often periods where the partners become geographically separated. This results in a long-distance relationship (LDR), where the couple attempts to maintain their emotional closeness despite the physical distance. Long-distance relationships are a form of relationship that is becoming more common for a variety of reasons. For couples where one or both individuals are studying at the university between 25 percent and one-third of the relationships are long distance. Additionally, LDRs can form through sources such as internet dating sites where the couple has not met and continue their relationship for some time without meeting. Consequently, the types of LDRs vary, with some couples having periodic face-to-face interaction, while others have none. Long-distance relationships differ substantially from normal relationships for a number of reasons. The separation from one's partner can create psychological stresses; these vary depending on the strength of the relationship between the two individuals and the ability to adapt. In a long-distance relationship, both partners have much more time to themselves, less communication and substantially less physical contact than a couple who is not geographically separated. There is the risk that while separated by distance, the partners in the relationship become somewhat idealized, and see only the best side of each other. Research indicates that couples that have a long-distance relationship are restricted in the communication that they are able to have, and tend to be more idealized about their partner than couples that are not separated by distance. This can result in significant disillusion or disappointment when the partners reunite which may eventually result in the dissolution of the relationship. There are a number of ways in which an LDR may be less stable than the couple who are close geographically. A study examining LDRs and reunions found that although LDRs were significantly more stable than relationships where the partners were not separated. However, partners who were in an LDR were likely to dissolve the relationship on their reunion. This indicates that the LDR creates a relationship that is not resilient to change. Around half of all LDRs experience the transition from long-distance to close proximity, while the other half choose to end their relationship during the long-distance period. Of those relationships where individuals did reunite, a third terminated the relationship within three months of the reunion. Reasons given for ending the relationship included the loss of the novelty and autonomy that partners experienced during the LDR. A comparison of LDRs and relationships that were not long distance found that people not in an LDR were more confident that the relationship would last.
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