University is starting, which, for many students, means that their relationship is about to change. Over the next few months, many people will experience their first long-distance relationships as they and their significant others head to separate colleges. But will they stay together long-term?
The path from high school relationship to long-distance college relationship to breakup is so common that there's even slang for it: “the turkey drop.” That's what it's called when college freshmen head home for Thanksgiving and break up with their high school partners.
But not all high school relationships end with a “turkey drop,” or even end at all. In fact, more and more young couples are choosing to make long-distance work for a few years, or even permanently. “It's becoming a lot more common because the world is becoming so much more accessible than what it used to be,” Channa Bromley, Lead Coach for Relationship Hero, recently told Refinery29. “You have people going to different universities and staying together, and when we get promotions and job opportunities, they might not be in the same city as our partner.”
Will your long-distance relationship end in a breakup? We can’t answer that, because it really depends on each individual couple. But we can share nine real statistics about long-distance relationships.
Almost half of all daters are open to long-distance.
According to 2019 OKCupid data, 46% of women and 45% of men are open to a long-distance relationship with the right person.
More than half of all long-distance relationships make it long-term.
According to a 2018 study conducted by sex toy brand KIIROO, 58% of Americans in long-term relationships will stay together.
Lack of physical intimacy is the biggest challenge.
In the same KIIROO study, 66% of respondents said the hardest thing about being in a long-distance relationship was the lack of physical intimacy, and 31% said the lack of sex was the hardest part.
Most college students will be in a long-distance relationship.
Long-distance relationships don’t last as long, on average.
A 2010 German study found that the average length of a long-distance relationship was 2.9 years, less than half the length of a proximal relationship, 7.3 years.
Long-distance relationships may be more stable...
One 2007 study found that people in long-distance relationships reported more idealism, positive reminisces, perceived agreement, communication quality, and even romantic love than people in geographically close relationships.
...until they reunite.
The same study found that about one-third of long-distance couples broke up within three months of moving to be in the same place.
Having an end date leads to more satisfaction.
According to a 2007 study on college students in long-distance relationships, students who were uncertain if they would ever live in the same city as their partner reported feeling “significantly more distressed, less satisfied, and rated communication coping strategies as less helpful than those who felt more certain about reunion.”
Distance isn’t an indicator of relationship quality
A 1995 study found “no significant differences” in relationship quality as measured by “self-reported levels of relationship satisfaction, intimacy, dyadic trust and the degree of relationship progress” between 194 people in long-distance relationships and 190 people in proximal relationships. A long-distance relationship comes with unique challenges, but it can be just as strong as a proximal relationship.
Just because you and your partner are headed to different schools, and possibly different countries, doesn't mean your romance has to end.