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AUDIO: Dr. Klein - When Is A Long-Distance Relationship An Unhealthy Attachment?

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No sex or marriage question is too embarrassing because it’s time to ask EmpowHer’s sexuality expert Dr. Marty Klein, anything.

Now here is a question I get periodically – “When is a long-distance relationship an unhealthy attachment between two people, even if they are in love?”

Dr. Marty Klein:
Well, you know, I don’t think the “being in love” part is really the relevant part here. The question is, “What is the goal of this long-distance relationship?” Is it friendship? Is it. “We’re going to be a couple one day?” Is it, you know, “You are just a convenient placeholder for me until I meet the right person”? And how often do the people have contact with each other and how long is this going to be for?

What I don’t think is good is when people don’t spend a lot of time together in person and they think that they are getting to know each other by telephone or especially by email. It’s very dangerous to think that you know someone just based on the email that you exchange, even if the email talks about feelings and talks about philosophies and talks about your mother and this and that. There is no substitute for being in the same room with somebody and smelling them and seeing the look on their face, seeing how many teeth they have, and just experiencing life with them. There is no substitute for that.

So, if you want to have a long-distance relationship, I would say, it can work if you started out by being in the same place at the same time for a while. So the relationship got some establishment there, right? Then you separate for a while because of work or family or this or that. And then, before you make your final commitment, you get back together and you live in the same town or live near each other so that you can experience each other being in a relationship.

So, if the long distance part sort of happens in the middle, that’s not such a problem, but if people substitute the long-distance part for the developmental part of the relationship where people actually get to know each other and find out, “What are you like when I am late? What are you like when I have a cold? What are you like when you have a cold? How do you treat my best friend?” There’s no substitute for that stuff in real life and if people are using the long-distance part as a substitute for that, that may lead to problems later on.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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