Social media and long-distance relationships are certainly not specifically interdependent circumstances — the latter provably far predates the former, and social networks have little to do overall with LDRs in as much as their purposes are legion.
However, we can safely say long-distance relationships have both changed and increased in both prominence and status since the Earth leapt en masse onto platforms like Facebook, enabling the geographically separated to interact in every meaningful way possible save for skin to skin contact.
In fact, part of what has changed about long-distance relationships is that the term isn’t even really exclusively romantic anymore per se. All my major working relationships since 2009 have been long-distance (my partners Dusten, Dan, and James all live several states away but are totally bros), and some of my closest platonic friendships are with females who live a day or more’s drive away — women who know more details about my personal life than people I see daily.
But we can recognize too that long-distance relationships of the non-platonic sort have, alongside social networks like Facebook, clawed a sort of grudging acceptance only just in the past few years. Having entered into the most significant relationship of my own life more than eight years ago on the pre-historic social web (i.e. a message board), I’ve seen this fascinating shift in social acceptance happen in real time. Essentially, it is a sort of shift from “oh, I saw a 20/20 once about a woman whose husband ran away on the A-O-Ls” to “okay, fine, but you know LDRs never work out, right?” Sigh.
Social media has definitely paved a slightly less hostile path for long-distance relationships now that Facebook and its ilk have fostered more global communities, but this article isn’t about the ease of LDRs now that the world is so easily connected. It’s about how while people are getting better, long-distance relationships still not only have a sort of annoying stigma, they’re also subject to the same inane, insulting, and hurtful comments over and over and over and over again as if the people involved aren’t as real to one another as you and your best buddy 4,000 miles away who you met on a rabbit enthusiasts Facebook group.
These are the most commonly annoying things people in LDRs hear from people who live near or with their partners, and the most likely to irritate or enrage a long-distance lover you know if you carelessly utter them.
Why are you putting yourself through this?
In a theme that’s likely to be common in this post, could you imagine posing the same question to a friend about their husband or wife? Basically asking them why they bother in a relationship that makes them happy because there are a few challenges? Obviously, people in LDRs are well, well aware of how much the suck sucks. Asking why is totally rhetorical with the bonus bit of knife-twisting.
Instead: hug them.
There are plenty of nice guys/girls around here, you’re making this hard.
Try to think about what it would be like if you were out to dinner and someone just permanently swapped out your SO with another diner. This is essentially what you’re suggesting doing every time your friend or sibling in a LDR is sad and this advice is offered. The sheer panic the sadly separated feels at the thought of being forced to replace their lover (because people are not toasters) with another because of geography is inarticulatable.
Instead: maybe ask if they’d like a cookie?
I wouldn’t be able to do that ever.
Perhaps no other statement made to people in long-distance relationships by the close-quarters coupled is as incomprehensible as this particular one.
What goes through our heads when you say you’d be unable to “do that” in regard to separation is a stated belief that if things got even remotely challenging, you’d bounce on your current relationship. It’s weird to us, this idea that there’s some sort of choice involved when the person or persons you love are inconveniently located across the border. But we can’t help but wonder if your commitment is at all solid if all it would take to tank your romance is a short plane ride.
Instead: tell them they’re impressively resolute?
She/he could be/probably is cheating on you, aren’t you worried?
Believe it or not, those in LDRs live with the specter of the alluring local day in and day out. Anything you can imagine in your speculations, they’ve anxiously Googled at 3 AM after a particularly lonely day.
However, it’s not only unfair to your buddy, it’s not cool to their partner — who may later have to deal with the fallout of some innocent comments that planted a shaky seed of fear … which is, by the way, totally common and normal in a long-distance relationship. It just doesn’t need encouragement is all.
Instead: maybe observe that their SO must really love them a lot to keep a LDR going?
Don’t you like, miss sex? All the time?
Yes. Yes, all the time. I nearly forgot.
Instead: maybe try not saying this pointless, cruel thing?
You do realize you have to have an “end date,” right?
Jesus Christ, with that one. The biggest and longest shift in the attitude toward long-distance relationships in popular culture and thanks to media is the slowly changing mindset that they’re blazing fires that need to be fixed yesterday.
Before, long-distance relationships were the purview of the college student, the backpacker, and the otherwise rootless.
Now, they’re for the young professional, the newly single, the recently divorced and widowed. Social media has created thousands of avenues for people to meet their perfect partner … a person who, in 2014, often has a successful career, owns a home, has children, and still feels like home to you even if their sun sets six hours earlier.
Most people in long-distance relationships have a difficult series of adult choices to make, ones that are best not decided under artificial pressure to no longer be in a LDR. Constant reminders that society views your significant other as inconvenient, temporary, unreliable, untrustworthy, or not “real” are purely rude — unlikely to end a sturdy love, but nevertheless painful for those involved to hear.
Instead: ask to see a picture?
Do you have a long-distance relationship that began on Facebook, Instagram, or even a pre-social media website? Do you get annoyed when people not in LDRs make these sorts of comments?