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What do you think of long-distance relationships?

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What do you think of long-distance relationships? –Living Far Away, 16, NC


Shayna Answers:

Dear Living Far Away,

Last week we talked about how difficult it can be to maintain long-distance friendships. So I imagine that having a long-distance relationship would be even harder to maintain. Here’s why.
 
First, long-distance relationships force a couple to exercise very mature levels of the trust of the kind that the apostle Paul wrote about in
1 Corinthains 13:7—often before they have a reason to do so. In local relationships, couples usually have the benefit of seeing each other several times a week at school, extracurricular activities, and church functions.
 
Even though they may not talk any more often than a long-distance couple does, indirect forms of communication (such as seeing each other, smiling at each other in class, and cheering one another on at games or youth group events) all serve as additional forms of “talking” and affirmation. 
 
When a couple is in a long-distance relationship, they don’t have the benefit of indirect communication. This can create distrust for some people, especially if a significant other delays in answering phone calls or text messages.
 
Couples who have dated before moving away from one another tend to have fewer problems with trust. But if you’ve always lived far away from a person you intend to date long-term, it can be difficult to automatically trust them without the benefit of personal interaction.
 
Long-distance relationships can also be very expensive. Most people have access to free long-distance, cell phones, or e-mail. But depending on what resources you have, and where your significant other is living (across the country or across the world), the cost of communication can be a challenge for a young person.
 
Also, at some point you’ll want to see your significant other. This may require airfare, bus fare, or gas money to do so. Depending on the living situation of your significant other, you may even have to cough up more money for a hotel room or hostel. All of this can be very pricey—oftentimes, too much for a teenager to afford.
 
Of course, not all people in long-distance relationships face such severe obstacles. You may be able to stay with friends or family when you visit your significant other and have no problem with transportation to or from your significant other’s home.
 
Assuming that finances do not pose a significant obstacle, once you are able to see your significant other the temptations inherent in dating relationships are usually magnified. Many couples in long-distance relationships admit to crossing physical boundaries because their personal interaction is so limited. It’s why many couples yield to temptations that they wouldn’t usually, following the progression of James 1:14, 15.
 
We already know from this column that successful relationships are difficult enough without additional stressors. This is why I do not encourage long-distance relationships during your teen years. Keep in mind that in general, dating relationships are usually more successful for people who are older than teenagers.


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