Does non-monogamy work in a long distance relationship?
Dear Dr. Jory,
My boyfriend’s company is transferring him from the Midwest office to Phoenix next month. Dylan has done everything he can to avoid this transfer, but he has a good job and will get a promotion and pay raise out of it. So asking him to quit his job and start over is out of the question. As for me, I have two years of grad school left so I’m anchored in Chicago and can’t pick up and move right now.
Knowing this could happen, we’ve talked about this and both of us want to stay together as a couple. But we will be looking at a lot of lonely nights for the next two years. I have no desire to be with anyone but Dylan, and I don’t think I can handle him dating others while I wait. Dylan says he might feel resentful being alone and not dating, and it might be good to date others while we’re living apart, sort of as a way to decide whether we’re really meant to spend the rest of our lives together. Do you think we should date others or try to stick it out as a monogamous couple?
Signed, Not Willing to Gamble
Dear Not Willing,
Every couple does what they have to do, but research comes down on your side. In studies, most couples living apart say that it is the moral commitment to be faithful that holds them together during separations like this and many say it is the commitment to be faithful that actually strengthens their love. There’s something about weathering a storm together that draws you closer.
So it’s the moment of truth for you and Dylan. Use Skype or Facetime, sign up for low fare alerts between Phoenix and Chicago, download a good messaging app like Whatsapp, and shun away from temptations like Tinder.
If Dylan isn’t willing to stay faithful for a measly two years, let him go — he’s not Long Term Relationship material. You probably don’t want to hear that because you love him, but the real question is, “Does he love you?” You’re about to find out and better to find out now than ten years down the road. My hope is that your commitment to one another will deepen your feelings for one another and prepare you for a long future together.
— Dr. Jory
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About Brian Jory, Ph.D.
Brian Jory is the Director of the Family Studies Program at Berry College, near Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and has dedicated his career to counseling couples, teaching about intimacy, researching relationships.
He is the author of “Cupid on Trial – What We Learn About Love When Loving Gets Tough,” and has been featured on numerous television shows, blogs, and podcasts including Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily, NBC, PBS, and Good Sex, Bad Sex.