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Long-Distance Relationships Are Not So Bad... Now

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As someone whose last three relationships were all long-distance, with me living in New Jersey and all three of them living in California (I know, you don't have to say a word), I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject. Now more than ever, couples are attempting to prove that love conquers all, even if that means living thousands of miles apart and rarely seeing each other. As a hopeless romantic, I believe (or at least I pray) that if two people love each other, they can get through any obstacles. But, as a realist, I know we all need companionship.

Although you will fight a lot less since you don't see each other as often as most couples, you can only maintain a long-distance relationship for so long. However, my romantic side is writing this blog; therefore, I am going to give hope (and proof) to all those who are holding onto their long-distance relationships for dear life by letting you know that they are FAR easier to have in the present than they were in the past.

The technological age in which we are currently living connects us to each other on levels that, only fifty years ago, would have appeared to be reserved for the realm of science fiction. With e-mail, text messages, Skype and Face Time, we have instant access and communication to everyone, everywhere (as long as they are near a Wi-Fi hot spot). We have become spoiled by the access we have to each other. Now, we no longer have the excuses of the past, such as "I had no way to get in touch with you," which is a good or bad thing, depending on whether you were somewhere or doing something that you shouldn't have been.

I have been successful (well, not very successful, since all of my long-distance relationships eventually ended) or at least as successful as someone can be at maintaining relationships that are almost destined to fail. My ability to make them last longer than they should is not because I am emotionally stronger, more stable, more romantic or even more understanding than the next person, but because I know my history (bet you didn't expect that answer).

History reveals that, if long-distance relationships are difficult to be part of now, they had to be nearly impossible prior to technology. Imagine this: Prior to railroads and steamboats in the nineteenth century, correspondence between two people was limited to letters (you couldn't even send erotic black and white photos yet) and delivered via horseback, which could take quite some time. This meant that, for over two hundred years in America, if two lovers were living on separate coasts, it would take two months to receive a response to letter from your initial letter, and that's if it even arrives; there was a great chance your letter wouldn't even reach its destination in the first place.

What's worse is that by the time you would receive your reply (assuming you did receive it), your "Dearest Love" could have already been married and pregnant by the time you found out you got dumped. Most of us get annoyed if we don't receive a reply to a text in one minute or less, so it's difficult to imagine having to wait two months for a response to a letter. We can pretty much assume that people had much more patience in the past -- or were much more desperate. But couples endured and, somehow, found the courage and saint-like patience needed to make it work, or they just cheated a lot figuring the other person would likely never find out.

Trains and steamboats did make the delivery process a little quicker and, although Morse's telegraph was able to send messages through wire quickly, there's just something about having to use "Morse Code" to decipher a romantic or erotic letter from a lover that causes it to lose its passion and emotion. Actually, it probably felt as lazy and impersonal as receiving a very personal or important message via text message today.

However, long-distance relationships received a much-needed ray of sunshine when Bell patented the telephone in 1876. It was another fifty years until Americans began to have telephones in their homes and, although service was very limited; I have to believe they still had better reception than we do now (especially all of us iPhone customers). But at least with the telephone, people could hear their love's voice, which has to have made things a little better. But, like letters, hearing a person will satisfy someone's need for companionship for only so long.

In the past two decades, with the introduction of e-mail, social networks, texting (and, though I don't approve, even "sexting") and, more importantly, Skype and Face Time, technology has made long-distance relationships more tolerable and possible. The only thing that could possibly improve the maintenance of long-distance relationships is virtual reality, which might not be too far into our future.

There is no doubt that as long as there have been relationships, there have been long-distance relationships, and technology has truly improved our ability to communicate across distances. From writing letters that would have taken a month to reach their destinations by horse, to having instant access to your boyfriend or girlfriend, regardless of where they may be, via Skype or Face Time (which is not a good thing for cheaters or liars), long-distance relationships, though still very difficult and not likely to last, have become much easier in the present. So, the next time "distance" leads to a heated argument bringing you to the brink of breaking up, make your partner aware of the fact that "Though it sucks, it's still not nearly as bad as it was a hundred, or only fifty years ago."