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Long-distance relationships in the digital era

By: Natasha Archary


With technology, this advanced, is a long-distance relationship in the 21stcentury a practical take on love conquering the divide between time and space?

More couples find themselves exploring the option of a long-distance relationship today because the digital era, it seems is bridging the gap.

Being stationed in a different country or city for work, studying abroad, taking a gap year or constant travel means couples are approaching relationships with a different perspective these days.

Especially after Covid-19, and being forced to quarantine and be separated for long periods of time.

What can one expect in terms of commitment in a long-distance relationship?

Long-distance defined

What exactly is a long distance relationship anyway? Perhaps, the most inclusive description would be a relationship between two people who are not able to see each other as often as they’d like because distance is a factor. It wouldn’t be fair to only associate a long-distance relationship based on a city to city, country to country or province to province divide.

Although that was certainly the definition a few years ago, rapid increases in living expenses may not make it possible for two people to see each other all that often. You could still be in a long-distance relationship while you’re living in the same city.

Going online

Traditional dating itself is tough terrain. You’ve got to be committed to making it work. One minute you’re texting fast and furiously, the next you’re being blue ticked and go days without speaking. The key to any relationship is consistency. Using online platforms to stay in touch is, however, one of the easiest ways for couples to keep contact going.

Data costs and high telephone bills may be a factor for some. This may make communicating difficult. But it’s a lot easier to go the distance today than a few years ago.

Keep the costs in mind

Long-distance relationships do not come cheap. Flights, accommodation, road trips to spend some quality time with the better half are additional expenses a “traditional” relationship does not come with.

Planning these rendezvous is an additional stressor. It’s a lot of admin to pin down a weekend you’re both available. And pre-planning romance isn’t exactly the formula we’re accustomed to is it?

Zero spontaneity

Long-distance relationships mean fewer opportunities for physical contact. Unless, of course, you’ve both taken vows to remain celibate until you can be together forever, the lack of intimacy may put a damper on things.

You can’t just rock up at their office coffee in hand. There are no random hugs or kisses on the nose. How long are you willing to go apart?


Perhaps if Adam and Eve ate the snake instead of taking a bite out of the forbidden fruit, we’d be firm believers in people being capable of avoiding temptation. You’re apart more than you’re together. It’s a common issue in relationships in general but something about the distance makes being temptation seem empowering.

Fear of commitment

Most couples in long-distance relationships don’t see it not working. They’re in it because there’s a possibility, however slight, that this could work. Whether one or both parties puts in the work, there is always the dark cloud of commitment looming.

Will it end in a commitment? Could it be the end of your relationship?

Statistics on long-distance relationships don’t look too promising. More than 75% of long-distance relationships end by month four. But let’s not forget that there are some married couples in long-distance relationships. Many of these marriages began from a long-distance relationship. There may be hope yet.

When it comes to dating in the digital era, toss out the dated rulebook and take a gamble. You never know what may or may not bring you one step closer.

Also read:Are you relationship ready?

Written by: Natasha


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POPIA ActTo promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.


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1.2  Parliament assented to POPIA on 19 November 2013. The commencement date of section 1Part A of Chapter 5section 112 and section 113 was 11 April 2014. The commencement date of the other sections was 1 July 2020 (with the exception of section 110 and 114(4). The President of South Africa has proclaimed the POPI commencement date to be 1 July 2020.

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