What follows is basically a musing on the question - does it answer it? Actually, no, probably not. I set out to say that relationships can't really be sustained at long-distance, but ended up raising more questions than I answered I think. All I will say is: kudos to those who manage it. It takes a type of effort that people in 'short-distance' relationships simply don't encounter.
People will call me a cynic.
They'll lament my blackened soul.
They'll say 'Pah! Heartless fool! What does he know of love? He is but 24. Whelp. Pup!'
Well. They might say that if they were born in Shakespearean times, that is.
No, long-distance relationships do not work. Or if they do work, it's because they soon become 'short-distance' relationships. Of course, this is hardly an absolute - in the face of adversity and all that, many people will buck the trend, go against the curve, etc. etc. But on the whole? Well... then I'd say no.
What quantifiable proof do I have? Other than anecdotal evidence, none. At all.
In fact, I'd say there's probably more evidence on the side of long-distance relationships at the moment. Only in 2005 a report was published by the Centre for the Study of Long Distance Relationships stating that three and a half million people in the US alone were involved in long-distance marriages, and that's pretty impressive. And yet... there isn't a study that shows how many long-distance relationships haven't worked out. Or even, how many potential relationships weren't embarked on due to the difficulties of distance. More than three and a half million? Who knows?
I'd like to split the people in long-distance relationships into two groups, if I may:
The two types of long-distance...
1. The More Hopeful - some of the others who have written already on the subject (on the side of optimism) have approached the topic from this angle. Our first distinction here is: 'those who have met their partner online, and have initiated and developed their relationship from a distance to begin with'. In these instances, I would say that the chances of success are far greater. Where a couple meet online and begin a relationship at a distance, they work towards the inevitable meet, the 'coming together' (I'm beginning to realise this is sounding like a nature documentary). I'd say that by beginning a relationship at a distance, the context is already there - the relationship starts long-distance, and so all expectations, hopes, dreams et al, are born with that understanding in mind. A framework is established for the relationship.
Are there problems with this too? Yeah, probably. Does long-distance stop a relationship from evolving beyond a certain point? Again, I'd say yes. Doesn't there come a point where certain 'accepted' relationship milestones come into play, throwing things off course in a manner alien to a 'near-distance' coupling? I can't help feeling that long-distance keeps a relationship in the realm of dating, offering little chance for much serious progression.