“Long Distance Relationship” (LDR) is a general term that refers to any type of relationship where two people are separated by considerable distance. Because it is such a broad term, there are many sub-groups that can fit within the description of what a “long distance relationship” is.

Three Main Types of LDRs

Generally speaking there is no true criteria with which one can ‘qualify’ to say that they are in an LDR, but there are 3 main types of long distance relationship categories that we can list:

  1. Familial Relationships
  2. Friendships
  3. Romantic Relationships


Each of these main LDR category types has its own unique forms of LDRs within it. We will call these “LDR Subgroups.”

These LDR Subgroups have varying circumstances surrounding their long distance status. Because of this not all long distance relationships experience the same level of intensity in the role that distance plays as an obstacle in their relationships. However, all LDR Subgroups can be grouped into at least one of the following “Distance Situations.”

Distance Situations

1. Continuing Distance with Intermittent Proximity

  • Short Explanation:  You are physically separated from one another with irregular, unpredictable or infrequent visits.
  • Long Explanation: A relationship in which two people are together for short, irregular visits while remaining at a distance for the majority of their relationship. Visits may be irregular because of money, time & scheduling other issues. In some cases visits are generally pretty regular but are not very frequent. Each visit is short enough to be labelled as a ‘visit.’


i.e. “My grandparents live in another state. I visit them a few times a year and the rest of the year we Skype together.” Or “My boyfriend lives 6 hours away, we drive hours to see each other every few weeks.”


2. Initial Distance & Continuing Distance

  • Short Explanation: You have not met in person or your relationship started out as an LDR and you are continuing the relationship while far apart.
  • Long Explanation: A relationship where two people have never physically been together and are continuing to remain separated either permanently or temporarily while maintaining their relationship without visits. Often circumstances have not yet proven to be favorable enough for visiting one another yet. This can also be a temporary state that occurs early on in some relationships before the next step of visitation has been initiated.


i.e. “We met online and became great friends. We’re not sure if we’ll ever meet but we enjoy talking every day.” Or “We met online and fell in love through a video game. We’re saving up money so that one day we can meet.”


3. Initial Proximity & Continuing Distance

  • Short Explanation: You first met in person but had to separate and are continuing the relationship while far apart.
  • Long Explanation: A relationship that begins with two people being physically close which is now being maintained as a long distance relationship either permanently or temporarily. This could be because of relocation, schooling or even military duty. Visiting may or may not occur and may or may not be extremely rare.


i.e. “We met while on vacation and now we correspond with one another through letters and instant messaging.” Or “We went to the same high-school together, now we are each going to different colleges. We decided to stay together.”


4. Long-term Proximity with Rare Periods of Distance

  • Short Explanation: You are physically close in distance 99% of the time but very rare, spaced out periods of distance do occur.
  • Long Explanation: A relationship in which two people are physically and permanently together with irregular and very rare periods of temporary separation. Separation can be initiated through employment, family matters and even health issues. This varies greatly from relationship to relationship.


i.e. “We’re married and live together. Every few years one of us has to go on a business trip for a few weeks to a month. We never know when.” Or “My girlfriend is going away for a year to visit with her family overseas for the first time. We’ve never been this far apart.”


5. Long-term Proximity with Reoccurring Periods of Distance

  • Short Explanation: You are physically close in distance but periods of separation occur regularly due to varying circumstances.
  • Long Explanation: A relationship in which two people are physically and permanently together for the majority of their relationship, with regular periods of short to long-term separation throughout due to varying circumstances such as work, duty or health concerns.


i.e. “My friend and I are very close when we’re together, but each year we are both sent to summer camp for a month. We text each other a lot during those times.” Or “my partner is a truck driver, sometimes he’s gone for weeks at a time. That’s when we talk on the phone a lot.”


6. Long-term Proximity with Continuing & Intermittent Circumstantial Distance

  • Short Explanation: You are physically close in distance but circumstances outside of miles and“distance apart” limit how frequently you can get together.
  • Long Explanation: A relationship in which two people are physically close in distance but various circumstances outside of their control prevent them from being physically together as often as they would like. In some cases couples choose to maintain this type of relationship simply out of preference. In other cases family concerns, health problems, disabilities and even youth and parental concerns can be the cause of this type of separation.


i.e. “We’re married but we live in separate homes. We visit each other whenever we decide we want to meet.” or “We are a couple that live only an hour apart but both can’t afford the drive to see each other every day. We meet as often as we can.”

The majority of modern day LDRs are those that have been separated because of circumstance or those who have started out as an LDR because they have never met. Close proximity relationships with obstacles other than distance are also becoming increasingly frequent.

LDR Subgroups

We will now examine each type of LDR as well as the LDR Subgroups within each type.

Familial Relationships

Contrary to popular perception, long distance relationships are not just romantic in nature. Family relationships can also be grouped into the same types of long distance that couples are involved in. Familial LDRs can be less stressful than Romantic LDRs depending on circumstance and in some special cases Familial LDRs are an indefinitely lasting situation.

  • Parent-Child Relationships

Children and parents who do not see one another on a regular basis due to various reasons such as divorce, military duty, health problems and so on.

  • Grandparent-Grandchild Relationships

Grandparents may live across the country, or even across the world from their grandchildren. The internet has provided a means with which grandparent-grandchild relationships can still be considerably close despite physical distance.

  • Extended Familial Relationships

Family members such as cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. that live in various spread out locations. Often communication is kept through online mediums such as facebook, emails or through phone calls.

  • Familial-Militia Relationships

A relationship between a family member that is involved in military duty and that of their families. This type of LDR can involve children, parents, siblings, etc.

  • Familial-Student Relationships

Typically the relationships between the parents and siblings of college students that have left home.


Friendship LDRs are the most overlooked of all the LDR types, though probably the  most common. There has been a substantial rise in online and virtual friendships in the last few years and as a result long distance friendships are considered to be a social norm even while romantic long distance relationships are not.

  • Virtual Friendships

A friendship that is attained through a virtual environment such as a video game, a multiplayer online game, etc.

  • Online Friendships

Friendships that begin online and may or may not continue as a strictly online friendship. Communication is often established through forums, online chat rooms, social networks and instant messengers.

  • Remote Friendships

Friendships that are maintained across a large distance. This could include pen-pals, friends that have moved away, or friends that have met in a mutual area (such as while on vacation) that differs from where they each live.

  • Circumstantial Friendships

Friendships that have periods of distance depending on circumstances. Some examples might be a friend who spends half the year with one parent and half with another, or a friend who travels between two different locations frequently for work purposes.

Romantic Relationships

  • Military Couples

Also known as MilSos, these couples are either both enrolled in military functions, or one is enrolled while the other is left waiting for them to finish their duty and return home.

  • Online Relationships

These couples met online and in some cases are “never-met” couples. They maintain communication through online and some offline means, until they are able to transition into a General LDR. Some couples choose to remain as a strictly Online Relationship.

  • “Never-met” Couples

Never-mets are a type of relationship in which two people who are dating have never yet met each other in person, but hope to in the future. These relationships are often a type of Online relationship, but in some cases never-mets can also have been introduced by friends or have corresponded by letter.

  • International Couples

Couples whose relationship involves two people who live in entirely different countries, sometimes halfway around the world from one another. This presents special challenges and is one of the most severe of  Romantic Long Distance Relationships.

  • Commuter Couples

A relationship in which both partners pursue careers while maintaining separate residences in different geographic locations. Often these couples have a certain time frame or career goals set which help to indicate when their commuter relationship will transition from LDR to CD.

  • College Couples

Couples who find that they are attending different educational institutions and decide to continue maintaining their relationship throughout their periods of schooling -with visitation.

  • “LAT” Couples (Living Apart Together)

Couples who have an intimate relationship and may be married but choose to live at separate addresses in separate residencies.

  • General LDRs

Couples who find themselves in a long distance relationship due to any number of circumstances that are not outlined above.


As you can see, there are many many types of long distance relationships. There is no specific criteria with which any relationship can qualify to be called an LDR. Each LDR is unique and whether or not you are in a long distance relationship depends entirely on the perceptions of you and your partner.

LDR Magazine hopes to provide tools, resources and other handy things for all LDRs, no matter their circumstance or situation.