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Book Review: The Long Distance Relationship Survival Guide

Lisa McKay Books Leave a Comment

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We have a big treat in store this week! Kate Brauer-Bell and Chris Bell, authors of the long distance relationship classic The Long Distance Relationship Survival Guide, are joining us. I’ll be interviewing them on Wednesday, and on Friday they’ll be here writing about LDR Survival in the Technology Age.

Before we get to that, I thought I’d share my thoughts about Survival Guide.

I first read this book while Mike and I were dating. I was based in LA at the time and he was in Papua New Guinea. I thought this book was so helpful that I bought another copy and mailed it all the way to PNG. Six years on, I still think this is the most comprehensive book on long distance relationships out there. If you’re in a long distance relationship, it’s well worth reading.

So without further ado. A brief review of the highlights, lowlights, and my favorite quotes.


What I particularly liked

The substance of this book doesn’t just rest on Kate and Chris’ experiences. While writing it, they interviewed dozens of other LDR couples. The book includes multiple case studies and stories about other couple’s experiences. This cumulative wealth of experience really enriches the book, and sharing so many stories from different viewpoints provides multiple touch-points for other LDR couples to identify with.

The book also goes into some detail on good communication strategies – the topic that is absolutely foundational to the success of a long distance relationship. It offers case studies, example letters, and practical advice about introducing and discussing all sorts of sensitive topics across distance.

Finally, I loved that Kate and Chris included a lot of detail around discussing and navigating those murky mid-relationship challenges, including (but not limited to) hopes and expectations related to closing the gap.

Things I wasn’t as fond of

There wasn’t a lot I didn’t like about this book. However, some of the content about communication challenges (skyrocketing phone bills, etc) is now out of date. And, as much as I love writing and hand-written letters, I disagree that “a letter is worth ten emails any day.”

Worth noting

The book is somewhat traditional in its discussion of relationships. Commitment and fidelity are equated to sexual monogamy, and the goal of long-term relationships is primarily assumed to be marriage. If you are looking for discussion of specific issues facing same-sex LDR couples, or advice on how to maintain a sexually-open long distance relationship, this isn’t the book for you.

Favorite quote(s)

Chris and Kate really believe long distance relationships can not only work, they can make your relationship stronger in the long run. Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book where they speak about this dynamic…

“The normal challenges that face any dating couple – goal setting, communication, trust, interdependence, commitment – are magnified when partners live apart for one reason or another. If your relationship is strong enough to make it through a period of long distance, chances are it’s strong enough to make it through a lot more.”

“We believe that couples who date long distance for a period of time before settling down together probably have a greater chance of making their same-city relationship work because they’ve already dealt with so many of the major issues that threaten to break couples up: loneliness, jealousy, communication difficulties, financial strain, and outside obligations.”

The bottom line: Highly recommended!

This remains the most comprehensive and thoughtful book I’ve read that specifically focuses on long distance relationships. If you’re in an LDR, it’s worth your time and your money. You can follow this link to pick up a copy of The Long Distance Relationship Survival Guide.

Come back later this week to read our interview with Kate and Chris, and their guest post on how communication technology has changed the game (or not??) when it comes to LDRs.

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