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The Qixi Festival: Can Long-Distance Relationships Work?

Wong Shu Lee  


  August 02, 2022

The Qixi Festival (Double Seventh Festival) is one of the traditional Chinese festivals, also known as Chinese Valentine's Day. It's based on a romantic legend about a weaver girl and an ox herd. 


It falls on the 7th day of the 7th Chinese lunar month. In 2022 that's August 4, which is this coming Thursday. 


Qixi Festival originated from the legend of the cowherd and the weaver girl (Niulang and Zhinü). An oxherd Niulang with the help of his ox (the demoted cattle god) married a fairy, Zhinü, who became a weaver girl. Zhinü's mother, a goddess, returned Zhinü to heaven. Niulang pursued using the ox's hide. The goddess separated them by a river of stars (the Milky Way), but magpies were allowed to form a bridge for them to meet once a year (Qixi). 


In modern-day love stories, people often compare Zhinü and Niulang's tale to long-distance relationships. 


Long-distance relationships (LDRs) used to be an anomaly, often happening later in an established couple. One member would have to move for studies, work, or military service, and the relationship had to adapt to this change. 


But nowadays, we can fall in love at a distance too. With the internet, it's easier than ever to establish relationships, romantic or otherwise, even before seeing the other person in real life. 


Although every romantic relationship has challenges, studies show that long-distance relationships have some potential issues that are particular to the geographical distance between the members. 


Challenges may include:


  • Experiencing financial strain related to travel
  • Having more extreme emotions related to the relationship
  • Maintaining high expectations around face-to-face meetings given how infrequent and short they are
  • Negotiating boundaries between local friends and the distanced partner
  • Having an unrealistic view of the state of the relationship


After these challenges, it seems almost impossible to be happy in LDRs. But this is far from being the case. Yes, LDRs have challenges and difficulties that do not arise in geographically close relationships, but it doesn't mean they can't work. 


In terms of communication, video or phone are better than emails and text. However, face-to-face contact was especially important and made a big difference for people in LDRs. In other words, LDRs worked the same way as same-city relationships as long as the two people met in person at least a few times a year. If you want to maintain a healthy LDR, save money for traveling and plan on meeting regularly.


Otherwise, the same general rules for romantic relationships apply: communicate openly, make your expectations and needs clear, strive for intimacy and trust, and be trustworthy. It is important to keep your promises and maintain your commitments. If you plan on speaking on the phone once a day, for example, consider this an essential part of maintaining your relationship. It is not optional or "only when you have time".


Most importantly, a long-distance relationship cannot survive without hope. And for there to be hope, there must be some possibility that the two people involved will one day be together. 


Remember, love is not enough. You both need to have life visions that are aligned, shared values, and mutual interests. Besides, you both must also feel as though you’re working toward that vision. 


Wish everyone a happy Qixi Festival! 


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