Everyone knows that long distance relationships are hard work, but what does that mean, exactly? What are the most serious long distance relationship problems out there? Can they be fixed, or are most long distance relationships ultimately doomed?
Don’t despair. Long distance relationships can totally work. They can even prove to be good for you, for a season.
However, long distance relationships are tricky to navigate well. And there are some particular long distance relationship problems that don’t plague same-city relationships to quite the same extent.
So what are the typical long distance relationship problems, and how should you deal with them?
Feeling a little jealous now and again is not unusual in a relationship, particularly when you are separated from your loved one. A little jealousy can even spark fresh attraction and a new appreciation for your partner. However, while a single candle can illuminate a room, a blaze can burn it to the ground.
Uncontrolled jealousy can lead to a destructive combination of suspicion, possessiveness, insecurity, anger, and shame. If you’re feeling jealous, it’s a good idea to figure out how to control your jealousy before it starts to control you.
Getting too tired or lazy to talk well
Couples in long distance relationships often talk about how the distance has helped them learn to communicate well, and at a very deep level. However, the opposite can also be true. Distance can also enable poor communication patterns to become established.
For starters, especially when one or both of you is busy, it can become easy not to invest in connecting deeply with your partner. In-depth conversations can become fewer and farther in between. It can become habitual to mostly talk about how your day was, or keep the conversation fairly superficial and brief.
Miscommunications and misunderstandings happen frequently in relationships. They happen when you share the same house with someone. They can happen even more frequently when you’re miles apart and sharing life via emails or a phone line.
It is using silence as a weapon or an escape. It is controlling the situation by simply refusing to engage. Distance makes this particularly easy to do, and it can drive your long distance partner crazy with frustration, second-guessing, and self-doubt.
What’s the fix: If you catch yourself stonewalling, ask yourself why. Are you trying to punish or hurt the other person? Or are you mostly taking what looks like the easy way out by avoiding complicated emotions or discussions? Whatever the answer is, stop it. It’s not a fair or respectful way to treat someone you claim to love. If you need some time to yourself, at least front up and explain what’s going on for you before you go silent. Don’t just disappear.
If you are on the receiving end of stonewalling, don’t let it slide. When your partner does get back in touch, tell them how hurt and frustrated it made you feel to get the silent treatment. Tell them how you wish they had dealt with the situation instead of disengaging.
If stonewalling is controlling someone by holding them at a distance, becoming possessive is trying to control someone by grasping at them too tightly. Distance can make it harder to trust and easier for jealousy and insecurity to run rampant. This combination often fuels possessive and controlling behavior.
What’s the fix? If you are feeling and acting possessive, try to figure out why. This is a complicated issue, and that might not be easy to do. You can, however, act less controlling even before you sort out all your feelings. Take a hard look at what you are asking for from your partner in terms of contact, accessibility, and updates. Are your expectations reasonable? If not, decide what is reasonable (preferably together) and then stick to that.
Cheating is not uncommon in relationships. Lying and cheating happen in relationships, and distance makes deceit easier to hide, for longer.
Stalling in life
Do you find yourself moping around all the time thinking about how much you’re missing your partner while you wait until your next skype call or visit? Do you feel as if the rest of your life is on hold until you can be together? Does it seem like too much effort to go out with friends or do something by yourself?
When you’re in a long distance relationship, it’s alarmingly easy to allow important things in life family, friendships, hobbies, exercise to stall. But this will only make you more depressed in the short term, and hurt you in the long run.
What’s the fix? Do not spend every spare minute talking to your partner (or daydreaming about said partner). Build a life where you are a life full of friends and fun. Do things that make you fitter, smarter, and happier. Do things that interest you. Do these things alone, if need be. Remember, investing in yourself is another way of investing in your most important relationship. Start now.
Neglecting other important relationships
Are you spending all your spare time on your phone or computer? If you focus all your free time and energy on your long distance love, your relationships with those close to you will suffer. In a nutshell: this is bad news.
You will be happier and healthier in life if you have a strong network of friends beyond your partner. To do that, you need to spend time connecting with them.
What’s the fix? Check in with yourself on this one. When’s the last time you went out to dinner with friends? Had people over? Had a quality catch-up with someone other than your long distance partner? Who do you owe a phone call or email to? Make it a priority to properly connect with at least three people a week other than your partner.
When your love moves far away and some aspects of your relationship pause or slow down, the rest of life continues. You don’t stop learning and growing and changing just because the person you love isn’t there every day. Neither do they. You are both accumulating experiences. Some of these experiences will change you.
When you’re in a long distance relationship it can be harder to identify ways in which your partner is changing and track with them through that process. The reverse is also true.
No matter how much you love each other, there is a real chance that a slow drift during your time apart will cause you to grow away from each other in ways that frequent flier miles cannot fix.
What’s the fix? This is one of the hardest long distance relationship problems to fix. Good, regular communication is obviously crucial to helping you stay closely in touch. Regular visits in both directions can help you feel connected to your partner’s life. Both agreeing that you want the distance to be temporary, and having close-the-gap goal in mind, will also help. In addition, talk about this risk with your partner. Discuss what you should do if one or both of you starts to feel that you re drifting apart in important ways.
Jumping in the deep end
Growing apart is a particular pitfall for couples that were established before they started doing long distance. Couples who start their relationship across distance face almost the opposite problem the temptation to become too emotionally intimate, too quickly.
Getting stuck in a rut
Have you ever struggled to find things to talk about with your long distance love? Have you ever felt heartsick with longing to be with your partner, but feel like you just have the same tired old conversations over and over again when you get on the phone?
This is one of the most common long distance relationship problems. These sorts of “dry periods” are normal in long distance relationships, but that doesn’t make them any less depressing and frustrating.