A long-distance relationship is between partners who are physically or geographically separated due to reasons such as career choice, education, or call of duty (such as the military). They are together but apart, unhappy yet happy. The emotions in a long-distance relationship can be intense.
Partners in a long-distance relationship also go through ups and downs as couples in other relationships do. But with love and trust, they can make it work even when they are apart. In this post, we tell you more about long-distance relationships, the problems you might face, and ways you can circumvent the problems to keep the bond alive.
Do Long-Distance Relationships Work?
Yes, a long distance relationship does work, provided the partners make a conscious effort to make it work.
- Ask yourself why you want to be in this relationship. The reason needs to be good and strong enough for you to make an effort.
- The partners need to understand and accept the reasons for having to stay apart. Your spouse could be away from you for a genuine reason — to pursue higher education, to better their career, or on duty.
- Try to get busy when your partner is away instead of staying home alone. You could pursue your education, a career, or a hobby.
- Deal with the loneliness whenever you miss your partner by being active socially, meeting up with friends, going for family get-togethers, and keeping yourself busy in other ways.
- Don’t let your relationship die a slow death with boring routines. Keep it alive by being romantic and funny. Whatever you do, stay connected and in love.
Above all, have a positive outlook.
[Read: Emotionally Abusive Relationship]
Positive Sides Of Long Distance Relationships
You need to work hard to make a long-distance relationship work. And the hard work and effort you put in can reap great benefits in the long run. Here’s how distance can enhance your relationship:
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder: It may sound clichéd, but absence can make you love your partner more. When you are apart long enough, even a simple late night text from your loved one can give you a high like never before. And the wait seems to be worth it when you both are finally together.
- Communication becomes stronger: The survival of the LDR solely depends on communication. If you can convey your emotions and feelings with all honesty, you can strengthen your relationship. And all communication, no matter how small, becomes precious.
- You can have the best of both worlds: How often have you longed to do what you like doing, but had to compromise because you had to accommodate your partner’s interests? Well, now is the perfect time to watch that TV show without any whining in the background, laze on the couch without having to cook, and shop without being hurried. And when your partner is around, you get to spend some amazing time with them.
- Makes you strong as a person and great as a couple: When you are single, you fix the lights, change the flat tires, cook your own dinner, and do a zillion other things all alone. Living on your own makes you strong and independent. And that’s almost exactly what you do when you are in a long-distance relationship.
But not all long-distance relationships can work, because of the common problems that couples fail to address.
Problems In A Long Distance Relationship
With distance comes a host of problems that can put your relationship to the test. Keeping the relationship alive when you have these problems can be challenging.
- Lack of trust: Without trust, your LDR can fail. You begin to wonder if your partner is honest, loyal, and committed to you. And there is no way of knowing that when the person is miles apart.
- Misunderstandings: Simple issues can flare up into major conflict. For instance, when your calls are not answered immediately, you tend to get suspicious or feel that you are being ignored, while the reality could be something different.
Misunderstandings creep into your relationship easily, for communication over phones and video calls is no match for talking in person.
- No physical support: You know they are there for you if you need them. But when you need their shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, or a hug to soothe you, their absence becomes painful and frustrating. This might, in some cases, make the partners seek someone who’s closer and available in person.
- Envy and insecurity: You get jealous of your partner if they go clubbing or hang out with friends. And the jealousy is justified to an extent because you miss your partner and are not able to spend time with them, while others can. And then there is always the fear of your partner may be cheating on you or spending more time than required with friends from the opposite sex. The fear translates into insecurities.
- Fights lead to bitterness: Conflict is a part of any relationship. But in an LDR, there is this constant need to justify your actions and to prove yourself after every fight. This can create a certain amount of bitterness in the partners.
- Sex life? Where is it? You keep craving for physical intimacy with your partner. You may not necessarily think of sex. You could just want to hold hands or hug them, but they aren’t around for that. This need for physical intimacy and the lack of it could lead to looking for connection elsewhere.
- Fear of infidelity: As said earlier, the lack of physical intimacy could make the partners seek an emotional or physical connection outside of their relationship.
- Running out of conversations: It’s so easy to slip into boredom in the absence of lively conversations. If all you are doing is updating each other about your regular routines over the phone, the conversations will lack luster and eventually become sparse.
- Ambiguity about future: There’s perpetual ambiguity in your relationship status. The uncertainty in your relationship leaves you unsettled and affects the other areas of your life as well.
- Drift apart: Once the partners get used to leading separate lives, then that becomes routine and might gradually increase the gap in the relationship.
- Neglect other relationships: In some cases, you might get so obsessed about your partner that you ignore other relationships. You might begin to neglect your friends, children, and the extended family thinking about how your partner is and what they may be doing.
- Anxiety in the relationship: There’s underlying anxiety over several factors such as your partner crossing the boundaries, cheating on you, not being able to visit regularly, and so on.
- Depression seeps in: Long distance relationships are no fun. The constant absence of your partner can make you feel depressed and hopeless.
- Loneliness kills: You are away from the most important person, with whom you want to share your successes, fears, or laughs. You feel lonely when you see couples going arm-in-arm and enjoying the connection you long for. You may miss them more when they’re not around to share the little cute things your kids might say or do.
- Costly to maintain: Financially, the relationship becomes burdensome. Whether it is the surprise visits, vacations, or gifts, all of them can prove to be expensive and go above your budget.
[Read: Stages Of A Relationship]
A long-distance relationship can be tormenting. You can’t merely sweep your feelings under the carpet and ignore them. Sleeping alone in your bed might only result in sleepless nights and make you wonder if all the pain is worth it.
You might hate your long-distance relationship, at times. But you still love and trust each other, and that’s the silver lining! It means LDRs have a bright side too.
Though there are many advantages to a long-distance relationship, surviving in such a relationship could be a struggle for some. But if you love your partner and want to make the relationship work, you should know how to steer through the tough situations thrown at you when you have to live away from your partner.
[Read: Trust In Relationship]
How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship?
Being pragmatic and strong can help you face the challenges and survive the distance.
1. Don’t make quick judgments
When you are away from each other, communication is not always complete and can leave room for misunderstandings. You might get impatient when you are not in contact with them and make assumptions that aren’t facts. The key is to be patient and avoid reacting and judging your partner’s action or inaction. Otherwise, it won’t be long before your relationship suffers due to misplaced assumptions and judgments.
2. Plan accordingly
Cheri Timko, a licensed professional counselor and couples relationship coach of Timko Counseling Services, says, “Be clear on where the boundaries of the relationship need to be so that each person can continue to feel safe. Also, talk about what the expectations that each of you have for the separation.
“Be fair to one another. If something changes, tell your partner as soon as you realize it. Don’t leave your partner to assume that everything is ok when it isn’t.”
“Establish some good habits. Identify times and places when you will connect regularly. Once you put those in place, follow them consistently so that the relationship develops some security. These might include regular check-ins, phone or video conversations, video dates, or visits to see one another.”
3. Don’t allow jealousy to seep in
Insecurity is one of the factors that can end a long-distance relationship. You might get jealous that your partner is spending more time with others than with you, even if for justifiable reasons. Try to understand their perspective and be mindful of your insecurities.
Otherwise, the feelings of discomfort and jealousy could create problems for your relationship. Trusting, instead of doubting your partner when you are in a vulnerable situation, could help your relationship succeed.
4. Strive to make the relationship work
Don’t take your long-distance relationship for granted. Make an effort to keep things transparent, strengthen your bond, and let your significant other know that you are there for them at all times. You don’t have to chat or be on call a lot. But make it a point to tell them how much you love and appreciate them whenever you get a chance. This can also help you push aside petty disagreements and fights between you and your partner.
Rebecca Johnston, sex and relationship therapist and coach at Rostered Relationships, suggests setting up communication skills. “LDRs can be really challenging, particularly when schedules don’t align, and time zones are involved because it can make it difficult to find time to have real connection in conversation on a consistent basis.
“Pay attention to when conversations go really well, and when they don’t. When you reflect on different aspects that were in play – such as level of energy, food intake, and travel obligations. – try to find recurring patterns and then make changes where necessary to avoid foreseeable unsavory interactions.”
5. When in doubt, see your partner
You will go through various emotions as you may feel sad, angry, anxious, and lonely. Instead of dwelling over these feelings, take time to visit your partner. It might be a costly plan, but it will be worth it when you and your beloved are right in front of each other after a long time. Whatever anger or grief you were experiencing will disappear the moment you are together hopefully!
6. Look at the bigger picture
Usually, the arguments between a couple in a long-distance relationship are about petty things. And when not addressed, these minor issues could cause a rift in the relationship.
Every time you’re annoyed by a petty issue about the relationship, stop and look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself, “is it worth spending so much time and effort on this issue? Is it worth the fight?” How would I feel if my partner was bringing up the same issues about me? Answer these questions, and you’ll know how to make your relationship survive.
If the above tips aren’t helping, don’t worry. The next best option could be to take a break from your relationship, review what you really want from a relationship and consider your own values and goals.
Does Taking A Break Help In A Long Distance Relationship Help?
“Time! The corrector when our judgments err.” – Lord Byron
Taking a break when you are unable to resolve your problems could help by giving you time to think about and evaluate your past, present, and future with your partner. Taking a break doesn’t have to mean breaking up with your partner.It means staying away from one another for longer than usual, and not exchanging communication until both the partners are ready.
A break from the relationship can help you declutter your mind and come up with a clear answer.
That said, a break may not be the best idea when you are too angry or depressed, as these emotions can be unhelpful in your decision making, don’t be impulsive, consider the pros and cons.
If you are thinking about taking a break from your long-distance relationship, talk to your partner first. If your partner thinks that the issue can be resolved by talking, then give it a chance. If they agree with your decision, then take a break on mutual terms.
Sometimes, the challenges of an LDR could make you want to end the relationship. If that is the casegive enough thought to the idea before you decide. Don’t make decisions based on emotional responses, look at the whole picture.
[Read: Taking A Break In A Relationship]
How To End A Long Distance Relationship?
It is not so easy to break up with someone. But it may be the right thing to do when there is no happiness, future, or hope left in the relationship.
Sending them a text saying ‘it’s over’ or calling them to say it is easy. But not the right way to end a relationship. If you’ve made up your mind about ending the bond, here are a few points that you may try to make the task easy.
- Try to end the relationship in person. If you are a few hours from your partner, then try visiting them. Otherwise, a video call or phone conversation would do. An email, text, or message is not the ideal way to break up. Consider how you would feel if they did this to you.
- Find the right time to end. Don’t rush it. Choose the right time when both of you are free and not preoccupied with other things.
- Let them know you want to talk about something important. A heads up is necessary when your partner is not aware of your decision. Be careful when using your words. Don’t blame your partner or use any harsh words when you are ending your relationship.
- Try to be patient. If they are not expecting the news from you, they could be angry or upset and not accept your decision immediately. So, you need to be calm and patient to let them process the news and accept it in their own time. Breaking up can indeed be heartbreaking.
- Give your reasons and the option to agree with the break up, this will be easier on their ego and allow them to tell friends and family that it was a mutual decision, based on the circumstances, rather than making them feel like the victim, or ‘abandoned’ one in the relationship.
A long-distance relationship may be different from other romantic relationships, but the love shared by two people in it remains the same. Of course, it is not easy to make it work when the partners don’t get to be together as much as they want. But the point is that it can work, depending on the circumstances and needs of both individuals in the relationship.
Be flexible, adjust, and understand each other, and have faith in your bond. Remember you can create as many beautiful memories as you want to even when you’re apart.
Do you want to share any experiences with us? Tell us about them in the comment section.
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