Gary was in a bad mood. He didn’t wish me in the morning. All through the day he remained holed up in his cubicle. I was worried and confronted him during our afternoon tea break. He confessed that he had a fight with his girlfriend and she is not picking up his calls. My natural reaction was, “why don’t you go and meet her?” Gary expressed his inability as his girlfriend stays in another city. ‘Ohh, so you are in a long distance relationship?”
Long distance relationships – the reality of modern life
Long distance relationships or LDRs are a reality of modern life. In almost all societies they are increasing. In the USA alone 14 million couples are in long distance relationships of which 3.75 millions are married. The most common reason for couples living separately is their job. People get posted in different locations and commuting becomes so hectic that they are forced to stay apart.
People who are in military jobs have to stay away from home. Similarly, young couples pursuing studies in different colleges also have to settle for long distance relationships.
Long distance relationships are on the rise and internet can be held responsible for that. Online dating has made it easier for people to get into relationships with partners who stay away from them. Many people find their soul mate in the virtual world and lead a happy and fulfilling relationship.
Like Gary, if you ever have been in a long distance relationship, you must have faced certain problems. Distance often creates unnecessary complications in the matters of the heart which leads people to believe that these unions are more prone to breakups. There is, however, no data to collaborate this belief. At the same time, we must mention that it takes special care and effort to make such a relationship work.
What are the problems that you think couples in long distance relationship face? I talked to Gary and he mentioned a few.
The most difficult aspect of being in a long distance relationship is constantly having to judge the state of the relationship
That was the first point mentioned by Gary. Not surprising as with his girlfriend not answering his calls, he was going through a major problem in communication that a long distance relationship creates.
Communication in long distance relationships takes on a unique character. It is also of utmost importance as without proper communication you cannot continue a relationship. Long distance relationships are restrictive because you cannot establish any physical contact. Simple gestures like holding hands, giving a hug, and holding someone close can make us feel assured.
Physical contact in these forms is essential to make the bond stronger between couples. However, in long distance relationships you cannot take help of that. You have to depend completely on technology to communicate and that acts as a deterrent.
Matters get worse if you reside in different time zones. You need to do a lot of syncing in terms of timetables. Finding the overlapping time to communicate is the biggest challenge in this case.
Choosing the mode of communication
Do you find typing messaging too tiring while your girlfriend insists on it? This is a common problem with couples who stay in different locations. The mode of communication has to be chosen depending on your preferences. Today technology offers a plethora of choice that long distance lovers can adopt. From WhatsApp to different messengers, Skype to other voice-over devices, maintaining relationships with a partner in another country has become interesting and easy too.
Understanding the communicative pattern
A simple “okay’ can have many meanings. How does your girlfriend say it to end a fight or when finalizing the order at the restaurant? It’s different and you know it. You definitely know it when it is uttered after a long silence. It’s alarming, right? Can you get the same feeling when it is typed in a chat window or said over Skype?
Everybody has their own communicative pattern that only near ones know and can decipher. When you are separated by space and communicate through phone or chat, it is difficult to understand this communicative pattern. People in budding relationships may find it a major hindrance to developing a strong bond with their partners.
Technology limits communication
When you are away from your loved ones and only communicates over phone or chat, you cannot see their expression nor can you know the feeling that made them write something. This is the problem with long distance communication which can erode the foundation of a relationship and make it weak.
Let’s move on and talk about other problems that people may face in long distance relationships.
Lack of physical intimacy
We cannot deny the role intimacy plays in making a relationship strong and long-lasting. Since this is missing in long distance relationships, a lot of strain is created that is hard to overcome. Following monogamy also becomes difficult and this poses a serious threat to the relationship.
No matter how many times you talk with your beau or chat or comment on each other’s posts in social media, staying apart means leading lives which are different and this may make you grow apart from each other. Usually, people in relationships grow individually as well as a couple but remaining within the ambit of a relationship which is not possible when your partner stays far away from you. You lead different lives, you share different interests and your individual growth may take you away from your partner.
Everybody feels it. If your man checks out other women in a bar or talks about his colleagues you are bound to feel jealous. In this case, since you are away and not always aware of what your partner is doing and whom they are meeting, the jealousy can take an ugly form. Moreover, jealousy is a negative emotion that ravages you from inside. it can harm the relationship beyond repair if you do not treat it in time.
When dependency becomes a problem
We depend on our partners. That’s a reality. However, psychologists divide it into healthy and unhealthy dependency. Someone can depend too much on his or her partner or not depend on at all. There are relationships where people get so dependent on each other that they tend to lose their individual identity. As you can make out, the extreme cases of dependency can create problems in the long run, leading to breakups. In long distance relationships when people start depending on their partners too much, it is time to ring the alarm.
When fights blow out of proportion
Can you cite any couple who do not fight? You cannot because we all fight with our mates. The problem with long distance relationships is that normal disputes get magnified due to the distance involved. Unanswered calls can make someone get suspicious, a hurtful comment made at the hit of the moment can cause immense pain and cause rifts. Thus couples who stay away from each other have to be conscious of their fights and choose words carefully.
Not getting support
If you get sick at night, your partner won’t be there to take you to the hospital. If you feel lonely, your spouse cannot hold your hand or kiss you. People need support, real and physical support from their near ones which is not available if you are involved with someone who stays a far. Even at times of happiness like a new job or a pay hike, you won’t be able to celebrate with your partners. This absence can weaken the bond and eventually lead to a breakup.
Loneliness can become unbearable
No matter how many friends you have on FB or Twitter, you yearn to get real company and people who are in long distance relationships cannot deny the fact that they miss their partners. This loneliness can get overwhelming at times because you know that you cannot meet your partner in person can stress you out. Most cases of infidelity in long distance relationships are caused by this loneliness.
Loneliness can lead to depression. Being alone for a long span of time without anyone physical contact can make us vulnerable to depression and other psychological diseases. Most psychologists opine that unfulfilled wishes, both emotional and physical and the difference in reality and the images that people have of relationships, takes a toll on their mental health.
Actually, all these problems are related and one can lead to another if you do not intercept them at the right time. Jealousy can lead you to fight more often or make you feel lonely which can result in depression and in the long run increase feelings of insecurity.
You may argue that we all feel insecure about our relationships. Doesn’t it hurt when your partner takes a keen interest in another woman or when you talk about your handsome colleague too much? Well, in these cases, since you are physically together you can put a tab on your partner or sort things out.
However, in long distance unions, all you end up doing is worrying and feeling neglected. That’s harmful. You have to be aware of these feelings and deal with them before you become too obsessed with your partner and cause damage to the relationship.
It’s not easy to keep hope burning against all the odds. Most people in long distance relationships suffer from uncertainty. Willingly or unwillingly, you end up worrying too much about the future of your union. The uncertainty over the direction in which the relationship is moving and absence of common goals can make you uncertain. This feeling can strain the tie and make it weak too. It takes a strong commitment from both sides and deep bonding and lots of planning and dreaming to deal with uncertainty.
Signs that a long distance relationship is not working well
Are you in a long-distance relationship? Is everything alright or do you feel something is not right? Look out for these signs to find out whether your relationship is sailing smoothly or there is anything to worry about. As we said earlier, insecurity wrecks havoc on long distance relationships. People keep on asking themselves whether everything is fine between them and their partners who are stationed in some other city.
Is she bored? Why did she sound so weird? Is he cheating on me? Why didn’t he call me last night? Questions like these torment the mind. Let’s do one thing. Instead of worrying unnecessarily, let us discuss the signs that tell whether there is really anything to worry about your long distance relationship.
Do you often feel that she cannot sense your loneliness? Does it happen frequently that you want to share your concern and your partner snubs you off? Maybe there is a communication gap and you need work on your communication skills.
Miscommunications happen in every relationship however when distance comes in between, they can get serious. When you share your lives through emails and phone chats, a change in tone or a wrong exclamation can put across an incorrect message to your partner.
When you are stuck in a rut
Do you struggle to find anything interesting to talk with your sweetheart? Do you always end up discussing the same issues? Are you tired of calling up and asking the same questions? There is a reason to worry my friend but I would like to make a point here. Every relationship goes through ups and downs and it is normal to have such a dry spell. However, if they occur more than enough and leave you depressed or unhappy and you start wondering about the future of the relationship, it is worrisome.
So, if you feel like stuck in a rut and you need to do something to get out of it, you are right. You should do something. Talk to your mate, be frank about your feelings and find out ways to make the relationship more interesting. Don’t worry; we will come to this point later on.
Do you feel disconnected with your partner? Is your mate changing in ways that you cannot comprehend?
We change with time. We visit new places, we experience new feelings and we change. We get mature, learn new lessons and grow. When two individuals are in a relationship, these changes are intertwined. Both of you do not change in the same way and you know how your partner is changing whereas in long distance relationships it is difficult to keep a track of these. If the changes are severe it would become difficult for you to be on the same page for long.
Look out for signs of change in your partner and whether they are causing any rift in the relationship. If they are, you must think and find out ways to get together again.
Not living a whole life
Are you in contact with your school buddies? Do you talk regularly with them?
True that a romantic liaison is the most important relationship of your life but that doesn’t mean that you should be neglecting others at the expense of this one. There are people who are so hooked to their long distance love that they spend every waking moment talking to them. Be it over phone or messengers, they spend all their energy on the long distance relationship. They neglect other vital relationships which is not right.
We need friends, siblings and other relatives for our mental health. Hanging on to one relationship would eventually strain it and leave you lonely. So, it is better to find out time for your friends and relatives and spend quality time with them.
Keeping secrets from each other
Why didn’t your partner tell you that she is going on a tour? Why didn’t you tell her that you went out to watch a movie with your colleagues?
These are simple details, I agree but you should have shared these with your partner. You may not want to hurt each other or let your partner think that you are enjoying yourself, but holding back information weakens the trust that is vital for the relationship.
When thinks get too serious
Do you always talk about financial issues? Do you ever plan a holiday together or only talk about work pressures?
Come on. Love is supposed to be fun. A relationship should bring laughter and enjoyment in your life. In your case, if it is always play and no fun, you have taken a wrong road. It is time to press the alarm button and sit and talk things out.
You need to check out what went wrong and bring back the fun in your relationship.
Do you think we have been harping too much on problems only? Well, that’s somewhat true but as I promised earlier I would be also talking about the ways in which you can make your long distance not only work but also soar high. That sounds exciting, right? So let’s get on to that now.
How to make your long distance relationship work?
No one ever said long distance relationships are easy and so won’t I. however, it is not impossible to make them work if you are serious about them. A little bit of adjustment, changes in lifestyle and dollops of positive thinking would be enough to make your long distance relationship not only work but rock.
Since we have been talking a lot about communication, let us begin with it. Communication is important for a relationship to thrive and if it is a long distance one, you have to depend on it more. Hence, learn the art of it now.
Firstly, choose the right method of communication keeping yours and your partner’s preference in mind. Use a variety of technology to keep in touch. Phone, messages, WhatsApp, social media and video chat- use a mix of these to stay connected. Talk and talk more and make sure that you talk sensibly, you talk emotionally and you talk to know each other more.
Overdose can kill anything and in this case, excessive communication can kill the charm of the relationship. So, schedule your chats, keep each other updated but do not get sticky or obsessive about it. You don’t have to talk 12 hours a day to show your commitment.
Moreover, when you talk, make sure you share the mundane details of life like you would do if your partner were with you. Discussing your job, deadlines, daily chores and what you are cooking would make you feel closer and also bridge the gap.
There is another advantage of sharing everyday details. It would make both of you humane to each other and be aware of your vulnerabilities. This is important because we tend to idealize who stay away from us which makes things difficult when you meet in person.
Share private information also. To build trust, it is crucial to know each other little secrets. From what you fear to what you love to do in your spare time, from your first crush to first lovemaking, make the bond stronger by sharing these secrets and developing trust.
Develop a stronger bond
You’re too far for my hands to hold you, but too near for my heart to love you.
You need to pay extra attention to this area since you stay apart. Celebrate the special days of your life by doing something special like buying gifts for each other or sending flowers. Do not forget to wish your love with a special message on your anniversary.
It’s a great idea to buy gifts without any occasion and surprise your partner. Don’t limit your communication to chats and phone calls. Write letters and love notes to bring back the good old days of romance. Create a blog or an online scrapbook and fill it with your photos. Share your memories here and make your relationship special.
Another way to bond with your partner is to do same things at the same time. On weekends, you can cook the same dish, listen to the same CD or watch the same movie. Upload the photos in your scrapbook so that both you can compare. You can also enjoy the dishes while video chatting.
Go for hikes at the same time and video chat while you enjoy the fresh air. Doing activities together would give you plenty of things to talk about.
Take up a challenge like learning a new skill or language. Share your progress, teach each other and enjoy the time.
To become a part of your partner’s life, befriend each other’s friends. Yuo can also visit relatives and learn more about your partner.
Plan together, dream together. Discuss taking your relationship to the next level. Clarify your doubts about the future so that you can plan your career and finance. It is natural that the distance in between would make you feel negative at times. Focus on the positivity of the situation to fight back the negative feelings. You can pursue your career goals and hobbies only because you stay in your own place.
Couples who stay apart complain of not getting to enjoy sex. Make up for the loss by sexting each other, sharing your desires and planning what you would do when you get together. Keep the flames burning so that when you meet sparks fly easily.
Keep the relationship interesting by reading the same book or watching the same film and discussing them.
Stay honest. Staying apart is a test of your integrity and clear the test by remaining committed to your partner.
People who stay alone often feel dejected. This may affect the relationship as they get obsessed about the relationship. Stay positive by spending time with your friends and family. Enjoy the solitude, do things that you love and remain positive about creating a bright future with your partner.
Staying hopeful is the key to remaining happy in a long distance relationship. Plan, do things together, laugh together and be silly. Make fun a part of your relationship and be frank. Create a strong bond so that you can fall back upon your partner in times of need.
Do you have any other idea about making your long distance relationship? Please share with us.