By Kembet Bolton
Generally, relationships come with their ups and downs, but it becomes even tougher for a long-distance relationship. People in long-distance relationships are on a different lane from people in short-distance relationships, as the distance can create some unique challenges that might put pressure on the relationship, and if not handled carefully, can actually destroy what could have potentially been “A happy ever after’’ story
Granted, you will experience much joy when you are close to your loved one and are able to do many memorable activities together. As couples living together or in the same city where you can easily meet, you will be able to relish the physical contact, gaze into each other’s eyes, as well as enjoy each other’s presence. This is not the same in a long-distance relationship where you have to make do with telephone, emails and other forms of communication. This makes long-distance relationships weaken with time due to lack of each other’s presence.
While it is almost generally agreed that long-distance relationships are tricky to navigate, they can still work out perfectly well and can even prove to be good for you, for a season. Some couples become stronger in a long-distance relationship as they are trained over time to develop consistency and individual strength. A long-distance relationship story comes with its own share of good things such as inner strength, Trust, respect, good communication skills, etc. Trust especially is built-in Long-distance couples as this quality is especially built and harnessed since the couple cannot see each other at will. They develop personal strength, and they can learn how to commit even when things turn out to be difficult in their relationship. Despite these cited gains for a long-distance relationship, it sure comes with its fair share of problems.
Let us consider some problems that can plague long-distance relationships and suggestions from experts on how couples can navigate through these problems.
What to talk about
My friend Keziah lives 333 miles from her fiancé Ben. I tried picking up her personal experiences while writing this article, and she brought a new, different problem to my attention. While everyone unanimously agrees that communication is one thing that can sustain a long-distance relationship, what to actually communicate about can become a major problem, Keziah says. It is easier at the beginning when you are both getting to know each other, but as the months and years roll by, and you now know offhand, his favourite soccer team, what he likes to have for lunch or his favourite jean colour, finding things to talk about can become tough and communication can gradually become routine and boring.
How to fix this
One easy short-term fix for this is to come up with some questions to ask your significant other! Grab a pen and paper and write down 10 things you’d like to ask them. Or save yourself the time and grab a book of discussion questions that will spark hours of fun and fascinating talk time. A good one suggested here is ‘’ Find 401 Things to Talk About and Make Phone Calls Easy and Fun’’.
Another helpful tip is to try to relax about this. Everyone in a long-distance relationship goes through periods when they feel they don’t have much to talk about. You might have a season where you talk every day, while other times you only connect once every couple of days, that’s normal. Don’t let it freak you out.
Talking Too Much
While some people in long-distance relationship complain about what to talk about, others have so much to talk about and actually do talk too much, so that they have little time left to pursue other aspects of their lives. My neighbour, Beatrice, will usually stay on the phone till 3.am talking to her fiancé who lives in the United States. She wakes up late and can seldom find the energy for work each day as she is constantly exhausted from nights of insufficient sleep and rest.
In a new long-distance relationship, spending hours and hours every single day on the phone or Skype breeds an intensity that can move you along too fast and establishes intense communication patterns that can be difficult to change later. In a more mature long-distance relationship, you still shouldn’t spend so much time talking that other important areas of your life suffer greatly. That lack of balance will only hurt you in the long run.
How to Fix This
Try to talk, text, and write at a pace that feels sustainable and balanced, and make sure you are still spending some energy and time on other important things in life (Work, fitness, friends, and other sorts of fun). Beatrice said when she suggested to her fiancé that they reduce their talk time, he became suspicious and accused her of cooling off. It is always better to keep communication at a pace that is sustainable from the beginning.
Needing them to answer Immediately
Have you ever sent a text and then stared at the phone impatiently, waiting for them to answer you right away??
We all have, right? But for some of us, this becomes a pattern, a habit, or a “need.” We start to expect and need them to pick up the phone every time we call, and answer every text or email straight away. I sometimes will look at the last time my fiancé was online and get angry if he was online after a message I had sent and was ignoring it, says Agatha.
This sort of neediness and pressure isn’t good for your relationship in the long run, and it is a sign that you’re not feeling very secure in yourself or the relationship. You just have to let your imaginations stay on track.
How to Fix This
Ask yourself what’s really at play here. Do you get the sense that your significant other not responding to you as quickly as you’d sometimes like because they’re genuinely busy or they need some time alone? Or are they routinely blowing you off and leaving you in limbo for long periods of time?
Are your hopes and expectations about response time reasonable? And are they coming mostly from your genuine excitement to connect with your significant other, or are they often coming from a place of needing the contact and reassurance that they are interested in you to feel happy? If your expectations aren’t reasonable, or largely coming from your own sense of need and insecurity, look for ways to improve your sense of security and self-esteem and learn to tolerate uncertainty better.
If your love interest moves far away and some aspects of your relationship pause or slow down, the rest of your life does not need to slow down too. You don’t stop learning and growing and changing just because the person you love isn’t there every day, neither should they. You are both accumulating experiences, some of which will change you for the better.
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 some ways, some times.
How to Fix This
Most experts on relationship matters agree that this is one of the hardest long-distance relationship problems to fix. It will help to 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. And here are some things that will help prevent that from happening:
Both are agreeing that you want the distance to be temporary and having a close-the-gap goal in mind.
Regular visits in both directions
Maintain good, regular communication and find a way to continue to learn new things and grow closer together even while you’re far apart.