It isn’t easy to find love. You know, the kind that sweeps you off your feet but helps you land right back on them as well? It’s hard to find someone who can do that for you, but letting them go isn’t an option once you do find them.
Even if it means they are geographically separated from you for a substantial amount of time. In this article, we discuss 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships (LDRs).
Long-distance relationships are becoming more common because the world has become more accessible than it ever was before. Some even wonder, “Are long distance relationships better, considering that many people need their space nowadays?” According to the 2019 OkCupid data, 46% of women and 45% of men are open to a long-distance relationship with the right person.
But let’s admit it, LDRs are tough to handle. You welcome yourself to a world of missing, waiting, and more missing. Making any relationship work takes a lot of effort, but the work required to make a long-distance relationship successful is a whole different ball game.
3 Harsh Facts About Long-Distance Relationships
When it comes to an LDR, there are questions that come up in our minds, such as: How long do most long-distance relationships last? Or, are long-distance relationships hard? And how to have a successful long distance relationship?
Well, they are certainly hard and sometimes, downright brutal. So, let’s start with a few candid points about them. Here’s an attempt to bring to you the honest realities of what this romantic bond can feel like with 3 harsh facts about long-distance relationships.
Related Reading: Effort In A Relationship: What It Means And 15 Ways To Show It
1. You’ll be tired of making it work sometimes
You want to make it work. And you ‘are’ making it work, you both are. Both of you are putting in efforts so that the fire doesn’t die out. But sometimes, you will be tired of doing all of this work. Sometimes, you would want it to be simple instead, and that’s one of the 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships.
Like Sylvia, who has been in such a dynamic for 2 years now, puts it, “Some nights, I swear, I just wanted to cry with nothing but him in the room. I wanted no screen, no room for understanding, or putting two perspectives together. Just knowing that he is beside me and holds me as I cry, but that couldn’t happen. At one point, I wanted to give up on the relationship.”
It’s important to know that it’s natural and okay to feel this way. This is just one of the harsh realities of how an LDR can make you feel at times. But are long distance relationships hard to the extent that you start to wonder if they are worth saving? We’ll find out.
2. Sustaining a long-distance relationship can be a luxurious affair
The world is more connected now than it ever was. You can reach out to someone who is miles away in just a matter of seconds, but a few minutes or even hours of conversation is sometimes not enough in romance.
It’ll be extremely hard going weeks, months, and in some cases, a year or more, without seeing your partner. The tickets and the other expenses of traveling might get overwhelming after a point. This is one of the 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships: it is very expensive and this is something you should know before starting a long distance relationship.
Michael, who has been in a relationship for around 6 months now, mentions, “It was so difficult to manage my finances, alongside my college, to meet my partner. At one point, we got into this huge fight because I didn’t have the funds to visit him for his birthday. It was a mess. He, of course, understood why I couldn’t come, but we were fighting because we missed each other. Apparently, it’s very common to get into arguments in LDRs when you miss your partner terribly.”
3. It’s not for everyone
It is becoming more common for couples to enter long-distance relationships now, while some have even started to wonder, “Are long-distance relationships better than the ones where the couple stays close to each other?” But let’s be honest here, It’s not for everyone who is young and in love. And that’s the last of the 3 harsh facts about long-distance relationships.
No matter how strong your bond is and how much mutual respect you both have, being away from your partner for this long does and will take a toll on you and your relationship. Before you enter an LDR, it’s generally a good idea to assess if you can do what it takes for your relationship to work.
Are both of you on the same page in terms of the level of commitment required; the time and money you would need to invest; and the honest, gentle, and direct communication skills that you’ll need to have in order to sustain your bond?
Problems In Long-Distance Relationships
Long-distance relationships are tricky and confusing. I have not met anyone who was excited about the fact that they are in an LDR. In fact, quite the opposite. Anyone who has told me they are in such a relationship, had a longing in their voice and were often found dreading the answer to “How long do most long distance relationships last?” This is especially true for the ones who are in a new relationship, hoping that theirs would last forever.
It’s no surprise that there are a lot of potential relationship problems that can surface in an LDR apart from the 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships that we have already discussed. However, an important point to note is that any relationship, be it long-distance or short-distance, has a lot of problems that come up in the course of it. It’s how you deal with them that matters the most.
But to figure out what to do about the problem, knowing and understanding it is the first step. Here are a few problems that you can face while being in a long-distance relationship.
1. Lack of physical intimacy
Missing physical intimacy is like missing the rhythm in which your body wants, or rather needs, to flow in. Imagine your partner rubbing your shoulder whenever they pass you by or looking over at you while you are working hard to get something done. Now imagine not having your beloved by your side when you are stressed to hold your hands or to rub your back. It’s lonely, isn’t it?
Sylvia shares more of her story, “I just wanted him in my personal space at times. To hold me, to gaze at me, to touch me. I realized over time that physical intimacy is my love language and it’s so damn hard to be in a relationship for so long when one of my love languages isn’t being fulfilled.”
Related Reading: 8 Types Of Intimacy In A Relationship
2. The impact of loving words can fade over time
In long-distance relationships, we rely heavily on verbal communication. We either text, phone, or video call our partners a number of times during the day. But for how long?
After a point, the impact that those words carry reduces. The words are repeated again and again with no physical validation, which one obviously can’t provide over a screen. These words lose their magic and meaning over time.
Until and unless you write or say how you feel, your partner has no other way to know it. Vocabulary is limited and our ways of using those words are limited. After repeatedly using them, those words could lose their hold on your partner. Even when you improve communication in relationships, it might fall short.
3. Lots and lots of insecurities
Insecurities are very common and prominent when it comes to long-distance relationships. They, however, mess up our brains and our relationship as well. It puts a strain on you and your partner. This makes things even more difficult than they already were.
LDRs are full of uncertainties. No matter how well you plan every little thing about it, it’ll still be uncertain for the most part. These uncertainties are the playfield that harbors insecurities in a relationship. Every relationship has some levels of insecurities but in an LDR, the intensity of it increases due to the long distance.
To avoid this, discuss your insecurities before you decide to get into a long-distance relationship and keep working on them together.
4. Comparing relationships becomes a norm
Comparing any two relationships is like comparing apples with oranges. No two relationships are the same, yet we find ourselves engaging in comparisons. This tendency increases especially when we are in a long-distance relationship. It reduces the quality of the relationship because we then lose touch with what we have by focusing on what other people have.
If you’ve been in a long-distance relationship, you would have found yourself wondering: “How are others managing it so well?” “How is everyone so happy and content?” It’s very common and natural to find yourself thinking about how everyone else seems to have gotten it but you and fall into the comparison trap. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence.
Water the grass where you are. LDR or not, the grass will fade if not taken proper care of. It’s just so hard sometimes to get a long-distance relationship going, isn’t it?
5. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel real
Michael says, “Sometimes, I used to wonder if I actually have a boyfriend or is this some well-planned credit card scam? I had a lot of thoughts about if the wait was worth it or should I just go on with my life.”
It could feel so unreal. You have a partner you love dearly and have unconditional love for them but you just can’t see them because they live miles apart. It is natural for the couple to feel a little distant and detached due to all of this distance.
There needs to be a mutual acceptance that this is how it’s going to be and that your partner isn’t going to be around you physically. Acceptance can help in keeping the lamp of hope burning.
Related Reading: 12 Signs Of Unconditional Love In A Relationship
6. It will get lonely
When we are separated from someone we love, feeling anger, guilt, sadness, or loneliness are natural emotions. Think about it, wouldn’t this be a natural response to being away from your significant other?
One of the most common reasons people hesitate to get into a long-distance relationship, among many others, is the fear of being left all alone. The fear that it will get lonely quickly. One of the harsh facts about long-distance relationships is that no one imagines how isolating the whole experience of loneliness in a relationship can be.
Make your partner feel special and loved, especially when they start to feel lonely. Leave them voice notes, send them care packages, send flowers, make virtual plans with them, or get as creative as you can in letting them know that you’re there for them.
How To Deal With Issues In Long-Distance Relationships
Now that we have talked about the 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships and the problems of a long distance relationship, let’s talk about how we can deal with them.
Every kind of relationship has its own set of problems. It’s not so much about the problems as it is about solving them. Ever heard about ‘repair’ and ‘rupture’ in a relationship? A rupture is a break in the connection between two people which can be caused by hurt, distance, or anger in a relationship. Ruptures are a very normal part of any healthy relationship.
However, when repeated ruptures take place without any repair, the relationship starts to become like bricks in the wall, inanimate. Love is replaced by bitterness leading the relationship to disintegrate. Repair is restoring a connection that was lost during rupture. Repairing is a way to bring you closer to your partner.
This comes with the realization that the relationship is more important than the problem. The goal is to understand where things went wrong and how to overcome that. Below are a few ways in which you can repair your long-distance relationship even before the rupture happens.
1. Communication is key
Communication is one of the most important factors of any healthy and happy relationship. It is about connecting and using your verbal skills to fulfill your and your partner’s needs in the relationship.
Communicate to your partner about how you feel about this arrangement, what you want differently, or how you want your partner to support you. Might seem like an easy task, right? But it’s not easy communicating your vulnerabilities over a call or a screen without physical validation for the same.
You become more mindful of noting voice discrepancies in an LDR because by now, you know exactly how they sound when they are joyous, how they sound when they are tired, when they are jumping around with excitement, or when they are going through the blues.
2. Always pay attention to the small details
When you communicate better and get better at listening, you start to pick up on the small details. You know when they sound low on energy, if they are not as jumpy as they usually are – you know all the unique ways your partner expresses themselves.
These small details matter a lot. When you notice these intricate details of your partner, you do not only tell them that you pay attention to what they’re saying or doing, but you’re also telling them how much you value what you both have.
Remember the first of the 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships that we talked about? That it’s tiring to make an LDR work sometimes. Trust us, your efforts will be minimized when you pay attention to little things from the start. It’ll become a habit and won’t be a task anymore once you see how rewarding it is for the relationship.
3. Don’t assume anything
When we don’t have the whole picture, we connect the dots and make them whole. It’s a natural human tendency. That’s what we do in relationships as well.
Don’t assume anything even though you’re tempted to. Even if the assumptions are coming easily to you while waiting for your partner’s answers, even if it’s giving you relationship anxiety. Assumptions give rise to huge ruptures, the repairs for which take a long time.
Communicate with your partner. Talk to them about things you are assuming. Be open about it, chances are that they have their own set of assumptions as well. Have clear pathways of communication where there is very little to no room left for assumptions. Whatever comes to your mind, talk it out.
Related Reading: Communication Problems In Relationships – 11 Ways To Overcome
4. Don’t let it get boring
Don’t let your relationship get as mundane as waking up, dropping a text to your partner, going about your day, maybe a call to your partner, and then off to sleep. Spice and jazz it up a bit. Do things that you would do if you both were together – just do them virtually. Take advantage of all the tech revolution.
Go out on virtual food dates, have movie dates, maybe start a new Netflix show you both can watch together. Send each other surprise deliveries, don’t let it get predictable.
Send each other saucy texts, have lots of phone sex, or any form of virtual sex while being safe (of course). Don’t feel limited because you both are separated by distance, there is so much still you both can do. Explore those options.
5. Prioritize other stuff
Prioritizing things other than your relationship is very important especially if you are in an LDR. Otherwise, it will get lonely very soon. Talk to people, and build connections with your friends and family. Build a solid support system for yourself.
Create your routine and your schedule which doesn’t revolve around your partner. Do make a routine where you have time for yourself and the things you want to do, including the time that you will spend with your partner. Set personal goals for yourself and make a plan on how to achieve them.
The idea is that you grow in a holistic sense, your relationship will grow as the entire ‘you’ grow in the relationship as well.
6. Have an expiry date for the distance
Like any relationship out there, long-distance relationships take time, work, and communication. In this case, these conversations can also include discussing a timeline of the distance and the expiry date for the long-distance part of the relationship (if that’s what you both want). Don’t be scared to plan when you both will be together in the same city, or even the same home.
Like Charles Dickens wrote in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” You would also need to prepare for when the distance comes to an end. When the LDR ends, both of you will enter a new phase of your relationship and will need time to adjust to a new routine of living together, or in the same city. This will be a huge change for both of you. You would have to unlearn and relearn new things about each other. This is a kind of repair that has the potential to strengthen your bond.
Let’s end with this quote from Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook that serves as a reminder to work through things we choose for ourselves: “It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be really hard. And we’re going to have to work on this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me.”
Lack of physical intimacy is the hardest thing about a long-distance relationship and that’s why even in the 3 harsh facts about long distance relationships, one of them is that it’s not for everyone. This is because physical intimacy is one of the love languages for some people. Another hard thing is feeling lonely in a long distance relationship.
A 2018 study found that 66% of respondents said the hardest thing about being in a long-distance relationship was the lack of physical intimacy leading to feeling lonely, and 31% said the lack of sex was the hardest part.
Of course, it can work. It does work. It is a fact that it will take you more effort, time, and energy to make it work in a healthy manner but it does work out for so many people out there. The same 2018 study found that 58% of long-distance relationships in America worked out and survived. 55% of Americans said that their time apart actually made them feel closer to their partner in the long run, while 69% said that they actually talked to their partner more during their time apart.
It is important to note that in an attempt to make it work, don’t minimize any troublesome behavior of your partner. Be mindful of the red flags and keep a lookout for controlling behavior. These are things to keep in mind for any relationship, not just an LDR.
Lack of effective communication kills any relationship including a long-distance relationship. Communication doesn’t just include you talking, it includes you listening – empathetically and reflectively. It means that you are receptive to what your partner is saying while putting across what you want to say politely. It also means that you can articulate their perspective while giving them yours.