Let’s be honest: Long-distance relationships come with their own unique set of complications. On bad days, those problems can seem insurmountable. But they don’t have to be. Long-distance marriage problems and long-distance relationship problems are mostly solvable. I really believe that! It’s why after years of doing long distance, my husband and I ended up getting married. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.
So let’s take a look at how to work through some of those problems. In my opinion, these are the three big ones, and once you have these covered, you’ll be able to handle anything else that comes up. Of course, you’ll probably have to KEEP working on these as your relationship progresses; there is no magic cure that makes them disappear. Just keep in mind: Your long-distance relationship is worth it. Once you learn how to deal with some of these common problems, it will be even more worth it.
Jealousy is a big one, right? Even if you have never been a particularly jealous person before, there’s something about long-distance relationships that brings out the green-eyed monster in all of us.
It’s even harder if you and your guy never lived in the same place because it means they have lots of friends that you don’t know. So when he says he’s hanging out with Sarah, you don’t think, “Oh, his completely harmless childhood friend, Sarah!” You think, “Who the hell is this home-wrecker, Sarah?”
There are a few ways to solve this problem. First, set up some guidelines with your guy. Does he have to tell you about his plans in advance? Are you comfortable with him spending time with other women alone? Is it OK for him to spend time with women you have already met but not with a woman that he met after he met you?
Now, there’s a way to have this conversation in a reasonable way—and then there’s being totally possessive and crazy about it. I’d recommend laying down the ground rules early on in a relationship.
Another thing is establishing the kind of activities that are OK for you guys to do when you’re apart. I know that sounds a little weird, but there are some activities that are much more likely to cause jealousy than others. The first one that comes to mind is clubbing. A lot of single (and not so single) people go to clubs to hook up, and once the alcohol starts flowing, the temptation only increases. Plus, if your partner is out having fun, he’s probably not checking in as much, which leaves you lying in bed at 3 a.m. imagining all the things he could be doing.
Although you can’t dictate what your partner can and cannot do, you can have a respectful conversation where you decide what is and isn’t acceptable. If he loves you, it’s unlikely that he’s going to choose going to the club with his boys over making sure that your happy.
Finally, if your boyfriend or husband has never given you any reason to think he’s unfaithful, then trust him. Constantly making him feel like he’s untrustworthy will erode your relationship.
Missing your man is THE biggest problem with long-distance relationships. When I was apart from my husband, I missed him so much sometimes that it actually physically hurt. I couldn’t think about anything else but how much I missed him, and it made my life feel pretty empty without him being there.
My advice on how to solve this problem is a little unconventional: Don’t talk too much.
I know you’re probably shaking your head at the computer right now. Don’t talk too much? You can never talk enough! The whole point is that you NEED to talk because you can’t see them.
Trust me, I get it.
But I also know that when you talk to your man constantly, it’s hard to do anything by yourself. You’re constantly thinking about them. You’re not engaging in your life because you always have your head down, typing away, mentally wherever they are. It’s hard not to miss someone unbearably if you don’t have anything else going on.
Although your relationship should definitely be a priority in your life, it can’t be your WHOLE life. The way to not miss your man all the time is to have other interests. Basically, to have a life that you enjoy just as much as you enjoy your relationship with them.
If your girlfriend started dating someone in town, and all of a sudden she never hung out, never pursued her hobbies and never did anything else other than hang out with her guy, you would stage an intervention. It’s just not healthy.
So start getting involved with your life again—and don’t feel the need to send your man constant updates. Instead, have regularly scheduled phone calls (maybe every two days), and the rest of the time, be engaged with what’s happening when it’s happening. It won’t be easy in the beginning, but if you start to get really intentional about those phone calls, you might find that you have more to talk about and feel more connected.
Your love doesn’t need constant contact to survive, I promise.
Here’s what I believe: Almost all arguments in long-distance relationships are caused by fear. We’re scared it’s not going to work. We’re scared they’ll forget about us. We’re scared they’ll meet someone new. We’re scared that we don’t have a future together or that we will never live in the same place.
Sometimes that fear transforms into frustration. We wonder, "Why did we have to fall in love with someone who is so far away? Wouldn’t it be easier to just give it all up and find someone closer to home?" So we start to pick pointless fights. Every day is something new: They’re not paying enough attention to us. Their tone was off in a text message. They didn’t call when they said they would.
Before long, it can feel like you’re fighting every day. It’s tiring, and you start to question whether the relationship is worth it and if you’re even right for each other. Especially as there’s no opportunity to hug or kiss it better.
Now, this is one of the most common long-distance relationship problems, and it’s also one of the hardest ones to solve. The problem is that we often don’t acknowledge the root of the problem. We don’t know how to say, “I’m scared that our love isn’t strong enough to survive the distance,” so instead, we pick arguments about other, inconsequential things.
It doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to avoid these arguments though!
The biggest one is to make sure that you’re both totally confident in the future of your relationship. Although words are important, and you should be regularly reassuring each other of your desire to be together, actions speak much louder.
Do you have a plan for when you’ll be together permanently? This goes a long way in avoiding arguments, as minor irritations aren’t as important. You can easily recognize that the frustration you’re feeling is related to the distance aspect of your relationship, not your partner. So you can say, “In ‘X’ amount of months, we’ll be back together. I just need to deal with this for now,” and it can stop you from blowing up at your partner.
Now I also know that this isn’t always possible. In the beginning of our relationship, my husband and I had no idea when we would be able to live in the same place. He was from the Netherlands, and I was from the U.S. We both had jobs and lives in our respective countries, and combining them seemed impossible at times. So what we did instead was create a rule that three months was the maximum amount of time we could go without seeing each other.
It might be helpful for you to institute a similar rule. First, it's fun to have something to count down to. Second, instead of focusing on any issue caused by distance, you can think, “I will see him in two weeks. If this is still an issue then, we can talk about it.”
Almost every issue is better dealt with in person, so don’t let too much time go in between visits.
Of course, these are only some of the possible long-distance relationship problems, but in my experience, they tend to be the biggest ones. If you can solve these, the minor ones are way easier to handle. And if you take on board some of the advice I offered here, I have no doubt that you can solve them—and that your LDR can be one of the best relationships you have ever had.
Jennifer Craig has been in a successful long-distance relationship and started SurviveLDR to encourage those who want to pursue love with partners in far land.