They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s true that it can deepen feelings of love and longing.
Yet, it’s all too common for people in LDRs to also struggle with feelings of loneliness, doubt, and detachment. You might even wonder whether LDRs are doomed to fail.
In this article, I’ll break down the most prevalent long-distance relationship problems and offer practical solutions to help you navigate them.
1. Lack of Physical Intimacy
Physical intimacy is an essential element of a romantic relationship, and being unable to share that connection can be utterly frustrating.
Virtual hugs and kisses can only do so much, and nothing can compare to the real thing. There are times when you crave the warmth and comfort of physical touch.
The separation doesn’t have to mean emotional distance. You can still maintain a sense of physical affection, even when miles apart.
Solution 1: Get Creative
When it’s impossible to be physically close to your partner, find creative ways to keep the spark alive. Let me share a cute story about when my S.O. had to go away for a two-month work assignment. He wasn’t gone for a whole day, and I was missing him already.
I admit, I can be a drama queen when I’m super lonely, but my partner knew just how to cheer me up. He sent me out on a treasure hunt!
It turned out that he had written love letters for me and hidden them all around the house. I found them in the most unexpected places, like in an old shoe box, behind a wall painting, and tucked between the pages of my fave Jane Austen book.
It was such a sweet surprise, and it made me feel loved and appreciated. Trust me, little efforts can make all the difference in the world.
You can take a cue from my partner, or you can explore some of these ideas to make up for the lack of physical intimacy:
- Exchange physical reminders of each other, such as photos, perfume, or clothing.
- Send each other sexy messages, pictures, and videos to spice things up. However, make sure that both of you are comfortable with this.
- Always have something to look forward to, such as planned visits and holidays.
- Talk about your desires and fantasies to create a sense of intimacy that goes beyond physical touch.
In any case, always prioritize consent and safety and respect each other’s boundaries.
Solution 2: Use LDR-Approved Gadgets
Fortunately, we’re living at a time when technology is so advanced you can simulate physical touch. These long-distance gadgets can help you stay connected and make the distance more bearable:
- Bond Touch Vibrating Bracelet: Tap on your bracelet, and your partner’s wristband will light up and vibrate.
- Little Riot Heartbeat Speaker: Use the wristband to record your heartbeat and transmit it to your loved one’s speaker.
- Cute Circuit Hug Shirt: Send hugs to a linked Hug Shirt, featuring a smart fabric with embedded motion actuators.
Solution 3: Use Mobile Apps for Couples
You can also experiment with mobile apps specifically for couples:
- The Couple: Using the Thumbkiss function, simultaneously press your thumbs on your screen. When your thumbs align, your phone will vibrate in response, as if you’re touching.
- Nujj: Whenever you miss your S.O., shake your phone, and their phone will vibrate.
2. Different Time Zones
Long-distance romance is hard as it already is. It can even be more frustrating when you’re operating in different time zones or shifts.
Hang in there and prepare to face these challenges:
- Unequal distribution of effort when one is consistently adjusting their schedule to accommodate the other’s time zone
- Limited communication
- Lack of spontaneity
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Difficulty in scheduling visits
Solution: Find Ways to Get in Sync
Let’s explore the ways to deal with time zone differences in a long-distance relationship:
- Agree on a regular schedule to talk or video chat, including days you can stay up late together.
- Break out of routine sometimes and surprise them with an unexpected call.
- If possible, eat your meals at the same time.
- Use tools and apps to coordinate your schedules and keep track of time differences.
- Make every communication count.
- Leave them scheduled or voice messages they can read or listen to whenever it’s convenient for them.
3. Communication Has Become a Chore
When you first begin a long-distance relationship, those good mornings and good nights mean everything.
But as time goes on, it can start to feel like you’re just going through the motions of checking on each other. It’s easy to fall into a routine and make the relationship less fulfilling. You might even feel you’re missing out on sharing meaningful experiences.
That’s why it’s vital to have face-to-face conversations, even if they’re only virtual, to build a sense of closeness and vulnerability with your partner.
Solution: Switch Up Your Modes of Communication
When communication starts feeling like a chore or hits a lull, it’s time to switch things up. The best way to do this is by trying a range of ways to keep in touch with each other.
- Add video calls or voice messages to make conversations more dynamic and enjoyable. This way, you can pick on non-verbal cues you might miss through texts alone.
- Send each other handwritten letters, postcards, and care packages in the mail to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Share memes that make you laugh out loud or links to articles they might find intriguing.
- Plan virtual date nights where you do something fun together, like cooking the same meal or watching the same movie.
- Consider starting a hobby together, like painting, origami, or journaling.
- Play one-on-one online games, like chess, scrabble, or role-playing apps.
4. Differences in Communication Needs
Communication is the glue that holds long-distance partners together. However, what works for one might not work for the other.
You might be a stickler for schedule, and your S.O. might prefer a more flexible approach.
Misunderstandings are bound to happen when you’re not on the same page regarding your communication preferences.
Solution: Find the Right Balance
It’s essential to find a middle ground that accommodates your individual needs and preferences. Find the balance between having structured check-ins and allowing for flexibility and spontaneity.
As you go along, assess which habits are working and which ones need tweaking. Once you’ve figured out a rhythm that works for both of you, try to be consistent. The goal is for both partners to feel connected and supported without feeling overwhelmed or neglected.
Of course, life can get busy and things may come up, so be upfront with your partner if you need to adjust your communication routine.
5. Running Out of Things to Talk About
Long-distance love offers plenty of opportunities to get to know each other on a deeper level. Remember those seemingly endless late-night conversations while your phone got hot on your ear?
As you become more comfortable in your long-distance relationship and daily life takes over, it’s not uncommon to find your conversations have become repetitive and less engaging.
Long distance or not, it can happen to any long-term relationship. Over time, you can fall into a routine where you don’t feel the same spark and excitement that you did in the beginning.
Solution: Find New Topics to Talk About
When the communication starts to dry up, mix things up and explore new areas of conversation.
1. Make a List of Questions
Write down anything that comes to mind, from small talk to thought-provoking questions.
You may include things like favorite childhood memories or biggest fears. You can also explore philosophical ideas, such as the meaning of life, free will, or any topic that interests you.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Instead of asking yes-or-no questions, try to ask questions that require introspection and lead to deeper conversations.
For example, turn your customary “Did you have a good day?” into “What was the best part of your day?” to encourage your partner to open up and share their experience.
3. Try New Things Together
Explore a new hobby, read the same book, or watch the same movie. By trying new things together, you’ll have new topics and experiences to talk about.
4. Discuss Your Future Plans
Talking about your plans can be a great conversation starter. Discuss your short-term and long-term goals or make plans for a future visit.
Not only will you keep the communication flowing, but you’ll have something to look forward to and work towards together.
A shared vision of the future can help you both stay motivated and excited about your relationship. And if you’re planning a visit, discussing the details can build anticipation for your time together.
5. Find Inspiration From Couple of Apps
You can also download mobile apps specifically designed for couples to generate ideas for conversations:
Gottman’s Card Decks
This app offers over a thousand flashcards covering different themes, like Love Maps and Rituals of Connection. You can use these prompts to start discussions and improve your communication.
The free version features audio recordings on relationship health and conversation starters. Upgrade to the premium version and you’ll have access to lessons about communication, trust, money, and conflict.
6. Feelings of Insecurity and Jealousy
It’s normal to experience feelings of insecurity and jealousy in any romantic relationship. But these emotions can be even more amplified in LDRs.
You worry about what they’re doing and who they’re with. You question whether they’re still committed to the relationship and overthink.
With the physical distance between you, it’s easy for negative thoughts and emotions to take over and turn small issues into big problems. Bottling up your feelings and making up narratives in your mind can often lead to arguments.
Insecurity and jealousy can manifest in hurtful ways, and you may find yourself guilty of the following:
- Constant monitoring of your partner’s social media accounts
- Interrogating them about their activities
- Getting upset or angry when they don’t answer your calls and texts right away
- Communicating excessively
- Responding in a passive-aggressive way.
- Holding off communication
Solution: Build Trust in the Relationship
Taking time to process your emotions or to avoid conflict can be a healthy way to handle a situation. However, delaying communication for too long can fuel misunderstanding and resentment, creating a rift between the two of you.
Don’t worry. There are other ways to overcome these intense feelings and build trust in the relationship, even from afar.
- Be honest about your negative emotions.
- Avoid throwing baseless accusations.
- Give your loved one the benefit of the doubt.
- Express yourself calmly and respectfully.
- Allow your partner to respond and reassure you.
- Set clear expectations and boundaries.
- If you need some time, let the other person know and follow up with them in a reasonable timeframe.
7. Growing Apart
Remember those early days when you couldn’t wait to talk on the phone? All of a sudden, you’re less and less available.
It has become such hard work to stick to your arrangements and put in the extra effort.
The physical separation can make it more challenging to sustain a deep emotional bond over time. You might feel you’re losing interest in each other and growing apart.
Solution: Reconnect and Rebuild Your Relationship
As soon as the feeling of detachment creeps in, address the issue right away and work together to find solutions. This way, you can keep your connection strong and prevent your relationship from drifting apart.
Consider these tips on how to avert an LDR disaster:
- Prioritize the relationship, while still maintaining independence and autonomy.
- Take advantage of technology and find new ways to communicate.
- Have a heartfelt conversation about the issue, and be honest about your thoughts and feelings.
- Arrange virtual dates.
- Plan a surprise visit.
8. Financial Strain
If you live in different cities or countries, traveling to see each other regularly can quickly add up. Even if you split the cost or take turns paying, expenses like flights and hotel bookings can put a strain on your wallet.
Partners should be aware of this practical challenge from the start, and not let it become a source of resentment later on.
Relationship experts say that having an honest conversation about financial expectations can save a lot of stress down the road.
Solution: Discuss Money Matters
Talking about money can be uncomfortable. However, it’s better to be upfront about what you can afford than to stretch funds and end up feeling overwhelmed.
If you know you can only manage to visit your partner once a month, be upfront about it from the beginning. Also, consider alternative ways to save money, like choosing less expensive travel options and accommodations.
The financial aspects of a long-distance relationship take planning and communication. With some foresight and a willingness to discuss these issues, you can make the most of your time together without breaking the bank.
9. Social Isolation
Are you willing to sacrifice to make the relationship work, even if it means putting your needs on hold?
The ability to compromise is a desirable trait in a relationship. However, there’s a thin line between meeting your partner halfway and giving up on things you love. While it may seem that being apart means more freedom, that’s not always the case.
You miss family gatherings, coffee dates with friends, or after-work parties because you want to talk to your partner. Your virtual communications end up being the most of your social interactions.
Spending too much time with one person can be unhealthy and lead to codependency. And you can’t expect your partner to meet all your emotional needs.
Solution: Rethink Your Priorities
So, how do you balance the demands of a long-distance relationship with everything else in your life?
1. Be Open
Have an honest conversation with your loved one about each other’s expectations and limitations.
Understand each other’s social needs and professional aspirations, and discover a way to reconcile them with the romantic aspect of your life.
2. Manage Your Time
The distance should create opportunities to cultivate relationships you haven’t had time for before.
Set aside time for your partner, family, and friends, as each can offer support, validation, and encouragement in different ways. Alternatively, you may find that you’re the one providing these things to them.
Interdependence within the relationship provides reassurance and promotes individual growth. Although you’re still emotionally accessible, you don’t carry the burden of being the sole support.
3. Don’t Forget About Self-Care
Being in a long-distance relationship should mean more me-time to focus on self-care.
Why not go on solo dates while waiting to do things together with your partner?
Just remember to keep them in the loop about your solo adventures. It could even be a fun topic for your conversations!
10. Ever-Present Temptation to Cheat
Infidelity is a complex issue. It can even be more complicated because of the challenges of maintaining physical and emotional intimacy across the distance.
If you’re tempted to cheat, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. Are you feeling lonely or disconnected from your partner? Are you seeking validation or fulfillment? Or are there deeper issues at play that need attention and resolution?
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve mentioned how a long-distance relationship isn’t easy. But here’s the bombshell: A study finds that people are more likely to explore other alternatives when they suspect their partners are no longer committed to them.
If you find that you cannot resist the temptation to cheat, it may be a sign that the relationship is on the verge of falling apart.
Solution: Rekindle the Connection
It might be tempting to shift the blame on your partner for your unfaithful thoughts because you feel neglected. However, it won’t lessen the burden of guilt.
There are healthy ways to manage these feelings and save the relationship:
- Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and assess how you’d feel if you found out they’re cheating.
- Break the fantasy and channel your energy back into the relationship.
- Remind yourself of the fallout and pain you’ll cause.
- If you know certain people or situations can trigger temptation, steer clear of them.
- Consider talking to a trusted friend or therapist to help you work through your ill feelings and develop coping strategies.
- Talk honestly with your partner about your negative feelings and other concerns you may have.
- Work on strengthening emotional and physical intimacy.
11. No End Date for the Long Distance Part of the Relationship
Not having a clear timeline for when the distance will end can fuel uncertainty for the future. It’s hard to get motivated and invested in the relationship, especially if it feels like it may not progress beyond the current long-distance phase.
It’s even more frustrating when you’re missing out on significant milestones or events because of the distance.
Solution: Have a Plan
One study shows anticipation of a positive event lets you manage stress better and improves your emotional well-being. A set end date can make the difficulties of being apart less overwhelming, knowing the distance is temporary and there’s an ultimate goal in sight.
Establish a plan for when and how to transition from a long-distance relationship to being closer or living together.
If personal responsibilities make it difficult to find a firm end date, begin with a general timeline and refine the plan as circumstances change.
Although the plan may evolve or change over time, having a mutual goal can bring comfort and a shared sense of progress between couples. The key is to be open-minded and flexible about the path ahead.
Successful long-distance relationships don’t happen out of luck. They take time, patience, and two people who are committed to staying together despite physical separation.
If you’re going through a rough patch right now, don’t despair. Many couples have survived long-distance relationship problems, and you can, too!
I hope that by sharing these insights and tips, I can help you overcome the challenges of long-distance love and keep your relationship strong, even when you’re miles apart.
Keep working on it, and don’t forget the good things about being in love. I’m rooting for you!