Heartbreak

6 Super Common Long-Distance Relationship Problems — And How To Fix Them All

Photo: Getty / Stephen Monroe from Unsplash via Canva
man and woman sitting down not facing each other

When you can spend regular face-to-face time with your partner, it’s easier to follow up on that sinking feeling and figure out whether you really should be worried or if you just misread the situation.

But it's not so easy to know where your problems lie or how to solve them when you’re in a long-distance relationship.

When you don’t have the luxury of time together holding hands, hugging, kissing or regular, uninterrupted talk, doubts can build and cause stress, strain and a whole host of other problems. Think about how you might act when you believe that something is wrong with your relationship: defensive, needy, clingy, insecure and maybe even hostile.

The long and short of it is that, yes, long-distance relationships can have some great benefits, but they can also have some serious pitfalls that can test the will of just about anyone.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Be Deeply Intimate In A Long-Distance Relationship

Many people unintentionally push their love away as worries grow. Some make a conscious decision to shut out their partner, certain that he or she will be breaking up soon.

You don’t have to suffer through another anxious moment. Instead, know when there’s something potentially wrong in your long-distance relationship. Instead, think of this as a wake-up call and the opportunity to communicate with your partner so you can both get back to a good place.

Communication is key to resolving conflict in every relationship. When you don’t have the luxury of spending time together holding hands, hugging, kissing, or having regular, uninterrupted conversation, doubts, jealousy and other negative feelings can start churning within. Naturally, that can cause stress, strain and a whole host of other problems.

Sometimes, there are ways — even several ways — to heal these issues. If they go unchecked for too long, though, time will not be on your side, so you need to address these problems ASAP.

Read through the list below to learn about six common long distance relationship problems you can do something about (and then do something about them ... today).

6 Common Long-Distance Relationship Problems

1. A lack of boundaries or "rules" for the relationship.

We’ve all got unique rules that reflect our own expectations for what we want and how we think things should be. However, one person's rules may not align with the other one's set of rules. When it comes to a relationship, the trick is to communicate about where both of you stand on a number of things that could affect how you approach your relationship, and to be able to do it openly, honestly and without judgment.

If you and your partner often make each other feel wrong for having different rules, or if you’re stuck and can’t resolve a conflict because of a violation of a rule that went unsaid, this can mean trouble if not addressed sooner rather than later. That means going over other rules and boundaries to make sure both of you are on the same page.

Also, setting expectations about when you'll see each other is important. It might seem quaint or tedious, but scheduling "us" time will help keep the boundaries of distance between you two seem a little less far away from one another, and you'll both be making a conscious effort that shows mutual respect and commitment that will keep your relationship healthy and happy.

That's a win-win already — plus, you'll be doing even more to ensure the lines of communication stay open between you.

2. An imbalanced amount effort between partners.

Speaking of conscious efforts, it can be miserable to feel like you’re doing all the work in your relationship. You're always the one to call or text. You're the one traveling the miles for a visit. You're the one waiting by the computer for some response.

Yes, this could mean your partner isn’t as committed as you are. But bear in mind that there is more than just one possibility here, meaning this may not only be explained by your partner not caring about you. Be open-minded and sensitive to the fact that this may reflect that you and your partner have different needs for how frequently you communicate, has a high-pressure and demanding schedule, or is perhaps going through something that they aren't ready to talk about, or maybe they're even worried they'll take out on you and this is their way of protecting you.

Have a conversation with your partner at the next opportunity, and remember to there could be any number of responses partner might have. Try to remain compassionate and caring — but if something seems off, explain to them why you think so instead of having a blowup argument. That way, you two can still do your best on your end to have a productive conversation.

3. A growing sense of obligation.

When talking or connecting with your partner feels like a chore or a lot of work, this is treacherous ground for any relationship, long-distance or not. Anytime you feel obligated to do something together, talk, or whatever it is that's keeping you disengaged, something is out of whack. You should feel excited and eager to spend time with your significant other.

Start with your own thoughts and make connections. When a "have to" or "should" comes to mind about your partner, back up and ask yourself what you would rather do instead.

Maybe you'd like the opportunity to have your partner share more in some of your interests and hobbies more equally as you do theirs when you have time to spend together. Or if it's your usual Thursday-night Zoom date and you always watch one of your partner's favorite movies, you'd really like your partner to take your suggestions seriously so there's more balance between yours and your partner's preferences in your relationship.

Your partner should be receptive to having a conversation about this kind of issue. Perhaps they aren't even aware that they've been causing this rift and will be deeply apologetic when you bring up the topic.

If you can't find a path back to happily anticipating the next time you get to spend time with your partner, though, think hard about whether you feel obligated to aspects of the relationship, or to the relationship as a whole. If it's the latter, think about whether you're still invested in the relationship at all. If it's time to move on, don't string your partner along.

RELATED: 6 Positive Things To Remember To Keep Your Long-Distance Love Flourishing

4. Increasing feelings of jealousy.

Jealousy is a relationship-killer, especially in a long-distance relationship. If your conversations revolve around interrogations, accusations or wariness, you've definitely got a problem.

If you're feeling jealous, try figuring out where that jealousy is coming from so you can sit down and talk honestly with your partner about it. Maybe they've been sneaking off making phone calls that seem off to you, or they've canceled your Friday night Skype dates for the sixth time. In a row.

Ask what's up. Maybe it's not what it seems. If it turns out your partner has been hiding something, it may be a symptom of a larger problem that may still be worth fixing. But they need to come clean and be willing to work it out with you, if you decide you can overcome it together.

5. Keeping secrets from each other.

This goes hand in hand with sewing doubt and causing jealousy between the two of you. Pay attention when your partner is unusually evasive, especially over trivial and major issues, or seems to be mixing up important details, as in, telling two different stories about their day, a recent trip, or anything else that seems strange. This could mean they're keeping a secret from you.

If you're withholding information because you’re afraid of disappointing or upsetting your beloved, think twice. Regardless of the "good" reason either one of you may have for keeping secrets, this habit always weakens trust, one of the most fundamental aspects of any relationship.

Once trust is broken, it's one of the most difficult problems in a relationship to repair. It's your foundation. It cements so much of what else goes into a relationship. Whatever is going on, it probably isn't serious enough to worth risking the trust between you and your partner, and that's worth keeping in mind for both of you.

6. Forgetting to make room for fun and playfulness in the relationship.

This is like bossy sibling to feeling a sense of obligation in your relationship. If every conversation has taken on a terse, somber tone, and there's constant tension when you and your partner do get together (virtually or in person), it could mean that your relationship has taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Love isn’t supposed to bring you down and bum you out. Most of the time, it should lift you up and make you feel like more of the best version of yourself.

While every couple has their challenges to work through, a healthy relationship should be full of light and enjoyable moments. So make them happen!

Make fun date nights that you can do over Zoom or Skype, and think as creatively as you want! Share in each other's hobbies and take this time apart to learn more about each other. This is a major advantage that people who are in long-distance relationships get over those who don't — you're forced into a situation where you have long stretches of time that can't just be spent in the bedroom.

You get the opportunity to build to make that foundation we mentioned earlier as strong as possible by getting to know all kinds of details about each other, including what matters most to each of you, what you believe have been your defining moments in life so far, your happiest memories — the possibilities are endless!

You can even try some different apps (beyond the traditional FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) to spice things up a bit and connect with each other in all kinds of ways and really have some fun with it!

The long and short of it is that, yes, long-distance relationships can have some great benefits, but they can also have some serious pitfalls that can test the will of just about anyone.

Remember that this gives you the chance to be vulnerable, too, so be your natural, silly self, and remember to keep the romance going between the two of you.

Most of all, remember what brought the two of you together: love.

What to do if you are experiencing any of these problems in your long distance relationship

If you do find one or more of these trouble signs in your relationship, don’t get upset about it; instead, take this as a wake up call and do something different.

Without blame, get to the root of the conflict or unhealthy habit. Even if your partner refuses to talk about what's causing problems in your relationship, you can start doing things differently which can have positive side effects.

Also make sure that the time you do spend together — whether it’s texting, emailing, Skyping, or any other way — is focused and includes plenty of opportunities for romance and fun.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Long-Distance Relationships Are Actually The Best Relationships

Susie and Otto Collins are Certified Transformative Coaches who help awaken love and possibilities in your life.

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