They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but what happens when the miles apart make it difficult to stay in love? When either you or your SO regularly miss your scheduled Skype meetings, don’t put in the effort to update each other on the latest events in your lives or prioritize everything but each other, then it’s time to evaluate the relationship. Here are four tell-tale signs that the LDR isn’t working and what to do about it.
1. You’re getting dry responses
It’s inevitable that everyone is busy. However, if you’re in a long-distance relationship, more effort should be made to set aside time to reach out to your SO in a thoughtful way. Sean*, a senior at Mohawk Collage, says that after he flew to China for a work opportunity, his girlfriend wasn’t as responsive when he messaged her. “You don’t get to see each other in-person so when you talk, you’re not that into it anymore because there’s less to hold onto,” he says. It’s a telling sign if either partner isn’t as engaged or only making a half-hearted attempt to communicate.
Jay Hurt, author of The 9 Tenets of a Successful Relationship, says that it is fundamental that couples in a LDR keep each other abreast of what’s going on in their respective lives and physically see each other every couple months. “It has to go beyond texts”, says Hurt, “There needs to be talking via Skype or Google Hangouts.”
How to fix it:
While Hurt advises that it would be beneficial for couples to put in time daily to see each other using online video conference tools, he also recommends trying to “communicate in whatever your partner’s love language may be – for instance, sending gifts – because then you have a much better chance of building your relationship and helping it grow rather than trying to salvage it."
2. Petty arguments are becoming the norm
The occasional fight is typical and expected. However, when both parties are always unhappy and bickering about insignificant matters, that should be a reason to pause and think about what’s really going on.
Andrea*, a junior at the University of Guelph, was repeatedly having fights with her SO. “I frequently fought with my long-distance boyfriend over the phone about what I thought were trivial things. For instance, I enjoy being social and hitting up different parties to socialize but he often wasn’t too happy about my evening plans. The time we set aside to catch up with each other would usually escalate into arguments."
How to fix it:
Constant suspicion and reoccurring arguments could signify an underlying issue that should be immediately addressed in your LDR. Avoid contributing to an emotionally-fueled conversation by keeping the tone light and allowing your partner to respond to your comments without interrupting them.
3. They have doubts
The two key components of maintaining a LDR are trust and faith. Alex*, a graduate from York University, stayed in Toronto while his girlfriend traveled back to Japan, her native country. He was confident that they could make a LDR possible. However, “She lacked faith that it would work,” he says.
They eventually parted ways and reflecting back on the experience, he notes that especially for a LDR, “It can’t be one-sided and there has to be a strategy on how you two can stay together.” When there’s doubt at the onset of a LDR, then that’s one indicator that a LDR with your SO is not likely to last.
How to fix it:
“You have to set expectations properly”, says Hurt. “Then you want to make sure to follow up to those expectations by creating a plan on how you both move forward. If there’s a plan, then there’s something to work towards."
4. Your SO wants something different
Alex* and his girlfriend had a six year age difference which he says “put her on a different time table.” They were at different phases in their lives; she was contemplating the idea of beginning a family while he was just starting his career. While the physical distance was a challenge, another was the difference in future priorities.
How to fix it:
Ask yourself the following questions: Why do I want to be with my SO? Do I still want to be in a relationship with him/her? Have I done what’s possible within my means to make this long-distance relationship work?
After you figure out how you feel about the situation, call your SO to talk about what you both want in the future and how they currently feel about the state of the relationship.
While you might still be fond of your partner, it is important to acknowledge when a long-distance relationship may not practical because of the circumstances. For Sean* and his girlfriend, they both agreed that it wasn’t feasible to continue the LDR. After a candid talk on Skype, they ended the relationship amicably. “You just have a feeling that it isn’t going to work out”, he says. “I told her that ‘It was great knowing you’ and wished her all the best.”
Ending a relationship (long-distance or not) isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been together for a while. However, in the eloquent words of iconic American bombshell Marilyn Monroe, “Everything happens for a reason...sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together.”
*Names have been changed.