11 Serious LDR Problems

11 Serious Long Distance Relationship Problems (And How To Fix Them)

Lisa McKay Advice, Communication & Conflict 18 Comments

Everyone knows that long distance relationships are hard work, but what does that mean, exactly? What are the most serious long distance relationship problems out there? Can they be fixed, or are most long distance relationships ultimately doomed?

Don’t despair. Long distance relationships can totally work. They can even prove to be good for you, for a season. I know this first-hand—I met my husband via email when he was living 7000 miles away.

However, long distance relationships are tricky to navigate well. And there are some particular long distance relationship problems that don’t plague same-city relationships to quite the same extent.

So what are the typical long distance relationship problems, and how should you deal with them?

Long distance relationship problems #1: Getting stuck in a rut

Have you ever struggled to find things to talk about with your long distance love? Have you every felt heartsick with longing to be with your partner, but feel like you just have the same tired old conversations over and over again when you get on the phone?

This is one of the most common long distance relationship problems. These sorts of “dry periods” are normal in long distance relationships, but that doesn’t make them any less depressing and frustrating.

What’s the fix? Put your head together and plan some long distance dates. Check out this article for some fun ideas. And try buying a book of discussion questions for couples. This one only costs $5.99 and will spark hours of fun and fascinating talk time.

2. Stalling in life

Do you find yourself moping around all the time–thinking about how much you’re missing your partner–while you wait until your next skype call or visit? Do you feel as if the rest of your life is on hold until you can be together? Does it seem like too much effort to go out with friends or do something by yourself?

When you’re in a long distance relationship, it’s alarmingly easy to allow important things in life—family, friendships, hobbies, exercise—to stall. But this will only make you more depressed in the short term, and hurt you in the long run.

What’s the fix? Do not spend every spare minute talking to your partner (or daydreaming about said partner). Build a life where you are—a life full of friends and fun. Do things that make you fitter, smarter, and happier. Do things that interest you. Do these things alone, if need be. Remember, investing in yourself is another way of investing in your most important relationship. Start now.

3. Neglecting other important relationships

Are you spending all your spare time on your phone or computer? If you focus all your free time and energy on your long distance love, your relationships with those close to you will suffer. In a nutshell: this is bad news.

You will be happier and healthier in life if you have a strong network of friends beyond your partner. To do that, you need to spend time connecting with them.

What’s the fix? Check in with yourself on this one. When’s the last time you went out to dinner with friends? Had people over? Had a quality catch-up with someone other than your long distance partner? Who do you owe a phone call or email to? Make it a priority to properly connect with at least three people a week other than your partner.

4. Growing apart

When your love moves far away and some aspects of your relationship pause or slow down, the rest of life continues. You don’t stop learning and growing and changing just because the person you love isn’t there every day. Neither do they. You are both accumulating experiences. Some of these experiences will change you.

When you’re in a long distance relationship it can be harder to identify ways in which your partner is changing and track with them through that process. The reverse is also true.

No matter how much you love each other, there is a real chance that a slow drift during your time apart will cause you to grow away from each other in ways that frequent flier miles cannot fix.

What’s the fix? This is one of the hardest long distance relationship problems to fix. Good, regular communication is obviously crucial to helping you stay closely in touch. Regular visits in both directions can help you feel connected to your partner’s life. Both agreeing that you want the distance to be temporary, and having close-the-gap goal in mind, will also help. In addition, talk about this risk with your partner. Discuss what you should do if one or both of you starts to feel that you re drifting apart in important ways.

5. Jumping in the deep end

Growing apart is a particular pitfall for couples that were established before they started doing long distance. Couples who (like I did) start their relationship across distance face almost the opposite problem—the temptation to become too emotionally intimate, too quickly.

In some ways, getting to know someone via email and phone calls can help your relationship. The distance can force you to talk about all sorts of things you might not have discussed if doing other things (or, um, each other) was a realistic option. When there’s nothing to build your relationship on but words, you can get to know someone’s heart and mind at a very deep level, quite quickly.

On the other hand, falling in love long distance is a risky business. When you start dating someone you’ve never met in person, it’s very easy to assume that they possess all sorts of charming qualities. It’s easy to believe that they are “perfect” for you. It’s way too easy to move too fast in your head and your heart, and to make serious commitments before you’ve ever met.

What’s the fix? Remember that the rules of long distance relationships should be the same as those posted at public pools: Walk, do not run. And no diving in headfirst. Take your time getting to know each other. Don’t let your head and heart run away with you. Approaching your new relationship in a measured manner may yield benefits for years to come. For more on this, check out this book:

long distance relationship problems starting6. Jealousy

Feeling a little jealous now and again is not unusual in a relationship, particularly when you are separated from your loved one. A little jealousy can even spark fresh attraction and a new appreciation for your partner. However, while a single candle can illuminate a room, a blaze can burn it to the ground.

Uncontrolled jealousy can lead to a destructive combination of suspicion, possessiveness, insecurity, anger, and shame. If you’re feeling jealous, it’s a good idea to figure out how to control your jealousy before it starts to control you.

What’s the fix: Controlling jealousy is not easy, but it can be done. Take a look at this article for more on the nuts and bolts of how to get a handle on overcoming jealousy: 6 Smart Ways To Stop Feeling Jealous In Your Long Distance Relationship.

7. Getting too tired or lazy to talk well

Couples in long distance relationships often talk about how the distance has helped them learn to communicate well, and at a very deep level. However, the opposite can also be true. Distance can also enable poor communication patterns to become established.

For starters, especially when one or both of you is busy, it can become easy not to invest in connecting deeply with your partner. In-depth conversations can become fewer and farther in between. It can become habitual to mostly talk about how your day was, or keep the conversation fairly superficial and brief.

What’s the fix? Set aside some “skype date” time at least once a week that’s dedicated to more than talking about how your day was. If you’re feeling very busy or tired, it may also be helpful to dial back the talk time for a while. Try talking only a couple of times a week for a while so that you can recharge. Then, when you do talk, focus. Make it count.

8. Miscommunications

Miscommunications and misunderstandings happen frequently in relationships. They happen when you share the same house with someone. They can happen even more frequently when you’re miles apart and sharing life via emails or a phone line.

During the early stages of my correspondence with my husband, Mike, three consecutive emails of mine ended up in Mike’s junk mail folder. Luckily for me, Mike is not easily offended or hurt (or, for that matter, deterred). If he had shut down and stopped writing to me because he assumed that I’d stopped writing to him, we may never have figured out what had happened.

Another time we were discussing something that I was very worried about. I explained my fears and Mike said, “That’s a fair concern.”

What I interpreted that to mean was, “Yeah, you should be worried about that.”

However, after further discussion it turned out that what Mike had actually meant to communicate was, “I understand why you might be worried about that, but it’s not going to happen.”

If I hadn’t stayed calm enough to tell him that his first reply had only made me more worried and unsettled, then he would not have had an opportunity to clarify what he meant and I would have continued to feel anxious.

When you’re in a long distance relationship it is much harder to access nonverbal cues like gestures, body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and even voice tone. This makes effective communication harder.

What’s the fix? Remember this! When you feel confused or hurt, remember that you may have misunderstood what your partner said or meant. Ask questions to clarify, and really try to respond thoughtfully rather than just react. Respond, don’t react is a great mantra to remember whenever you find yourself confused, upset, or angry.

Beyond any specific incident, learn the natural similarities and differences in your communication styles, and how each of you tends to react to frustration, disappointment, or conflict. Check out this article series on managing conflict in long distance relationships. Knowing this sort of stuff can forestall a lot of misunderstandings and frustration, and help you deal with these sorts of “charged” moments more productively

9. Stonewalling

People sometimes email me about their long distance relationship and say something like this: “My boyfriend hasn’t answered my calls or texts for three days now. I don’t know what I did wrong. What should I do?”

That, my friends, is stonewalling. It is using silence as a weapon or an escape. It is controlling the situation by simply refusing to engage. Distance makes this particularly easy to do, and it can drive your long distance partner crazy with frustration, second-guessing, and self-doubt.

What’s the fix: If you catch yourself stonewalling, ask yourself why. Are you trying to punish or hurt the other person? Or are you mostly taking what looks like the easy way out by avoiding complicated emotions or discussions? Whatever the answer is, stop it. It’s not a fair or respectful way to treat someone you claim to love. If you need some time to yourself, at least front up and explain what’s going on for you before you go silent. Don’t just disappear.

If you are on the receiving end of stonewalling, don’t let it slide. When your partner does get back in touch, tell them how hurt and frustrated it made you feel to get the silent treatment. Tell them how you wish they had dealt with the situation instead of disengaging.

10. Becoming possessive

Another issue that often pops up in my inbox goes something like this: “My long distance girlfriend/boyfriend wants to talk all the time. They freak out when I don’t answer a text within five minutes, and they want to know where I am and who I’m with every minute of the day. I’m starting to feel smothered but I don’t know how to tell them to back off.”

If stonewalling is controlling someone by holding them at a distance, becoming possessive is trying to control someone by grasping at them too tightly. Distance can make it harder to trust and easier for jealousy and insecurity to run rampant. This combination often fuels possessive and controlling behavior.

What’s the fix? If you are feeling and acting possessive, try to figure out why. This is a complicated issue, and that might not be easy to do. You can, however, act less controlling even before you sort out all your feelings. Take a hard look at what you are asking for from your partner in terms of contact, accessibility, and updates. Are your expectations reasonable? If not, decide what is reasonable (preferably together) and then stick to that.

If your partner is smothering you, tell them. Don’t try to make them back off by disengaging or stonewalling. That will only make them more anxious and demanding. Explain how their behaviour is making you feel, and how you’d prefer to interact.

11. Cheating

Do you want the good news? Here it is: Several research studies have concluded that cheating does not occur more often in long distance relationships.

Now, here’s the bad news: Cheating is not uncommon in relationships (whether same-city or long distance). Lying and cheating happen in relationships, and distance makes deceit easier to hide, for longer. For more on signs of cheating, check out this article: Ten Subtle Signs Your Long Distance Lover Might Be Cheating On You.

What’s the fix? This is one of the most feared long distance relationship problems. If you’re worried that your partner might be cheating on you, check out 21 Important Things To Do If You Suspect Your Partner Is Cheating. This is a step-by-step action plan to help you figure out whether your partner is cheating, and what to do about it. It’s full of practical examples of things you can do and say (and things not to do and say).

LDR Problems(4)

What long distance relationship problems have you experienced?
What helped?

Save

Save

Save

Related posts

Ten Subtle Signs Your Long Distance Lover Might Be Cheating On You If you’re in a long distance relationship, chances are you’ve wondered at least once whether your partner might cheat on you. Well, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. Let’s start with the goo...
Why Meeting Someone Online Promotes Casual Intimacy (And How To Protect Yourself) Here's a true truth: Meeting someone online is a total buzz. Now here's another true truth: Meeting someone online is a risky game to play, and you can quickly find yourself in over your head. H...
5 Tips For Dealing With Reunion Nerves In A Long Distance Relationship Finally, it's that time again – reunion time! The next long-awaited visit with your long distance love has arrived! It's been weeks, maybe months, since you last saw each other. They're arriving tonig...

Comments 18

  1. Stacy Deason

    The above mentioned problems are very common in a long distance relationship, but it is not enough to merely know about them, as every problem needs solution, these problems are also required to have some solid solutions, https://medium.com/@Petrovaelena/ating-coach-tips-to-handle-conflicts-in-ldr-e6b79b672db2#.hmzzsbvg9, that can make an LDR smooth. And suspecting that your partner is cheating will again give rise to negativity in your relationship, so first it is important to try to solve the problems with a positive approach.

  2. Kapil magar

    We have been together for 7 years and engaged for 3 years recently a year ago she went to usa for higher studies and i was gutted but everything went well the first year and i start behaving weirdly contacting her always calling her always . And now she says she havent got same feeling for me like she used to have . And she said its better to move on. Im devastated and feels like nothing left for me . I realised what went wrong and told her i will change myself . But she said its bit late but still we havent spilt up but i know where thing going . I wanther badly and i k ow she is the girl for me . I have never cheated on her neither she did . I want to make it for her this relationship is very precious to me
    What to do .

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Oh, Kapil. I’m sorry that sounds so painful. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing by stopping calling her all the time and creating more space. Holding onto someone too tightly in a LDR rarely makes them want to be with you. So I would think about giving her even MORE space. I know it will hurt, but if she’s talking about moving on, you could try telling her that if she feels that way you want to respect that, but you’d like to stay in touch as friends. Then, send her an email every two or three weeks. Just a chatty, newsy, email. Ask her how she is, etc. Tell her what you’re up to. No pressure. No begging her to come back. Just details about home and asking her questions about what she’s doing and learning. Hopefully, over time, she’ll realize that you’re always there for you in ways that people she’s met more recently can’t be. There’s no guarantee, but perhaps it’s worth trying.

  3. Anna

    Hi, Am Anna I am in a lDR with a man in his late 30s while am in my late 20s, we met when he was back home and dated for a year, our relationship was beautiful until he broke the news that he would like to further his studies and he has been out of the country for two years now. Ihave been there for him through thick and Thin, I noticed he stonewall me each time we have arguments, I ll call and send chats, he reads and no response for weeks. And I love him dearly and I know he loves me too. Am very emotional. I v cried and Shed tears nothing changes, eachti me he calls, he talks so much and won’t allow me talk. Am beginning to think of moving on. He has got good plans, but I can’t deal when a man keeps malice and stone wall me for weeks and come back to profess love after I v called. Am a very attractive lady, he has not introduced me to his family yet. So am thinking of moving on. Thanks

  4. Kevins

    Hi Lisa,
    Have been in a relationship for 3 years, but for the last one year have been away from my girlfriend. It’s been all well nt until of late when we had a misconception in our communications (watsapp texts) and now she thinks have not been happy about us,she nolonger trusts me and for sure I can’t understand my position now. Please Lisa can u advice me on how to go about this situation cause for sure I still need her. How can I reboot our relationship even though we are a couple of miles apart…

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Hi there… I hope you’ve sorted it out by now. But, if not, try asking her lots of questions about what she’s feeling and why. Really listen. Don’t try to answer back and defend yourself in the begining. For the first talk or two, just focus on trying to understand what she’s feeling and letting her know you’re really trying to understand. After you’ve spend a good long time listening, then ask if you can share YOUR thoughts and feelings. Chances are, if she feels really listened too, first, then she’ll be more willing to take what you say on board.

  5. nc

    Hi …im nc from malaysia… 39yrs ….i am married have 3kids .MY RELITIONSHIP WITH MY HUSBAND this few years always cloudy… but i been involved in LDR almost 6mths … we never been meet but we have a plan to visit… but he is too far myjudd is from DALLAS USA he is single…he is 39 he know iam married. WE BEING TALKING ALMOST EVERY DAY EVERY HOURS ….WE CAN FEEL THE CONNECTION… i love my kids but me and Judd love each other so much. I can feel that i love him so much..i try to let him go one time but he is so sad and mad with me… i tOLD him to find someone ..but he reply he dont want too….he LOVE ME SO MUCH….ME TOO.. BUT THE PROBLEM IS ME…iam married to someone..what must i do….can u help me

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Hi NC. It’s clear you have very strong feelings for this man, and he for you. But it’s also clear that there are significant barriers to this online relationship working out. It’s not impossible, but let’s be realistic. The odds that you could leave your husband (with your three kids? without them?) and start a stable relationship with this guy you’ve met online (would you move to the US? Would he move to you?) are very, very slim. Given the challenges involved my honest opinion is that you’re probably wasting your time and energy pursuing this further. I know it’s going to be incredibly painful and emotions are very invested on both sides, but my honest advice is to stop this online relationship with this guy in the US. Cut contact now. Give your head a couple of months to clear, and then pay some attention to whether and how you can repair your marriage or whether you want your marriage to end. Sorry. I know that sounds hard, but it’s a hard situation that you’re in and the likelihood of a happily ever after with this guy in the US is very, very small.

  6. Busybee

    I am worried. My boyfriend of 3 months had become possessive of me(tat’s what i amfeeling though) and its just 3 months. We already seen each other,spent time together for weeks. Sometimes i was just wondering if we’re going to be serious or he’s reallu the man for me. I already talked this ome ouy to him but he’s always saying that he’s noy like that. I dunno. Think we need to know each other more. Im really worried. I love him.

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Hi BusyBee. I hope things are feeling better, but if you’re still feeling a bit smothered, then pay attention to that feeling and keep trying to figure out where it’s coming from and what it signifies.

  7. Sussan

    Hi Lisa, I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for over a year and 4 months now,, met him online,when I saw him.. I was impressed. He introduced me to his family,i felt accepted,the feeling was real. so one fateful day, he told me he traveling to further his studies. At least the first month was not so bad, I was writing my Final exams in uni.. I tried reaching him as possible as I could with the whole stress and being busy.. He is not the calling type but he calls at least when we were together… The 2nd month he got a job. So he combines schooling ND working..Our communication dropped, he doesn’t pick my calls,,we talk like few times in a month. Like 3times in a month.. And what he keeps saying that he is busy bla bla bla.. I am tired of the whole thing.. I keep breaking up with him and don’t know how I will always go back loving up.. I want to move on Lisa, I just feel he has taken me for granted and doesn’t respect me anymore.. I feel so ashamed of myself right now.. And I don’t know if he stills love me cause I still do.. And I still want to move on like without him.. I want to get my life back

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Hi Sussan. I have so many questions about this situation–like does the distance have an end date. If he’s studying, presumably he’ll be coming home at some point? Or, at least there is expectation of that? It sounds like you need to have an open talk about how your communication patterns have changed and how you both feel about that, and what would help you feel connected and supported moving forward if you stay together.

  8. Benjamin Ho

    Hi, I’ve read your article and found it quite interesting. I am also in a long distance relationship, and I feel that one of the most difficult problems that I face with my girlfriend is not mentioned in your list; that is – the simple pain of not being there for her in times when she needs me most. There are times when my girlfriend has become ill, felt threatened by someone, or just had a bad day, and I could not be there for her to comfort, console or protect her. And she would blame me for it, even though she knows that it is not my fault. I would always feel terrible. And I can only apologize to her, because I do feel a huge sense of guilt of not being able to just be there for her. The conservation then spirals into more anger, pain and guilt. And she would tell me that I would not be able to make up for all the times I have not been there for her, even when we eventually get back together physically, because the pain has been too much and the damage has already been done.

    Do you have any suggestions on how can we resolve this problem?

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Hi Benjamin. Good point!! That IS a huge problem, and not one that’s easy to fix. There is no short term fix. The best you can do is what you’re already doing–acknowledging the longing to be there and the feeling bad that you’re not able to support her in person. You can listen, ask questions, and send lots of empathy down the long distance line. After that, I’m afraid, the rest is up to her. It’s HER job to acknowledge that it sucks that you’re not together, but she has to find a way to manager her resentment about the situation. Unless the bigger picture is that you’ve been promising to move to her town for the last three years and keep putting it off (or something like that) she has to accept the limitations of an LDR until you can be together and find some way to manage them. If she can’t do that appropriately then that becomes (as you pointed out) really toxic to the relationship. Have you tried talking to her about this dynamic (perhaps writing her a letter about it first so that she can have some time to think about it before you talk so she can get past some of the initial reactive defensiveness??) and seeing what she says about it and whether she has any tips on what could help?

  9. Rochelle

    Hello I need advice on how to help my LDR grow stronger. Me and my boyfriend are about to reach our one year but unfortunately he had a tragic event where his dad passed away and it changed the loving man I once knew . Now that he’s changed he doesn’t perform the routines as he once did and I feel depressed because I feel like our love is fading and I’m not important anymore. I’m scared he will hurt me again and I feel like our future is doom. Can you help me ? Thanks

    1. Post
      Author
      Lisa McKay

      Hi Rochelle, I would start by asking lots of caring questions about what he’s feeling and how things are going. Ask him to tell you stories about his dad. After you’ve done lots of asking and listening (if he’ll talk to you–if he doesn’t want to talk to you or answer your questions that really signifies he’s withdrawing from you and the relationship) then try gently telling him that you don’t feel as connected, that he feels distant and that you are finding it hard to know how to support him during this time and connect well with him. See what he says and take if from there.

  10. Tim

    Hey lisa I feel like my girlfriend is just telling me what I want to hear. Some of it is my fault, Ive admitted it to her and told her I was sorry for pushing my insecurities on her and put real effort into changing myself. My life is very complicated but Ive always been really honest with her about everything and never kept secrets from her. It just feels like she tells me what she thinks I want to hear when I ask questions and try to get to know her and not what she really feels. She also has many male friends, which bothered me at first because I would see pictures of them together and they would have there arm around them or be very close to them. I explained how it made me feel uncomfortable. Lately I have become very suspicious though that she may have cheated on me emotionally or physically and has lied to me about it. I’ve seen msgs of her male friends sending her shirtless pics but she just talks about how they need to gain weight. Ive also seen how certain friends of hers who are male she would talk to them about her problems in the past but not me. We have very open communication but once again it always feels like shes just telling me what I want to hear and sometimes has little slips and says things that make me very wary. Also she acts very sexually innocent and tells me she hasnt really had much of a sex life but on facebook ive seen guys in the past tell her to give them fellatio and she just doesnt respond or possibly has deleted her responses. Ive also heard from other people that she may have had more sexual experience than she has told me, not sex for say but fellatio with other men. The people who told me though may be unreliable so I dont know what to think on the subject. Our relationship is long distance so i cant be there to see and hear the truth for myself. Its also complicated for me because I have high functioning autism so sometimes its really hard for me to decrypt what she saying or feeling. Also sometimes I feel like when she talks about other people or things her exes did that shes really hinting towards me about something. This bothers me because Im so straight forward with her and I dont feel like im getting it in return. I feel like if I ask her a srs question she answers with what she thinks I wanna hear once again. I truly have fallen in love with this girl and Im trying really hard to fix my insecurties and problems and make myself a better person, not just for her but for me. Also Ive noticed she scared to tell me things because she doesnt want to hurt my feelings, even though many times ive told her it wont if she just tells me something straight out. Add on to that shes very coy with me sexually. She hardly ever says anything sexual to me or even tells me I look nice unless I directly ask her if she finds me attractive. And sometimes when I try and be sexual with her she changes the subject….even though ive seen her talk sexually to her exes in the past. Its all very complicated and lately I feel like maybe it would be best if I left her so that she could not have to deal with my problems and because I feel like Im the only one trying. I love her so much I would suffer to help her be able to experience life not tied down to me. Oh..and I should have mentioned the age gap of 15 years. Im 36 and shes 22. I was career military until a few years ago and all this sort of thing is new to me. Any help you could give would be appreciated and sorry if im a little rambley and off course. Its 3 am and Ive been up all night researching how to make this work and how to better myself. thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *