It’s confusing and difficult when things start off with a bang and then slow right down. Here’s the original letter from “Feeling Neglected” for our Q&A this week…
I’m in month 3 of my first LDR and, wow, what an emotional roller coaster!
We met in early April and were able to visit each other twice by the end of May. Communication was very frequent & mushy via text & hour+ calls daily. We’ve had 3 great visits in the last eight weeks, too.
However, after the last 6-day visit he’s really cooled off with communication. We’re now going 3-4 days with no calls. We’re still texting, but more friendly than intimate.
He’s always active with friends, family, and work (he has a very flexible work life because he is a remote employee). I don’t have that flexibility, and I do spend a lot of homebody time during the week. As we’ve started talking and connecting less, I find myself feeling left out and lonely lately.
Do I just deal with the fact the intensity of conversation has simmered way down?
I guess I feel if we are going to stay emotionally connected I need at least some form of mushy stuff to know he’s still in this. And at our age (thirties), I’m not looking to drag this out without talking about the future and at least a rough timeline for us.
But maybe he likes the distance as it allows his to live his life normally while enjoying a part-time girlfriend during visits?
I don’t want to press the issue, but also don’t want to avoid it. Thoughts??
Dear Feeling Neglected,
It’s really hard when you get used to a certain level of communication and connection with your long distance love, and then things change and you’re not quite sure what’s going on. It can make you feel more distant and disconnected from that special someone, and it can make you question and doubt yourself and the relationship. It’s not a comfortable place, and I’m sorry that’s where you are at the moment.
You asked me whether you should “just deal with the fact the intensity of conversation has simmered way down.” But you also went on to tell me what you want and need from this relationship. You said you needed to know that he was “in this”. Understandably, you want to talk a bit about the future and possible timelines sooner rather than later.
That’s great that you already know that, because my first piece of advice to you is this—Figure out what you want and need from him and the relationship.
You’re already working on that, and it sounds like you won’t be getting what you need if you “just deal” by leaving things the way they currently are. That means bringing these issues up with you partner.
I know that may feel scary, so here are some suggestions of things you could say to open up a conversation around these issues. Take this “script” and use/adapt it as you like (or ditch it altogether and take a different approach). Whatever works for you, the important thing is that you do talk about this with your partner.
One way you could approach your partner…
Begin by saying something like: “I’ve noticed that since our last visit the pattern of how and when we talk has changed. We’ve gone from… to …”
“I know there are lots of reasons this might be happening… [you are busy with work, it’s healthy and normal for that first intensity we were experiencing to calm down a little, etc.]
“However, I’ve found myself feeling… [unsettled, a bit lonely, feeling uncertain, etc.]. I miss talking to you more. I miss hearing you tell me that you love me and miss me and can’t wait to see me again.”
“I’m not saying this to make you feel bad, or pressured. I just want us to practice being open and honest with each other, even about the stuff that’s not so easy to talk about. I’m telling you this so that we can talk about it and figure out where we’re both at in this relationship at the moment. I want to know what you’re thinking and feeling, and I want to understand where I’m at, too.”
That might help you get started with the conversation, and depending on how your partner responds, I’ve listed some questions you could go on to ask him below.
Pick and choose from that list as you like.
If you start asking questions like these, you might also want to reassure your partner (again) that you’re not trying to put him on the spot or interrogate him.
And don’t forget to share your own thoughts and feelings. You don’t have a lot to lose by being open and vulnerable here. If you are transparent about your own thoughts and feelings that may help your partner be open and honest with you.
There are lots of questions you could ask him, but those are just a few ideas to get you started.
- What are some of the reasons you think things have changed recently and we’ve started to talk and text less often? (This might help him talk about what’s going on for him).
- When you think about us, what are some of the thoughts and feelings you’ve had recently? (This is another question that might help you understand where he’s at.)
- Have you felt as connected during the last couple of weeks? How much talking/texting do you need to feel connected? (This question can the doorway for you to share your wants and needs)
- What is something you really like about how we are together?
- What is something that makes you feel confused or unsettled about our relationship?
Talking about the future can be particularly scary when you’re in a long distance relationship. If it makes you nervous, here is one way you could bring this up.
“We’re both at an age where we want to know that our relationship is going somewhere. That doesn’t mean we have to make big promises now, or that we need to start talking today about how we can end up in the same city. But if things keep going well during in the next couple of months, I would like to start talking about this.”
Saying something like this lets him know that you don’t need answers now but that you’re already thinking about future possibilities. It lets him know you’re not interested in the long distance version of a “hot summer fling”. And it sets the stage for you to bring this topic up again in a month or two and talk about it more.
Finally, before I go, you used a phrase I hear often in relation to long distance relationships—that it’s a roller coaster. It sure can be, and I wrote a whole post on dealing with the “emotional whiplash” that is so common to long distance relationships. You can find it here: 10 Things You Can Do Today To Make You Happier And Healthier In Your LDR.
Good luck. I hope the conversations go well and that you come out closer and stronger than ever, with a better understanding of where you’re both at and where you might be headed.
All my best,