Most of the articles on this site talk about how to make your LDR work, even when it’s hard. Our guest author today, Kim, is going to talk about something completely different—how to make the decision to end things in your long distance relationship because it’s become too hard, too unhealthy, just too… much.
There are many reasons people consider ending a long distance relationship.
Some people get to the point where they just can’t take the distance anymore.
Other times, the distance is less of a problem than the relationship itself. In these cases, long distance is just compounding serious challenges that would have been present in the relationship anyway. When this happens in a LDR, however, the distance can even make you stay in the relationship longer than you would have otherwise. This is because when you’re in a long distance relationship it’s harder to figure out if the warning signs you’re spotting are serious enough to warrant you calling things off or whether things will get better if you just hang in there (or if you could live in the same place).
This is the situation that Kim found herself in recently. She began a LDR, and fairly early on she started to see signs that worried her. She found herself asking this question: How long is long enough? How long do I give this man to change his jealous and insecure behavior?
Without further ado, here is Kim to share about her long distance relationship, why she chose to end it, and seven signs that should make you consider ending your own relationship if you see them in your own LDR.
I live in London, but I met John (not his real name) online last year after being separated from my husband for 9 months.
John lived in the USA, and he and I seemed to click straight away. He was funny, charming and seemed to tick many of my boxes. We emailed, texted and phoned and spent many hours talking. I visit the USA a few times a year to see friends, and he lived in their state, so I thought I had a good idea of his culture and what he would be like in general. I sensed a real chemistry between us, and thought the relationship had enough potential to give it a chance, even though we lived in different countries.
Within eight weeks, however, I was second guessing whether we really were a good fit. Some red flags had started to appear.
During those first weeks, John would make remarks which I found odd. For example, sometimes he could see I was online on our chatting App but I wasn’t texting him. So he would ask who I was texting, and if I was free then why wasn’t it him I was talking to? When I went for a coffee with a male friend at work to discuss something business related, John asked why I couldn’t stay at work and discuss the issue there instead of going out for coffee.
Initially I just put these sorts of comments down to the difference in our cultures, us never having met, etc. And in the spirit of giving him the benefit of the doubt, I agreed for him to come and visit me in England.
The visit was fun but certainly not without drama! We visited a great restaurant in London with fantastic views over the Thames. I was looking around and enjoying the view, people watching, when he became withdrawn and quiet. He later said that he’d noticed I was watching a male waiter walk around the restaurant.
Then a male colleague (and friend) texted me one evening during that visit holidays. The questions from John followed quickly: Who was he? Was he married? Why was he texting me? Did his wife know?
The fact that John was acting jealous and insecure seems obvious now as I write this down, but it was less obvious then. I really liked this guy. He made me laugh. He was smart, sexy, and interested in me. When you’re in the exciting early stages of a new relationship it can be really hard to see these warning signs for what they are—serious issues with insecurity and controlling behavior. It’s easy tell yourself that he’s just acting a little over the top because he cares so much. Over time, though, these red flags became empty promises.
I work in the male-dominated field of law enforcement, and I had learned some lessons the hard way during the marriage that had just ended. Both of these experiences have taught me the value of being open and forthright so I didn’t let these red flags slide. I brought them up with him. I told him he was coming across as insecure and controlling, and that I didn’t like it.
He promised to change.
He didn’t. Not really. He backed off for a couple of days, but within a week or two we were right back to the same old patterns.
I tried again. I tried conveying every way possible of my feelings for him—which were still strong. I tried talking about our cultural differences in this area, and how I had had male friends and male colleagues my entire life. I told him the thing he was so afraid of (being hurt and losing me) was the very thing that was happening, due to his smothering behavior.
He claimed to have realized where he was going wrong. He said that he’d had an epiphany, that “a cloud had been lifted,” and he was now seeing things clearly. He even began reading a book to help with his insecurities and anxiety.
I wasn’t sure but, again, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I gave him reassurance. I never lied to him about my whereabouts or who I was with, and I made clear my intentions for our relationship. He loved to receive photos, so I made sure I provided him with pictures of my daily activities (although thinking about it afterwards, I’m not sure if this was just him trying to keep tabs on my schedule and making sure I was where I said I was going to be.)
But nothing changed.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening to his concerns or unwilling to change in some ways, I was. I wanted to compromise and have that reciprocated. However, he just could not tolerate me spending any time with male friends, or with colleagues outside of work. He could not shake his thoughts and fears that I could be cheating was something he couldn’t shake.
I visited the USA six weeks after our first visit, still hoping he could change in this area. It wasn’t so. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight for a minute, even to drive into town to purchase dog food! He assured me he felt differently and that he would address his thought processes and behavior going forward, but it was an empty promise.
Patterns of Behavior That Just Don’t Change
Once I returned home from our second visit I thought I would just see what happened. Go with the flow. The pattern of controlling behavior remained. Almost weekly we would have another fight.
I was very tired one evening after a busy day, so I said I’d talk to him the next day (our conversations were never just ten minutes, always at least an hour, and I just didn’t have the energy for that because I also had to be up early the next morning.)
He texted me during that night to inform me he thought it was “bulls**t that I wouldn’t talk to him.
It seemed he only ever saw our relationship from his viewpoint—what he needed at that moment, regardless of what I was doing or how I was feeling.
And when I objected to him grilling me about my plans and whereabouts, he always answered with an innocent “But I’m only asking questions?”
I began to feel emotionally manipulated, but doubt myself at the same time. I felt as though I was being interrogated for just living my life, but at the same time I wondered if I was overreacting and being too dramatic. I would dread being unobtainable by phone for any amount of time as I knew he would become anxious and the questioning would start again.
Listening To Your Gut Instincts
I ended the relationship 3 weeks after my return from the USA for our second visit, five months after we started dating..
Looking back after it ended I saw the red flags more clearly, and I saw how early they had appeared—earlier than I had realized at the time. I recognized that I had seen warning signs of his real character and our incompatibility, and that my instincts had been telling me to back off for some time.
I didn’t listen to those instincts, though. I thought it was his nerves, his anxiety, his not wanting to be hurt again, or because he loved me so much. I made any number of excuses for him.
But a balanced person puts their own needs across, just not in a selfish way. In a healthy relationship it is give and take, it is listening to what the other person needs and providing that as far as is possible. In a long distance relationship it is also living with a certain amount of uncertainty. It is practicing trust. It is working on your own sense of security.
It is not needing to know where the other person is every single minute of the day, or needing them to reply to every text immediately no matter what time of day or night. It is not needing constant reassurance that the other person really does love you. It is not trying to control who they spend time with.
Yes, relationship are about change and compromise, but at some point needing someone to change becomes needing an unhealthy level of control. It can be hard to figure out when someone is asking for a reasonable compromise and when they’re being overly controlling, but your instincts will usually help you figure that out over time.
If you are having second thoughts about your partner in your LDR and that little voice is being persistent, don’t ignore it. Listen carefully, your instincts are there for a reason!
7 Signs That It Might Be Time To Call It Quits In Your Long Distance Relationship
It’s said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I did that for a long time in this relationship—longer than I perhaps should have.
But I need to put this relationship down to experience and take from it what I need from any future relationships—the importance of compromise, boundaries, give and take, security, plus honesty!
I’ve also learned more about when it’s not worth persisting in a long distance relationship, and I’ll end by sharing those with you.
Here are 7 signs that the person you are dating is very insecure, anxious, controlling or depressed. Especially if you see these signs in the first six months of your long distance relationship, they should make you consider whether it’s time to call it quits in your LDR…
- They need to know where you are and who you are with every minute of the day.
- They regularly get upset or angry when you don’t answer the phone or reply quickly to text messages.
- They often talk about how they are worried you will cheat on them (especially if you have never cheated on them before).
- They put pressure on you to tell them that you love them, or make serious commitments, before you feel ready.
- They repeatedly say they’ve changed (or promise they will)… and then nothing changes.
- They tend to turn things around on you and make you doubt yourself and wonder whether you’re over-reacting. For example, if you tell them they’re being controlling they might tell you they’re only interested in your life, or they’re only asking because they love you so much.
- You are starting to feel smothered, anxious, helpless, or more worried about hurting their feelings than sharing your thoughts and opinions on an issue.