Do you ever get on the line with your long distance partner and feel like you have nothing to say?
This was the situation I found myself in when my first child was born. Because of where we were living at the time, I had to travel to Australia three months before I was due to give birth, while my husband, Mike, mostly stayed behind in Laos. He was with me during the birth, and then left again for another couple of months three weeks later.
When we first met long distance, Mike and I used to talk for two to three hours on Skype several times a week about all sorts of interesting things.
During the foggy days of new motherhood, however, I often felt as though I had nothing to contribute to our conversation apart from an update on who was sleeping (or not), who was eating decently (or not), and who was spending what percentage of the day crying or needing to be held.
In fact, I often felt as if huge portions of my brain, my personality, and my professional life were on hold. And when I had too many conversations with Mike where I talked about nothing but the baby and how tired I was, I felt like my relationship was on hold, too.
Have you ever run out of interesting things to talk about in your long distance relationship?
Sure, you might not be exhausted from weeks of broken sleep and the demands of a newborn, but that’s not the only situation that can make connecting long distance difficult!
Maybe you feel like there’s nothing new and interesting going on for you.
Maybe you feel like what’s going on in your life is boring compared to what your partner is dealing with (or, conversely, if you have a high-intensity job like policing or disaster relief, maybe your find it hard to really explain your daily working life to your partner.)
Maybe you’ve just been apart from your long distance partner for what seems like forever and you’re struggling to find fresh things to talk about.
Everyone in a long distance relationship is going to have days (maybe weeks) when talking to their partner doesn’t come naturally–when it takes effort.
However, in a long distance relationship, conversations are pretty much all you’ve got. So if you find yourself feeling like this too often, for too long, it’s worth making that extra, intentional, effort to push past feeling like you’ve got nothing to say.
Six things to try when you run out of things to talk about
So how do you push past that feeling. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some things you can try…
1. Write down things you want to tell your partner (or ask them) throughout the day
If you write down things you want to say, you won’t have to struggle to remember them later.
This practice also disciplines you to notice little things to discuss with your partner. It can help you live your day more mindfully–make you more aware of your actions and choices, and more grateful for your blessings.
2. Tell them something that you’re grateful for
Did you know that on a day-to-day basis, most of us are better at focusing on and remembering negative experiences than positive ones? This is called the negativity bias, and it’s why we often start with the difficult or frustrating things when answering the question “how was your day?”
The good news, however, is that we can literally train our brains to think more positively. If we teach ourselves to scan our environment for good things to focus on and talk about this will improve our mood in the short term, make us happier over time, and infuse our relationship with more positive energy.
So practice identifying things that you’re grateful for. Then share these things with your partner.
3. Tell them something from your day, even if it seems small or unimportant
OK, it may not be Mike’s dream Skype date to listen to me list exactly what times I got up out of bed in the cold dark hours to feed our child. However, he might like to hear me describe how Dominic beamed, flapped his arms, and squeaked with delight when my face appeared above him at 2am.
Try telling your loved one stories about the small moments in your life. Paint them a picture with your words. This can help your partner feel more connected to your present reality, and it can help you feel like they understand a little more about what’s really going on for you.
4. Ask questions
When you’re fresh out of things to say (and preferably long before that) ask your partner questions. During those weeks following Dominic’s birth, pretty much all I was doing looking him. During that time, however, Mike was working as part of an emergency response crew following bad flooding in Southern Laos, so there was plenty for him to talk about and for me to ask questions about.
So when you feel like you haven’t got much to talk about yourself, ask questions. And if you’re stuck for questions to ask, pick up a book of questions and look through it for inspiration.
5. Dig deeper
If you feel like you’ve sort of stalled in your relationship or you’re looking for new things to do together, find some resources to help you dig deeper and learn new things about each other. This 12-week series for couples in long distance relationships will help you explore your strengths, personality, love languages, sense of humor, and more.
6. Take a little break
Sometimes when you feel like you have nothing to say, you’re just a little burned out on talking. When you’re in a long distance relationship you can start to feel that you need to call/email every spare minute you have (or for long periods each day.) Over time, that can backfire. (Check out: Are You Talking Too Much In Your Long Distance Relationship?)
If that’s the situation you’re in (or you’re just feeling tired and overwhelmed,) take a break to refresh. Try not talking for a couple of days.
And here’s bonus idea #7… Reach out and touch them
One of the hardest things about being long distance is not being able to reach out and touch each other when you want, am I right?
Having pauses and gaps in your conversations is natural. However, those gaps feel much more comfortable when you’re physically together. Sitting quietly shoulder to shoulder can feel companionable. Sitting quietly on the phone together usually just feels awkward.
There’s still no substitute for a full-body hug when you’re in a long distance relationship, but now there is a fun way to reach out and touch each other. HEY bracelets mimic a real human touch. When you softly squeeze your own HEY bracelet, your partner feels that same gentle squeeze. If you were both wearing HEY, you could fill that pause with a touch. Pretty cool, huh?
Leave a comment and share your advice.
What you do when you feel like you’re running out of things to talk about?