Wait just a minute, you might be wondering. Doesn’t everyone rave about how the biggest benefit of a long distance relationship is that it forces you to communicate? Is it even possible to talk too much when you’re in a LDR?
Yes. It really is.
Talking or writing to someone you’re dating long distance is obviously essential. Developing good communication patterns and habits will serve you well in the future, whether that future is long distance or up close and personal.
As in most things, moderation is also good. This is particularly true early in a new relationship, or if you’re finding that being in a long distance relationship is narrowing your focus and crowding out other important interests and people in your life.
Let’s look at this new relationship issue first.
Why talking too much, too early, is a bad idea in a new long distance relationship
Jumping into the deep end in a new relationship is easy to do! When you’re first getting to know someone, the exhilarating intensity of these early connections can feel so good. Any call, email, or text can give you a fireworks burst of heart-happiness. During this period it can be so tempting to talk for hours on end, write long letters every day, or text every hour.
However, starting out a long distance relationship this way does a couple of things. First, it breeds an intensity that can move you along too fast. You can throw a budding relationship out of whack by jumping into bed with someone too quickly. You can also throw it out of whack by spending too much time, too quickly, connecting deeply into someone’s life.
Second, it establishes intense communication patterns that can be difficult to change later. Maybe you’ll be able to maintain a pattern of talking to your long distance partner for several hours every day indefinitely. Maybe you’ll want to. Or … maybe you’ll come up for air after a month or two and realize that you have a life outside of this new relationship that needs some more time and attention.
Besides, spending all day every day on the phone or Skype with someone doesn’t make you connected—it makes you needy. Or, rather, it makes you both connected and needy.
When talking too much is a bad idea in an established relationship
What about if you’ve been together for ages, and you’re as committed as committed can be? It’s fine to spend hours every day talking then, right?
Well, maybe. If you both really want that. And if you don’t have school or a full time job. Or other family and friends you should be paying some attention too. Or any outside hobbies or interests.
So, in other words: No, it’s not fine to spend so much time talking to your long distance love that other important areas of your life wither and die.
Here are some signs that you might have the balance between your love and the rest of your life a bit skewed:
- You spend all your spare time on your phone or computer.
- You feel as if the rest of your life is on hold until you can be together.
- It always seems like too much effort to go out with friends or do something by yourself.
- You haven’t had a decent conversation with anyone but your long distance love all week.
Healthy communication in long distance relationships
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.
Do not spend every spare minute talking to your partner (or daydreaming about said partner). Right from the beginning of your long distance relationship, remember to keep building a life where you are—a life full of friends and fun.
Do things that make you fitter, smarter, and happier. Stay in contact with other people you love, too. 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!
Here are some tips on building measured communication patterns into your LDR:
1. Talk, text, or email at a rate that feels sustainable
If you’re blowing off huge chunks of work time emailing them (or, even worse, checking out their Facebook photo albums and reading their wall) that’s not sustainable unless you have a very forgiving or extraordinarily absent-minded employer. If you’re staying up until 2 am talking to them every night, likewise.
2. If you’re starting to resent the amount of time you’re spending communicating with your new long distance partner, tell them!
Don’t deal with the problem by ignoring their calls or emails. Say something like, “I really like you and I think we might have potential, but I’d like to slow a little so that I can pay some attention to other parts of my life. How do you feel about giving things a bit more time to breathe right now by only talking every two or three days?”
3. If you sense that your long distance partner needs a bit of space, give it to them.
It can be hard to hold off calling or texting for a day or two, but sometimes giving someone space is the best thing we can do.
4. Keep a journal or talk to a friend.
Don’t spend all day talking or emailing your new love. Talk to someone you trust or write about your thoughts and feelings. Both can help you think things through and help provide some perspective.
Questions to think about
Finally, think though this set of questions. Even better, think them through and then talk about them with your partner. You might be surprised at what you learn about each other along the way. And, after all, the best part of being in a long distance relationship is that it forces you to communicate. Right?
- What sort of communication patterns have you established during the early stages of your relationship? How often are you talking, and for how long? How frequently are you emailing or texting?
- How do you feel about those patterns now? What are you getting out of this? What are you giving up?
- Do you think these patterns are sustainable indefinitely? If not, how might you redefine those patterns when the time comes to spend less time talking or emailing?
- Ideally, how frequently would you like to be talking, emailing, or texting? How do you think your partner would answer this question? If you haven’t discussed this openly with them, do. You might be surprised by their answer. Discussing this issue now will also make it easier to raise again if you want to cut down—or increase—your communication at some point in the future.