When you and your partner live in different cities (or even countries), you might spend most of your energy trying to build a quality connection with each other across the miles. But a number of subtle
mistakes that long-distance partners make might not be the ones you expect, but could be powerful enough to lead to a breakup, according to experts.
Instead of addressing issues with communication or reoccurring fights that you're having, you might write these problems off as what just comes with the territory when you're in a long-distance relationship. But it's crucial not to let issues in your relationship slide if you're planning on being reunited in person. "It may be tempting to think that although you are unsatisfied now, once you’re no longer apart, everything will be absolutely perfect in your relationship," Dr. Carissa Coulston, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert at
The Eternity Rose, tells Bustle. But this is not the case. In fact, the opposite could be true instead. "In the short term, you may find it harder to make things work as you begin to learn new things about each other, settle into new patterns, and start to figure out how your relationship works when you’re up close and personal without the miles to separate you," she says.
Here are some subtle mistakes that people can make
in a long-distance relationship, according to experts.
Doubting The Legitimacy Of The Relationship
If the people in your life are suggesting that your long-term relationship isn't as valid or as "real" as it would be if your partner lived in your city, it can be easy to let their opinions affect the way you see your own relationship. Even if your partner is far away, your bond with them can be as deep and true as any other couple's connection, though. "If [a relationship] means sharing your emotions and feelings with each other, being dedicated to each other, and caring deeply for your partner wherever they are in the world, then
a long-distance relationship is every bit as real as one where you are together 24 hours a day," Coulston says.
Trying To Resolve Fights Late At Night
If you've ever asked older couples what their best advice is, you've probably heard "don't go to bed angry" over and over again. While this saying might be helpful in some situations, it's certainly not a rule to live by, especially if you're in a long-distance relationship. "Attempting to resolve your anger late at night when you’re exhausted is never a good idea," Coulston says. "This is especially the case when your partner lives miles away." When you are able to literally share a bed with someone, it's much easier to make up after a night than it is with someone who you can't touch or interact with in person. "Rather than rushing into more anger, take some time out," she says. "Talk about your problems the next day after you’ve slept on them and you’ll find you have a much better perspective on the issues in question."
Trying To Talk All The Time
It's definitely good to stay connected with your partner throughout the week, when
you're in a long-distance relationship, you can sometimes accidentally overdo it, which can actually create problems. If the relationship is committed and healthy, you shouldn’t feel the need to stay constantly in touch. "After all, if you were in the same place, you wouldn’t spend 24 hours a day together," Coulston says. "Space, both physical and virtual, is critical in any relationship." When you aren't texting your partner constantly, you are able to stay independent and value the times that you do talk even more.
Not Asking For Attention When You Need It
"We often think that our partners should automatically know that we want them to make more time for us," Coulston says. "However, all too often we fail to pick up on the signals." While it's not wise to talk with your partner constantly, communication is definitely vital for a healthy long-distance relationship, so if you don't ask for attention when you need it, the relationship might deteriorate. "Physical signals are often only visible in person, so it isn’t surprising if your loved one doesn’t realize the way you feel," she says. "If you want to share more of your partner’s time, talk to them about it."
Not Scheduling Fun Virtual Dates
When you're in an in-person relationship, you get to build plenty of fun memories with your partner by doing things like going to the opening night showing of a movie, cooking dinner together, or playing board games long into the night. "We become closer to others through spending time with them and a great way to do this is through some kind of activity,"
Dr. Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, a therapist and social worker, tells Bustle. "Long distance makes it more challenging but watching movies, having dinner together, or video chatting while doing the same activity can increase emotional intimacy."
Neglecting Your Own Lives
Too much of a good thing can sometimes be a problem. For example, if you're working to create a healthy relationship with your long-distance partner, you might devote most of your free time to chatting with them in an attempt to stay close. But in any relationship, you need to take care of yourself as well as your partnership. "Sometimes it’s hard to balance relationships with people in close proximity to you with your long-distance relationship," Powell says. "It’s important for both partners to have their own lives so that they won’t end up resenting each other."
Not Making Time For Intimacy
"Scheduling times to talk is important, but it's just as important as scheduling times to have video sex and phone sex,"
Adina Mahalli, MSW, a certified relationship expert and mental health consultant, tells Bustle. "Intimacy will be heavily lacking without being in close proximity to one another so setting time aside to have a ‘date’ night is vital for the relationship," she says. Even though you can't physically touch, you can form a strong virtual connection. If this is something that feels awkward for you and your partner, maybe try starting out via text message, and then working up to more intimate methods like phone and video.
Only Talking About "Important" Things
"Staying open and communicating regularly is very important in a long-distance relationship," Mahalli says. But in addition to the frequency that you connect, the actual things you talk to your partner about can be important for keeping your bond strong. You might assume that big-picture issues or only very intense emotions should be shared with them, but the tiniest, seemingly least significant parts of your day are crucial pieces of your conversations. "Speaking about trivial things that happened during the day and about your emotional state are both equally important for maintaining a healthy long-distance relationship," she says. If you lived with your partner or saw them in person most days, you would tell them about the unusual hat you saw on the bus or the silly joke your coworker told, not just the parts of your day that were very frustrating or exciting, so make sure to do the same with your long-distance partner.
It might take a little bit of extra initiative to make your long-distance relationship feel intimate and strong, but with a little work, you and your partner are sure to find a healthy balance.