Is My Long-Distance Relationship Working? How To Know It's Time To Break Up, According To Experts
Making a long-distance relationship work isn't easy. I learned that the hard way six months into my freshman year of college. And it's hard, because on the one hand, you want to go into an LDR with a positive mental attitude, but you also have to be realistic.
"Rule number one for making a long-distance relationship work is believing that it's the right answer," relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. "As simple as that sounds, the number one killer of long-distance relationships is skepticism. Couples who 'try it' but do not have a lot of confidence in them will turn any snag in the relationship to a rationale for having the skepticism and thus the relationship is always going to be one foot out the door."
You need to think it's going to work — you need to believe it. But how do you balance that with being realistic when things just aren't clicking. Because the truth is, like any relationship, sometimes you just need to let a long-distance relationship go. But how do you know? It's tougher than in a lot of relationships, because you want to think you just need some time together and it'll all work out. But sometimes, you need to be more honest about it. So here are the signs:
1. They're Not Helping Make It Work
Relationships always need to go both ways, but especially in long-distance relationships where it's easy to feel isolated. “I think, in any relationship, if I don’t feel honored and made important or prioritized by my partner, that’s not going to be a long-lasting relationship where I get my needs met,” Jeffrey Sumber, MA, MTS, LCPC tells Bustle. “Whether it’s a relationship with your partner living under the same roof or a long-distance one, we all need basic needs met and need to feel special and valued.” They have to be helping make it work.
2. It's All Long-Distance
Long-distance is a lot easier if you get the weekend together on a regularly basis. But if you regularly go months and months at a time without seeing each other, be honest about how that feels. "You need physical touch," Anita Chlipala, author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love, tells Bustle. "If physical affection is one of your top needs, you risk feeling more unloved without your partner being consistently physically present. You also risk not feeling as satisfied in a relationship without a top need being met." If there's no way to be in the same place the amount that you need, it's not working.
3. You Don't Have A Strong Foundation
Sometimes our relationships just aren't what we thought they were. It's true in long-distance as much as anything else. "Relationships that already have a solid foundation have a greater likelihood to weather distance and time," Monica Parikh, a dating and relationships coach, tells Bustle. And if you see your relationship isn't that strong, it's going to make it impossible.
4. It's Eating Up Your Life
Are you spending too many evenings waiting for a Facetime or Skype that never comes? Compulsively checking Whatsapp? Be honest with how much time this is eating up and how it affects your wellbeing. "Our culture has become one driven towards romantic relationships," Parikh says. "I suggest making your own life your first priority. Develop hobbies, interests and friendships that help you grow into your best self." If you don't have room for that, something's gone wrong.
5. You're Staying For The Wrong Reason
Because we commit to trying long-distance and really believe it, it can be so hard to break it off — it feels like giving up or not fulfilling a pledge. You knew it would be hard and you agreed anyway, so you have to stick it out— right? Wrong. If you're only staying out of stubbornness, it's not enough.
6. There's No Sign Of The Distance Ending
Unless you're one of the very few people on earth who can do long-distance forever, it needs to have an end point. Whether that's six weeks or six years, you need to know that there's a time you'll be in the same place again.
7. You're Feeling Too Tempted
Parikh says couples in LDRs need to ask themselves, "Is each person able to control issues of jealousy, anger, and resentment, especially as the other person builds new friendships and relationships in their new home?"
If you've agreed to an open relationship or you're poly, obviously that's totally cool. But if you haven't, a wandering eye can be a sign that your long-distance relationship isn't working. If you feel really tempted to cheat— emotionally or physically — it's time to admit that it's just not working.
Long-distance relationships are hard, but be honest with yourself about how the relationship is going and if your needs are being met. You don't need to stay just because you feel like you should — you both deserve to be happy.