Long-Distance Relationship Problems & How To Navigate Them

No one plans to get into a long-distance relationship, but sometimes couples are separated for periods of time and don’t want to say goodbye despite the distance. Unfortunately, long-distance relationship problems do arise and can be rather overwhelming if you don’t work as a couple to actively overcome them. Here are some of the issues you’re likely to run into and what to do about them.

Problems that arise in a long-distance relationship

  1. Distance becomes not just physical but emotional. I know it should go without saying, but the distance is the hardest part. You can’t control what will or will not happen while you’re apart. You take the risk that when you need each other most, you won’t be within arm’s reach to make them feel better. No matter what people say, FaceTime just isn’t the same. It’s not even close to the real thing, which can then start to put a wedge between you if you’re not careful and you can start to grow apart. This is one of the biggest problems in a long-distance relationship, without a doubt.
  2. You can’t enjoy physical affection and sex. Sex is important and sexual frustration is bound to be one of the biggest problems in a long-distance relationship, especially when you don’t get to see each other very often. However, it goes way beyond that. When you can’t reassure each other with your physical presence, be there to spoon at night, or reach for onea another when you have a bad dream, it can be incredibly difficult. It makes you realize what you have and what you might have taken for granted.
  3. You struggle to find time for each other. When you’re living in separate places, chances are there are a lot of things in your physical space that require your attention, whether it’s work, family, school, or whatever else. That means it can be a challenge to find time to fit in FaceTime sessions or chats with your partner. No one intends to be too busy to chat, but it happens. This is one of the most common long-distance relationship problems, but also one of the toughest.
  4. You don’t feel prioritized. Because life is hectic and your time for each other may be squeezed a bit, it causes a whole other issue. Things like work, taking extra shifts to pay for flights, time difference, and hanging out with friends will start to take up time. It’s natural that partners should hang out with friends of course, but it still hurts when you can’t talk to them or when you feel less like a priority to them. You start to wonder if they still want to be with you anymore and it can begin to eat at you.
  5. Stress and anxiety levels increase. This is another of the biggest long-distance relationship problems for two reasons. One, the person you love is leaving (or was never there to begin with, if you met online, for instance) and that’s a big change. Two, the person who you normally rely on to calm you down is the very person who has left! This is a period of time that is a make-or-break time for lots of relationships because it will get to be too much for some.
  6. You feel like it’s wasting your time. Waiting for someone to come back or waiting for a time when you will be together is hard. It’s okay to look forward to something, but a different thing altogether to be willing time away until you next get to see them. This is disrespecting your present, as well as your growth as an individual. This is one of those problems that feels impossible to solve because you don’t want to leave your long-distance relationship partner but you also don’t want to miss out on life while you’re waiting for them.
  7. Paranoia and insecurity become a thing. You might have thought you were an incredibly chill person before your relationship became long-distance. Without seeing them every day, you might find that your ability to implicitly trust your partner, or the trust about when you will see him next, goes away. You might find yourself getting paranoid about his female friends or wonder he’s still as committed to the relationship as he used to be.
  8. Jealousy spikes up. Jealousy will often happen when you see him hanging out with his friends on Instagram when you miss him. It arises through a combination of seeing that he’s having fun without you, as well as knowing that his Instagram is your only insight into his life. You feel disconnected and it makes you resent him and his life outside of you because you’re not a part of it.
  9. You start to resent your friends’ relationships. When you’re stuck in the complexity of long-distance, it can be a tough pill to swallow to see your friends who get to see their partners every day. It makes you miss your partner even more, but try to power through those feelings. The grass is always greener on the other side even if you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

How to navigate long-distance relationship problems

  1. Communication is key. This is always the answer to any relationship problem, but it’s a classic for a reason. Be clear and honest and make sure you don’t beat around the bush. You have busy lives and need to cut to the chase sometimes. Don’t blame each other, but talk about how each other’s behavior made you feel and focus on improving those outcomes. Feeling heard and respected is essential to maintaining a relationship.
  2. Plan special date nights. Yes, FaceTime alone is nice for a chat, but it doesn’t cut the mustard when you’re missing fun date nights. Try going on walks at the same time, or cooking together in the evening. If baking is something you always did together, try doing it remotely. You will make new memories, even if it’s just watching the same film. This will cut down on many of the problems you’d otherwise experience in a long-distance relationship by making one another continue to feel valued and loved.
  3. Be creative with gifts. This can mean lots of things. If you want to send each other handwritten cards or “I saw this and thought of you” presents, that’s always a great way of showing how much someone means to you. If you used to leave post-it notes on the fridge for your partner, then send postcards with the same information. It achieves the same sentiment, builds your connection, and sustains your presence in their lives, even if you aren’t sharing the same bed.
  4. Don’t be afraid of space. Even though you’re in a long-distance relationship, where all you have is space, you still need to consciously take space. Believe me. The time you spend away from your partner isn’t just time that you need to fill distracting yourself or keeping busy. You should be focusing and reflecting on ways to meet your own goals and dreams. This is the perfect time for introspection. You shouldn’t be the same person that you were when they left. Don’t assume that growth will cause problems for your long-term relationship. If your evolution pulls you apart, you’re not meant for one another.
  5. Redefine quality time. If you’re talking every night before you go to bed, fine. But, if you have a rule that you have to talk for three hours every night with no exceptions, no matter how busy you are, that’s really difficult. Make sure when you’re calling you have meaningful points to discuss or worthwhile catch-ups. Calls shouldn’t be just filled with whining. That’s piling on the pressure on the person who is away and it isn’t fair. Keep your time together positive and enriching where you can.
  6. Talk to friends who have been there before. It might seem like you are, but I promise you’re not the first person to struggle in a long-distance relationship. Reach out to your friends and family who have experienced it before. It’ll make you feel less alone to confide in someone, and you’ll pick up some date night ideas and communication solutions while you’re at it.
  7. Talk to a therapist if you need to. It can be really difficult, particularly if you’ve been burned before, to have the most important person to you be unreachable or far away. If you find yourself getting into dark places, approach a therapist and they will unpack what you’re going through. You can update your partner and make sure you’re on the same page.
Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.