Long distance relationship problems are bound to occur as we navigate being apart from those we love.
Teething issues are common but we believe they’re a healthy sign that your relationship is growing.
Because you’re starting to understand each other’s differences and how you work through different situations.
But when these problems aren’t treated they can cause irreparable damage.
Our aim is to help you solve these problems well before reaching this point!
Luckily, some of the most common problems that arise for long distance couples can be solved quickly and easily.
Let’s jump in!
How to Solve Long Distance Relationship Problems Effectively
1. Different Expectations with Communication
This is one of the major reasons why long distance relationships don’t work out.
Between different schedules and different time zones, long distance communication requires some extra special attention and conversations.
Even with regular relationships, it is pretty rare that two couples have the exact same needs and expectations when it comes to communication.
Some of us may begin to feel disconnected from their partner if they don’t receive cute text messages or, at the very least, a heart emoji during the work day. While others feel perfectly content going through their entire day without a single text, knowing they’ll catch up with their partner later.
It may not be realistic to receive the perfect blend of cute and funny texts throughout the day, it’s also okay to want consistent communication.
How do you get on the same page about communication? You communicate.
First, identify each of your needs and boundaries regarding communication.
“I can’t respond to text messages when I’m at work.”
“I feel more connected when we can catch up over the phone versus text messages.”
Once you’ve identified and communicated your individual needs, it’s likely that some won’t necessarily work, which is ok! Take this time to look for any opportunities to find a compromise while still respecting boundaries.
“It’s understandable if you won’t be able to respond for several hours, but if you could give me a heads up when you’ll be busy that would mean a lot.”
“I won’t be on my phone from 9-5, but I’ll always check in during my commute!”
2. Falling into a Routine
Routines can be an extremely important part of long distance relationships.
Carving out time every day for catch-ups, weekly date nights, and even visits can help make the distance feel more manageable.
But studies have also shown that couples who try new things and make an effort to keep things fresh are more satisfied overall than couples who stick to their routine.
While the distance may prevent you from being super spontaneous and showing up outside your partner’s window with a boombox, there are still plenty of ways to keep the spark alive while apart.
While surprising your partner with plane tickets for a weekend getaway will never be discouraged, breaking out of your routine as a couple doesn’t have to be super time-consuming or expensive!
Get creative with date nights:
Did someone say date night?! Check out our list of fun long distance date ideas and activities you can try tonight!
Spontaneous gifts from the heart:
Surprise your partner with a handwritten love letter or thoughtful care package. Check out our guide to creating the perfect care package!
3. Nothing to Talk About
There is something to be said about being able to sit in silence with your partner, contently scrolling through your feed of memes and food pics while they play video games. Where you both feel comforted just knowing that you’re together (virtually).
We maintained connection during times we’d typically be alone by propping up our phones and just being together over FaceTime while we cooked dinner or finished up work. This made us feel like an integral part of each other’s day, despite the distance.
That said, we need to be mindful of whether or not the “comfortable silence” truly feels comfortable.
Are you content sitting in silence with your partner or do you frantically try to come up with something else to say?
If the problem is that you want to talk, but just don’t know what to talk about or feel like you’re running out of things to say, you simply need to make a few tweaks to the way you both communicate.
First things first, don’t panic. Just because conversation topics have been drying up doesn’t mean the love between you and your partner is drying up too.
It’s completely normal to hit lulls in communication, but there are easy fixes to get the conversation flowing again!
Having trouble thinking of new topics? Find inspiration with our article on Deep and Meaningful Long Distance Questions. From funny to serious, sexual to hypothetical, you’ll be sure to find a question for every situation.
Re-evaluate how much you’re talking
If you’re talking on the phone or over FaceTime every single chance you get, it’s inevitable that you’ll run out of things to say.
Give space between conversations and see if it helps give you both more things to talk about when you do get the chance to catch up.
Reflect on your day to day routine
Leading a life that interests and inspires you will make you a more interesting and inspiring conversationalist!
Swap out the social media scroll for a podcast on your morning commute, join a weekly book club, or try a new hiking trail over the weekend.
The more experiences you have, the more things you’ll have to discuss with your partner!
4. Getting Stuck on the Surface
Sometimes you’ll need to listen while your partner tells you, word for word, exactly what was said between their coworker and boss before they quit that morning.
Sometimes your partner will need to listen while you tell them exactly what happened in the two-hour finale of your favorite show last night.
It comes with the territory.
While completely fine, remember that communication is about quality over quantity.
Even if you talk constantly, if your conversations are surface level, you’re missing out on opportunities to deepen your connection and truly get to know one another.
Conversation = Connection
Each interaction you have with your partner is an opportunity to get to know them better, no matter how long you’ve been together.
Think about the why behind what you’re talking about. Does it matter if your partner knows every character’s name from the show you’re watching?
Or, do you want them to understand how moved you felt by the writing and how it helped inspire some creativity of your own?
The same applies to asking questions! Don’t ask them for the sake of asking them, ask questions that you’re truly interested in hearing the answer to.
Do you just want to know if they had a good day at work? Or do you want to know what makes them most excited about the project they’ve been working on?
5. Not Expressing Feelings & Emotions
For long distance couples, there are many factors working against you while apart. Physical separation, financial stressors, time zones, the list goes on!
These external struggles can put pressure on you and your partner to avoid talking about internal emotional struggles that you both may be experiencing.
Bottling up your emotions or putting on a happy face to try to protect one another is only going to result in broken communication and resentment.
We completely understand because we’ve been there!
You’re far away from the person you love most, you don’t get to be intimate, which can make you feel disconnected.
Do you know who understands all of that better than anyone else?
Not being open emotionally and talking about your feelings robs them of the opportunity to support you and potentially makes them feel like they shouldn’t open up to you about theirs.
Obviously, the solution is to talk about it! While it’s not revolutionary there are things to consider.
This doesn’t mean you or your partner should ever feel pressured or forced to be vulnerable. Work together to create a judgment free environment where you both feel comfortable enough to open up.
We know it’s not always that easy. Societal standards have conditioned us to think of certain emotions as “good” or “bad”.
As a result, when experiencing “bad” emotions, we may unconsciously repress them. But, studies have shown that feeling and talking about “negative” emotions is essential for our overall well being.
Have a conversation with your partner about what limiting beliefs may be holding either of you back from expressing your emotions.
Remember, everyone has different processing times and capacity to verbalize when it comes to emotions!
Our recommendation is to start slow, which will make it easier to understand the differences between our needs and responses when experiencing certain emotions. In turn this will create an environment where we are better equipped to realize what each other needs in order to feel supported.
6. Lack of Physical Touch
Arguably the most difficult part of a long distance relationship, unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely fix this problem.
The reality is, being apart results in a lot less physical contact than a normal relationship.
It’s not just about intimacy either, although that’s definitely part of it, studies have shown that physical contact, in general, reduces feelings of loneliness.
While nothing can quite replace the feeling of being wrapped up in your partner’s arms at the end of a long, hard day, there are things that can be done to combat that loneliness.
Make the most of your time together
Make sure you set aside plenty of one on one time together when you do reunite.
Visits can be a whirlwind of things to do and people to see, and it’s easy to forget about the importance of lazy mornings spent cuddling in bed together when you’re planning an exciting reunion.
Feel their presence from afar
Touch Bracelets have the unique ability to connect long distance couples, no matter where they are in the world.
Touch one bracelet, and the other lights up and vibrates in response!
With the ability to customize colors and send up to ten taps at a time, you and your partner can create secret codes to communicate with each other and send sweet messages throughout the day.
A piece of YOU
If you can’t wrap your arms around your partner, why not wrap them up in your favorite hoody or t-shirt they’ve been eyeing!?
Imagine the smile they’ll also be wearing feeling warm in your embrace and scent!
7. No End Date in Sight
Even when the distance grew from 200+ miles to 3,000+ miles to 7,000+ miles, even when the end date seemed impossibly far off, there was still a day to countdown to.
We always knew it was temporary, but that’s not the case for all couples.
Sometimes uncertainty can be exciting, like when you’re reading a thrilling page-turner or watching a shocking season finale.
But, when it comes to the future of your relationship, uncertainty can create feelings of anxiety, indecisiveness, and doubt.
It’s understandable that individual lives, responsibilities, and goals make it difficult to have a concrete end date.
But it’s worth noting that research has demonstrated the positive impacts of having something to look forward to, like a boost in positive emotions and a better ability to manage stressors.
There’s no rush to have everything set out immediately, agreeing on a specific date can be a pretty daunting task. Instead of putting pressure on yourselves to nail down all the details at once, start with a ballpark like year and month, or season and go from there.
Further conversations around closing the distance will be much easier to have and start to focus on areas that help to better define the ‘when’. Among other topics, you’ll start to discuss things like:
- What you’re both open to in terms of moving (the who and where)
- Savings goals that will make the transition easier
- Dates you may not be able to move before (work, studies etc), and
- Obstacles that may push back when you reunite (visas etc)
If you’re still far off from figuring out an end date, planning visits and small trips together in advance still provides a light at the end of the tunnel, even when it’s temporary.
Need help taking the next step? Check out our Closing The Distance Date Calculator, which has been specifically designed to formulate a date you can close the distance based on a savings goal.
8. Unsupportive Friends & Family
“But don’t you just miss each other so much?”
“It’s just such a shame they’re missing out on so many important family events.”
“If you’re both serious about the relationship, why wouldn’t you move to be together?”
If your loved ones are anything like mine, you’ve probably found yourself repeating the same phrases again and again.
“Yes, we miss each other.”
“I wish they could be here too.”
“Of course we’re serious about each other, but still have personal goals we’re working on in different cities right now.”
All the curiosity and questions come from a place of love and personal investment in your happiness.
But, it can still be frustrating to hear opinions from people who don’t truly understand your situation or try to respond to questions you’re still figuring out the answer to.
Remind yourself that no one truly understands your relationship except you and your partner, and that’s okay. It’s not your responsibility to get your friends and family on the same page as you.
If there are certain topics you don’t want to discuss, gently set that boundary with them.
Otherwise, try to remember it’s coming from a place of love and a desire to know more about this relationship that makes you so happy.
To help them understand, scheduling time during visits or even handouts over video chat, so they can get to know your partner, can help eliminate any disconnect the distance creates.
9. Difficult Time Zones
It doesn’t matter if you’re three hours apart or thirteen, being in different time zones can make scheduling calls, let alone date nights, a logistical nightmare.
The peak of our international long distance relationship, from Paris to Hawaii, put us exactly twelve hours apart.
That actually made it easier to find time to video chat, as we could always talk when it was morning for one of us and night for the other, and vice versa.
What became a struggle was the fact that we found it so hard to set aside recurring and meaningful time to spend together, like date nights.
Planning ahead becomes absolutely critical in this scenario.
Compare your schedules and find overlaps where you can set aside time for a phone call or video chat, even if it happens during one of your lunch breaks.
Pro tip: Be sure to take advantage of the weekends when things are more flexible. Without deadlines and responsibilities you’d have during the week, you now have an opportunity to form traditions and weekend rituals, like:
- Wake-up phone calls
- Virtual Sunday coffees, and
- Just staying up late together!
When it comes to date nights, accept the fact that it might not happen at night. There are many date ideas that can be just as romantic, if not moreso, when done in different time zones.
Start or end the day together
Watch the sunrise with your partner as they watch the sunset, or vice versa. There’s something incredibly romantic about watching the sun slip away from you knowing it’s on it’s way to shine on them.
Share different meals
Eat lunch with them as they’re eating dinner or switch things up and cook the same meal for dinner that they’re making for breakfast.
Morning, evening, or afternoon, it’s always a good time to watch a movie! Cuddle up under a cozy blanket with some snacks and drinks and check out our recent article on the easiest ways to watch movies together online and in sync.
10. Not Getting Enough Sleep
While different time zones force you to create more flexible schedules, make sure you prioritize sleep.
It’s easy to get sucked into a late-night chat, but “I could stay up all night talking to you” can quickly turn to “I wouldn’t have been late for my meeting if you didn’t keep me up so late!” when it becomes a regular occurrence.
Being sleep deprived has numerous negative impacts on both your mental and physical health, such as mood swings, troubles concentrating, and in the worst cases, an increased risk of diseases like diabetes and heart problems.
You may want to spend every second possible with your partner, but it’s important to find a balance.
We know all too well that many of the most intimate conversations happen in the middle of the night, so there’s no way we’d expect anyone to cut late nights out completely. But save them for the weekends or when you don’t have a lot of responsibilities the following day.
If your sleep schedules are wildly different, and you find yourselves craving conversation at night. Why not write and send emails before going to bed for each of you to read when you wake up!
Want more details? The ‘Morning Mail’ forms day one of our 7 Day LDR Challenge, which you can join for free!
11. Dwindling Savings
Supposedly you can’t put a price on love, but those plane tickets, hotel rooms, shipping costs, visa applications, and international data plans can really add up.
This doesn’t mean that all of those expenses aren’t absolutely worth it. What it does mean is that your savings account will likely take a hit.
Keeping your bank statements unread in your inbox may be tempting.
But there is nothing worse than having to tell your partner that you can’t confirm those tickets for your next visit because you don’t have the funds.
The answer is not as simple as creating a GoFundMe (which 99.99% of long distance couples should never do at any stage of the relationship).
No matter how romantic, inspiring, or heart-wrenching you may feel your love story may be (and we’re sure it is all of those things). This is an opportunity to take accountability for your budgeting skills and work with your partner to get into better money habits.
Here’s another scenario where our Closing The Distance Date Calculator can tell you how much you have to save by a certain date in order to close the distance. If you’re not ready to close the distance, you can also use the calculator as a guide for your next visit!
Then, it’s time to brainstorm together to find ways you can save more.
Here are some ideas:
- Have a yard sale, or sell things you don’t need on sites like eBay.
- Both agree to cut out one expense from your weekly spending (coffee, takeout etc)
- Download a budgeting app (like Mint) to have a detailed view of your spending habits.
- Throw that extra money into a separate savings account AKA your ‘LDR fund’.
12. Not Living Your Own Life
Being in a long distance relationship means you spend much more time without your partner by your side than most couples do.
You’d think that this results in both partners becoming more independent and having more time to spend with friends and family.
It can be the exact opposite.
In a typical relationship, you can bring your partner to your work gatherings or to brunch with your friends.
While long distance, you may find yourself skipping out on post-work drinks or leaving parties early because it’s the only time you’re able to talk to your partner. Maybe you’ve even turned down invitations because the thought of going without your partner makes you feel sad.
Social interaction has numerous health benefits, mentally and physically.
Sure, your virtual date nights could count as being social, but if that makes up the majority of your social life, you’re still spending more time on your smartphone than with an actual human.
This is probably the most time you’ll ever spend apart from your partner, so take advantage of it!
The space you have from your partner is opening up a space in your life to focus on hobbies or relationships you might not have otherwise had time for.
Reach out to friends
So much of your free time can revolve around spending time together that you might not spend as much time with certain friends as you did when you were single.
Reconnecting with old friends not only reminds you of the importance of putting effort into maintaining special relationships, but can help make your life feel more social and full without your partner there.
As kids we spent so much time participating in a variety of activities, from sports to music to the arts, and then as adults we seem to barely manage to catch up on the news after work.
Picking up that guitar that made you feel like a rockstar or signing up for a sports league in your cities can help recreate happier and more carefree times, boosting overall happiness and positivity.
Try something new
Have you always thought about learning to cook or signing up for an improv class? This is the time to do it!
Investing time into acquiring a new skill is a healthy distraction from missing your partner, and will help you feel more empowered being on your own.
13. Drifting Apart
Focusing on your individuality and committing yourself to show up and be present in your day-to-day life is a good thing, but it can also trigger the fear that you and your partner could be drifting apart.
Perhaps you started out with phone calls multiple times a day, rushing home after work to FaceTime, and dropping everything to respond to their messages.
Now, you both occasionally cancel a date night for other plans, the amount of phone calls have decreased due to more responsibilities at work or new interests, and have set some boundaries when it comes to communication.
Though the changes may be small, they can result in feeling disconnected and make you feel as though you no longer have enough time for one another.
Those are normal fears, but are rarely true. Unfortunately, what’s true is it usually ends with an untimely break up.
Relationship experts agree that maintaining independence is directly correlated with healthier and more successful relationships.
But working on growing yourselves as individuals can also be an opportunity to grow together!
Goal setting has many positive impacts on relationships, including improving connection, communication, and overall happiness.
Here are some common goals and ideas to get you started:
Create a travel bucket list
Whether it’s new cities or countries you want to visit, cuisines you want to try, or activities you want to do together, use it to make each reunion a new adventure!
Challenge each other to expand your horizons
Be accountability buddies when it comes to your personal growth, and set a weekly check-in to track progress.
Get fitness bracelets to track each other’s progress, go to the gym at the same time, or take virtual work out classes together.
14. Not Celebrating Important Milestones
Comparing the timeline of a long distance relationship to regular relationships is like comparing human years to dog years.
A couple of months of distance involves more separation, compromise, frustration, and effort than many relationships have in a couple of years!
If you let the investment and work you both put into your relationship slip by unnoticed, you’re missing out on an opportunity to celebrate your growth as a couple.
This can result in the struggles being in the spotlight instead of the successes.
Not only has research proven that celebrating important relationship milestones strengthens relationships, but it’s also a great opportunity to swap out the regular video chat for a special anniversary date night!
The only downfall of having way more milestones and anniversaries to celebrate is having to come up with more gift and date ideas.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to long distance anniversary ideas, including date suggestions and activities for each milestone.
15. Cultural Differences
Culture differences and language barriers can have a big impact on communication and building a deeper connection.
Imagine going to visit your partner where you’ll also be meeting their extended family, only to realize they don’t speak the same language as you.
This can not only leave you feeling awkward through the whole ordeal but also disappointed after the fact.
It can also be discouraging to miss opportunities to connect with your partner, get to know their friends and family members when the cultural differences feel difficult to overcome.
Even if you both grew up speaking the same language, different upbringings can result in having styles of communication or approaches to relationships that clash with each other.
If not addressed, it can lead to further miscommunication, resentment, and even disconnection.
Being in a relationship with someone who had a different upbringing than you provides an amazing opportunity to explore their culture in an immersive and more personal way than you ever could on your own.
It’s time to embracing your cultural differences and using them as way to:
- Expand your knowledge about the world
- Experience new things, and
- Understand your partner on a deeper level
This is only going to strengthen your relationship while becoming more sophisticated and worldly in the process!
Activities to try include:
- Teaching each other to cook dishes that taste like home
- Having virtual tutoring and history lessons, and
- Learning about your partner’s language and cultural background through foriegn films
16. Intimacy Problems
No matter how long you’ve dated, how comfortable you are with each other, and how many times you’ve been physically intimate before, your sex life as a long distance couple completely changes.
It can be hard to know how to initiate sex, when suddenly, standard foreplay, like kissing, isn’t an option, and FaceTime sex can be as full of as many fumbles and nervous laughter as your first time.
While the changes may feel awkward and uncomfortable at times, it’s still important to work together to maintain a physical connection on top of an emotional one.
Physical intimacy is proven to boost relationship satisfaction and help with conflict resolution.
Accept that there is going to be a learning curve.
It doesn’t matter if you burst out laughing in the middle of phone sex, you send a sext you instantly regret, or you have to take 100 photos before finding one you feel good about sending.
All that matters is that you keep communication open and always check in with one another.
Intimacy while apart can be extremely steamy and exciting. Our guide to long distance sex is a great way to help you get started.
17. Insecurity & Jealousy Issues
Insecurity and jealousy are prevalent in all relationships, but they are amplified when you’re hundreds of miles away from your partner and may have never met the people they’re spending time with.
As much as we told ourselves we would never have a jealous thought and would handle all insecurities with poise and grace, phrases like “go have fun without me!” were used on occasion.
Speaking from experience, it can also be tempting to insist albeit temporarily, that it was an acceptable response to not getting a text back for 35 minutes.
It’s human to feel jealous or insecure, and those feelings aren’t going to always be handled with poise and grace.
You’re going to feel jealous at times, whether it’s because they’re spending time with other people or because they’re having a cool experience that you’re not involved with.
You’re also going to feel insecure at times, and you’re probably going to say things you don’t mean.
But, the jealousy and insecurities are going to be mixed with feelings of happiness that they’re meeting new people and having new experiences, and reassurance that this relationship is so important to you you don’t want to lose it.
It’s confusing and complicated, but all that matters is that you talk to your partner about it.
Instead of a joke or passive-aggressive comment, simply say “I’m feeling a bit jealous right now because…” and go from there. It’s more than likely that they’ll understand exactly what you’re going through.
Ready to Face Long Distance Relationship Problems Head on?
Whether any of these common yet tough problems for long distance couples resonated with you. You’re now:
- Well positioned to notice and understand when an issue arises, and
- Able to build upon the solutions we’ve outlined to better your situation.
Don’t forget that it takes two to tango!
Send this article to your partner and highlight any areas you’d like to discuss. Of course, in a judgment free and supportive environment.
If you would like to receive sound advice from other couples that have faced similar problems. We recommend you join our LDR Support Group.