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Why Long Distance Relationships Don’t Work (13 Hard Truths)

Lolo & Nate | Updated: August 1, 2022

Wherever we turn, there are constant reminders about every difficulty and downside as to why long distance relationships don’t work.

Unfortunately in today’s society and especially the media, everything seems to thrive off negativity.

Yes, the negatives are unavoidable, but what is avoidable is letting those negatives lead to the demise of a relationship that has potential.

Instead of only focusing on what the challenges are, let’s also work on what you can do to overcome them.

So as a couple, you can feel more confident, in control and prepared!

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Reasons Why Long Distance Relationships Don’t Work & What You Can Do to Navigate the Challenges

You’re on the Fence

The choice to enter a long distance relationship may not be an easy one, but it is one that needs to be made with (some level of) commitment.

If you have one foot out the door from the beginning, or feel pressured into making the decision to go long distance, you won’t have motivation to put in the extra energy that is required to make it work.

What Can You Do?

Making the choice to be in a long distance relationship doesn’t mean you’re making the choice to stay in that relationship forever, but it does mean you’re committing to trying to make it work.

Give yourself time to reflect on the relationship to understand if this is what you truly want. Do you…

  • See real potential there?
  • Understand or are willing to navigate the challenges?
  • Have the time and energy to work through them with your partner?

No Plan for the Future

While eliminating all of the unknowns is impossible, there needs to be some idea about what the future holds in order to bring certainty and security into the relationship. 

If no steps are taken to figure out when the two of you can find time to see each other, there will be no light at the end of the tunnel to help you through the hard times. 

The result?

Anxiety about the unknowns will grow, putting a strain on your relationship and causing conflict between you and your partner.

What Can You Do?

It may be unrealistic to have a date to permanently close the distance, but there are smaller steps you can take to plan for the future together.

Even if the next time you can be together is months away, having a date on the calendar to countdown to can alleviate anxiety and give you a positive goal to work towards TOGETHER.

Limited Quality Time

When apart, quality time doesn’t happen as spontaneously or organically as it can when you live near each other. Living in different cities and even time zones means you don’t have the luxury of grabbing a bite on your lunch break or giving them a call before you fall asleep. 

Without enough effort and planning, the amount of quality time you and your partner share can significantly decrease, making it harder to connect with each other. 

What Can You Do?

Having to schedule time with your partner like a business meeting might not seem romantic. But there is romance in prioritizing spending time with one another, especially when it’s hard to find time. 

Even if it means waking up an hour earlier so you can eat dinner together on a video call, or skip happy hour to watch a movie together online.

Some compromise and a level of consistency is key!

Plan a weekly date night where the focus is only on you, your partner, and the relationship.

Is a movie night on the cards? Check our post on the easiest (and free) ways to watch movies together online and completely in sync!

Lack of Communication

You might message your partner all day every day, but if conversations stay on the surface and you’re just swapping updates, emojis, and funny anecdotes about your day.

You won’t be deepening your emotional connection. 

Not getting to know each other on a more intimate level, means your relationship won’t be progressing. This leaves things feeling stagnant and might make it hard to see a future for the two of you. 

What Can You Do?

Re-evaluate how you’re approaching conversations with your partner.

Are you just having conversations for the sake of chatting? Or are you actually asking questions that you’re curious about the answer to or discussing topics you’re passionate about?

For ideas on having more meaningful and dynamic conversations with your partner, check out our list of Long Distance Relationship Questions!

No Physical Intimacy

Being physically separated from your partner is arguably the hardest challenge long distance couples face.

While you can have deep conversations and spend wonderful quality time together on video calls.There is no getting around the fact that you can’t physically touch, kiss, and hold your partner. 

But, what some long distance couples don’t realize is that just because you can’t replicate physical touch doesn’t mean you can’t still be physically intimate. 

If you aren’t intentional about finding ways to incorporate physical intimacy, you are missing out on an important element of your relationship.

What Can You Do?

Long distance sex may seem daunting but it can be extremely rewarding and strengthen your physical AND emotional connection. 

Playing intimate games on video calls, bringing connected sex toys into the bedroom and exchanging intimate photos, audio or video are all great ways to still feel physically connected to your partner.

Speaking of connected sex toys. Check out our post on the best long distance sex toys to take your intimate moments to the next level.

Language & Culture Clashes

While it can be thrilling to have your partner as a personal tour guide to explore with, if one of your cultures is extremely different from what the other is used to, or if an entirely different language is spoken, it may be challenging to fit seamlessly into each other’s lives. 

Feeling like an outsider when you visit your partner, or vice versa, can trigger insecurities and make you second guess how connected you really are.

What Can You Do?

Take advantage of the rich experiences that having a different culture and speaking a different language from your partner can provide. 

Make a point of teaching one another about the other’s home, whether that means giving language lessons, watching films from your respective countries, or having virtual cooking classes to try cultural cuisines.

Having to Wait Years

Maybe one of you:

The reality is some couples will have to wait years before they can close the distance. 

With years ahead of you, the distance might begin to feel unbearable.

What Can You Do?

Even if you aren’t able to reach the milestone of officially closing the distance for some time, think about what other milestones you can celebrate together in the more immediate future.

Plan a trip together you’ve both been dying to take, or a special weekend with your closest family members. 

Celebrate every anniversary and know that with each day, you’re getting closer to being together for good.

Neither of You Are Willing to Move

If both of you are completely resistant to the idea of moving to be together, that might be tied to a bigger issue in the relationship.

Compromise

The thought of uprooting yourself and moving to a new city or country can be scary.

But, if the conversation isn’t even open for debate, resentment may build and your ability to navigate different desires as a couple can be called into question.

What Can You Do?

Consider short-term compromise instead of long-term commitments. 

If a permanent move is off the table right now, perhaps you could both take turns doing a “trial” period of living in each other’s cities or countries. 

Once you’ve both approached the possibility of living somewhere else with an open mind, you can have a more serious discussion about what would be best for your relationship.

Want more? Check out our guide to moving in a long distance relationship that walks through the VITAL questions you and your long distance partner need to answer.

Not Having Enough Money

Long distance relationships can be expensive.

They all add up and add up fast. 

Long distance couples need to be prepared for the financial burden. Otherwise, you won’t have the funds necessary for visits and there will be a lack of consistency in the relationship.

What Can You Do?

Come up with a “visit budget” with your partner, and work together to set saving goals to help you both stay on top of your finances. 

Our Closing The Distance Calculator can be used to help you effectively track how long it will take you to save up for visits.

Disapproving Loved Ones

Having a strong support system is vital.

Whether you’re dealing with the emotional come down of post-visit-blues, getting overwhelmed by the number of days remaining until you can see each other, or just missing your partner, it’s only natural to lean on loved ones to help you get through the tough times.

If those loved ones don’t approve of your relationship, they may end up perpetuating the bad times and focus on the negatives of being long distance. 

What Can You Do?

Even if it doesn’t seem like it, their concerns or disapproval stem from a place of love and them wanting the best for you. 

That being said, the responsibility doesn’t fall on you to make your friends and family understand the inner workings of your relationship.

It can be helpful to set up virtual dinners or game nights where your loved ones are included. But it’s also okay to set boundaries with them and let them know if you aren’t open to outside opinions about your relationship dynamic.

Trust Issues

Scenario 1: You sent your partner a meaningful message, they’ve seen it, but haven’t responded for a couple of hours. 

Scenario 2: You’re sitting in a boring work meeting and you know your partner is out at a party having an amazing time with their friends.

Either way, your mind starts wandering, and all of a sudden you’re imagining hurtful scenarios and questioning your partner, yourself, and your relationship. 

If there is even a shadow of a doubt about how your partner will behave when you’re not around, your long distance relationship will be tainted with jealousy and insecurity. 

If you aren’t able to trust one another, resentment will seep into your interactions and toxic or controlling behaviors may pop up as a result. 

What Can You Do?

Talk about it! It’s ok to…

  1. Question things.
  2. Feel insecure.
  3. Be jealous. 

It’s not okay to ignore those feelings and keep them to yourself. Your partner, however great they may be, is not a mindreader. 

If any of their behavior is negatively affecting you, it’s your responsibility to talk to them about it. Only then can things change!

Separation Anxiety

Whether it’s the pain of being apart or the post-visit-blues, sometimes the heartache of missing your partner can be too much to bear. 

This can lead to you doubting your ability to handle the distance, or falling into a rut and neglecting other areas of your life.

What Can You Do?

If you’re feeling lonely, it’s time to open up to your partner about why. They’re probably feeling the same way, making it important to communicate and reach out for support during the tough times. 

It’s also important to have elements of your routine and personal life that make you feel fulfilled outside of your relationship. Activities like:

  • Signing up for a class
  • Picking up a new hobby, or 
  • Scheduling quality time with friends and family 

These things and more can bring joy and connection even when you’re not able to be with your partner.

The Spark Fizzles Out

We all know the honeymoon phase isn’t supposed to last forever.

But as time goes on, if enough energy isn’t put into maintaining your connection, you run the risk of letting the spark completely die out. 

Maybe other elements of your life, like work or other relationships, begin to take priority. Or maybe your interests and goals start to shift and it feels like you want completely different things. 

Either way, a connection can’t be maintained without effort and communication.

What Can You Do?

Remind yourself why you fell in love with each other in the first place. Go back to where you had your first date, plan a trip to where you want on your first vacation.

If you feel like you’re on a different page from your partner, tell them that.

Let them know where things have felt dry or disconnected and work together to improve those elements of your relationship.

Staying in love and in a relationship is a choice. As long as you are both committed to continuing to choose each other it is always possible to reignite that spark!

Now That You Know Why Long Distance Relationships Don’t Work…

What will you and your partner do to successfully navigate these waters?

Was there a specific challenge that resonates with where your relationship is currently headed?

Whether it’s something you’re currently dealing with or a concern you have about the future, share this with your partner so you can work together on how to handle it. 

If there is more than one that struck a chord, don’t try to solve everything at once.

Pick one area of your relationship to work to make things more manageable so you can feel more in control of the future.

Our FREE 7 day LDR challenge is BACK!

Unlock better date nights, deeper communication plus a stronger intimate & emotional connection.

SECURE YOUR SPOT!

Hi, we are Lolo (Canada) & Nate (Australia) a couple that had to go through all that a long distance relationship has to offer, just like you. With our experience and lessons learned we want to help you keep your long distance relationship as strong as ever and ultimately last the distance!