What Not to Do in a Long-Distance Relationship

Published August 26, 2020
Nervous young woman using smart phone

Long-distance relationships can come with their challenges, and there are definitely behaviors that both partners should avoid in order to keep the relationship as healthy as possible.

What Should You Not Do in a Long-Distance Relationship?

Long-distance relationships can highlight issues and insecurities for each partner, as well as the couple.

Don't Withhold Your Feelings

Because communication is critical in healthy long-distance relationships, it's best to be open and clear about your needs and feelings. Doing so gives each partner opportunities to meet the other's needs. If you feel nervous to share your feelings:

  • Think about what you want to say before speaking with your partner.
  • Examine why you feel nervous and what you fear may happen after you tell them how you are feeling.
  • Share your feelings at a time when you and your partner have the ability to chat and aren't rushed.
Displeased woman having a video call with her boyfriend

Don't Mind Read

Mind reading can impact long-distance couples and can create some serious relationship issues. When you mind read, you assume you know what your partner is thinking, what their motives are, and why they chose to do something. This can lead to fights, miscommunications, and mixed signals. To avoid mind reading:

  • Ask if you feel confused about something they said.
  • Say, "It sounds like you're saying...." to clarify their point, and then ask if you got it right.
  • Ask them to explain their thought process for something that felt hurtful to you by saying, "Help me understand why you chose to do...."

Don't Threaten Your Partner

Long distance can intensify fights and tiffs quickly because you are usually unable to connect physically right away to resolve the issue and make up. In this sense, it's extra important to fight fairly and to not use anxiety-provoking tactics to get your partner's attention. Threatening to break up when you don't intend to do so can cause some serious damage to the relationship and harm the trust you've built with your partner. If you feel angry or upset:

  • Agree to chat when you both feel calmer.
  • Don't interrupt each other.
  • Listen intently and make sure you understand your partner's perspective before responding.
  • Agree to take breaks if one or both of you feel overwhelmed during the conversation.

Don't Be Dishonest

If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of your relationship or are unsure if you and your partner are on the same relational path, it's important to be upfront about your needs. If you aren't honest about the trajectory of the relationship, one or both of you could end up getting emotionally wounded. You may want to discuss:

  • Your individual and relational goals as well as a timeframe
  • How often you'd like to connect and how you'd like to connect (including in-person visits)
  • How you each see the relationship progressing
  • How long you anticipate doing long distance

Don't Become Complacent

Long-distance relationships take work to maintain, and they certainly come with their own unique challenges. Be mindful of what you aren't happy with and work together on finding solutions that work for both of you.

Don't Give the Silent Treatment

The silent treatment can feel really rejecting and hurtful to experience. It can also damage your relationship by degrading trust. Instead of giving the silent treatment, let your partner know that you need some time to process your feelings, and you will reach out when you are ready to talk. Be sure to check in with them to give them a day or time that they can expect to hear from you, so they aren't left wondering when you'll reach out.

Do Long-Distance Relationships Last?

Long-distance relationships can absolutely last if both partners are willing to put in the work and share the same relational goals. Long-distance relationships are more likely to last and work out if both partners:

  • Share relational goals
  • Are open and honest with each other
  • Have solid communication skills
  • Resolve arguments respectfully and see each other as team mates versus enemies
  • Have an ever-evolving plan to ensure that each partners' needs are met

Long-Distance Relationship Problems

Long-distance relationship problems may include:

  • Difficulty with communication
  • Feeling bored
  • Feeling a lack of intimacy
  • Miscommunication issues
  • Not feeling prioritized by your partner
  • Issues with compromise
  • Feeling jealous
  • Feeling lonely
Young woman frustrated with her smartphone

How Do I Survive a Long-Distance Relationship?

Long-distance relationships may feel more enjoyable if:

  • Partners have an agreed understanding of how often each partner would like to connect
  • You and your partner have upcoming in-person visits planned
  • You share the same relational goals and feel that you're both on the same path
  • Each partner is able to share what makes them nervous or upset about long distance and then work together to come up with solutions
  • There is an end to long distance in the upcoming future
  • You remind yourself that this is temporary, and you have a plan to reconnect

How to Stay Emotionally Connected in a Long-Distance Relationship

To stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship:

  • Be vulnerable with each other.
  • Don't withhold your feelings.
  • Let each other know that you miss being together.
  • Look forward to special moments together like a planned in-person visit or Skype date.
  • Include each other in your life.
  • Prioritize meeting each other's needs.

How Do You Keep a Long-Distance Relationship Interesting?

Long-distance relationships present many opportunities for creativity since you don't have the chance to be together in person all the time. To keep it interesting:

  • Plan Skype or Facetime dates and dress up as if you were going on an in person date.
  • Have movies nights where you watch the same movie together.
  • Watch the same tv series together on the same day, even if you're in different time zones.
  • Create a book club and take turns picking the book.
  • Set up visits so you have some in-person time to look forward to.
  • Send each other letters and/or surprise little gifts.
  • Play a game together using an app.
Couple hugging in airport

How Do You Keep a Long-Distance Relationship Healthy?

To keep your long-distance relationship as healthy as possible, avoid engaging in unhealthy behaviors that could damage your relationship, be open and honest with your partner, and check in with yourself often to make sure your needs are being met.

What Not to Do in a Long-Distance Relationship