Ever wondered why the distance that’s supposed to make the heart grow fonder leaves you grappling with unexpected challenges and emotions?
Long-distance couples face many of the same problems as those in geographically close relationships. However, certain issues are unique to a long-distance relationship due to distance and extended periods apart. Unresolved problems can strain your relationship and turn it into a struggle instead of an enjoyable experience. In the absence of physical closeness, emotional connection becomes even more significant. With clear and effective communication, you can develop the necessary level of understanding and resolve long-distance relationship problems as soon as they arise.
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the most common long-distance relationship problems. In each section, you will find a link to an in-depth article that explores that particular topic in much greater detail. Here, you’ll also find some ideas on how to fix these problems along with workbook suggestions if you are looking for a more hands-on approach.
Not Handling the Distance
In long-distance relationships, you have to deal with problems that come from being in a romantic relationship, and also the problems associated with geographical distance.
On the bright side, once you understand what is a long-distance relationship and how distance affects your relationship, you have a better chance to make it work.
A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship where a couple is separated by geographical distance. As a result, you can not see your partner every day as you would in a regular relationship.
Distance affects the way you communicate and be intimate. As a result, many couples struggle to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship.
A long-distance relationship can be great to get to know someone online or maintaining an existing relationship for a few months.
Until you move in together, physical intimacy is only possible during your visits. That’s why a long-distance relationship that can be quite exciting and fulfilling for a short while, becomes increasingly harder to maintain for longer than a few months.
Feel free to learn more about how distance affects a romantic relationship in our in-depth article.
Handling the distance involves:
- Maintain an emotional connection with effective communication.
- Maintain physical intimacy with frequent visits.
- Set specific goals and realistic expectations from the very beginning.
Trying to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship for a long time can be challenging.
If not handled properly, problems that come with the distance, can bring a lot of suffering and ruin a whole relationship.
Long-distance relationships can be hard to handle. If you treat them like a normal relationship, you are likely to run into many problems.
Navigating long-distance relationships comes with its own set of realities. Understanding what to expect and what not to expect can help you approach the journey with a balanced perspective:
What to Expect:
- Communication challenges
- Personal growth
- Emotional rollercoaster
- Trust building
- Shared effort
- Honest communication
What Not to Expect:
- Constant Connection. While communication is vital, expecting constant availability can lead to unrealistic pressure and disappointment.
- Immediate Fixes. Challenges take time to resolve. Don’t anticipate instant solutions for every issue that arises.
- Perfection. No relationship is flawless. Expecting perfection sets an unrealistic standard that can lead to unnecessary frustration.
- Complete Independence. While personal space is crucial, expecting total independence might create emotional distance.
- Avoiding Conflicts. Conflicts are natural in any relationship. Long-distance ones are no exception. Expecting no disagreements is unrealistic.
- Physical intimacy.
Understanding these expectations can help you approach your long-distance relationship with a pragmatic mindset, fostering a healthier and more fulfilling connection despite the challenges that distance may bring.
To manage expectations try the following:
- Become aware of the false, unreasonable and unrealistic expectations.
- Recognise the reality of your situation.
- Set more realistic expectations.
Take a look at our in-depth article to learn more about managing expectations in a long-distance relationship.
Absence of Clear Boundaries
To build a healthy relationship and set healthy boundaries, both you and your partner should discuss your values and preferences. In other words, talk about what is really important for you to have and do a certain way and what can you be flexible about.
Being aware of your personal boundaries will help you develop an understanding of where you can respect each other boundaries. In doing so, you will create harmony and avoid unnecessary arguments.
Not Having Specific Goals
Many long-distance couples do not set specific goals for their relationship. Couples tend to have a vague idea of how they would like to be together and in some cases discuss their ambiguous future. Having specific goals is crucial for a successful long-distance relationship.
Start by setting the following goals:
- Communication schedule
- Conversation topics
- Virtual dates
- Visiting each other
- Having an end date for moving in together
Reflect on the reality of your situation. And, once you know your options and limitations, you can create more realistic goals, that will set your long-distance relationship in the right direction.
Since it is a challenging task for many long-distance couples, we have created a workbook that you can use to set specific goals for your personal life and your long-distance relationship step by step.
Once you have clear goals, it’s time to make a plan on how you will achieve them.
No Plan & No Timeline
When making a plan, remember to consider your personal life goals and ambitions. In a long-distance relationship, you have an opportunity to spend time on your personal development.
To maintain a healthy long-distance relationship, one of the items on your to-do list should be a plan for moving in together and a strategy to manage a lack of physical intimacy until then.
Having an end date for your long-distance relationship and frequent visits will help you maintain physical intimacy.
Every good plan has a timeline. If a goal is “What” you want to achieve and a plan is “How” you will achieve it, then the timeline essentially answers the “When” question (i.e. when will you achieve what you want). It helps to have mini achievements along the way towards a bigger goal.
Having a timeline in place will guide you through your long-distance relationship until the moment you can move in together. Without a clear plan and timeline, you’ll face numerous uncertainties that can add extra stress to your life.
Making a plan and having a timeline will set your long-distance relationship in the right direction. It will also provide much-needed reassurance in a time of great uncertainty.
If you don’t have a plan for your long-distance relationship or if it lasts a long time, a lack of physical intimacy can lead to sexual frustration. Growing frustration can result in anxiety and will gradually turn your whole relationship into a struggle.
Making a realistic and achievable plan proves to be quite a challenge for long-distance couples. Many find it extremely helpful to have some guidance and go through this plan-making process step-by-step. If you are one of them, consider our workbook. It’s a small investment for all the peace of mind and practical insights that can make a significant difference in your long-distance relationship journey.
Effective communication lies at the heart of every successful long-distance relationship. Without physical contact, online communication through phone calls and video calls is the only way for long-distance couples to stay emotionally connected.
Many long-distance couples face the same problems and those who find the balance can make their long-distance relationship work the best it can. If you don’t talk enough, you can start drifting apart, and with time your feelings may fade away. If you talk too much, it may lead to boring conversations. In an attempt to stay connected, partners end up spending a lot of time on the phone, even when they have nothing to say.
Most common communication problems
- Managing time zone differences
- A lack of communication
- Excessive communication
- Boring conversations
- Arguments and fights
- Silent treatment
The most effective way to handle long-distance relationship problems is by having open, honest, and clear communication. Effective communication can help you maintain emotional intimacy and resolve most of the issues you might face.
How to fix communication problems
- Talk to your partner about your concerns.
- Take time to hear their point of view.
- Listen to their feelings.
- During a face-to-face encounter, observe their body language.
- Tell them back what you heard them say.
- Ask follow-up questions.
- Build on this understanding.
Tips to develop effective communication:
- Communicate regularly
- Use phone calls for more casual conversations.
- Take into account the time difference if you live in different time zones.
- Freely express your thoughts, feelings, doubts and concerns to maintain an emotional connection.
- Make it a rule to have honest communication, no matter what.
- Learn about body language and facial expressions to make the most of your interactions during video calls.
- Make every video call special by going beyond casual conversations.
- Spice things up with intimate conversations and virtual sex.
- Keep text messages and phone calls for more casual conversations.
- If you want to discuss something meaningful with your partner, it’s best to do so face-to-face or via video calls.
- Express yourself clearly to avoid misunderstanding and confusion.
- Don’t talk constantly about the same things.
- If you feel sad, say so, and tell them why you feel that way.
Many long-distance relationships fail because of bad communication. Poor communication can lead to confusion, unnecessary arguments, unresolved conflicts and strained relationship, most of which can be avoided.
Signs of bad communication
- Lack of active listening
- Ignoring emotions
- Negative tone
- Avoidance of difficult topics
- One-sided conversations
- Repetitive arguments
- Excessive silence
- Inconsistent messages
- Digital dependence
Online communication means the only way you can express yourself is through words. The primary means of communication in a long-distance relationship are text messages, phone calls and video calls. This is in contrast to geographically close relationships, where you can express yourself through physical touch, which allows you to convey your emotions more effectively than in extended conversations.
Check out our in-depth article to learn all there’s to know about communication in a long-distance relationship.
- A balance between the frequency and quality of your interactions is key to having a healthy relationship.
- Effective communication allows to build trust and intimacy.
- When you communicate via online means, misunderstandings are easy to create and hard to fix.
- When you feel comfortable talking about any topic, you can discuss any issues, and find a way to fix them.
- Most long-distance relationship problems can be fixed with transparent, open, and honest communication.
- If your partner wants to talk constantly, suggest ending your call and doing something more interesting or productive. It’ll help you avoid excessive communication.
- Effective communication is how you build and maintain emotional closeness when you are away from your partner.
- The success of your long-distance relationship greatly depends on your ability to share your feelings, listen to each other and resolve problems.
- Syncing your schedules with the time difference can be challenging. So, if you live in different time zones, the time difference can get in the way of your effort to communicate regularly.
- Establishing a regular schedule for phone calls, video calls and messages can bring a sense of predictability to your interactions.
- Occasionally, the only time you can video call may not align with your partner’s availability. It’s okay. Be understanding of your partner’s point of view and adapt when plans change, showing your partner that you’re flexible and supportive.
- Tools like dual time zone apps or world clocks allow you effortlessly coordinate your communication over different time zones.
- Create a shared calendar and identify the slots where you can spend time together talking, playing games or enjoying virtual sex.
A complete romantic relationship involves physical intimacy. Without physical contact, you are missing out on a huge part of the reason why you have a romantic partner in the first place.
In a regular relationship, when you live with your romantic partner, you see each other every day and physical intimacy is part of your daily sex life. However, distance makes physical intimacy non-existent. The only time you can be physically close to your partner is during your visits.
Many couples do not have the luxury of visiting each other regularly. And, after some time, the lack of physical intimacy can manifest as sexual frustration. Sexual frustration can affect other aspects of your life, leaving you frustrated about various things most of the time. Sexual frustration can impact your whole relationship and your well-being.
As a result, you may begin to feel increasingly distant and after a while may start drifting apart. Frequent visits are essential to maintain physical intimacy. And staying emotionally connected in between your visits is crucial if you want to make your long-distance relationship work.
Here are common intimacy issues for long-distance couples:
- Lack of emotional intimacy
- Feeling distant
- Drifting apart
- Losing feelings
- Losing interest
- Lack of physical intimacy
- Non-existent sex life
- Sexual frustration
- Struggling to keep the spark alive
- Clinginess (too emotionally dependent)
While distance makes your relationship a touch more complicated, extra time and space give you a chance to do something exciting with your own life. You can then share this excitement with your partner.
Too much space, however, may lead to emotional distance. The difficulty arises when one partner wants more time to spend together, while the other partner needs time to focus on their own life, family and friends.
Spicing up your long-distance relationship can give you a sense of physical connection. Having something you can touch that you associate with your partner can give you a sense of closeness during times when you feel alone.
Tips and ideas to maintain intimacy in a long-distance relationship:
- Discuss deep and meaningful topics
- Have dirty talks with each other via sexting
- Play naughty games online
- Enjoy virtual sex
- Have virtual dates
- Send gifts and care packages.
If you do not have the means to visit each other as much as you would like, you rely on emotional connection to maintain your relationship. But it is only healthy for a short while.
Just remember that nothing can replace the physical touch of a romantic partner.
Here is a workbook to help you address intimacy issues and build a more intimate long-distance relationship.
Trust is a foundation for any healthy relationship. In a regular romantic relationship, partners see each other every day and feel each other’s demeanour and presence. In contrast, long-distance partners don’t get to see each other face-to-face and can’t feel each other’s presence.
Without tactile feedback, the only way emotions and feelings can be shared is through words. This is where effective communication can help to keep your long-distance relationship alive.
Without physical intimacy, you can expect to be sexually frustrated. And, when you combine sexual frustration with the lack of physical connection and potentially poor communication, it becomes hard to keep your long-distance relationship healthy.
Personal insecurities mixed with inherent uncertainties of a long-distance relationship lead to jealousy.
Trust issues in a long-distance relationship and sexual unfulfillment may lead to cheating.
You can address jealousy and cheating by building trust through open and honest communication.
Use our workbook to fix trust issues in your long-distance relationship before they negatively impact and ruin your romantic relationship.
Losing Interest & Drifting Apart
In a long-distance relationship, geographical distance can sometimes lead to emotional distance as well. The initial excitement and passion might slowly give way to feelings of uncertainty and detachment.
Losing interest is a concern that both partners should be aware of and address. The absence of daily physical connection can lead to a decrease in the novelty factor, potentially affecting the emotional connection. Maintaining physical intimacy in a long-distance relationship requires ongoing effort and dedication.
Drifting apart can occur gradually, often as a result of evolving separate lives. As both partners have routines, form new friendships, and pursue individual goals, there’s a possibility of growing in different directions. To keep your relationship alive, work on improving your communication and engage in fun activities to bring some excitement into your lives.
Open conversations about changing interests, plans, and aspirations can help prevent this emotional drift and ensure that you remain aligned on your journey together.
Here are some tips and ideas to prevent your long-distance relationship from getting boring:
- Keep communication fresh
- Surprise with thoughtfulness
- Engage in shared activities
- Plan virtual date nights
- Play video games
- Play naughty games online
- Delve into meaningful topics
- Spontaneous visits
- Joint goal setting
- Harness digital tools
- Learn and grow together
- Cultivate personal interests
- Diverse conversations
- Share daily moments
We’re all human, and that means facing personal challenges along the way, even in a long-distance relationship. Here’s a glimpse into some of these challenges:
- Fears, Uncertainty, and Doubts
Distance brings a lot of uncertainty into a relationship, leaving you with doubts about how things will unfold. It’s okay to share these worries with your partner. They might be feeling the same way, and discussing your fears can bring you closer.
The distance can sometimes make you feel a bit unsure about where you stand. Remember, open communication is key. Sharing your feelings of insecurity can help your partner understand your emotions better and reassure you.
- Stress and Anxiety
Life’s stressors can pile up, and distance might amplify them. Talk to your partner about your worries. They might offer a different perspective or suggest ways to manage stress together.
There might be moments when the distance intensifies feelings of sadness. Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help if needed. Sharing your emotions with your partner can also provide much-needed support.
- Negative Feelings
Feeling down or frustrated is normal, especially when dealing with distance. Instead of bottling up these feelings, discuss them with your partner. Together, you might find ways to turn things around.
- Feeling Sad, Lonely, and Disconnected
There’ll be times when the miles between you seem endless. Let your partner know when you feel sad or alone. And, together, you can brainstorm ways to bridge the emotional gap and maintain an emotional connection.
Personal issues have a great deal of influence on your long-distance relationship. You can ask your partner to help you deal with your personal issues, as long as you remember the limitation of how much they can do and say from a distance.
Remember, everyone goes through rough patches. Being open about your personal challenges not only deepens your bond but also gives you both a chance to support each other through life’s ups and downs.
That said, it is up to each person to sort out their individual issues. Share your personal issues with your partner, but don’t expect them to solve these issues for you.
Staying in a Toxic Long-Distance Relationship
Staying in a toxic long-distance relationship can be detrimental to your emotional well-being and personal growth. Here’re the reasons you should consider ending your existing relationship:
- Toxic relationships can drain your emotional energy, leaving you feeling exhausted and mentally strained.
- Toxic relationships can stunt personal growth and development. Instead of nurturing your aspirations and pursuits, you might find yourself trapped in a cycle of conflict, negativity, and emotional distress.
- Prolonged exposure to toxicity can lead to anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem. Being physically apart doesn’t exempt you from the emotional toll of a toxic dynamic.
- In a toxic relationship, effective communication becomes nearly impossible. The physical distance can magnify communication problems, hindering any chance of resolving conflicts or addressing concerns.
- Physical distance can make it even harder to rebuild trust, leading to a cycle of suspicion and insecurity.
- While investing time and energy in a toxic relationship, you might be missing out on opportunities to connect with positive influences, build new friendships, and explore personal interests.
- Being in a toxic long-distance relationship can make you feel isolated emotionally. The lack of physical connection makes it challenging to seek solace or emotional support from your partner.
- The hope that things might change can keep you trapped in a toxic dynamic. The distance might create an illusion that things will improve once you’re physically together, but change often requires joint effort and willingness.
Recognising the signs of toxicity and taking steps to free yourself from a damaging relationship, regardless of the distance, is crucial for your well-being. While the decision might be difficult, prioritising your own happiness and growth is essential in the journey towards healthier relationships and fulfilling life.
Long-distance relationships become unhealthy when a partner doesn’t resolve their problems. While issues can be ignored for a short while, over time, unresolved problems lead to a toxic relationship. Take a look at our article to learn how to break free from a toxic long-distance relationship.
If you feel that your long-distance relationship is becoming too much, and you can’t handle it any more, consider the following:
- Take some time apart.
- Tell your long-distance partner that you would like a week apart to get in touch with yourself and your feelings.
- Reflect on your relationship.
- Rediscover what you want from your partner and from this long-distance relationship.
- Encourage your partner to reflect as well.
- Share your discoveries.
- Tell your partner why you feel a certain way.
- Share with your partner what you think is not working.
- Choose your next steps together, instead of giving them an ultimatum.
After a week apart you may find that you can see things more clearly and have solutions for your problems. You may also find that your long-distance relationship is not working for you and you may want to end it.
Before you try to fix your long-distance relationship, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Sometimes, a long-distance relationship does not work, and it’s time to let it go.
Many long-distance couples tend to struggle in their relationship feeling powerless in the face of circumstances. While some challenges are expected, staying in a toxic relationship without resolution can negatively impact a partner’s life and well-being.
Not Getting Professional Help
Problems are part of life and are completely normal for a long-distance relationship. It is failure to address these problems effectively in a timely manner that leads to a broken relationship.
However, some problems can be beyond the partner’s capacity to work them out.
As long as you have understanding and willingness to hear each other, you can find a solution that works for both of you.
However, sometimes overwhelming emotions can make it extremely difficult to look at your situation objectively. So, in an effort to address issues, you may end up with more problems.
Professional input can go a long way. Be it communication problems or sex and intimacy issues, we are here to help. So, if you have a burning issue you would like to discuss, book a coaching session or check out our coaching options.
How to Fix Problems in a Long-Distance Relationship
Here are practical steps you can take to fix your long-distance relationship:
- Figure out what is not working in your long-distance relationship.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings on different aspects of your relationship.
- Share your feelings, thoughts, and concerns with your long-distance partner.
- Allow your partner the time to reflect on what you said.
- Take time to listen to your partner’s feelings, thoughts, doubts, and concerns.
- Discuss your issues with your long-distance partner.
- Together with your partner, you can find a solution that works for both of you and your relationship.
To learn more, check out our special article where we explore the 7 steps to fix any problem in a long-distance relationship.
In a long-distance relationship, you face many of the same problems as a couple in a regular relationship. However, some problems are specific to long-distance relationships.
Distance brings a lot of uncertainties and confusion into a relationship. Online communication and lack of physical intimacy give rise to many issues. Having a strategy to address issues effectively will help you maintain trust and connection in your long-distance relationship.
Effective communication is an absolute key to a successful long-distance relationship. Many long-distance relationship problems can be avoided by making an effort and practising effective communication.
Try to avoid excessive communication and it can make your long-distance relationship boring. And, a boring relationship becomes a chore.
Trust and effective communication are essential to make your long-distance relationship work. One of the main problems is the lack of physical intimacy. A romantic relationship involves physical closeness, and when you can’t share a physical connection with the person you love, there is a void. After some time, you may feel increasingly distant from each other. While physical distance can be managed, it’s the emotional connection that keeps your relationship alive.
If you are serious about making your long-distance relationship work, use our complete step-by-step guide to help you along. It will take you and your partner through every aspect of your long-distance relationship, so you can address any issues you may have.
- Recognise your long-distance relationship for what it is and not for what you want it to be.
- If something is not working, figure out what it is.
- Assess your possibilities and set realistic expectations about your relationship.
- Recognise your feelings and talk to your partner about how they feel about being in a long-distance relationship.
- Agree on the means and frequency of your communication.
- Maintain trust, honesty, and openness.
- Remember to talk about meaningful things.
- Avoid talking too much about nothing.
- Make a plan and a timeline for how often you will visit each other, and when you will move in together.
Learn all there is to know about making a long-distance relationship work in our dedicated article.
If you’re struggling in a long-distance relationship, ask yourself if your relationship is worth it. When you start a relationship with someone, you expect it to bring joy and fulfilment into your life. Every relationship has problems. But, if all you have in your relationship is a struggle, you might be better off moving on. Some problems are easy to fix. But sometimes the best thing you can do is to end the relationship that isn’t working and create a more healthy one with someone else.
Frequently Asked Questions about Long-Distance Relationship Problems
What are the problems with long-distance relationships?
The main problems with long-distance relationships are communication and lack of physical intimacy. Bad communication can lead to confusion and misunderstanding and result in unnecessary fights and arguments. The lack of physical intimacy can lead to sexual frustration and anxiety. Anxiety and depression can make your long-distance relationship more of a struggle than a fulfilling experience.
How do you deal with long-distance relationship problems?
You can deal with long-distance relationship problems by having understanding. You can build understanding by having open, transparent and honest communication. When you have understanding in a relationship, you can freely express yourself as well as be able to see your partner’s point of you. As long as you have a willingness to hear and understand each other, you have a chance to make your long-distance relationship healthy and successful.
How to fix long-distance relationship problems?
To fix long-distance relationship problems, you need to know what these problems are. Once you identify the problems, see if they are worth fixing. As long as you and your partner have a willingness to fix problems in your relationship, you can try to do so. However, if your feelings have changed and you drifted apart, perhaps it’s time to move on from your relationship altogether.
How to solve long-distance relationship problems?
You can solve most long-distance relationship problems through effective communication. Using effective communication, you can navigate your long-distance relationship and identify issues as they arise, before they destroy your relationship. Having a plan can reassure you that your long-distance relationship is going in the right direction.
How to emotionally deal with a long-distance relationship?
When your emotions run high, you risk having unnecessary arguments. Take time to recognise these emotions, and where they come from. Identify the needs behind these emotions. Share them with your long-distance partner in a calm and informative way. Avoid acting on your emotions right away, as your partner may not know how to deal with them and might become defensive.
How to deal with the stress of a long-distance relationship?
To deal with the stress of a long-distance relationship, take some time away from your relationship. It will allow you to reassess how this relationship contributes to your life. It will also give a chance to your partner to reflect on how they feel about your relationship. When you take some time away from the situation, you can come back to it with some discoveries and ideas for dealing with it.
How to deal with long-distance relationship pain?
To deal with pain in a long-distance relationship, you need to understand the source of your pain. Once you know what is causing your pain, you should share your discoveries with your long-distance partner. Try and avoid keeping them to yourself, because that deprives your partner opportunity to help you.
How to deal with a long-distance relationship while pregnant?
To deal with a long-distance relationship while pregnant, you need to have a supportive partner. It can help to have a plan and a timeline in a long-distance relationship. It’s even more important to have a plan if you’re expecting a baby. Make sure you plan how your long-distance relationship will work, how long it will last, and when you will be able to move in together.
What is the most difficult thing in a long-distance relationship?
The most challenging aspect of a long-distance relationship is a lack of physical presence due to geographical separation. Being unable to share daily experiences, physical touch, and spontaneous moments can create feelings of loneliness and longing. A long-distance relationship entails a lack of physical intimacy, communication challenges, time zone differences, and the struggle to maintain emotional intimacy.
What are the disadvantages of a long-distance relationship?
Disadvantages of a long-distance relationship include the lack of in-person connection, potential feelings of insecurity, difficulty in resolving conflicts due to distance, and the strain it can place on trust and emotional well-being.
What keeps a long-distance relationship strong?
Open communication, trust, commitment, and regular virtual interactions are vital to keeping a long-distance relationship strong. Sharing experiences, setting goals, and making plans for the future also help maintain the emotional connection.
What is the best part of a long-distance relationship?
The best part of a long-distance relationship is the opportunity for personal growth and independence. It encourages you to communicate effectively, strengthen your emotional connection, and appreciate the moments you have together.
Why do long-distance relationships hurt?
Long-distance relationships can hurt due to the yearning for physical closeness, the challenges of effective communication, and the fear of growing apart. The emotional toll of missing a partner can lead to feelings of sadness and frustration.
How do you maintain a long-distance relationship?
To maintain a long-distance relationship, prioritise open communication, establish a routine for virtual interactions, plan visits, build trust, set goals, and share experiences to create a sense of togetherness despite the miles.
Is it healthy to stay in a long-distance relationship?
A long-distance relationship can be healthy if both partners communicate openly, trust each other, maintain an emotional connection, and have a plan for eventually closing the distance. However, it requires effort and understanding to overcome the challenges posed by physical separation.