Why Long-Distance Relationships Do Not Work

Why Long-Distance Relationships Don't Work

Are you in a long-distance relationships that doesn’t seem to work and you would like to know why?

Long-distance relationships don’t work because couples see them as regular relationships. When you are away from your romantic partner, it’s hard to maintain an emotional and physical connection for a long time. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, fights and arguments. A lack of physical intimacy leads to sexual frustration.

These are the fundamental reasons why long-distance relationships don’t work. But each of them leads to several problems that make a long-distance relationship harder to manage. 

After some time, your long-distance relationship turns into a daunting experience. At which point, you can try to fix the problems or end your relationship.

In this article, we’ll talk about the reasons why long-distance relationships don’t work, some of the problems that can come out as a result, and how to fix them.

Reasons Why Long-Distance Relationships Don’t Work

Long-distance relationships can be a lot of fun. However, there are a few reasons why they don’t work:

  1. Not knowing what a long-distance relationship is.
  2. A lack of planning.
  3. Poor communication.
  4. A lack of physical intimacy.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why long-distance relationships don’t work and what you can do to fix them.

1. Not Knowing What a Long-Distance Relationship Is

One of the main reasons long-distance relationships don’t work is that couples don’t fully understand what they are. When couples get into a long-distance relationship, they expect it to be the same as any other relationship. 

A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship where partners are separated by geographical distance.

When you understand how the distance affects your relationship, you will have a better chance of knowing how to handle your long-distance relationship. Here is our step by step guide on how you and your partner can handle the distance in your relationship.

Long-distance relationships are fundamentally different from regular relationships where partners live together in two ways: communication and physical intimacy. Effective communication and understanding is the key to a healthy relationship. Physical intimacy is what makes a relationship romantic.

So, with these two aspects of a relationship being different, it means that a long-distance relationship should only last for a short period. We’ll look at them in just a moment.

It brings us to a second reason why long-distance relationships don’t work – a lack of planning.

2. A Lack Of Planning

Suppose you don’t have a plan. In that case, you won’t know how long your long-distance relationship will last and when you will move in together. All problems and negative feelings of being apart will seem to last forever.

A long-distance relationship has a lot of uncertainties. Having a plan and a timeline will help you navigate your long-distance relationship and reassure you that it’s going in the right direction.

Couples who get into a long-distance relationship without a plan, quickly find out that it’s a lot harder than expected. When you’re away from your partner, you are physically and emotionally confused because you have a romantic relationship. Still, at the same time, you’re alone.

When you have a plan, at any moment, you can look at it and remind yourself of why you are in a long-distance relationship.

A plan helps you keep the focus on what you want to achieve from a long-distance relationship, and you will also know the next time you will visit your partner.

If you don’t yet have a plan and a timeline for your relationship, you absolutely need them if your relationship is to have any chance of success. To help you get started, here is a practical workbook that will guide you through the necessary steps.

3. Poor Communication

Poor communication can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. Misunderstandings can turn into unnecessary fights and arguments and may very well ruin your relationship.

The difficulty with communication in a long-distance relationship is the fact that you cannot see your partner. When you talk to someone in front of you, you can observe their body language and pick up on subtle behavioural changes.

Noticing these changes can help you understand what your partner is feeling and will allow you to navigate your conversation in a better way.

In a long-distance relationship, the only way you communicate is through speaking and writing.

Suppose you can’t express yourself clearly and comfortably with words. In that case, you won’t have any other way of sharing your thoughts and feelings to your partner.

One thing you can do is to structure your messages with correct grammar and without abbreviations. It’s also worth checking with your partner that they understood you in the way you intended.

Another thing is to keep phone calls and text messages to more casual topics. If you have something more significant to discuss, it’s best to do it through video calls or when you see each other during your visits.

If you are serious about making your relationship work, communication is the very first thing you should be focusing on. While it may be hard to know where to begin, you can use this workbook to give you guidance and take you through necessary steps.

4. A Lack of Physical Intimacy

Lack of physical intimacy is, by far the hardest thing to manage in a long-distance relationship.

When you start a romantic relationship, you naturally expect to be physically intimate with your partner.

You can only have physical intimacy during your visits or when you go on trips in a long-distance relationship.

While you can use effective communication to keep an emotional connection; the only times you can be physically intimate can be weeks or months apart. If you don’t need frequent sexual satisfaction and are quite happy to be alone most of the time, a long-distance relationship might work for you.

However, for most people, a romantic relationship means sexual intimacy. Otherwise, you can quite happily be friends over a long-distance for an extended period.

Here is our step by step guide on intimacy in a long-distance relationship.

Why Long-Distance Relationships Don’t Work in College? 

When young couples are separated because one partner is going to college, a long-distance relationship is on the table.

Long-distance relationships are generally reserved for couples who have to be away for a few months due to several reasons. But, at college usually takes a couple of years. It is too long to maintain physical and emotional intimacy.

When you’re a teenager or in your 20s, you are still growing and developing as a person. A college is a place where you meet like-minded people, for different relationships, and of course, you need some time to study.

Trying to maintain a long-distance relationship in college can be challenging and even unnecessary.

One reason long-distance relationships don’t work in college is that it’s too much pressure to balance college life and a relationship with someone who isn’t there.

When you are in college and a long-distance relationship, you are torn between having fun with people around you and trying to maintain a connection with someone who is far away.

How Do You Know Your Long-Distance Relationship Isn’t Working? 

When you are in a long-distance relationship, sometimes you may feel that it’s not working. Other times, it isn’t.

It’s helpful to know and separate your feelings from something that happens in your relationship. For example, you may feel sad and alone. These feelings may have something to do with your life, your relationship, or the fact you cannot be physically together with your romantic partner.

Understanding how you feel and what is behind these feelings will help you make the right decisions. You will be able to handle your long-distance relationship and avoid making rash decisions that you may later regret.

If you have certain feelings and doubts, it helps if you share them with your long-distance partner.

Unless you tell them precisely what’s going on, they have no other way of finding out. Remember the communication problem we talked about earlier? It’s how a lack of effective communication can manifest itself into a pain in your long-distance relationship.

There are, however, clear signs that your long-distance relationship isn’t working, so let’s have a look at them.

If you find yourself questioning your relationship, check out this workbook that will help you get clarity about the state of your relationship and will guide towards making the best decision moving forward.

Signs Your Long-Distance Relationship Is not Working

Here are some signs that your long-distance relationship doesn’t work:

  • You feel sexually frustrated because of the lack of physical intimacy.
  • You argue a lot with your long-distance partner because of confusion and misunderstanding due to poor communication.
  • You are jealous of your partner’s friends for spending too much time with your partner.
  • Jealousy leads to controlling behaviour, and you’re trying to restrict your partner from seeing their friends or having fun.
  • One of you is repeatedly cheating.
  • Your long-distance relationship is boring.
  • You, your partner, or both of you lost interest in your relationship.
  • You no longer visit each other regularly.
  • You don’t talk about feelings and plans for moving in together.

What to Do When Your Long-Distance Relationship Doesn’t Work?

What to Do if a Long-Distance Relationship Is not Working? 

If your long-distance relationship isn’t working, you can either try to fix it or let it go.

The only way you can fix problems in a long-distance relationship is if both of you have the willingness to do so. As long as both of you are prepared to hear each other’s perspective, you can find solutions to most problems.

You need to have an effective, clear, and honest communication if you are to fix your relationship problems

After you’ve talked to your partner about things that bother you and different aspects of your relationship that aren’t working, you may find a solution that works for both of you. That said, you may also discover that your long-distance relationship isn’t working because your feelings have faded away. Or one of you might have developed feelings for someone else.

When you are away from your romantic partner for a long time, you risk drifting apart. Instead of sharing the same experiences, you live two different lives.

If you discover that a long-distance relationship is no longer working for you, you have a few options:

  1. If your problem is the distance, you can try to move in sooner. 
  2. When the problem is the lack of physical intimacy, you could consider an open long-distance relationship.
  3. You may also discover that your feelings have changed, but you still want to have each other in your lives. In this case, you may consider staying friends.
  4. It’s also okay to end your relationship entirely, as long as you do so together and with understanding.

When your long-distance relationship doesn’t work, you can try to fix it, or you can let it go. Before you make any big decisions, take a look at this article to get familiar with all areas of your long-distance relationship.

Suppose you can identify specific problems that cause discord in your long-distance relationship. In that case, you can talk about these problems with your long-distance partner, and together you might find a solution.

However, sometimes especially if you have been in a long-distance relationship for a while, your feelings my fadeaway or you may develop feelings for someone else. If this happens, you have two choices. You can end your relationship, or you can remain friends.

If you would like to reassess different areas of your relationship and address any issues, check out this step by step guide.


Long-distance relationships are generally quite hard to maintain. There are several reasons why long-distance relationships don’t work.

But if you are in a long-distance relationship with someone you love, there are ways you can fix most of the problems by recognising where they come from and learning how to deal with them.

If you are in love with someone who is far away and you want to be together, there are ways you can make a long-distance relationship work and find your way towards each other.

It can certainly be challenging to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship. And that’s why we’ve created this workbook that covers many aspects of an LDR and allows you and your partner to work together on your relationship.

How Healthy Is Your Long-Distance Relationship?

If you are having doubts about your long-distance relationship and are not sure if you should try to fix it or let it go, here is our step by step guide to help you and your partner reassess your relationship and make an educated decision that works for both of you.

Relationship Coaching for Long-Distance Couples

Long-distance relationships are hard to maintain without knowing exactly what they involve.

However, once you understand what long-distance relationships are, what they are not and how to navigate them, you are a lot more likely to make it work.

We specialise in helping long-distance couples create and maintain a healthy relationship by building intimacy, trust and effective communication.

If you are starting a long-distance relationship or are already in one, send us a message to book an individual coaching session for yourself or a couples coaching session for you and your partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don’t long-distance relationships work?

Long-distance relationships don’t work because couples don’t take the time to learn how to handle them properly. For example, the way you communicate in a long-distance relationship is very different from seeing your partner every day. There are various ways you can improve your communication and increase understanding with your long-distance partner. In doing so, you will avoid unnecessary fights and arguments and will be able to maintain harmony in your relationship.

How do you know your long-distance relationship is not working?

You are no longer enjoying being in this relationship;
You are feeling sad more often than you are excited;
It lasts longer than you planned.

How come long-distance relationships don’t work?

Long-distance relationships don’t work because couples see them as regular relationships. But being away from your romantic partner has implications. The way you communicate is different, and you can only be physically intimate during your visits which are weeks or months apart. To make a long-distance relationship work, you should understand what it is, what it isn’t, and how to handle it.

How do you know if a long-distance relationship isn’t working?

You know that your long-distance relationship isn’t working when it brings you more suffering than joy. Many couples pursue a long-distance relationship even if they feel miserable. They think that a successful long-distance relationship is the one that lasts the longest. But what’s the point in being in a relationship that makes you unhappy.

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