It’s no secret that long distance relationships are difficult. They tend to collapse under the weight of constant Skyping and mounting credit card debt. Lots of them also fail for the same reasons no-distance relationships fail. Sure, there are couples who make long distance work, but they are rare. If you’re learning that absence makes the heart grow fonder the hard way, and wondering why your bi-coastal romance is going south, you’re not alone. Here are 10 Reasons Why Long Distance Relationships Fail.
Communication Feels Like A Burden
The first thing that many couples do when attempting long distance is to set up a rigorous communication schedule. Suddenly, you’ve committed to talking on the phone every morning, texting through lunch, and setting up a Google Hangout every night. Before you lay down a rigid chatting schedule, remind yourself how often you saw each other when you were in the same city. Most couples that don’t live together don’t see each other every day. Even if they do, it isn’t often at the same time and in the same way. You’ll likely feel the impulse to maximize communication as a way to strengthen your relationship; fight this impulse. Doing what you think you’re supposed to do rather than what both partners want to do is a great way to ruin a relationship.
Love ain’t cheap. Even if you only live a few hours away from your partner, someone is going be spending a tank of gas or buying a Megabus ticket every time you want to see each other. The larger the distance, of course, the larger the transportation bill. Work time lost travelling can be a problem as well. If every other weekend is spent travelling to see each other, you could be missing out on side money, networking, or career development opportunities. It may feel crass to think about the cost of love, but we live in the real world, and in the real world you have to pay your rent.
The Social Life Gap
All nightlife is not created equal. If one member of the couple is shipping off to graduate school in a flyover state and the other is staying in a major metropolis, resentment can quickly brew. One partner may return from a long day of work exhausted and ready to talk about their day while the other wants to spend their after work time bouncing from happy hour to happy hour. If you’re stuck staring at the endless cornfields of rural Nebraska while your significant other is attending rooftop urban pool parties, jealousy will likely enter the equation. The best bet is to be honest about your feelings and remember that your partner didn’t force to you to apply for an Antarctic research grant, and they shouldn’t be punished for your loneliness.
Your Environment Changes You
We are loathe to admit it, but our environment changes us. No matter how much we would like to think that we are each unique snowflakes, we are and continue to be a product of our little corner of the world. I am from a small Pennsylvania town. Like me, a lot of my friends got the Hell out of there as soon as they could. Some of them had girlfriends that were still in high school or attending a local college when they left. As my friends got out into the wider world, as they moved to urban areas, went off to college, or joined the military, their world view and their values changed. The rural ideal of marriage at twenty-two, children at twenty-five, and a house down the street from your parents didn’t sound as sweet as it once did. In many cases, their conservative world view changed as their partner’s stayed the same. It isn’t that a house and 2.5 kids isn’t a fine dream. In fact, it continues to work out for a lot of people. But, if the dreams of one partner change, the relationship has to change as a result, or maybe even come to an end.
Not Having Sex Sucks
This is the elephant in the room, right? Everybody likes to have sex as often as possible, biological limitations not withstanding. There are plenty of ways to address the issue of sex, but no matter how you’re going to handle it, you have to talk about it. Some couples employ a don’t ask don’t tell policy while they’re separated. Many couples aren’t down with that, and decide to get by with phone sex, erotic Skype sessions, and marathon sexcapades on those rare moments when they are together. There is no right or wrong answer as long as you’re honest with yourself. Just don’t agree to something you aren’t comfortable with and then get angry when things play out exactly as you and your partner decides they would.
You Aren’t Willing to Sacrifice For Each Other
In the twenty-first century, many couples include two career-minded, driven individuals. If your goals are pulling you in different directions, eventually one person is going to have to sacrifice for the other, or the relationship will end. If you’re working towards a creative writing MFA in New York or you’re grinding out that prestigious tech internship in Silicon Valley, are you really going to leave your network and connections to be with your partner once you’ve finished this leg of the journey? Are they eventually going to leave their job and their friends to be with you? Long distance relationships involve a lot of little sacrifices of your time and money over time. Before you commit thousands of dollars and all of your frequent flyer miles to a relationship, it might be a good idea to make sure that you’re both seeing the same end game.
You Can’t Feel The Relationship Progress
Eventually, you have to move in with each other or break-up. Generally, that’s how relationships work. That point usually hits around the two to three year mark, depending on just how commitment-phobic the two of you may be. I’ve seen it happen as early as six months in, but those relationships tend to burn brightly and then flame out. When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you can’t incrementally increase intimacy, there is no way to further connect your lives. No matter how cheesy it might be, there is meaning behind keeping some clothes at your girlfriend’s place. There is something to making your boyfriend a key. Moving in together is a huge step. If you don’t have to take any of these steps, then you can keep a comfortable distance between you that allows for the denial of any incompatibility. One of the greatest dangers of long distance relationships is that you end up dating the idea of a person and never come to terms with your partner’s flaws.
No Set Reunion Date
Long distance relationships generally happen for a reason. One partner may get a job in another city, go back to school, or need some time to take care of family business. All of these things can happen on timetables; all of them can have a firm end date. If there is no time table for reuniting with your significant other, that’s a problem. If you don’t have a date to look forward to, your will to work through rough spots will diminish. If you have no idea when a tough situation is going to end, it is much harder to justify to yourself why you’re putting yourself through it in the first place.
You Grow Apart
There is a good chance you went the long distance route because you and your partner are at different stages in your life. For example, one of the most common long distance scenarios is one partner is still in college while the other enters the working world. This means that one person is living in a protected dream world of booze and philosophy while the other is coming to terms with the harsh realities of student loan payments and slum lords. It’s often said that you can’t make anyone change; it is equally true that you can’t stop someone from changing. Whether one of you is in college and the other is working, one of you is floating through your twenties while the other is starting their career, or one of you finding yourself while the other is settling down, it is important to be frank with each other about how you’re evolving. Sometimes reuniting after a period of long-distance isn’t just asking someone to move, it can be asking someone to fundamentally change who they are. Surprisingly, that doesn’t turn out so well.