Struggling with long-distance relationship communication or running out of things to talk about?
You’re not the only one. When I talk with women in long-distance dating relationships, many say that communicating effectively with their boyfriends is their biggest challenge.
“Communication problems” is a sweeping category, though. If we want to figure out how to fix yours, we’ll need to get specific.
Below are the five most common long-distance relationship communication problems that I’ve seen in my life and others’. For each problem, I’ve provided several solutions for you to try.
While these solutions aren’t simple, I hope you’ll see by the end that your communication problems aren’t as hopeless as you think.
Problem #1: Running Out of Things To Talk About
Awkward silence. Is it healthy or unhealthy? In a long-distance relationship, it depends on what’s causing the silence.
You may need to trial-and-error some solutions before you can determine the real cause. Start by trying one of these.
Get inspiration. Running out of things to talk about in a long-distance relationship is often a practical problem with a practical solution.
When all you can do is talk, you need an extensive topic bank. These 225 long-distance relationship conversation starters are a great place to find inspiration.
Do things. Some people just aren’t talkative. That’s okay!
If that’s you, find activities that aren’t heart-to-heart talks, like these long-distance date ideas. Even people who love to talk can benefit from non-conversational activities once in a while, too.
Talk less often. Just because you can talk every day doesn’t mean you should. If you talk about the same things endlessly, you might be talking too much.
To solve this, agree to switch up the communication frequency in your long-distance relationship for a few weeks. Then, weigh the results to see if anything improved.
Talk more often. On the other hand, some couples don’t talk enough. Seasons of busy-ness come and go, right? More often than not, they come and don’t go.
If you struggle to find enough time to talk, create a consistent calling schedule. Treat video calls like you would an actual date — don’t cancel and don’t be late.
Evaluate your friendship. The foundation of a strong marriage is not flirting or fun, but deep friendship. You begin laying this foundation while you’re dating.
If you find yourselves wanting to talk less and less, you may need to consider if the two of you have as much in common as you thought.
Problem #2: “It’s Not You, It’s My Internet”
My husband and I never realized how much we said, “What did you say?” and “I missed that, can you repeat what you said?” on phone calls until we weren’t long-distance anymore.
Looking back, many of our communication frustrations were actually the result of the limits of technology. Today’s video calling software is amazing, but it isn’t perfect.
Dropped audio, missed body language cues, and interruptions are just a few causes of communication problems. What’s the solution?
Work on communication proactively. You’re stuck with the technology you’ve got (unless you’re an entrepreneur — in which case, you should definitely try to improve technology). So, learn its limits and anticipate potential problems before they happen.
If you can identify ways to prevent miscommunication, you’ll avoid frustration. Read 7 Practical Tips for Reducing Miscommunication in a Long-Distance Relationship.
Problem #3: It’s Like You’re Speaking Different Languages
Each of us communicates our thoughts, feelings, and needs in unique ways. If you miss these differences, you will hurt each other without realizing it or knowing why.
Learning how someone else naturally communicates is hard. But love is patient and kind, especially in the face of strong differences (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Learn each other’s love languages. One of The Five Love Languages noted by Dr. Gary Chapman is Words of Affirmation, and a common variation of Quality Time is Quality Conversation.
If you or your boyfriend have these love languages, you’ll benefit from learning how your words impact the other person.
Practicing your love languages can yield a ton of progress in your communication. If words don’t come naturally to you, no worries. Check out this guide on How To Speak Words of Affirmation.
Observe family dynamics. Our families affect us much more than we’d like to believe. At first glance, you’d think that my family is very similar to my husband’s family. We’ve learned, however, that our communication styles are distinct.
And while talking about these differences can help, it’s often easier to learn them through observation.
When you get the rare chance to join a family gathering, watch how your boyfriend’s family interacts with one another, and see if those patterns are mirrored in your relationship.
Consider your cultures. If you and your long-distance boyfriend are from different countries, it may be helpful to learn about intercultural communication.
Accents and languages are obvious differences between cultures, but the more challenging and rewarding task involves understanding subtle cultural contrasts. This article can introduce you to the concept of high-context and low-context cultures.
Problem #4: You Forgot Everything From Conflict 101
Every couple has to learn how to argue as their relationship matures.
Sometimes, you’re stressed by pressure from work, school or family. Other times, you’ll be frustrated about canceled trips and changed plans. Most of the time, you’ll want your own way and your boyfriend will want his way.
A swift self-examination and a gracious response will go a long way in helping you resolve conflict (Proverbs 15:1, 17:14). Review these steps if it feels like you’re always struggling against each other:
Admit when you’re wrong. Perhaps I could remove “when” from that statement. I may not have started the conflict, but ninety-nine percent of the time, I’ve acted wrongly in my response to it.
I’m not saying that you need to accept responsibility for things that aren’t your fault. But I can testify that taking a closer look at my own heart usually reveals I’m not innocent, either.
Letting yourself be the first to apologize shows humility, and it’s the first step in breaking down barriers.
Extend forgiveness. When you’ve been hurt, forgiveness is hard. But bitterness is worse — it hardens your heart. Read Matthew 18:21-35 if you need convincing that forgiveness is a must.
If jealousy is what’s causing your arguments, read 5 Wise Steps for Dealing With Jealousy in a Long-Distance Relationship.
Prioritize face-to-face conversations. If you’re having an argument, you’ll want to resolve it as quickly as possible. If the problem isn’t urgent, though, wait until you can talk about in-person (see Problem #2).
Problem #5: You Expect Perfect Communication
Your long-distance relationship communication won’t always be smooth. Expecting anything different implies that you think you’re capable of being all-knowing and always-loving, all the time.
But truthfully, only God is perfect. And thankfully, he gives us a way to communicate with him about our challenges through prayer.
Whether you’re brimming with anger, crippled by confusion, or saddened by silence, God is willing to listen. In fact, Jesus died so that you could have a close, father-like relationship with God.
Communicate with God. You’ll never run out of things to talk about with him (John 21:25). You can’t encounter technical difficulties in prayer — God knows what you need before you even ask (Matthew 6:8).
He’s familiar with all the intricacies of your communication style (Psalm 139:1-3). And he already sent Jesus to settle your conflict with him and reconcile your relationship (Romans 5:10).
Figure out who you’re fighting. Do you think that God’s desires and yours are always at odds? If you’re seeking healthier communication with your boyfriend, you and God are on the same page.
He wants to help you love one another selflessly. His methods might challenge and stretch you more than you’d like, but they’re meant for your good and His glory.
The real fight is not against your boyfriend or God. The fight is against wrong desires like revenge, bitterness, and self-righteousness, “which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
Cling to hope. Your hope for better communication is sturdier with Christ than without. He’s capable of softening and uniting the hardest of hearts — even yours and your boyfriend’s.
This kind of hope outweighs a fatalistic mindset. Instead of seeing communication problems as a weakness, view each one as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship.
One last thing…
I didn’t mention one long-distance relationship communication problem that’s different from the rest, but crucial to understand. It’s the problem of sharing too much, too quickly.
Read Reclaiming the Heart of Purity With Emotional Boundaries to find out more.