Worried about long-distance relationship problems?
The list of challenges in your relationship might feel awfully long. However, not every problem is a cause for concern. Some issues fade naturally or turn out to be less serious than you originally thought.
How do you know when you should be concerned, though?
I think it’s helpful to view long-distance relationship problems in two main categories: long-distance problems and relationship problems.
The right response to a long-distance relationship problem depends on which type you’re experiencing. Let’s look at the differences between them to see why.
Long-distance problems are primarily situational. You wouldn’t be facing them if you weren’t living in two different places.
This category of long-distance relationship problems includes issues like:
- We run out of things to talk about because all we do is video call
- We don’t know each other’s friends because we never see them
- The pain of missing each other makes our conversations really discouraging
- It’s hard to know if we really know each other
You don’t need to worry about the existence of these problems because they’re not necessarily signs of a deeper issue in your relationship. They’re unavoidable symptoms of being apart from someone you care about.
Your response to these inevitable issues, though, is important.
If you’re not sure that you really know each other, that’s okay. But the healthy response in that situation would be to take things slowly, get to know each others’ friends, and possibly move closer to each other before making any long-term commitments.
Your attitude in the face of difficulty is also critical. If you encounter long-distance problems with endurance, hope, and wisdom, your relationship will be strengthened. You’ll learn valuable lessons in dealing with suffering.
But if your frustration results in avoidance, complaining, or anger, then you’re at risk of a more serious relationship problem.
Relationship problems are deeper than long-distance problems.
They’ve likely been there all along, and they’ll stick around once you’re together again — unless something major changes.
Relationship problems include issues such as:
- Not listening to the concerns of wise, trusted friends
- Poor emotional & physical boundaries
- Lack of honesty & openness in communication
- Constant worry about whether the other person is cheating
It’s crucial to understand when you’re facing a relationship problem. If you decide to move or get married without addressing it, your sorrows will only increase.
The trouble is that these problems are harder to see. While distance can reveal problems, it can also hide them.
For example, transitioning to a long-distance relationship may make you realize that the only things you had in common were mutual friends and your love for high school basketball, and that’s not enough to sustain a relationship.
At the same time, you could completely miss that fact because you think, “This is just a long-distance problem,” and you focus all your energy on getting back to the way things were.
Before you start worrying, remember that every relationship has problems. It’s not a death sentence for your relationship, but an invitation to think, seek wisdom, and make a change before moving forward.
You won’t be able to solve every problem while you’re dating — and you don’t need to. But it is important to adequately recognize a problem before you dismiss its significance.
How Do I Tell The Difference?
All of this leads to the question of how to tell the difference between the two types of long-distance relationship problems.
The best ways I know are time, input from others, and prayer.
Time will help you see trends with the problem. Look for possible causes and pay attention to when it tends to show up.
Next, listening to other people’s input will help you see things from an unbiased perspective. Love can be blind, but it doesn’t have to be deaf.
Finally, praying to God is so powerful (James 5:16). You won’t get the clear-as-day answer you’re hoping for, but the Holy Spirit can lead you as you walk with Christ and read the Bible.
I’ve Identified The Problem — What Now?
Once you know the type of problem you’re dealing with, you’re more prepared to work on it.
If you have a long-distance problem, create a strategy for how you’ll respond. Take the pressure off yourselves to solve the problem completely, and focus instead on reducing its impact.
If you have a relationship problem, consider how likely change is — and how motivated you are to make it happen.
If resolving the issue would require significant changes to your personalities or individual desires, it may be better for the two of you to go separate ways.
At some point, every couple must accept the responsibility of praying and asking hard questions about their future. Regardless of whether your relationship lasts, I think the process of discernment and the experience of distance will benefit you.
I want to encourage you, though, that God’s grace is abundant for broken relationships and wayward hearts. What’s more, his joy is freely available to give you hope in heartache when there’s no end in sight.
Surrender your fears, your failures, and your future to Christ, and you’ll be able to endure the hardest challenges imaginable.