Miscommunication in a long-distance relationship is inevitable, but that doesn’t make understanding each other any easier in the moment.
The comforting thing about miscommunication, though, is that it usually happens by accident. You weren’t trying to hurt each other, you simply said (or didn’t say) something clearly.
And although you’ll never be able to eradicate communication problems in your long-distance relationship, you can intentionally take steps to reduce them.
Why Does Miscommunication Happen?
While the accuracy is debatable of the often-cited statistic that only 7% of communication is verbal, you can’t deny that body language and tone of voice play a significant role in expressing our thoughts and emotions.
Unfortunately, these non-verbal communication channels are often muted in a long-distance relationship. Video calling has greatly improved the landscape for long-distance, but internet and audio problems still occur regularly enough to affect understanding.
Technology isn’t the only source of our problems, however. The language we choose is influenced by the contexts we are immersed in daily. As the cultural, social, and physical context around each of you changes, the potential for missed references and inside jokes increases.
Finally, miscommunication happens because you’re both humans. Couples who live in the same geographic location misunderstand each other, too. It’s one of those inevitable growing pains of a relationship.
How to Reduce Miscommunication in a Long-Distance Relationship
Communication problems are natural and normal in long-distance relationships, but how you prepare for and respond to them determines the depth of their impact. Here are seven practical ways to reduce the frequency — or at least dampen the effect — of miscommunication.
1. Acknowledge the need for over-communication.
Expectations are important when it comes to relationship conflict. Sometimes, it helps to remind yourselves from the beginning that you’ll have to talk longer and more thoroughly in order to solve conflicts, particularly those caused by miscommunication. That way, you won’t get as frustrated about how long it takes you to figure out why you’re frustrated with each other.
2. Use video call.
The ability to see body language and facial expressions lowers the potential for miscommunication. Whenever possible, choose this medium over talking or texting.
3. Use a variety of mediums to communicate.
Although video is the best medium, different aspects of personality come across in texts, Snaps, letters, phone calls, and videos.
4. Have delicate conversations face-to-face.
Conflicts are breeding grounds for miscommunication. Whenever possible, talk about difficult subjects when you’re in the same place.
5. Consider the other’s context.
When you’re having a great day, it’s easy to forget that your boyfriend might be having a terrible one. Make a point to truly ask about how he’s doing.
It also helps to remember differences in your general contrasts. If he’s relaxing with friends on the beach while you’re overworked and alone in a blizzard, your moods won’t be the same.
6. Don’t assume feelings.
If you think he might be angry, ask him instead of guessing. If you’re angry, tell him clearly (and calmly). You can’t read his mind, so don’t expect him to read yours.
7. Be honest and open.
Hiding your true feelings is often easier, but it’s rarely helpful. You’ll likely either resent your boyfriend for not asking what’s wrong, or you’ll start to wonder if he really even knows you. Don’t believe the lie that you’re burdening him by showing your true feelings. If he cares about you, he’ll care about your emotions.
Communication Improves With Conversation
While talking doesn’t solve every problem in a relationship, it’s true that the longer you know each other, the better you will understand how each other communicates.
However, one of the most common long-distance relationship problems is not knowing what to talk about. If you’re struggling with this problem, these 225 conversation-starters can help propel your conversations forward.
Talking through those questions will not only give you practice communicating. It will also deepen your understanding of each other, which will help you process and predict problems in the future.