Have your conversations dried up with your long distance partner? Do you find yourselves sitting in uncomfortable silence, or having the same conversations over and over again?
If you’re struggling to think of things to say during your Skype or FaceTime sessions and it’s been this way for a while, it’s likely that you’re starting to panic a little. Perhaps you’ve heard that this is a really common problem for long distance couples – and it is.
But should you be worried? What does it mean when you have nothing to talk about anymore?
The truth is, it could mean quite a few different things and not all of them are bad. Sure, sometimes silence spells trouble for your relationship, but not always. It all depends on the full context of what’s happening.
Here are four reasons why you and your S.O. might have nothing new to say to each other, and how to figure out where to go from here.
1. You’re putting way too much pressure on yourselves
One of the biggest reasons why people ‘run out of things to say’ in LDRs is that their dates revolve around talking and nothing else.
Think about dialogue in novels or movies. Do people just sit there and converse at each other? No. Well – maybe in some bad movies they do. In good ones, they’re normally doing something else as well – cooking dinner, washing the car, walking the dog – basically, just going about daily life together.
Real life is a little like that, in the sense that if you’re engaged in some other activity whilst talking, you’ll find it easier to relax into the conversation, and easier to enjoy the silences.
In a LDR, you dial in specifically to talk. In this situation, not only is there a laser focus on each other and nothing to distract or occupy you, there’s also a ton of pressure on you to make it a ‘good conversation’.
If your mind goes blank in this context, or if it seems painfully awkward at times, that’s pretty normal!
2. Things are getting serious
I’ve written before about my experience with ‘awkward silences’ in otherwise great relationships. For most of my dating life, whenever things would develop to the point where feelings were getting serious, I’d start overthinking everything I said and finding it hard to relax. If this is happening to you, know that whilst this can be a bad thing, it can also just be an indication that you’re starting to realise how much this whole thing means to you and that you’re feeling self-conscious… perhaps about whether they feel the same way?
This is especially difficult if neither of you has said ‘I love you’ yet, but this can even occur later on down the line, for example if a proposal is on the cards and you don’t know exactly how that’s going to go.
If things are going really well besides this sudden feeling of anxiety, consider if you’re just reaching a milestone with your feelings. Then get them out in the open – scary as it is. You may find that your worries vanish then and there, or it might take a little longer, but if it’s meant to be you’ll eventually find it easier to talk again.
3. You’re just not compatible
When people talk about red flags in LDRs – or regular relationships, for that matter – they often say you should consider whether you’re having the same arguments over and over again.
Good advice. But equally important – and more insidious – is when it’s your best conversations which are repeating themselves.
I went through this in a previous LDR in my early 20s. My then-partner and I had these fascinating conversations about psychology, science, movies and so on. But the longer our relationship lasted, the more we noticed that we had the same conversations over and over again.
Looking back, this was a symptom (among many) that we just didn’t have enough in common to sustain a relationship. Early on, we’d got that ‘happy high’ from our discussions, and repeating them when things grew stale was our attempt to regain that feeling.
How do you know if this is what is happening in your relationship?
The good news is, this is just a single symptom and doesn’t by itself suggest incompatibility. If your goals and values are misaligned, you’ll probably have some idea of this already; the lack of conversation might be the final indication you need that this is going nowhere. But if you have a great relationship in other respects, don’t jump to conclusions just yet.
4. One or both of you is feeling low
Perhaps there’s just something on their mind. Or something on yours.
If anything major has happened to one or both of you lately – like a change of job, tragedy in the family, or serious illness – don’t take it as a reflection of the relationship if you or your partner are a little quieter than usual.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious about something, let them know. If you feel it’s something on their end, ask them how they are, if you haven’t already. Don’t keep on asking over and over again – it can be quite annoying to be on the receiving end of this if you can’t think of anything to say in reply – but do let them know that you’re happy to listen if they need to open up.
What else can you do?
Hopefully reading through the above has helped you to pin down why the conversation isn’t flowing. What can you do to make things feel more normal again?
Just hang out sometimes
It’s a wonderful feeling to hang out with a partner without any pressure to talk about anything in particular. Try having some movie nights, playing games or working on casual projects together – anything where you can be doing something as well as just talking.
If you’re stuck for ideas of what to do during your video calls, take a look at these virtual date ideas.
Share what’s going on in your lives
Being more aware of each other’s schedules will give you food for thought and conversation. There are tons of apps you can use to sync up your calendars and stay connected, plus plenty of easy ways to feel more like a couple, even when you’re apart.
What are your own best strategies for keeping the spark alive in your LDR? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you 🙂