The rate of long distance break-ups is similar to regular relationships, but there’s one big difference: the miles between you can make it especially difficult to recognise when it’s time to move on.
When you don’t spend as much time together, it’s can be easy to sweep issues under the rug (you’re not coming home to it every night, after all). Before you know it, it becomes a ‘new normal’ for the two of you, making it harder for either of you to take any steps towards calling it a day.
You also won’t have friends and family around the two of you quite as much as you would in a regular relationship, so the people who might normally be able to tell you their concerns probably won’t be in the loop about what you’re going through.
Whatever your reasons for having misgivings about your relationship, don’t push them aside. Here are 10 signs that you might need to move on from your LDR.
1. You feel like it’s a chore to talk to them
No matter how in love you are, there will be times when you run out of things to talk about, times when you need to be a bit more creative to keep things interesting, and times when you have conflicting priorities (career, family etc.) and need to cancel a date. That’s normal.
But if you really don’t look forward to spending time together at all, and you feel like it’s becoming more of a duty than a desire, it’s definitely time to ask yourself why.
If your conversations have dried up and you’re not sure if it’s because of the distance or because you genuinely aren’t compatible, read through this post and see if any of it rings a bell.
2. The relationship feels ‘fake’
Does it feel like you’re not really an item with your long distance partner? If not… then why not?
One reason that romance can fade is that something else urgent is taking up most of your time. This can happen with regular couples too – sometimes life just takes over and you can stop feeling like lovers and end up feeling more like roommates (or in this case, perhaps more like pen-pals).
If you do have a deep connection with your partner but just feel like things have been unromantic lately, agree together that you’ll put time aside for date nights, no matter how busy you get. Make the effort to communicate your feelings by sending care packages, letters and messages. Even just sending good morning and goodnight texts can make a difference.
However, if it’s not a temporary change and you feel you just don’t connect on a deeper level, it may be because you want different things from a relationship. For some, a boyfriend/girlfriend needs to be their best friend and someone to have deep and meaningful conversations with. For others, dating is less philosophical. Likewise, some people enjoy a lot of romantic gestures, others don’t. Neither one is right or wrong, but neither one of you should be left feeling unfulfilled. If you are, this could be a sign that you just aren’t suited to each other.
3. You’re keeping secrets
LDRs make it easy to compartmentalise your life. This can be a good thing sometimes – you have plenty of time and space to grow as a person and maintain a healthy amount of independence. But this easy separation of different parts of your life can also mean you’re keeping huge parts of it hidden from your partner.
It really isn’t necessary to share every tiny thought, action and fantasy with your partner. But if you’re keeping big secrets about things related to your deepest values and goals – perhaps because you know they won’t be on board with them – this can be a sign that you might not be in it for the long term.
4. Your interactions are superficial (because anything else leads to an argument)
If you feel like some subjects are ‘sensitive’ (or worse, if you have that ‘walking on eggshells’ feeling about certain conversations) this isn’t a good sign.
Of course there are things that even the best couples have to ‘agree to disagree’ about. But there is a limit, and if you skirt around every disagreement – even those that directly affect your lives together – your relationship can become superficial.
If there’s a big subject you feel ‘stuck’ on, sit down together (digitally or in person) and acknowledge that you need to sort this out before you can move on. If there’s no getting past it, consider whether or not it’s a deal-breaker for you.
5. The long distance thing just isn’t for you
Long distance isn’t for everyone. Many people embrace it as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about love, their partner and themselves – even if it’s a non-ideal circumstance. For others, it just isn’t worth it, no matter how much they love their boyfriend/girlfriend. They miss the intimacy too much, or find that the long distance communication methods just don’t provide the same type of connection they crave from seeing their partner IRL.
If that’s you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that to yourself and the one you love.
6. You feel ‘not good enough’
If your opinions are different to your partner’s, do they respond with curiosity about your perspective and a willingness to discuss and compromise if necessary (a healthy response), or with belittling you and your beliefs (an unhealthy response)?
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever respectfully disagree, or that you can never try to motivate each other to make better choices. This can be part of what gives a relationship that exciting energy that makes you look forward to a future together. There will also be times when you need to acknowledge you’re in the wrong about something. But if you often feel ‘stupid’ or inadequate in your relationship, or like you simply ‘aren’t good enough’, this is a bad sign.
Can you truly say that there is room for you to both be your true best selves in this relationship? If the answer is no, it might be time to reconsider.
7. Things are ‘off again, on again’
Plenty of successful long-term relationships and marriages have had separations at some point, so if you’ve broken up once before, this doesn’t mean things are doomed. But breaking up and getting back together again and again is unlikely to lead to long-term success.
People sometimes romanticise this kind of situation: after all, every single rom-com or Jane Austen novel rests on the uncertainty of the couple getting together. However, it depends where the conflict comes from. If you broke up once because of external pressures or misunderstandings that can be resolved, you might belong together after all. But if you’re breaking up repeatedly because you’re just not compatible in a fundamental way (for instance, they want kids in the future and you don’t, or perhaps you want an open relationship and they don’t), it might be a good idea to consider just being friends.
8. You don’t feel like a team anymore
Does your partner take your thoughts, feelings and values into account when they make decisions that will affect both of you? Do you do the same for them?
You and your partner don’t have to like and pursue all the same things. But broadly speaking, you should feel like the two of you are stronger together than apart. If you no longer feel like a team, it might be time to reconsider whether things are working out.
9. You’re uncomfortable with strong emotions
There’s a reason why so many couples break up right before Valentine’s Day. Once you’ve established a routine existence with a partner, it’s easy to ‘coast’ along in your well-worn groove, even when there are problems. But when it comes to affirming feelings in a definitive way, you’re forced to face the reality.
People who are in love and want to be together don’t hesitate to affirm this to each other. That isn’t to say your every interaction has to be like a Hallmark card, but if the thought of saying anything concrete about your feelings (like ‘I love you’ or ‘I want to be with you’) makes you feel guilty or throws you into a state of panic, this could be a sign that you’re subconsciously withdrawing from the relationship.
10. You don’t make concrete plans together
Perhaps neither of you is particularly into the lovey-dovey stuff, and that’s fine if that’s what suits the two of you. But even if you’re not one for romantic declarations, if you both intend to be together, you’ll be comfortable speaking about the future from a practical perspective as well.
If one or both of you has started skirting around the subject of future plans, it could be because you don’t see a future together (or don’t see eye-to-eye about that prospect).