Ask Pawan: Distance is killing my relationship

"I’m doing long distance with my boyfriend over the summer for the first time and the distance has really killed our romance. I love him, but the scheduling of when we can talk, missed connections, and lack of sex is really taking a serious toll. I don’t know if I want to break up (I do love him) but the distance is putting that at serious risk."

Long distance is a tough nut to crack, especially when it feels like society has just about let that ship sink, what with seemingly every sitcom taking shots at them (I’m looking at you, Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, Friends, and the like). Most people can probably attest to the metallic taste left in your mouth once you’ve spent too much time solely communicating over iMessage, or having a Pavlovian fury towards the “pop-ding!” of Facebook Messenger after the thousandth time in a day. Despite their best efforts, social media and messaging just aren’t as engaging or satisfying as a good old conversation. That certainly doesn’t mean they can’t be improved though.

Your affection for your boyfriend is readily apparent so, I’ve got some smaller steps for you to test out before going anything more intense. The first thing is to set up a schedule – romantic, I know. Having a solid hour sometime in the week where there is guaranteed contact gives everyone a few bonuses: you’ve got a bright spot in the week to look forward to; you have a specially allotted time where your attention is focused and befitting a serious relationship; and you’ve got a time where you can store up the week’s good and bad and have a talk-through with someone you care about. Those three aspects of the set schedule are all aimed around trying to make your time communicating feel less artificial, something that can be aided with things like video calling to make the time you do have together feel a bit more special. It’s easy to take advantage of the seemingly endless hours you have with someone while they’re physically reachable, but once you put a time limit on those interactions, it means you’ve got to put in that much more effort to keep the intimacy strong. Without physical proximity and casual conversations, you have to place more emphasis on things you want your significant other to know, so you can have a better chance at maintaining the depth of your relationship. It may feel inorganic or awkward at times, but keeping an order-of-importance list in your head of things you want to talk about with your significant other can help to keep the classic long-distance relationship drift to a minimum. An added benefit to this extra effort is that should the “long-distance” part be subtracted from the equation, there is less old news to catch up on and even casual conversation with your partner can feel new and fulfilling, again.

The last bit of advice I can give is that asking your partner to give you their full attention for a bit, so you two can have a (virtual) sit-down to talk about what works and what doesn’t. What might not be the ideal option may be the most viable one, but to find out what populates those categories, you’re going to need to come in with an open mind and understand that you two are working together to find the best solution for both of you, rather than the easiest choice for one.

Keep in mind that the above tips are far from bulletproof. If you’ve not brought up the romance-deadening distance problem to your partner, I strongly recommend you do because, chances are, they’re feeling similar to some extent. If effort is put in on both sides, it can feel more like a team sport rather than the “tug-of-war” that synching schedules can elicit.

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