The saying is, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but it’s not always the case. Distance also helps people grow apart. Long distance relationships or LDRs are notoriously difficult to navigate, yet I’ve put myself through two of them.
Some might call me a glutton for punishment but I think I learnt enough from the first experience to see where it all went wrong and how I could avoid the heartbreak again. The warning signs were there, but I was too naive to see them.
Now, with the benefit of time and maturity, I present to you the reasons my LDR was DNR*.
Too much too soon
We were separated too early in the relationship. In making the commitment to sustain a relationship several thousand kilometres apart, we essentially committed to each other to the same level as a couple would when moving in together, yet we had only been together a matter of weeks.
We were still in the getting to know you stage, where everything is new and fresh and exciting. The problem is that when you put distance between two people in this stage, it makes it harder to get to know each other, it takes away a lot of the excitement and spontaneity and there is much more effort required to stay connected, let alone committed. Add to this the excitement that one half of the relationship faces in their new city with new friends and experiences and it can breed resentment. This is the case with any LDR, but is exacerbated when the relationship is new.
It takes effort to maintain a relationship, no matter what stage it is, how long you’ve known each other, or how far apart you live. The main element to make or break any relationship in my experience, is communication. My LDR boyfriend thought he was a great communicator because he and I could talk on the phone for hours. Unfortunately, it’s not just quantity, but quality.
When things got hard, we didn’t discuss it so we could stop the small niggling issues becoming huge problems. Instead of telling me he was feeling jealous of all my new friends, he tried making me jealous by talking about this other girl that was interested in him. And instead of me calling him out on that, I played into the mind games. It left both of us feeling confused and alone.
Love in limbo
The last straw was his inability to agree to a time when we would next see each other. If you don’t know just when you’re going to see each other again, you have nothing to look forward to and nothing to make the days, weeks and months apart easier to bear. It made me feel like our relationship wasn’t his priority and despite his reasoning, all I heard were excuses as to why he didn’t want to see me. When you’re already doubting the future of a relationship, that is the last thing you want to hear.
So after much soul searching, I broke it off, although in hindsight, it really should have been a no-brainer. The LDR was flatlining and it was not worth my time, energy and emotional investment to try and save it. Too much was about the long distance and not enough was about the relationship. I then swore off LDRs because surely they were all doomed. But there was a bright side: the failings of this LDR showed me what not to do the next time – because there is always a next time.
* Do not resuscitate