Ask Dave-Hung Up On Long-Distance Love
Her long-distance love wants to limit their daily phone calls—is this the beginning of the end?
I'm in a long-distance relationship with a wonderful woman. I live in Indiana, and she lives in Florida. We have known each other over a year now, and decided to start dating about six months ago. Things have been going great until recently. She expressed
her concern about how many times we talked on the phone. When we thought about it, the number of times turned out to about four or five times a day. In her opinion, once a day was enough, and sometimes not talking at all would be fine with her. I decided to respect her feelings and let her call me when she felt the need to communicate.
|In some ways, I feel that she has just become less interested in me.|
I'm trying very hard to be respectful of her feelings because I don't want to lose out on something that, eventually, could be great, but I have to say, talking to her only once a day is driving me crazy. It's bad enough that we only see each other once a month (if we're lucky). In some ways, I feel that she has just become less interested in me. I'm really trying not to push her, because I care about her so much. But in the same sense, I don't want to sacrifice what I want out of this, either. I fear that we are just taking steps backwards. What's a long-distance romantic to do?
-Lauren from Indiana
Trying to find someone who wants the same level of dating as you is hard for a couple of reasons. First, you can meet someone with whom you have a fantastic connection, but, for whatever reason, you don’t want the same level of intensity or commitment. Second, even when you do have that close connection and share a desire for the same level of dating, nothing is static. A relationship is a living, breathing entity unto its own. It evolves; with some luck, you remain close and work out your differences along the way.
It’s easy to feel rejected when someone expresses a need for less contact when you want more. Negotiating the balance between dependence and independence is like walking a high wire at times, isn’t it? It’s tenuous and risky, but not uncommon—and not impossible.
Based on what you’ve told me, your girlfriend didn’t ask to end your romance. In fact, did you consider that she might be asking to restrict calls because she thinks the quality of your conversations diminishes with increased quantity? Her need for fewer daily calls could be her supportive way of protecting the quality of your love, rather than a veiled rejection of you.
I understand that you are in a tough spot with a long-distance relationship. Communication is more difficult. It's easy to have a telephone
misunderstanding when you can't look into someone's eyes during a conversation, especially an intimate one. And your intermittent visits can feel more pressured than you'd like, with both of you trying to make up for lost time in the brief moments you have together. Sometimes, you just miss the daily physical affection that's one of the perks of living together or at least living nearby.
|Remember that relationships are all about the connection between two people.|
But long-distance love also has its upside as well. Remember that relationships are all about the connection between two people. When you find a strong romantic connection, even if it's not conveniently located, then that is perhaps the greatest "pro" of all.
Books like Loving Your Long Distance Relationship by Stephen Blake reinforce the fact that couples can make geographic separations work by rethinking the rules of romantic engagement. Blake’s book offers examples of couples who’ve overcome disagreements regarding the frequency of communication, which is one of the most common “long-distance love” complaints.
It sounds like you and your girlfriend have reached that first real-world crossroads, where you have to understand what really works for you both. Before you let hurt feelings interfere with your romance, consider these tips:
Face the pros and cons of your long-distance romance so you won't be surprised when there are bumps in the road. For example:
Get smart about telephone communications.
- There are going to be times when you miss her terribly. As Washingtonian Mary, says, "You have to make peace with occasional feelings of sadness when you say goodbye over and over again." Accept that a long-distance romance means that you have more time on your hands—be proactive by filling that time with friends and activities that bring you joy.
- It’s way too easy (and very risky) to project your feelings of fear onto your long-distance love. Spend the next few weeks becoming more aware of your feelings and what triggers them before your fingers start (over)dialing.
Don't have difficult conversations that are best shared face to face. In his book, Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide, Dr. Gregory Guldner, MS, offers several strategies for separated couples to avoid telephone fights, such as to focus on quality of the calls vs. quantity and to save tough talks for when you are together and relatively relaxed.
Bottom line: There’s always that first moment in any romantic relationship (long-distance or otherwise) when the real world intrudes on the honeymoon. Frequency of calling might be your first big issue, but don't lose hope. It’s normal to start discussing your needs and negotiating aspects of your relationship, but do this in person. Depending on how it’s used, the telephone can be both a friend and an enemy in a long-distance relationship.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.