This post was written by Gabriella, a loveisrespect intern.
You might be in a long-distance relationship because of a high school graduation, a connection you made with someone over the internet, or any number of reasons. Long-distance relationships have a bad rap for being notoriously difficult and complicated, requiring even more commitment from both partners than usual. Sure, everyone knows they aren’t easy, but how do you know if your long-distance relationship is healthy or not? Are they all doomed?
Thankfully, the answer is NO, not all long-distance relationships fail! But it can be tricky figuring out if yours is healthy. Here are some warning signs of an unhealthy long-distance relationship:
Everyone feels differently about how much communication is too much, so it’s important that both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries around texting. A red flag for an unhealthy relationship and controlling behavior is if your partner is messaging you constantly, asking where you are or demanding that you send pictures of people that you’re with. They might say, “I want to make sure you’re not with anyone I don’t like,” or “I’m just checking in on you.” Healthy relationships are based on trust, and everyone deserves freedom in their relationship without fear of angering their partner. It’s okay to make spontaneous plans with friends while you’re in a long-distance relationship, and you shouldn’t be punished or guilt tripped for taking a while to respond or hanging out with other people.
Lots of couples use digital methods of communication in their long-distance relationships to feel closer to each other. Tools such as Skype or social media apps like FaceTime can be a great way to catch up with each other’s day! The problem we hear at loveisrespect is that these tools can sometimes lead to intense digital monitoring. It’s normal to feel some insecurities during a long-distance relationship, but these feelings need to be handled in a healthy way, with lots of communication and respect for each other’s feelings. Unhealthy behaviors include your partner asking you to give them password access to social media accounts, leaving Skype on so they can see you do your homework or check that you’re watching a TV show at the same time, or even getting upset if you don’t leave your video chat on while you sleep.
If you feel pressure from your partner to send explicit photos or participate in filmed sex acts during chat hangouts, this is also a red flag for abuse. In healthy relationships, partners don’t pressure the other to do something that they’re not comfortable with; you always have the right to protect both your privacy and your body. If you feel that a line is being crossed, listen to your gut. Digital abuse is never okay.
Nothing is better in a long-distance relationship than when you finally get to hang out with your partner! So why is it that you aren’t thrilled to give up another weekend? A tightly controlled visiting schedule in a long-distance relationship can be straining, especially if you are forced to give up ALL your weekends or free time to see your partner. You can get burned out when you aren’t allowed to relax or hang out with friends and family. Visits not only cost time, but money for travel expenses as well! It’s important that both you and your partner feel comfortable with how much time you’re spending together and that neither of you feels pressured to sacrifice study time, family time, or other important things to please your partner.
When a partner begins to use distance as an excuse for hurtful behavior, this is a warning sign that the distance isn’t a problem, the behavior is. Being abusive is a choice, and no one deserves to experience abuse. Excuses like, “It’s just because we’re far apart,” or “It won’t be like this when we’re in the same place,” do not justify controlling behaviors or invasion of privacy.
If you recognize any of these issues, you might need a relationship check-up. Most importantly, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. If you feel suffocated by clingy behavior or find yourself getting constantly jealous, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. You can always chat, text or call us if you have questions!