Woe Is Me! “My Long‑Distance Relationship Is Making Me Insecure. Am I Overreacting?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“My partner and I are no longer in the same city. Recently, she’s been talking about a friend of hers, who she finds interesting — and I can’t help but wonder if she thinks of this person as someone she might want to be with. It bothers me from time to time. How do you deal with insecurities that arise in a long-distance relationship?”
— Doubtfully, yours
RN: Yikes. Speaking as the person who’s been in your partner’s shoes, I should tell you that your fears are probably well-founded. I’m not saying that you should not trust her, or for her to merely keep a platonic relationship with the friend in question. But it looks like she is being honest already, albeit communicating with you in code. That she told you she finds this friend interesting is as clear as she can get without hurting your feelings outright. But this is actually an important turning point: your relationship could improve exponentially, or it could end, but either way it will not be stuck in limbo, which is worse. And it all depends on how you move forward from this point. The most important thing to do right now is to talk about it openly, with both of you embracing the possibility of pain, but also mutual respect for one another’s feelings, nonetheless. Contrary to popular belief, I wouldn’t say long distance relationships are harder or doomed to fail — in fact, I think they can be the most liberating kind of relationship one can have. One option for both of you to explore right now is to see how comfortable you are in an open relationship. You might find that the more honest each of you are about your desires — even when they’re for other people — the better your own relationship gets. But don’t be afraid to have the conversation about what the stakes are. It’s only when you let it fester that it turns into insecurity — and that, more than distance or another person, can be the death knell you didn’t see coming.
AS: I think building a strong foundation of communication and trust is incredibly important, especially in long-distance relationships. The distance between you and your partner is bound to raise some insecurities. I would say that you be open and honest with her. Let her know about these doubts, and simultaneously, create a safe space for her to share any that she may be dealing with, too. The more you communicate and deepen your understanding, the better you will be able to manage the distance that separates you. The point is for you both to navigate this together, instead of trying to handle uncertainties and anxieties alone.
DR: Well, with long-distance relationships, insecurities are often part of the package — and it can, unfortunately, wreck the relationship. I’m not saying long-distance relationships never work, but I’m pretty sure you know your odds here. The only way to make it work, though, takes effort from both sides — you have to trust her, and she has to assure you she’s worthy of your trust; one can’t work without the other, of course. I’d recommend you have a chat with her on the phone about your specific anxieties, and have her address them — please do your best to ensure it’s a calm conversation where you’re merely placing your insecurities before her for, her consideration, without casting aspersions on her integrity.
Also, there are options you two can consider — like, taking a short break from the relationship to organize your thoughts, seeing a couple’s therapist online, or even, deciding on an open relationship. Do what works best for the two of you — there’s no one way to structure your relationship; always be open to customizing it based on your wants and needs. Remember, a long-distance relationship can be a fantastic one, too, you just have to remember that you don’t have to play by a fixed set of rules, and make up your own as you along the ride with a person you love and cherish.
AS: All you can do — and it is a very important thing to do right now — is communicate. As openly as possible, about all sorts of insecurities, misgivings, and other issues. Distances are difficult to deal with, and it can get quite lonely for the both of you for some time. But the key, if you love each other, is to find as much time as you can to spend with your partner in some manner or the other. At the same time, however, it is also important that both of you do respect each other’s boundaries and each other’s times. Try not to lose your patience.
RR: Communicate, communicate, communicate.