In less than six months, I will say "I do" to a man who has never lived in the same zip code as me. The driving time between our homes is about an hour, and that distance can sometimes make small problems look like glaring red flags.
Oftentimes, when your long-distance relationship relies on mediums like text messages and phone calls, missed calls can feel like lack of commitment, and phone conversations can make things like chemistry hard. But if you take a close look, what looks like a sign of doom may actually be a long-distance quirk that can be worked out.
Here are five seemingly red flags that could instead just be small hurdles in your long-distance relationship.
01. You struggle with emotional vulnerability.
I realized six months into my long-distance relationship that I had never seen my fiancé stressed or angry. He had never seen me lose my temper, and that concerned me quite a bit. How was I supposed to commit to a relationship that was leading toward marriage if we hadn’t seen each other in all our best and worst moments?
This is a problem that is all too common in long-distance relationships, but it does not necessarily spell doom for your relationship. You can remedy the situation by making an extra effort to involve him in your day-to-day life—even at a physical distance.
Don’t be afraid to experience and express raw emotion with your boyfriend, and vice versa. Although it can be tempting to run to a close friend or family member who lives close by when life events occur, challenge each other in your relationship to switch allegiances. Make him your first phone call when you need help solving a problem or when you have great news to share. By allowing him into the joys and struggles of your daily life, he is given opportunities to open up to you and help increase the vulnerability in your relationship.
02. You’re worried that you can’t trust him.
Trust in a long-distance relationship can sound like a blind jump off a cliff with no safety net. It’s natural for some details to slip when you are dating over the phone or even to totally forget to mention certain aspects of your day, but that is different than flat-out lying. Trust across miles of separation is the belief that your boyfriend cares for you and would not choose do something that would intentionally hurt you. If you believe that, you and your guy are in good shape.
If you are struggling with trust but have no real reason not to trust him, ask him questions. If things aren’t adding up, say something. You shouldn’t have to feel the need to check in with each other every minute of the day and give GPS coordinates for your location that night. Any concerns about whether your guy is trustworthy should fade fairly quickly. If it persists, then it may be a sign you need to work on trust issues or maybe this guy just isn’t right for you.
03. You wonder if he’s willing to make sacrifices for the relationship.
Long-distance relationships often require more time and sacrifice than your typical romance. Between travel time and nights spent catching up on the phone, it’s hard to make time for friends and enjoying life in your own city. If you feel like you are always the one booking flights and working around his schedule, it is understandable to feel like maybe he is not willing to put in what it takes.
Even though he isn’t physically present in day-to-day living, a long-distance relationship does not allow a free pass to selfishness concerning schedules. If he can’t adjust his schedule to being in a relationship, this could be a serious red flag. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have just taken on the burden of travel and scheduling around him, having an honest conversation could alleviate your concerns.
Talk to your guy and make resolutions for improvement in this area. This could mean being organized and setting aside specific time for phone calls, instead of defaulting to text communication. Or perhaps it means one or both of you taking on a second job to provide income for those plane tickets for in-person visits. The time apart can be a great opportunity to start practicing good marriage-minded, intentional habits, which can make later transitions easier on you both.
04. You are worried that you aren’t physically attracted to him.
In a long-distance relationship, when you don’t see your man every day, it can be easy to struggle with your physical attraction to him. Over the phone, you don’t see the way his eyes crinkle up when he smiles or get to smell his cologne when you hug him. This can leave you questioning if you have enough physical chemistry in your relationship.
Obviously if you are totally turned off by him, this is a serious red flag. But if it’s early on in the relationship and you just aren’t totally weak in the knees, give your attraction some time to build slowly.
In my long-distance relationship, strong physical attraction wasn’t a factor until almost four months in. I can remember the first day that I was attracted to all of who my fiancé is—physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It was his birthday, and we spent it at his parents’ home. I looked at him that night and realized that I was attracted to his sense of humor, generosity, gentleness and the way that he pursued and challenged me ... and he looked incredibly handsome, too. Yes, physical attraction and personal chemistry between both of you is important, but it may not be instantaneous.
If your physical attraction builds slowly and you appreciate your boyfriend for more than just how he looks, you’ll find that a long-distance relationship can actually help your overall attraction to him rather than harm it.
05. You don’t have the butterflies anymore.
It’s normal for there to come a point in any serious relationship when things feel like they have gotten a bit stagnant, especially when you are dating long distance. Too often the hassle of calling your partner becomes an item on the ‘to-do’ list of your day and texts back and forth lose their heart-flutter-inducing chime. Looking around at couples you know who are just starting their own relationships makes you jealous of the times when your boyfriend’s smile melted your heart and you spent the whole day feeling like you could float through the air.
The truth is, physical touch and quality time together is a really important part of building intimacy and keeping up romance—but there are ways around it with a little effort on both your parts.
To combat this comfort zone, make sure to set aside time during the week for an actual date where you talk about more than just how each other’s days were. Maybe you can watch a movie together over Skype or FaceTime, read a book and discuss the chapters, or cook the same dinner over video chat.
Familiarity with your boyfriend is great; in fact, it means that you’ve begun to see him as an integral part in your daily life. But familiarity can’t lead to sinking into a comfort zone where you take each other for granted.
Pay attention to red flags. If you give them the attention they deserve, your long-distance relationship may just result in the romance of a lifetime.
Photo Credit: Drawn to the Image