You’re texting, you’re calling, and you’re keeping in touch. After all, it’s important to keep communicating in a long distance relationship.
However, what if your partner isn’t returning the favor? It’s disheartening to constantly be the one to initiate conversation. No one enjoys feeling like they’re just throwing messages into the void.
Before you assume the worst, however, consider these points. It might all (hopefully) just be down to simple misunderstanding.
- Reflect on how often you’re reaching out
- Let them know how you feel
- Define your collective expectations
- Set up a routine
- See if there’s another reason
- Strike a balance in your LDR and your social life
- Tackle problems together
Are you reaching out too much?
You might think that constantly contacting your SO with messages, love notes, and phone calls is a good thing. After all, you’re in a long distance relationship, so you should be keeping in touch, right?
On the contrary, flooding your partner with messages and calls at all hours can be stifling and discourage them from communicating with you. It can definitely come off as clingy, even if you can’t see each other face to face regularly.
When we were doing long distance, I communicated with my wife every day. But she did the same as well. We expected each other to text and call each other as much as we did, and it was never unsolicited.
I never swamped her phone with messages while she was asleep, and she didn’t do it while I was working.
We respected each other’s personal time and space, and talked when we were both ready.
So before pointing the finger and accusing your partner of not communicating enough, consider if you’re taking it a bit too far. You might possibly be discouraging them from responding to your messages in the first place.
Tell them how you feel the right way
The most straightforward way of solving your one-sided communication issue is to talk to them about it. How you approach it is important, too.
It can seem counter-intuitive to try and reach out to someone if they’re hardly responding in the first place. But if you don’t let them know how you feel about how you’re both communicating, and how it’s not meeting your needs, then nothing is going to change and you’ll be stuck in the same situation.
Crafting the message
Initiating this kind of serious conversation will take more than just a simple “hey, we need to talk”. Be clear and explicit with your intentions so you get their attention. Something like:
Hey babe. I feel that our communication has become one-sided lately, and that I’m initiating a lot of the messages between us. I don’t feel like I’m getting any responses to my calls or texts and it makes me feel like I’m alone in this. I need to be able to communicate with you to feel like our relationship is still healthy and strong. This is really important to me. Can we please talk about this together?
You can change the words to match your own style and tone. The main things you need to keep in mind are:
- You’re focusing on your feelings, instead of their faults
- You’re exposing your needs in the relationship
- You state that this is an important issue to you and not something to be shrugged off
- You specify the next step or action to take.
Clearly express yourself, and let your partner know that this is important to you. Hopefully, it will galvanize them into action and open up a dialogue for you both to figure out what’s going on.
It may just be that your partner doesn’t realize that what is fine for them may not actually be okay for you as well. Once you let them know, you can hopefully start talking about how you can both meet each other’s communication needs.
Define your and your partner’s expectations
Everyone has different needs and expectations when it comes to communication.
Some people need to be constantly connected. They want to receive messages all the time, and can spend hours on the phone. On the other hand, others can get by with a handful of texts, and a quick chat at night.
Before starting a long distance relationship, you and your partner should discuss your communication needs and what you both want while you’re apart. If you don’t do this, you may end up expecting your partner to communicate at the same frequency as you, and end up disappointed when they don’t.
When discussing with your partner, let them know if you need more communication with them. Figure out if they happen to be more comfortable with fewer messages.
Set up a routine that works for them
If you and your partner are struggling to communicate, a routine can help set up some regularity in between the two of you.
A routine is especially helpful when it comes to different time zones. It can also be useful when you both have different work or study schedules. After all, no one wants to wake up to a phone blowing up with messages at 3 a.m.
It sets up an expectation that you’ll both be able to chat regularly. Having that routine will also encourage you both to respect each other’s time and connect during the hours that work for both of you.
Your partner may prefer not to use a routine and would rather just “message whenever they feel like it”. In that case, you need to stress how important it is for you to hear from them. Being apart can already affect the level of communication between the two of you.
Long distance relationships require compromise and a bit of sacrifice. Both people need to make concessions for the relationship to succeed.
It might be their job, their family, or personal issues
There may be another reason that your partner doesn’t communicate as much as you expect them to.
For instance, the following situations might make it harder to stay in touch or respond straight away:
- Being on deployment with the military
- Working in sensitive environments where communication devices aren’t allowed
- Being a full-time caretaker for someone
- Doing intensive shift work
- Spending a lot of time looking after dependents
Finally, consider if your partner is going through any personal struggles, such as depression. It can be a struggle to do basic tasks, and responding to your calls and texts can be much harder.
Having said that, they should let you know as early as possible for any reasons they may not be able to communicate with you.
They need to find a balance between you and their social life
Another reason is that your partner may have trouble balancing their social life and the relationship.
It’s easy to put off the long distance relationship because you’re both restricted to your phone and your laptop. Plus, even though you might come up with neat date ideas, there are only so many things you and your partner can do over the Internet.
It’s much more exciting to hang out with friends in person, hit the clubs, and develop connections with people who are right there.
But being in a long distance relationship means setting aside the time and headspace to stay connected to your partner. It means putting in what you take out of it, whether it’s in the form of responding to messages, or spending time on a call.
There’s no problem with maintaining social connections outside of the relationship. In fact, we see it as healthy to maintain a good balance between your face to face and long distance relationships.
But if your partner is ignoring your messages and calls in favor of their local relationships instead, you need to let them know that this isn’t okay.
In the end, it takes two
For any relationship to work, both people need to be committed and devoted to each other.
If one person doesn’t respond or return affection, or feels annoyed or bothered whenever their partner shows up on their phone, then that’s a sign that they are already checked out of the relationship.
The saying goes, “the person who cares least has the most power”.
If you feel like your partner simply doesn’t care as much as about the relationship as you do, even after talking to them honestly and openly several times, that’s a turning point. You’ll need to evaluate if the relationship is really making you happy and satisfied, or if it’s time to move on.