Note from Devin: In this post, I dig deep into something that really annoys and hurts people in long distance relationships. This post will help you communicate and love people in long distance relationships in a way that will strengthen them in their long distance journey.
I sat quietly in the tour van as the lady in front of me talked loudly about how her daughter lived abroad in Asia. She went on to say that she’d been teaching there for a year.
“I am so happy she didn’t fall in love with anyone abroad.” She clucked to the other women around her.
This is something I just love putting people on the spot with. Because I truly hate it when people try to make couples in long distance relationships feel like they are a mutated untouchable alien just because they love someone from far away.
Listen up people.
It’s not okay. I am sure that you don’t want to knowingly hurt people, but couples in long distance relationships are already undergoing something that many people will never be able to understand or even imagine. I know, because I’ve experienced it.
How you respond to a person in action & words has the ability to encourage or discourage them.
I want to show you how to encourage couples in long distance relationships with your actions and words. In order to do that, I need to walk you through things that truly bother couples who love across the distance.
The Awkward Silence
After awhile the lady on the tour bus turned around and asked me, “What were you in Australia for?”
I smiled and sat up confidently, “I studied there in 2010, and then lived there in 2012. I was writing full-time, working some, traveling, and spending time with my boyfriend.”
“Oh, he went with you to Australia with you?” she pried.
“Nope…” I paused while thinking – here it comes, “He lives there.”
I smiled again knowing what was about to follow.
The entire van went silent.
My Mom and I sat in the back of the bus with a friend of ours. We all exchanged glances. I shook my head and lipped, “See what I was saying?”
Earlier that day, we were in a cafe chatting about how people respond to hearing about long-distance relationships.
Some of the responses I’d get are: a mixture of weird looks and awkward silences.
They got to experience that with me. At first, it really bothered me when people treated me this way. But as time went by, I just saw them as rude.
I don’t understand why this is a problem. Especially in our world today where people come from all over the world to live in new places. It’s bound to happen.
Happy 5th anniversary to my sweet, caring, and loving man! I'm so thankful that we found each other!! I love you so much and thank God for you! To think that he placed two people from the other sides of the world together! I look forward to now and the rest of our lives! I love you so very much! Ek is lief vir jou! ❤️💋😘 Thank YOU for choosing me.
It’s like as soon as they find out that you are in a long distance relationship you are now less human and that you have no feelings.
This isn’t how everyone responds. There were so many people in Johan and my life that applauded and encouraged us.
There were even moments when I was abroad when people asked me questions like “Well, what are you going to do now?” and then there were plenty of awkward stares.
If you are in a long distance relationship and you are reading this: Know that people are inquisitive and want to know more about long distance relationships. They don’t understand it. You might be the first person they have met who is in a long-distance relationship. So be a good ambassador to the Long Distance Love community.
But if you are reading this because you know a person in a long distance relationship: Know that your words and expressions can hurt, if you aren’t careful. Some people in long distance relationships won’t even let you notice it hurt, but it can.
Want to know how to treat couples in long distance relationships? You definitely don’t want to make them feel like you are doubting them.
1. Don’t Discourage Them.
If and when you find out someone is in a long distance relationship, don’t discourage them with your body language.
That is something that many people forget.
Nothing can be more disheartening than meeting someone who jeopardizes the conversation by making it awkward.
Silence. Eyebrow raises with a sigh. Tightly pursed lips. Squeezing one eye tighter than the other. Statements. (But we will get into that one here in a little while.)
Tip: Just treat them normal, like they were both in the same city. They are normal people in a not so normal situation, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings.
How Do I Treat Someone In A Long Distance Relationship?
- With kindness like any other person. As their relationship is just like any other person’s relationship except they live further apart because they can’t move at that moment in their life.
- Absolutely NEVER say things like “Your relationship will never work.” or “What are you going to do now? Break up?”
2. “Oh, Your Parents Are Probably So Worried That You’ll Move Away!”
Okay, I really love it that you care about my parents, but thank you for bringing up a sour topic that I worry about daily.
Saying things like this will automatically put you into the bucket of “I’d rather not talk to that person again. They were rude.” (Even if you weren’t trying to be rude.)
Sometimes things that you might think are kind, really aren’t… even if it’s the truth.
3. Don’t Ask That Question.
There are a couple of questions that you should just avoid asking. Unless the person in a long distance relationship brings it up first. Then it’s safe to talk about it.
Refrain from asking questions like:
- “But you are here and they are there… how’s that going to work?”
- “How is it going to work? And are you two gunna stay together?
- “What are your plans now?”
- “Who is moving?”
The couple already knows about the unanswered difficult questions that need answering in their relationship.
Saying these things won’t make them feel any better. It makes them feel like you are doubting their relationship and if the couple isn’t strong enough, your doubts might just lead them down a trail of worry and doubts. Which isn’t nice.
So, you want to make sure that when you speak, your words are encouraging and uplifting.
One thing that couples in long distance relationships learn right away is that they need to take things “ONE DAY AT A TIME”, because if they don’t they’ll go crazy!
If you struggle to find things to ask, ask them these questions:
- When will you see each other next?
- How long have you been together?
- How do you stay in touch?
- Where do you guys usually meet?
Those questions will erupt into answers that will show you some amazing things about the couple and you may even find it interesting! The answers will get him or her talking.
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4. What if he cheats?
First off, why are you asking this question when you don’t even know me or my boyfriend that well. If you knew us, you’d know that we are in a committed relationship where we talk to each other and tell each other everything.
We trust each other.
Saying something like this to someone who is feeling shaky on whether they trust their partner can be sinking sand of discouragement.
Long Distance Relationships Are Normal
After living abroad for a year and traveling for a quite a few years, I have found that long distance relationships are totally normal. More so now than they ever have been before. Most people don’t see that, because they stay in their small corner of the world.
Meet more international people or just make more diverse friends and you’ll realize it’s not that uncommon. Try these out:
- Check into helping at a college international students program in your area (you will have an opportunity to meet students from all over the world.
- Go to cultural events (look at your city events for cultural events to attend.)
- If you live in a big city make it a point to meet someone new and different than you. (Could be someone from a different culture, or someone like you, or buying a homeless person lunch)
- Look into going on a mission trip
- If you don’t have enough money to travel far at the moment – go somewhere new in your neighborhood or State. Meet new people.
Long distance relationships are exactly the same as couples who live close to one another… except you don’t just get to hug or be with them in person as much. But, I know that there are long distance couples who are closer than some couples living in the same town or even closer than some married couples.
Are you in a long-distance relationship? Or do you know someone who is?
If you are in a long-distance relationship, send this post to people you think might want to know more about encouraging and communicating with couples in long-distance couples.