Q: My boyfriend and I met at Bible college, and this summer of long distance has been harder than I thought it would be. He tells me he loves me every day and that I’m the greatest blessing ever, but it seems like he calls me when he doesn’t have much time, and sometimes he cuts the call short to hang out with his friends. I always pick up the phone for him, and sometimes I even ditch my friends or family to talk to him. Is it normal for long-distance relationships to be so frustrating? How can our relationship survive?
Most of the time my husband and I were dating and engaged was spent long-distance, so I know the ache of wanting to connect on a deeper level over the phone and how frustrating those phone calls can be when you don’t…connect. I mean, you wait with eager anticipation to talk to him, and then once you do, sometimes the conversation just feels “flat.”
I don’t think I’d be too concerned with your bf’s lack of meaningful conversation if everything else in the relationship seems to be going well when you’re together. Long distance conversations can be really tough, so we always tried not to place too much stock in them. Here are a few tips and tricks we learned to make it through those long months apart:
- Set a time to talk. It can help if you both know ahead of time that Sunday night at seven, for example, he’s going to call you. Making a phone “date” instead of random calls keeps you from catching each other at a bad time, and gives you something to look forward to. This is especially helpful for guys because it helps them give you their full attention. And it’s helpful for us girls, because it keeps us from having unfair expectations on random phone calls.
- Give each other grace. Sometimes one or the other of you just isn’t going to be at your best on the phone. Try not to read too much into it.
- Don’t stop living your life! Soon enough you’ll be back together, in person. This time apart can be an opportunity to invest in other people in your lives. Instead of dropping everything to talk to him, it’s okay to let him know you’re busy but will call later. And vice versa.
- Try emails or letters. Sometimes written words can be better than phone calls. When you write out your thoughts, it gives you and your bf time to really think about what you want to say. Plus, you can read them again later and remember his sweet words all over again! I actually have all of Paul’s and my old emails from back even before we were dating, and it’s so fun to pull them out sometimes and remember how our love story unfolded.
- Accept that it’s going to be hard. Distance isn’t easy on any relationship, but for the right guy it can be absolutely worth it. The key is relying on the Lord, and being confident enough in your relationship that you can go without connecting as often, just for this season.
- Trust God. I know it’s hard to focus on God when you have such strong feelings for another human being. Trust me—I know! But I also know that the best relationships I’ve ever had (including the best-est best one, with my now husband) were the ones where I spent lots of time surrendering the relationship to God. How? For me, it was usually through journaling. Whenever I’d start writing about how cute Paul was, or how I melted when he told me sweet words, I’d finish those entries with, “But I trust You, God, to take this relationship from us if that’s best.” We trust God when we hold the relationship loosely, with open hands.
There’s much more I could write, but hopefully these few tips will help make the waiting a little easier. I hope that someday you will look back on this season and see how it made you stronger!