It’s fair to say that long-distance relationships aren’t always easy. In episode 269, I received a question from an individual whose relationship had recently ended and felt their anxiety had played a large role in this. In this post, I offer my thoughts on long-distance relationships and what steps you can take to understand yourself and your own needs better.
Hi Dr. Duff,I have recently found your podcast and wanted to say thank you for what you do! I was in a 2 year long distance relationship while I am completing a clinical doctorate degree, and my boyfriend recently broke up with me last week. I’ve realized how much I’ve let my anxiety control my behavior in the relationship, and acted in ways I deeply regret. I am seeking therapy and have an initial appointment next week. I know I have to work on myself first, but is it wrong to wonder if there’s a chance of getting back together one day? How would this even work being long distance? I graduate in May and our plans were to move in together, but obviously that’s not happening. I know he’s my person I just don’t know how to approach this.
Hi. Thank you for the question. Go easy on yourself, please. I hear a lot of self-blame in this question under the guise of accountability. You say that your anxiety controlled your behavior in this relationship and there could certainly be an element of that, but what about the fact that trying to get a Ph.D. while managing a long-term committed LONG DISTANCE relationship is really f**king hard. Being in a long-distance relationship is difficult on its own. Add a long time to that and it becomes even more difficult. Add the pursuing of a doctorate into that and wtf that’s really hard. I did know people in my graduate program that had long-distance relationships and most of them had a hard time. Not all of them stayed together.
I think having personal responsibility and taking accountability for your actions is important. But you can’t ignore the context. It matters. You need to be honest with yourself about whether a long-distance relationship works for you. It may not and I don’t think that there is necessarily anything wrong with that. Now if this was a person that you have been married to for a decade and you had to leave for a year due to work that you both understood – that could be a different story. But this is not that. If you get a lot out of the relationship and feel satisfied enough with long-distance and the promise of eventually being together, great. You are allowed to. But if that’s not the case, you are also allowed to be honest with yourself that you love him AND have other needs that the relationship can’t fulfill.
I don’t think that there is necessarily anything wrong with asking the question of whether it might work in the future, but I also don’t want you to put your life on pause for the possibility that it might work. I am not of the mind that there is only one match out there for everyone. That there is some perfect soul mate that is waiting for you to find them and they are the only person that you could truly be happy with. You may encounter a number of people in your life that could be the perfect person for you in a variety of ways. If you continue to not be together, that is indeed a loss. You had a potential future that you will have to grieve and that really hurts. But it doesn’t mean you lost your opportunity to find love and a life with someone else. It just means that it won’t be with this particular person.
It’s awesome that you are doing some therapy. I think that there is probably a lot to unpack here. You didn’t exactly say what happened between you and what sort of issues you think you are up against. But it absolutely doesn’t hurt to have an outside perspective to help you sort through your feelings about it all. I’m proud of you for finding a therapist and fully support it. I would say that you probably need to do a bit of soul searching. Both in therapy and on your own through journaling, talking to people you trust, etc. If you come to the conclusion that this relationship would really work for you and you are willing to make it work, then it comes down to communicating with him about it. Being honest and open and trying to start from the most authentic baseline you can. He is allowed to not want to be with you anymore. If he says no, then that’s what his answer is. It hurts and as I said, it will be something that requires grieving.
So that’s my advice for you.
You can listen to this on Episode 269 of the podcast!
Thank you for the great question!
Switch to block editorIf you know someone else who might benefit from this, please do share it with them. Send them a link or shoot over a screenshot, and share it on social media to show your support – you never know who needs to hear this type of information.
Got a topic or a guest you’d like to appear on the show? Or interested in having Duff answer a question on the podcast? Please get in touch! Email Duff and maybe you’ll hear it on a future episode!
Want to help out the show and Duff the Psych?
- Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
- Leave a podcast review on iTunes. These reviews really help Duff reach potential listeners, and he appreciates every one!
- Share the show on Facebook or Twitter.
- You can also buy Duff a cup of coffee, which helps fuel the energy that goes straight back into creating more content for YOU!