I have been dating this girl for almost three years. We are in a long-distance relationship and, in a way, it’s been going great. However, one thing has been bugging me. We make plans to see each other every couple of weeks but every time we start talking about when we will see each other next, I start feeling trapped. I ask myself why I feel this way and when this feeling started happening. When did making plans to see each other become a chore and done more out of obligation than because you really want to see the other person? Do you have any advice as to why this is happening and what I should do? — Vacay
Anna says: I would like to counter your question with a question, and ask, when you do actually see her, after all the fretting and feeling trapped and obligated, how do you feel? Are you still wildly in love with her? Do you smile like a fool and quote the Indigo Girls on your Facebook page? Or do you feel like you’ve just scheduled a 48-hour dentist appointment that you must grin and bear because having attractive incisors is important to your five-year plan? If it’s the latter, Vacay, then I’d be concerned. Also, since you said you’ve been reflecting on it, surely you must have a few ideas as to why you might be feeling stuck.
Here are a few guesses on my end: It could be because you like your freedom and independence when you’re away from her, one major perk of LDRs, and when you have to interrupt that independence for the sake of someone else, even someone you love, it can lead to resentment. It could also be that you feel your relationship has gotten routine or predictable, and you’re rebelling against that. Or, it could be that the relationship has run its course, and you’re searching for a way out.
It’s no secret that long-distance relationships are harder than most. You have to be more creative, more trusting, more patient, and cultivate closeness in ways that often seem less personal (I don’t care how many times I read about it in blogs, “Skype sex” is not a substitute for actual sex!).
While we’re on a tangent, how are other areas of your life? Are you stressed at work? Is there family drama? Is student loan debt making you want to fork out your own eyes and feed them to chipmunks? Life burdens can and do get in the way of our relationships sometimes. It’s important to distinguish whether the relationship is a symptom of stress/anxiety or the cause of it, however. Just food for thought.
Ultimately, of course, it’s up to you to figure out what’s nagging at you. I would suggest bringing this up with the girlfriend, even though it’s no easy task. In addition to being more creative, LDRs also force us to be braver. Ask tough questions of yourself, but don’t be afraid to express the potentially tough answers either.
Best of luck, Vacay.