Summer is here! It’s time to break out your sundresses from the deep recesses of your closet, go shopping for the perfect sandals and start figuring out just how much time you’ll have to lay out by the pool. As you begin to make plans to keep in touch with friends and FaceTime every week, it also may be time to evaluate your current relationship.
With the beginning of summer, you might be facing the start of a long-distance relationship, whether it be just for a summer away from college or the foreseeable future when you move to different cities post-graduation. A change of scenery and some time apart could be just what the doctor ordered for your blossoming relationship… or not. With the potentially different time zones, planned Skype dates and miscommunication, distance is not always easy to manage, especially for a new relationship. Here are five signs that your current relationship may not be able to take the heat of summer.
1. You Already Have Trouble Communicating
One of the most important parts of any relationship is the ability to communicate. Responding to texts and returning missed calls can be tricky enough when you’re living in the same city or going to the same school as your significant other, but if there will be several states or an entire ocean between you, it only gets more complicated. And if you’re having a difficult time understanding each other already in person, this problem could only be exacerbated by distance.
Jack, a sophomore at the University of Missouri, is currently in a long-distance relationship, and he admits that communication has not always been easy. “If you don’t have solid communication with your partner now, your relationship is not going to work,” he says. “Each person has to be willing to reach out and talk on the phone every day.”
He suggests having a plan for communication: “Establish habits of communication every day,” he says. “Whether that means texting or calling, figure out how much you each want to hear from each other throughout the day.”
Patrick Wanis, a human behavior and relationship expert, says it’s important to figure out how you communicate love. He says that if you’re bad at communicating or you misunderstand each other’s needs, “you’re going to feel abandoned, neglected and unloved in a long-distance relationship.”
2. You Can Never Be Apart
Being in a relationship has many perks. One of these perks is that you’re guaranteed to have a reliable, go-to person in your life. You can always count on him or her to share a meal with you or even just offer you some cuddles at the end of a long day. But when you’re apart, these things won’t always be possible anymore.
Relationship expert Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D., acknowledges the problem of accessibility in a long-distance relationship. “If you are the type who likes your boyfriend to be available in person 24/7 — for a cuddle or a cup of coffee — you would not be happy with a long-distance relationship unless he has access to a private plane and can fly to you at a moment’s notice,” she says.
Lauren, a junior at Dayton University, has seen this situation firsthand with a friend’s relationship. “Doing everything together [as a couple] is great,” she says. “But if you can’t even give yourself a little distance now, you’re not going to be able to later.”
Wanis agrees, saying, “If your identity becomes so strongly attached and connected to this person, when you’re apart from him or her, you’re going to feel lost and confused, like you’ve lost your identity.”
If you can’t remember how you spent your time prior to the relationship, you may not be in good shape to withstand some physical separation.
3. You Have Different Expectations
When being apart for an extended period of time, it’s important to have a plan and clearly define boundaries. Agreeing on the level of exclusivity of your relationship, agreeing on the manner and amount of communication and establishing events and times to look forward to while apart is a must.
“If she expects you to call or Skype every night but your family expects you to do the same, you can’t always fit her in at the same time,” Jack says.
In addition to establishing consistent communication habits, it may also be important to figure out exactly how you plan to convey your love and affection while separated.
Wanis advises couples to “establish their language of love” before parting ways. “Are you the type of person who feels loved with quality time and affection? Is it gifts? Is it touch?”
Clearly examining what both of you want and expect while you’re apart is important to maintaining a healthy relationship. If you know you’re going to need to visit him halfway through the summer, say so. If you think sending her a care package each month would keep your new flame burning, talk to her about it. Be honest with each other while you’re still in person to do so, or else this distance could spell trouble.
4. You Rely on a Strong Physical Relationship
The physical side of a relationship is an important one. It reaffirms your commitment to each other and allows each of you to show the other just how much you care. But when you’re apart for who knows how long, that physical relationship can be hard to leave behind.
Dr. Lieberman says you need to establish the boundaries of your physical relationship as well. “If you like to have sex and don’t want to be abstinent for the summer or longer, than a long-distance relationship isn’t workable unless you and your boyfriend sincerely believe that ‘what happens during separation stays in separation,’” she says.
However, Lauren feels that a physical relationship should not be the basis of your entire relationship. “You shouldn’t be worried about something like that,” she says. “If you’re already worried about them cheating on you, you shouldn’t even be in that relationship at all.”
5. You Get Jealous Easily
Lonely nights spent missing the one you love aren’t fun, especially when a picture of your significant other and an attractive female pops up on your Facebook newsfeed. Normally you’re not the jealous type, but why does he look like he’s enjoying himself so much?
Dr. Lieberman says that a partner who gets jealous easily could be asking for trouble in a long-distance relationship. “The jealous partner will suspect infidelity, even if none is occurring,” she says. “I a partner is late answering a text… then the jealous partner will start dreaming up all kinds of scenarios as to what betrayal is going on.”
If you find yourself being possessive of your significant other or seeing him or her as belonging to you in some way, you could have a problem and may want to reconsider pursuing an LDR.
Jealousy comes from insecurity and the fear of not being good enough, Wanis says. “If you don’t feel you can trust someone, whether it’s because you’ve been betrayed or cheated before, you’re going to flounder in a long-distance relationship,” he says. “It is then that you’re going to need a heightened level of trust.”
If you’re already suffering from some trust issues with your partner and worry about how he or she will act when not around you, this whole long-distance thing may not be for you.
Being in a long-distance relationship is not for the faint of heart. Being long-distance will expose any problems you may have had in your relationship. It’s important to plan ahead and establish some ground rules with you significant other so your relationship may just be able to go the distance.