LDR Advice from Michelle and Frank

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Constant arguments in my LDR

July 30, 2008

My boyfriend and I met online and we have been doing the long distant thing for about 9 months now. We occasionally got into arguments about the distance and it recently just got really bad. The past couple of weekends have been a screaming match because I don’t think he understands where I am coming from. I accept the distance thing and know that it has to be like this for now but I feel since I don’t have a certain time frame of when things are going to change where we could actually live in the same city I freak out.

He has come to conclusion that he can’t handle the arguing anymore and he needs me to change if this is going to work. My question is I want to understand why I freak out? I know he loves me and cares about me deeply. I’m not insecure about our relationship but for some reason I need the reassurance to make me feel better. Is this normal? What can I do to fix this and not lose him? I want to make sense of why I freak out and yell at him.

If you can offer me any advice on this I would appreciate it. I am really lost and would hate to lose him over something that I can change.

Shannon

Michelle says…

The distance can create high stress for a lot of couples. I don’t know if you’ve met your boyfriend in person before, but you might find that you have a shorter fuse over the the phone than in person. I know with Frank and I, this is certainly the case. Over the phone or while instant messaging, you’re not able to read a person’s body language and there is no possibility of the other person being able to make comforting physical contact (eg. hugs) to calm you down. So what you speak of is certainly normal and happens in a lot of long distance relationships given the circumstances.

A combination of the stress and lack of comforts face-face contact allows may be the reason you find yourself “freaking out” so easily.

You asked if it is normal to need reassurance in your relationship even if you know the other person loves and cares for you. The answer is yes. In long distance, you don’t have the kisses, hugs, and touches that reaffirm the other person’s feelings. Affection is mostly done through words or kind things you can do from a distance (eg. gifts, cards, letters, etc.). Obviously this is what makes showing your love in a long distance relationship tough since it takes so much more effort than it would in a short distance relationship.

Knowing you’re loved and feeling loved are actually 2 different things. You can know your boyfriend loves you, but it takes effort on his part to actually make you feel loved (more effort than just saying “I love you”). So don’t feel awkward that you know your boyfriend loves you but want the added reassurance. People need the reassurance no matter how far apart they are from their partner. It is just harder in long distance relationships.

How do you fix this? I would talk to him and tell him how you feel. Do this calmly and avoid getting into another argument. You may actually want to write your feelings down in an email. Make sure to re-read what you write, so you can make sure it won’t be taken the wrong way. Tell him what I said above about how feeling loved and being loved are two different things. Really make him understand that point as it is very important since it is something a lot of people confuse.

In the meantime, just understand how hard it can be for some people to express their love in more ways than saying “I love you.” Try to think of the ways your boyfriend shows his love. Does he go out of his way to compliment you? Does he send you nice emails or text or call you just to say “hi”? These are the kinds of things you can recognize as things he does to let you know he thinks about you. Showing he cares can be as simple as helping you solve a problem and figuring something out for you. Frank will look stuff up for me all the time or give me advice about my car problems. Showing your love is anything that involves the other person going out of their way by doing/saying something kind for/to you. Not everyone can be a perfect romantic that confesses their undying love through poetry and well-spoken words.

Many guys may think all they have to do is say “I love you.” But it is the things they do, that even they may not even realize means a lot, that shows how much they actually care. So go easy on your boyfriend.

Tips to avoid “freaking out?” Before you “freak” out take a deep breath and really think about what you’re going to say. If you can’t speak calmly tell him that you need to take a short break and will call him back in 10 minutes. If you can’t speak calmly at all over the phone because he gets too defensive or interrupts, it may be best to put down your thoughts in words and send him an email so you can get everything you need to say out. Avoid accusatory language with sentences that start with “you.” An example is: “You don’t care about me.” Start your sentences with, “I feel…”

Hope this helps, and good luck to you.

Michelle

Frank says…

So, my understanding of what you are saying is that you feel he casts your feelings aside and does not understand what you are saying. This makes you very frustrated and you scream and yell and “freak out”. Well, I can not tell you why you just “freak” from reading your question. I would have to spend time in your brain. I can offer tips I use to help you keep your cool during arguments.

  • Focus on your words. As you are talking pay strong attention to what you are saying and your pronunciation. Take extra time to speak properly (like your English teacher would want). This slows you down and gives your brain another focus point. Try yelling and screaming at the top of your lungs while speaking as if you are talking to the Queen of England. It is hard.
  • Have a piece of paper in front of you as you are arguing. You can doodle or write down ideas you want to say. This allows you to form a logical argument. A lot of time, people have ingrained into their head that the louder one wins. When your argument or point might not be as strong, you feel you have to yell to “win”. If you can plan out your “attack” you could speak softly, and carry more weight with your words.
  • I heard this one recently: Take 24 hours to react. A lot of the time, something might come up and blindside you and you flip out. Well, usually it is not a huge problem, but you feel it is at the time. It is like a paper cut. It hurts like hell at first, but an hour later, you don’t care. This takes great self control, but you will find that tomorrow, you probably won’t care about what happened.
  • Also, take the time to explain to your boyfriend that you are sorry about yelling. Ask him to do his best to understand your feelings. If he disagrees with your feelings at a time, calmly remind him that these are your feelings and you can’t help them. You have a right to feel sad or upset. It is how you handle them is what matters. So do your part to remain calm. But make sure he does his part to understand you are human, and if he really loves you, he will make sure he understands your feelings (while still keeping his own ideas).

You might also be a dominant person by nature. You feel that you have to be in control and be right. Well, this is a natural thing. But great rulers rule with love not fear and anger.

It is a partnership that you must work together in. Best of luck.

Frank

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