Ever wanted advice on your relationship from that cool guy friend who has all the answers? Well, Mr. X is that friend for you. Every other week, he’s going to answer the questions you send him and if there’s one thing you can count on him for, it’s being honest. So go ahead, ask Mr. X.
“My boyfriend is in the states and I’m in Pakistan and I just feel really disconnected from him. I know time difference plays a huge role, but I just feel like he isn’t making enough of an effort to keep this relationship going and when I try to talk to him, he says he feels pressured and is stressed out with work. What can I do to get through to him or figure out where his head is at?”
Mr. X’s Response:
Long-distance relationship (LDR) can be tough – anyone who’s ever been in one can attest to this. Time difference, physical distance, and geographical difference are just a few of the factors that can make LDRs challenging. However as my good friend, Mr. Y, once said: nothing worth having comes easy (think Teddy Roosevelt might have said this also?). But through effective communication and a willingness to honestly listen, you can try to smoothen out the wrinkles in LDRs.
You both should need to ask yourself: how important is this relationship to you? If the answer is in the affirmative, then the only way to get through this phase is to communicate. Maybe your boyfriend is genuinely busy currently with work, or maybe he’s still trying to adjust to the distance. Neither mean that he doesn’t want to make time for you – he just hasn’t figured out how to do that yet. This is definitely not an excuse; relationships require work and you can’t be expected to be the only one carrying the weight. But understanding where he’s coming from will help you figure the next step out.
Your feeling of ‘disconnect’ is a common complaint of LDRs. Relationships require effort and LDRs require even more so. To feel connected with your partner, you both need to be on the same page about the relationship and everything it entails, including how you communicate. Some like to be in constant communication, while others find that overbearing. Some text on WhatsApp, while others text on iMessage (which I fail to understand as one is clearly the superior app). Some like to have a scheduled Facetime call, while others do it whenever they find the time. The key here is to find a happy medium that works for both of you. You both will have to be more mindful of responding, making sure you don’t skip any scheduled calls and showing up for the important/eventful days. However, for any of this to happen, you will need to have a conversation with your boyfriend and see if he’s willing to put in the effort to continue this relationship.
You can also take a few lessons from the world going remote in the past year to connect with your partner. You can sync with your partner on an activity that you both enjoy, whether it’s reading the same book or watching a tv show. A shared experience will boost the quality of your relationship even if you’re not getting as much face-time as you’d like.
When it comes to your partner being stressed about work, it’s important you find a way to understand his aspirations, and the trials and tribulations that come with it on a daily basis. This knowledge can help you to better contextualise your partner’s mood and behaviour and may present you with opportunities to help alleviate his stress (e.g. listening to him vent, sending a care package).
If there’s one piece of advice I can leave you with, it’s this: you will only be as fulfilled in your relationship as you are in other aspects of your life. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your relationship, but never let any relationship consume you. One thing a LDR allows you to do is actually work equally, or more, on other crucial areas of your life – your own career, spending time with family and friends, or even taking up a new hobby. You have the space to grow individually from your boyfriend, while still growing within your relationship. Trust me, this is a unique opportunity – make the most of it.
I hope this helps and that you and your boyfriend are able to work through the difficulties of LDR. But if not, I am always here to listen (and offer my two cents!).
In order to send in a question to Mr. X, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t worry, we’ll protect your anonymity the same way we protect his!