The Biggest Communication Mistake I've Made in my LDR
A few months back, my long-distance boyfriend of a year, Ken, got into medical school after many months of waiting for that dream to come true. We celebrated on the phone for a brief minute before I left for a girls’ trip and he went back to work.
I spent the rest of the weekend talking about how super proud and excited and confident I was in him and this huge step in his life. My friends and I processed allll the things.
Here’s the problem:
By the time Ken and I got a real chance to talk about it a few days after his acceptance, I hopped into the conversation five steps ahead at the “OK, but how are we going to make our relationship work?” point. I voiced all my fears: what if you get too busy to make time for us, what if I can’t keep up with your new life, what if what if what if.
As I paused to take a breath, he goes: “You know, it’s kind of annoying that you’re not celebrating with me right now.”
Yes, totally. He was so right. I processed all of my joy and celebration without him. And I’m so grateful he called me on it.
Staying in step with someone long-distance can be hard. Without seeing that person every day, it becomes easier to talk through life events or relationship problems with everyone but them. When you take an argument or happy news or personality differences and process them with other people (or spend too much time dwelling on them in your own head) you’re bound to arrive at your own conclusions. Then, when you and your partner come back together to discuss, you’ve already settled on the “right” answer. The open-mindedness that comes from digging into experiences together is lost, and bringing your lives back into alignment gets that much more difficult.
I’m grateful for a partnership that’s about accountability in that regard. I’m prone to get carried away with my emotions, and Ken knows to call me on it and keep me grounded in our relationship where we can work through life together: the big, the small, the scary, and the joyful. I can’t get ahead of our relationship, because this is where the good stuff is, right here in the present. Keeping the focus on the now can be difficult if you’re a verbal processor like me, but it’ll make your relationship that much stronger and more authentic.