Long-distance relationships aren’t exactly uncommon — particularly for young people. According to a 2005 study, up to 75% of college students have been in a long-distance relationship at some point, and 35% are in a long-distance relationship at any one time. Deciding to start a LDR can make a lot of sense if you and your partner are pursuing education or career goals in separate locations.
Research shows that long-distance relationships can be just as satisfying as proximal relationships. And there are even some unique pros. "A lot of people who live long-distance feel their relationships have more energy, because you make the most of the time you have together," Lisa Vallejos, PhD, a professional counselor in Colorado, previously told Refinery29.
But of course, not all long-distance relationships are meant to last. If you’re in one, you might be wondering if all the drawbacks — the lack of physical intimacy, the rarity of sex with your partner (or at all, if you're monogamous), the feeling of being separate from your partner’s day-to-day life — are really worth it. Here’s how to tell when it might be time to end your LDR.
It’s hard to communicate
Experts agree that good communication is the key to making a long-distance relationship work. “It forces you to communicate and get to know each other on a different level," Dr. Vallejos said. "The only connection you have is by communication, so it can foster a deeper sense of intimacy." If your partner is leaving you on read for hours and hours, and it's been months since your last FaceTime date, that’s a problem.
The relationship feels one-sided
Long-distance relationships take a lot of work, and it’s very apparent when only one person is initiating texts, sending care packages, and thinking up new ways to have long-distance sex. If the effort you’re putting into a relationship is unequal, it’s easy for resentment to grow.
You can’t trust your partner
If you find yourself looking through your partner’s Instagram likes to try to decipher if their new friend is really just a friend, that’s a red flag. LDRs are “bound to be a disaster if you’re insecure or jealous or untrusting,” Dr. Vallejos said. And they’re also bound to be a disaster if your partner isn’t worthy of your trust.
Your partner’s friends don't know about you
In a healthy relationship, you should feel like you’re a part of your partner’s day-to-day life, even if you're not together all the time. If you’re not sure if your partner’s friends even you know you exist, that’s a big red flag.
You hardly ever see each other
Depending on how far apart you live, it can be really expensive to see each other — you may only be able to visit each other once every few months. If you’re not happy with how often you see your significant other, and it doesn’t seem possible to see each other more frequently, then you might want to seriously reconsider the relationship.
You’re not happy with your sex life
There are many ways to have great sex when you’re long-distance — sending sexts, having a steamy Skype or Facetime sesh, or using sex toys that can be controlled from afar. But if these tricks aren’t working for you, or if your partner just isn’t interested in trying them, it’s okay to prioritize your need to have a sex life you enjoy.
You’re not on the same page about the future
If you plan on moving to New York after graduation but your partner plans on living in Seattle, that might be a sign that your relationship isn’t meant to last. Ideally, you and your partner will regularly discuss your goals for the future — and if those goals diverge, it may be time for the relationship to end.