Dear Miss U,
I reconnected with an old classmate, and we fell in love with each other and started dating, but the thing is that she is attending college in another state and only comes to visit (or I visit her) during vacations.
We’ve been together for almost two years, and our primary way of communication is Skype or Facebook. It’s been pretty good, but the last months have been hard. She says she doesn’t like the awkward silences we have on Skype, that the conversation doesn’t “flow naturally.” This didn’t use to happen.
I’m an introvert and always had trouble making conversations, but I think she recently got tired of the fact that she’s almost always the one that initiates them.
What can I do to avoid the awkward silences and have a better control of the flow of the conversation?
Dear Two Bats,
We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and part of being in a partnership is finding someone whose skills complement our own. For introverts, the constant giving of social interaction is hard. The talking can really begin to wear a person down. And if you think about it, when you’re together physically you’re not constantly flapping your gums, are you? You’re doing things together, watching movies, going for walks, listening to music in the car. When you do talk it’s likely to be, “Hey can you grab those tomatoes out of the fridge please?” Rather than a soul-bearing discussion on the ways of life and the universe.
One of the things I love most about long distance relationships is that it forces couples to talk deeply and learn effective communication; a skill that saves marriages. But we have to realize that expecting the conversation to “flow naturally” every time is simply asking too much. I would go as far to say that long distance relationships aren’t all that natural so to expect them to never feel clunky is unrealistic. Talking isn’t all you have in an LDR, but it sure is the biggest thing you have, so of course you’re going to need to put a little extra effort or “force” into it sometimes.
I think to remove the awkward silences you need to remove the idea that silence is awkward. Silence is natural. Lulls in a conversation are normal. It’s ok to not have anything to say, or to want to talk but be unable to think up a topic. Give yourselves the grace to admit those feelings and roll with it. You can be together online and not be talking too!
If you want to initiate time with her but you’re cringing at the idea of having to have an actual conversation before you start call her up and say, “Hey, I wanted to read this book to you, I think we’ll both enjoy it.” Or if that’s not your style, think about your strengths and how you can use them to build your bond with her. Maybe you can work on a creative project together. Maybe you dance and you can show her your routines. Share your life and your passions, especially the non-verbal ones, and when the lull comes at the end don’t cringe, simply say “I like sitting here with you, being together.” Because you are together mentally and emotionally.
Dear Miss U,
I was with my boyfriend for 3 years but he moved to Boston and we never broke up. We decided that we would beat distance and I’m beginning to doubt that. He doesn’t know how to make me feel special anymore now that he is far away. What should we do? How should I deal with a guy who doesn’t know how to show love?
Jay Jay’s Girl
If I tell Mr. E I’m going to bake him a pie I can’t later declare I don’t know how to make pie and hope that he’s ok with this sudden lack of glorious pie. That’s not how it works. If I say I’m going to bake pie, but I don’t know how to bake pie, then I need to learn how. I need to call around, maybe ask some older people who have a lot of experience with baking for their best tips, look at the ingredients other people use in their recipes, and watch videos about pie on Youtube.
Ignorance is simply a lazy excuse. When we start doing almost anything in life we have to learn how to do it. Showing affection within a relationship is no different. It’s a skill that can be learned and even mastered.
What you can do is you can tell him flat out exactly what makes you feel loved and take the guesswork out of it. If you need something in your relationship, it is up to you to advocate for yourself. Don’t expect him to guess. Tell him what you need, when, and how often. Ask him to do a bit of research to find new ways to engage with you and keep things fresh, and while you’re at it, ask him how you can up your dating game too. What would make him feel like the king of the world?
Talk to each other and don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer.
Dear Miss U,
I’m a 14-year-old girl that has been in this relationship with a guy for a year now and been trying to get him to come visit me but he says he doesn’t have the money. I would visit him but I’m only 14 and my parents would ground me for life if they found out we were dating. What do I do?
Dear Young Teen,
You wait, that’s what you do. That’s what the rest of us had to do too. It sucks, but that’s long distance for you – a whole lot of waiting. Focus on other aspects of your relationship aside from meeting, keep having fun and getting to know him on an ever deepening level, and over time you will save the money and gain the permission you need to meet in person.