Is This Petty? My Long-Distance Boyfriend Isn’t Comfortable With Me In Person

January 20, 2017  |  

Have you ever been able to hold engaging conversations with someone over the phone, but in person, found that your chemistry is a bit flat?

For some couples who spend a majority of time apart, when they do finally come together, they find that too much time in the same space creates more conflict than harmony. Like the woman whose story I stumbled upon in a relationship advice forum. Her boyfriend moved to a new city for a job opportunity, and while he’s not crazy about his new surroundings and the work load that’s been placed on him in his new role, he’s found a lot of encouragement from his girlfriend.

They have talked about marriage and kids, the whole shebang, and seem to be on the same page — over the phone. However, when they get together, face to face, she’s noticed that the comfortable silences they had here and there on the phone become “deafening” in person. Not only that, but her boyfriend also doesn’t seem capable of opening up in the same way that he does when she’s not around. Conversations about plans and even basic emotions take a tart turn and the pair seem to argue more than enjoy their time together.

However, when she returns to her home and they return to the regularly scheduled program of being apart in a long-distance relationship, he becomes more comfortable. He sends her lengthy messages telling her how much he loves her and how he already misses her. But his discomfort in sharing his true feelings in person, and even in just interacting with her face to face, makes her feel like her boyfriend is full of sh-t. Where were all of these emotions and lovey-dovey statements when she visited him?

So I guess the question is, how big of an issue is it if your spouse is more comfortable and happier without you than with you?

It’s an interesting concept, the idea of a relationship being stronger when two parties are apart rather than when they’re growing together in close proximity. I wonder if their interactions were so awkward when they were actually living in the same city before his move, because this may have been something that could’ve been addressed long ago.

But I do know the ways in which our social media culture has impacted how we communicate with one another. People would rather text than talk on the phone. Individuals sit uncomfortably across from one another trying to create a conversation while also trying to resist the urge to play with their smartphone. What is an awkward silence to a person on one end of the line can feel perfectly fine to the other. Being overly connected has pretty much stunted the abilities of quite a few people to really know how to engage and hold a conversation with other beings in person. So if the young woman’s boyfriend has always been uncomfortable with too much dialogue, he’s not alone. But he has to know that he needs to at least try a little harder the few times they are able to see one another. The last thing you want to do is leave your significant other with the memory that you were being distant even when together. And it’s true that following up such awkward encounters with “I love and miss you so much!” does indeed sound fraudulent.

Of course, a long-distance relationship can work and be healthy. Still, just because it’s long distance doesn’t mean it’s meant to last in such a way for the long term. You might as well be pen pals if that’s the case. So if the window into your possible future includes you feeling dejected and bored because your significant other doesn’t know how to show their affection and speak their mind in your presence, it doesn’t sound like you’re building up to and holding on to much of anything…

But as always, that’s just my opinion. What say you? Is it a petty problem if your long-distance partner struggles to hold conversation and show affection face to face in the same way they do over the phone? 

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