Are you feeling guilty for your girlfriend’s suffering because of the long distance relationship?
And you wish you could make her feel more at ease, but you can’t do much about it. You can’t leave your school/work to go an visit her, and there are no words that could take her pain away?
I have recently held a workshop at an university here in Denmark on how make a long distance relationship work, and the main question that guys asked me was “How do I make her feel less sad because we are far from each other?”
I was quite surprised of this question, because I didn’t know this was such a common problem, and one that brings so much stress in the relationship.
For me this wasn’t that big of a deal, and I realized that it was because I was actually doing a few things that made it less painful for my partner and made it easier for both of us to bear the distance.
First of all you need to realize one important distinction:
Your guilt – YOUR problem
Her suffering – HER problem.
What do I mean by that? Well, it may sound a little aggressive and cold, but it’s not. Let me explain…
1. First, Let’s Talk About YOUR Guilt
If you feel guilty for her suffering, guess who’s problem that is? Right it’s yours. All those guys who asked me how to make their girlfriends feel less sad, were trying to fix their guilt by making their girlfriends feel more at ease with the long distance relationship.
What if this wasn’t the actual solution, and the problem was YOU FEELING GUILTY, not her suffering. So, while it’s fine to look for ways to reduce her suffering, and I’ll talk about a few of them soon, it’s much more important to understand that your guilt is your problem, and instead of fixing her it would be much more effective fixing your guilt first.
So, why would you chose to feel guilty for her suffering anyways? Did you force her to be in a long distance relationship with you? I am sure you didn’t.
So why on earth would you feel guilty? You guys are on the same boat, and you both have to face the burden of being far from one another. Should she also feel guilty for your suffering too? If that would be case then you’d be both feeling guilty and none actually enjoying this amazing relationship that you have.
Feel compassion instead of guilt, and empathize with her instead of trying to fix her sadness.
So first of all I want you to realize that feeling guilty is something that you chose, and my suggestion would be to chose to feel COMPASSION instead of guilt, and try to understand and EMPATHIZE with her instead of trying to fix her suffering! (you Mr. Fix it All)
See her complaints as compliments
For me this wasn’t such a big problem because I used to see her complaining about the distance as nothing else but a compliment, a sincere way of expressing her feelings for me, and so I wasn’t trying to fix her, and make her feel more at ease, I was trying to understand her and tell her how I FEEL THE SAME and how it’s all worth it.
2. Second, Let’s Talk About HER Suffering
You see, the pain of being far from each other is a REALITY of long distance relationships, you can’t change this circumstance, and yes it hurts.
HOWEVER the suffering that comes from this pain, is OPTIONAL. You see pain and suffering are not one and the same thing.
Pain is something that is there, and you can’t change it, while suffering is the result of RESISTING that pain, instead of ACCEPTING it.
What happens in a long distance relationship is that your partner, or maybe both of you would keep resisting the idea of dating long distance, and would keep wishing that it wasn’t true, and would hate it so much to be dating long distance – which would then create SO MUCH suffering.
And so, if you girlfriend is always complaining about the distance and telling you how bad she feels because of it and how sad it makes her feel, then it’s probably because she just didn’t accept the fact that you now have to be far from each other, and this cannot change. And she keeps resisting this idea instead of actually accepting it and ENJOYING the relationship with it’s good and bad parts.
Remember: We only suffer if we resist pain/reality. When you accept reality, you eliminate suffering and leave room for enjoyment.
So, talk to your partner and explain her that she CHOOSES to suffer when refusing to accept the reality of a long distance relationship.
3. Third, Let’s Help Her Find Relief
So only now, that you understand the fact that your main problem lies in your unnecessary feeling of guilt, and also that you understand that it’s her resistance to reality that makes her suffer, we can talk about ways to help her find relief.
1. Make her feel like this relationship is worth it.
How do you do that? Well, by making her feel loved (here’s an article on how to do that) and by giving her something to look forward to (I talk about this in my Long Distance Loyalty course).
2. Encourage her.
Simple but very effective: When my girlfriend would mention how hard it feels to be far from me, I would encourage her with words like: “Soon baby, very soon we will see each other again!”
3. Change the topic.
In most conversations there will be a moment when you or she will complain about the distance, and you can then talk about that hardship for hours or you can encourage her and then move on to another topic. Changing the topic, won’t allow you to dwell on this problem and amplify the suffering.
4. And lastly get a ticket and visit her.
So Keep In Mind:
First of all, you’ve got to change the way you interpret the situation: feeling guilty is just wrong, so chose to feel compassion instead, and show your partner that you understand her because you are on the same boat.
Second of all, help your partner realize that suffering comes as a result of resisting reality. So if she can accept the reality of a long distance relationship, she’ll suffer much less.
And third of all, make her feel loved, encourage her about the future and don’t dwell on this topic too much…and you’ll both be just fine!
Picture by By Maiara Bolsson