Tensions rise, snide remarks fly, and you stab at each other more than an episode of Game of Thrones. There’s no denying it, long distance jealousy sucks. Nothing good ever comes of it, and nothing ever will. However, no matter how hard we try, sooner or later insecurities will always strike in our relationships.
Of course, we don’t want it to happen, of course, we know better. But there’s nothing we can do to stop it! Or is there?
Here’s the good news: You can totally get it under control. Whether you can’t stand your boyfriend’s jealous fits or your own, there’s definitely something you can do about it.
The bad news? There is none. You’ve got this.
How to Deal with Jealousy in a Long Distance Relationship
Jealousy by its very nature is a sense of powerlessness and loss of control. It’s a debilitating fear of losing the person you love, and being able to do nothing about it.
The only thing that can make it even worse? Feeling it in a long-distance relationship, where your actual ability to influence the other person is, at times, close to zero.
The first step, like in any hard journey, is figuring out where you want to go. Set your goals, and try to talk about them with your partner as well. Remember, no matter who is jealous, you’re both suffering.
Then, try to understand what it is that stands between you and your goals. In the case of jealousy in a relationship, every single time it comes down to the same thing: one or both partners are suffering from insecurities that they either can’t deal with or don’t fully understand.
Remember one very important thing: Your problem is not the distance. If you, or your partner, suffer from jealousy, living together in a tiny hut on top of a mountain still wouldn’t help.
Your real problem is the fact that your natural instincts, and normal fears, have become something larger: insecurities that you can’t control. A phobia that influences your behaviour. And sometimes, a problem that causes the very thing you’re afraid of: The distancing of your partner.
Long Distance Insecurities – How to Cope When Life Gets Hard
So what are this big bad insecurities I’ve been telling you about? Well, as it turns out, we all know them and feel them at one time or another. Nobody is exempt, but luckily that means that we already know what you can do to help break them apart.
Here are the most common thoughts of (even the strongest and bravest) people who feel insecure in their relationship:
What if my boyfriend/girlfriend finds someone better than me?
There is nobody better than you. Sure, partners may choose to leave and may end up with somebody else, but it isn’t like picking apples at the supermarket. One isn’t better than another in a clear, direct way. There are always things that you are the absolute best at, and things you’re not, and that’s great. All you can do is focus on the good, and be open about the bad.
What if they can’t handle the distance anymore?
Do something about it. You don’t have to move in together tomorrow, but just having a rough plan and a couple of steps you can take already makes a world of difference. If you’re worried about that, rejoice! This is one problem you can actually do something practical about.
I don’t know what my partner is really thinking.
And you never will. That’s the beauty of sharing your life with another person. They surprise you and thrill you and worry you, and even the worries are part of the fun. But if you want to know what they are thinking and are willing to share with you, there’s a very simple way: ask.
Most people appreciate a direct, open, honest talk. No double talk, no innuendos, put those in a drawer and lock them away. Use a simple, straightforward statement like “I’ve been getting so paranoid lately that you will decide you don’t like me anymore. I have no reason at all to think that, but I just can’t help it right now.”
What if my trust is betrayed?
It will be. Someday, by somebody, and you can’t avoid it. It’s like knowing that when you swim in the ocean you’re going to swallow some mouthfuls of water. It hurts and it’s pretty gross, but we don’t focus on it and we move on. Can you stop swimming?
No. Because like swimming, trusting people is what keeps you afloat. And though you may get the occasional mouthful of water, it’s still far better than the lungful you’d get if you completely gave up.
How to Trust in a Long Distance Relationship
So trust is important, OK, we get it. But how do we do it?
People talk about learning to trust, but it’s really the other way around. Trust isn’t something you learn, it’s something you teach yourself.
Teaching yourself to trust is a matter of repetition and positive reinforcement. In other words, if you want to get good at this trust game, you need to push yourself to do it often and reward yourself for doing it.
You may have specific things in your relationship that strain your ability to trust, and those are the ones you should generally focus on. But since we all share loads of commonalities when it comes to relationships, here are three great ways in which all of us can pump up those trust muscles:
1: Let go for an evening
Talk about it in advance, and pick an evening in which you don’t call, don’t chat, don’t Skype, and don’t even know exactly where your partner is or what they are doing. Does it sound impossible to you? Then you absolutely need to try this exercise in trust and patience. Bonus points if you can abstain from calling every time they are late to an appointment!
2: Give a little extra
Find something that’s genuinely hard for you to say to your partner, and say it. Go that extra step into a zone where you would only go if you truly trust that they won’t judge you. Spent some money on something you’re not proud of? Said some bad things to your mother? Gossiped to your best friend about your partner? Come clean. Trusting your partner to listen is a great way to make trust a habit. And hey, you might even lead by example.
3: Don’t pry when you have the chance
Again, make it a point for yourself not to pry or be invasive. Don’t always ask who every person in a photo is. Don’t immediately ask “who is that” when your boyfriend mentions another girls name. And don’t look at his phone when he’s not looking. I’m not saying this for their sake, or for the morality of it. I’m saying it for you, and for the good habits, you can build for yourself.
There are many other things you can do.
Generally, if it’s hard to stick to, you’re going in the right direction. A great way to make it a bit easier is to genuinely be proud of yourself every time you accomplish something and reward yourself for your wins. Every time you take a little step forward, share your joy with your partner or give yourself a little treat. A habit of being paranoid is a lot less hard to break with cake!
How to stop overthinking in a long distance relationship
Why isn’t my boyfriend answering the phone?
What if he stopped loving me?
Why am I feeling jealous?
What if it’s some sort of instinct?
What if he’s more than friends with that girl?
What do the tarot cards say?
Take a deep breath. This is the hardest part: I call it the hamster spiral.
It’s like a hamster wheel, but as you keep running around on it all by yourself inside your head, you just sink deeper and deeper into despair.
Remember, worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
The short-term solution is to take a deep breath, all the way down into your stomach, and stop. It’s not always easy, and it might seem almost impossible at first, but it gets so much easier with practice.It sometimes helps if you tell yourself, out loud, “stop.” Sometimes you need to shout it in your mind. Every time the spiral starts again, tell yourself to stop. Get up, do something else, and enjoy the break in your mind even if it only lasts a second. The next time, it might last two, or three.
Repeat it every time you need to, and you’ll soon get better at stopping the excessive worry and keeping your mind calm and clear.
As for the long term?
You’ll get stronger and more confident the more you practice all the things we’ve talked about in this article. And when something bad happens, keep in mind that it doesn’t justify becoming more jealous and insecure from the long distance. It’s simply a natural part of life, and every time you overcome an argument, a fit of rage, or even a breakup, you will be that much stronger and more prepared for the future.
You may enjoy our other popular page > How to deal with a jealous partner
Words by: Alexandra Pana
Feature image by: Michael-fenton