Infidelity is often an unfortunate reality in many long-distance relationships
Unfortunately, infidelity is a problem for both in-town and out-of-town (long-distance) partners. However, the idea of “out of site out of mind” is often a reality for many long-distance relationships. One of the main the reasons is that maintaining a connected far-away relationship is difficult at best even for the most loyal partners.
The reason most of us get into a relationship is so that we can have a person by our side who is there both emotionally and physically to weather the storms of life with. The temptation to physically connect with another person who can give you a hug when you have a bad day, put their arm around you and snuggle on the couch, and have sex with you has a strong influence on why infidelity occurs, especially in long-distance relationships.
Even couples who have strong friendship and communication skills are vulnerable to having a really bad day and find themselves needing support that is in person. The opportunity for a physically present potential partner to come along and fill up the void created by long-distance love is real.
Some of the most common signs of infidelity in a long-distance relationship include:
• Doesn’t return texts or phone calls as quickly
• Isn’t as available or as interested in chatting at the end of day or before you both go to sleep
• Doesn’t talk about how much they miss you
• Doesn’t initiate conversations or planning for the next time you will get together
• Doesn’t talk about plans or dreams for the future
• Seems distracted or distant when you do talk on the phone
• Spends more time with “friends” than they have in the past
• Is planning trips with other people in their life
• Seems vague about plans for the weekends and doesn’t want to share many details or talk about how it went
• Changes status or removes posts of the two of you from social media
• Not available for early morning calls or check-ins
• Tells you they need “space” to figure out how they feel about having a long-distance relationship
• Stops sending random “I’m thinking about you” texts or phone calls
When infidelity occurs, regardless of whether the relationship is long-distance, the most difficult challenge for the couple is to rebuild trust.
This is especially challenging when the partners are not in the same area because the likelihood and tendency for doubt to creep in is greater. Many couples will feel insecurity on both sides. One partner may be worried and concerned that the partner who strayed will reconnect with the outside person when they are having difficulties.
They may also worry that their partner will choose the other person because they are closer and seemingly more convenient than working through the challenges of maintaining a distance relationship. The partner who stepped out on the relationship may feel guilt and shame. They also may worry that their partner may want to focus their time and attention on someone in their own area who does not carry the baggage this relationship holds.
The person who was betrayed needs to sense the other partner feels their pain at a deep level…
Couples therapists often work with couples in these situations to help facilitate the healing of the relationship while simultaneously working to create a stronger unit moving forward. This is a dance that can be challenging for both partners because the tendency to get defensive or become too critical has the potential to chip away at any emotional repairs the couple has worked on.
Letting the partner who stepped out know how their behavior impacted you and sharing your hurt feelings versus telling them they are of bad character is crucial. Additionally, if the partner who engaged with another person doesn’t show genuine remorse, it may be difficult to regain trust. The person who was betrayed needs to sense the other partner feels their pain at a deep level and can identify with how much their actions impacted them. Otherwise, it won’t be safe to be vulnerable enough to attempt moving forward.
If you decide to end the relationship, then do so with grace and participate in behaviors that are in alignment with your character.
The relationship was a success for the time you were in it. It certainly doesn’t mean you failed or aren’t good at relationships. It’s why we call it dating. It’s how you figure out if this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
It is also be a good idea to spend some time reflecting about why you were willing to get into a long-distance relationship, especially if this is not the first long-distance relationship you have been involved in. Many people intentionally choose a long-distance relationship because it feels more emotionally safe. In other words, some people enjoy the idea of being in a relationship but don’t truly want the emotional entanglement or responsibility it takes to manage the difficult emotions and issues that come up when partners start to navigate intertwining their lives.
If you find yourself habitually choosing people that are physically undesirable, then it may be a good idea to spend some time figuring out why this relationship choice feels more desirable to you.