Let me guess. You just had another argument in your long distance relationship? It wasn’t the best experience ever and the uncertainty that it might happen again gives you shivers? Well it just so happens that couples fight, LDR couples being no exception. However you can actually do something about it. To help you out with this, I prepared a handful of tricks that can help you defuse a conflict before it even begins. Or… at least reduce the number of those annoying long distance relationship fights.
Psychology/physiology of conflicts
To beat the enemy, we need to know how it comes to be. Conflicts arise when some wishes cannot be fulfilled at a conscious level and therefore get repressed to the unconscious level. This is a defense mechanism for you not to get overly depressed over not getting every single thing you want. In other words, your LDR lover wants something he/she cannot get. Which is most certainly you – your significant other “wants you”. That desire does not disappear, but gets send to the unconsciousness and stays there gathering the strength to one day get out. The thing is, that once it does, it can take peculiar forms. For instance, boys at school annoy girls even though they actually feel attracted to them deep inside. In LDRs this might make your crush picky or make him see clues of disrespect in e.g. the way you talk. This falsely understood message is perceived by the body as a threat. Adrenalin kicks in and you get the “fight or flight response”. Guys get all red and tense. Then the other one sees it a threat and also gets into “fight or flight” state. And the whole things spirals out.
Bonus: everyday situations can be quite irritating. And once someone reaches their limit, guess whose partner will be to blame?
The key idea is not to get to the anger state.
To avoid conflicts it is important to keep those irritations at a certain level. So what can you do? You cannot change the distance, and you have no control over the everyday stresses your long distance lover experiences. But you can keep the baseline feelings in check. The first thing is communication. Remember that she wants you and this is the most of “you” she/he can get. So it minimizes the dissatisfaction lurking in the unconscious mind. Also, talk about everyday troubles. Having you on her side will make more immune the everyday negativity. Oh and simply talking out makes people feel better. Which brings me to the second point – use humor. Whether it’s to help her see her troubles in a different light, or to defuse the tension between you – humor never hurts in a long distance relationship.
Arguments are not battles
Does it happen that in a conflict you feel like you have to win? You pick the best arguments and try exploit every weak statement in your opponent’s defenses. This is the adrenalin kicking in once again. But this reaction is flawed because your long distance love should not be an enemy. Have you heard of the Prisoner’s dilemma? There are two criminals who get caught. The police has enough evidence to put each of them in jail for 1 year. The police offers each of them a deal: if one rats the other one out, he gets to go home and his comrade stays in prison for 6 years. The best solution for both of them is to stay quiet. However since they don’t trust each other they both get to spend time in prison.
The idea is, that you should not jeopardize your long distance relationship. You have a common aim, which is to be together. All you need is to see it as a team sport/business. Call it whatever you like. I know that this is easier said than done. That’s why I will soon post about Long distance relationship teambuilding activities 🙂
Read the warning signs
Usually arguments don’t start out of thin air. Even in long distance relationships, which are prone to higher irritation levels due to lack of physical contact. Normally, there are some warning signs. She/he might look grumpy, start picking on you, her/his body language changes along with the voice. You start feeling uncomfortable in your long distance call. If you are into movies like “Lie to Me”, you might notice widened nostrils or the way she/he looks at you. These are all great predictors. It is a signal that you should avoid comments about her/him, as those are good sparks for the next LDR fight. Also, bring out humor. It is the best antidote for tension. Or use distractions, or just ask about their day. Maybe she/he will just tell you what is truly bothering them and you won’t become the focus of their emotion.
Now, you may be trying to avoid yet another LDR argument at any cost, but there are some extremes that are not worth it.
Submission. You agree to your partner’s demands just to avoid a fight. This may work at the moment, but it leaves you unhappy. So as this builds up inside, next time you might be the one initiating a conflict. Also this potentially destroys the power balance and equality in your long distance relationship.
Running away. If you sense an argument approaching, you run away instead of just talking things out. Unsurprisingly, this leaves some unresolved issues.
Freezing. You freak out and stop doing anything. This gets you nowhere and you feel terrible inside.
Note. As long as you don’t get heated, you can always talk things out with your partner. As long as you remember this – there is no need for stress.
In our couple we came up with a rule. “If you don’t like what the other one said, then he did not say it”. Tongue slips do happen in long distance relationships, but there is no need to pay too much attention to them 🙂
If it so happens that you get into a fight anyways, we will soon post about ways to solve arguments in Long Distance Relationships. So check it out!