Ending a relationship is never easy, but figuring out how to break up when you're long-distance can result in a unique sense of loss. After all, being long distance is not a decision most people take lightly, and it's usually brought about by an intensity of emotion that makes all of the inherent complications seem worth it. However, when these types of relationships end while you're apart, it's tough not to wonder what could have been if you'd had the chance to be a "normal" couple. The sad truth is letting go of a connection that you didn't get to fully explore can cut deep.
"The anguish centers around feeling that there was so much more that could have been discovered, and that they never had the chance to do so with their mate, due to the distance, and in truth, that's correct," NYC-based relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily. To say that accepting this reality is tough would be a massive understatement. But, the silver lining is that breaking up after being apart can also make transitioning back into single life feel less jarring. "All breakups are difficult, but a LDR has an innate separation element factored into its design," says Winter. "For that reason, it's slightly easier to part ways when you're already physically parted by distance."
The reason most LDR fail is because of how hard it is to stay emotionally connected to someone who you don't get to be with regularly. Passing up other opportunities to find love for someone who is out of reach can also lead to negative thought patterns than ultimately erode the ability to stay invested. "Distance affects relationship sustainability," she says. "It's a real challenge to keep the connection going when the two of you are separate. This can hamper the depth of emotional commitment, leaving one or both partners hesitating to go all in." Some people may also experience bouts of intense doubt that might not be present when you can physically connect and bond regularly.
Since the main rule of breaking up calls for a face-to-face discussion so both parties can understand the reason for the break up and have closure, it may feel wrong to cut the cord virtually. If you already have a trip planned to see each other, breaking up face-to-face is a possibility. But, Winter warns against having a breakup convo after a vacation or trip if it can be avoided. "My research has shown that the pain is far greater when a break up occurs after a vacation," says Winter. "The dumpee will often feel that they were blindsided and thought everything was going well." To avoid complicating the situation, if you choose to break up in person, it's important to make plans to stay somewhere else during the trip. It may also be a good idea to warn your soon to be ex ahead of time to find out if they'd like to have an IRL talk or if they'd prefer to do it virtually.
Needless to say, breaking up via text is not ideal. Consider opting for a video chat or phone call instead. "Use the methodology that is normal for the two of you," suggests Winter. "If you routinely video chat, do it that way. If you routinely call, choose that option." Although there can be a ton of guilt associated with being the person to end a relationship, remember that LDR are notoriously problematic. Just because things didn't work out doesn't mean there's something wrong with you (or your partner). "Don't beat yourself up with guilt because you're the one to end the relationship and don't feel bad because you lost someone to distance," says Winter. "You had everything going against you, to begin with."
Ultimately, saying goodbye is going to hurt, and you will probably feel lousy about the situation for a while. Fully healing from a breakup of any kind takes time, and there's absolutely no rush. The best thing you can do is to be kind to yourself and remember that even though things didn't work out, you will come out of this situation stronger, and with a clearer sense of what type of relationship model works for you.