8 Warning Signs of a Toxic Long Distance Relationship

Why is it that some long distance relationships don’t work? Well it’s the same reason why close proximity or “regular” relationships don’t work.

You can think of it as; that couple wasn’t meant to be together. 

Or that they still had some work to do on themselves in order to fully embrace love. 

You think to yourself: “Well, maybe I can help them to embrace love or maybe I can be the one that fixes all their problems”.

That kind of thinking is a trap. 

For example, if you’re dating someone and see them struggling, you want to stay with them and help them through it because that’s what a good partner should do right?

To an extent, yes.

However, once their struggles start to take over your life and make you feel like your own wants and needs don’t matter anymore, well, then it’s time for you to re-evaluate your relationship. 

8 Warning Signs to Look Out For in a Long Distance Relationship

What I am about to go through is a list of common signs of abuse and how they would present in a long distance relationship. 

This post is to warn you of potential power plays and manipulative behaviors so you know how to identify them if they happen in your long distance relationship. 

This is also a big disclaimer

If you feel like you are in an abusive situation or long distance relationship then please, please, reach out to someone.

Please reach out to your support system and/or find a licensed professional in your area so you are able to talk about these issues on a deeper level.

As a long distance relationship coach, my job is to help you become more aware of who you are in your current relationship.

While I may have a lot of advice I can give, I cannot help you through the process of dismantling and reconfiguring how you and your partner view the world. 

I am more of a guide, your LDR Fairy Godmother so to speak. 

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It Starts With Jealousy

Jealousy in a long distance relationship can look like; you being online and your partner wondering why you aren’t talking to them.

Or telling you, that you shouldn’t hang out with your friends because they want to spend more time with you. 

At the start of a relationship, jealousy can be misinterpreted as something that is cute or a sign that your partner likes you. 

On the other hand, it can be a subtle sign of your partner’s insecurity. 

The insecurity version is when they start to constantly question you and your loyalty to them. 

That is when this little sign of affection becomes toxic. 

The long distance relationship I was in, in high school, my ex started demonstrating this behavior. 

He loved to show me off to his friends as a prize that he won, but as soon as any of my male friends texted me he would take my phone and threaten to break it if I ever texted that person back. 

Jealousy is the start of a slippery slope. If you and your partner don’t talk about jealous behavior out in the open, it could make it easier for your partner to fall into controlling behaviors.

If you are noticing that your relationship is starting to raise some flags about this toxic behavior, sit down and talk to your partner about it. 

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Then The Controlling Behaviors

Controlling behavior in an LDR starts off slowly, as it is following up with the jealous behavior we just talked about. 

Except in this stage, it will be taken a step further. They will tell you, that you can’t hang out with your people anymore, or guilting you to choose between them or your friends. 

This is usually an early warning sign of toxicity in a long distance relationship. 

It’s the start of everything. 

So why does it happen?

A lot of this can be from a person’s cultural difference or any anxiety that they are facing. 

Use this sign as an early warning for you and your partner to talk about these issues head-on. 

Start the conversation by asking your partner what are some cultural norms for them and in relationships where they are from. 

While also sharing some of your cultural norms surrounding dating and relationships. 

This will help give you an opportunity to learn things from your partner’s perspective. 

However, if they start belittling you, or telling you that your thoughts and ideas are stupid, then shut it down. 

There is no need for you to tolerate any disrespect like that. Let them know that you don’t like the behavior they are showing. 

When it came to my ex, I did a lot of dumb things. Granted I was in high school and didn’t know much about life at the time. 

I was working as a waitress, and he was a carpenter. He made good money but spent most of it on alcohol. Since I drove to his house every other weekend I would help him buy groceries for the week. 

I showed up to his house with the groceries ( I spent about $100 on them) and he yelled at me for what I got him. 

I was so pissed that I yelled back at him. He was being so disrespectful to me. I was a highschooler helping a grown ass man out to buy his groceries and he didn’t like anything I bought him. 

After our argument he said he was sorry and that he wouldn’t complain about what I got him from the store. 

If they say they will change, watch their actions. If they can show over time that their behavior is changing, you know they are ready to make an effort to create a change in y’all’s relationship. 

My ex said he would change, and the next time I brought him groceries we had the same argument all over again. 

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They Will Show You Some Disrespect 

When you start a long distance relationship, you are learning more about each other’s cultures and world views. 

Normally, this is the time you find out if you’re really compatible with each other. 

For a partner that is abusive or manipulative, they will likely say all the things they want you to hear before actually showing their true colors. 

One of these true colors is being blatantly disrespectful to you or your beliefs and then making you feel like you were in the wrong for them. 

This disrespect can also be an attack against your character or loyalty. 

Prior to dating Tuomas, in another LDR a long time ago, I had this happen. 

A guy I met online off a dating site straight up called me a slut and a whore and said I must have STDs because I didn’t want to sleep with him.

I, at the time, was so hurt that a guy I liked and was interested in was saying all this hurtful stuff to me out of nowhere that wasn’t true. 

I went home and cried, and decided I didn’t want to be with him anymore. 

Older Jasmin, who has seen a lot more, wants to go back into time and tell the younger me that I shouldn’t be upset at THEIR behavior.

It’s hard to see someone that you love be so disrespectful to you. 

In this situation, it is important to put your love for yourself first. 

Confront your partner about the disrespect they are showing. If they refuse to back down then know that it’s time to go. If they apologize, watch their actions and see how your partner changes. 

After watching their actions, if you notice that your partner continues to be disrespectful afterward, you know it’s a cycled pattern that they will have to work on if they truly want to move on. 

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They’ll Have You Doubting Yourself 

Before I left the US I stayed with a friend of mine to help save money while I was still working. What I didn’t see before moving into the house was the toxic relationship my friend was in. 

Even now, writing this, it’s painful to recall the mental abuse her husband not only put her through but put me through as well. 

I am just so thankful that Tuomas was there for me during this time. 

This form of abuse is also known as gaslighting. 

Gaslighting in a long distance relationship will look like your partner using your words against you and repeating them in a way you did not intend for them to be said. 

For example, if you call them out for being controlling, they might flip it back to you and say they are only concerned for your well-being and safety. 

Or, they are only saying these things because they love you and they are concerned about how others will view you. 

This is just one example of gaslighting. Another form that I experienced from my friend’s husband was the social isolation that I experienced after. 

He would tell our mutual friends that I was the cause of all their relationship troubles. Over time this idea really wore me down and I started to believe it. 

It was until one mutual friend took me to the side and told me this was all happening years before I came to stay with them. 

If it wasn’t for that friend, I would have lost myself to my friend’s husband’s gaslighting behavior.  

For more information about gaslighting check out this post by Psychology Today 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting 

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You Feel Like You Are Walking On Eggshells 

This feeling is another sign of gaslighting and toxic behavior that can occur in a long distance relationship. 

Going back to the story about my ex. 

Whenever we were having a meet-up, there would be times where I would make sure I did everything perfect. 

I brought him food from the restaurant I worked at, the way he liked it. I made sure to get him the things I could afford from the grocery store so that this time he wouldn’t yell at me. 

I even got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t be myself and that I had to be a watered-down version of myself just to stop him from being angry. 

If you find yourself in the situation of always worrying and calculating your every move around your partner.

Just so that they don’t overreact or get verbally, emotionally, or even physically abusive. 

Then that is a sign that your relationship is becoming toxic. 

When I was with my ex, this mostly happened during the meeting phase of our relationship.

When you’re in the distance phase of your long distance relationship these signs will be presented during your calls. 

When you’re on a video call it feels like you can’t look them in the eye without making them angry or upset. 

You find that you are always tense when you get on a call with them.

You’re anxious about their reaction all the time in fear of an emotional outburst on their part. 

Just being on a call with them feels draining and soul sucking. If you are going through this now, then take a step back and look within yourself first. 

Figure out why and what is causing you to feel like you are walking on eggshells.

Afterwards talk to your partner about it. 

Hopefully, they are willing to listen, want to work on communication patterns, and towards a solution with you. 

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You Feel Pressured to Make Commitments 

Another sign of toxicity in your long distance relationship is feeling pressured by your partner to make commitments that you feel you aren’t ready to yet.

Some examples of these commitments would include feeling pressured into having sex whether it’s virtual or when you are on a meet-up.

Or pressured into making financial commitments that you are not able to afford, like having a meet up or paying for them to come visit you. 

And most importantly, threatening to end the relationship unless you give them money or pay for their way for them to come visit you. 

This form of abuse can also be called making power plays. 

Or pressuring you into making life changing decisions that will only benefit them. 

When I was dating my ex I was starting to look at different colleges to go to. One college I looked at was closer to him but was more expensive than the one farthest away from him. 

The college that was more affordable was the one farthest away.

We talked about it, and he said he would break up with me if I chose to go to the college farther away, and that I should go to the one that’s closer to him. 

That was his power play, making me choose my education and future over the future of our relationship. 

His selfishness and insecurity in our relationship made me start questioning how much longer our relationship could go on like this. 

I was starting to feel suffocated.

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Ignoring Your Wants and Needs 

Throughout this article I have mentioned multiple times to talk to your partner about the toxic behavior you are feeling. 

Talking about these issues in a safe space is the best way to understand each other and to move past it. 

This is also the area where you check in. Are they really changing their actions after they said they will change?

When you talked to your partner about the areas in your relationship that feel toxic, did they listen? Are they respecting boundaries you set in place?

If you answered no to any of these, then your partner is ignoring your wants and needs so they can protect their own. 

For the story of my ex, this was my breaking point. 

He kept saying he would change, kept telling me he would do better. So I invited him over to my family’s house for Thanksgiving.

Our LDR wasn’t too far; it was about a 2 hour drive that I always made.  

He, at first, was about it. I told him how important it was for me. Since our families celebrated at different times of the day, we would be able to go to his Dad’s house after my family. 

Two days before Thanksgiving he told me he couldn’t come. He also told me what time I needed to be at his Dad’s for their Thanksgiving. 

He didn’t have a reason, other than he didn’t want to drive out to me. 

I broke up with him that day. I called him up and said we’re over. 

When you are in a healthy relationship your partner will listen to your wants and needs, discuss them with you and find a way to make it work.

My ex did a great job of showing me what an unhealthy long distance relationship looked like. 

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You’re Lacking on Your Self Care 

A part of being in a toxic relationship is denial, or waiting for something big to happen to give you a reason to end it all. 

If there is one reason that will make you look around and assess the situation you are in, it is when you have no form of self care. 

In all the situations I mentioned earlier, from my ex, the guy I met from a dating website, to my friend’s husband.

Through all these events I stopped taking care of myself. 

When you are going through periods of toxicity you tend to stop caring about your own needs and your own happiness. 

Just to make that other person feel happy and loved.

Then this is a wake up call to you, YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY AND TO FEEL LOVED.

If you are in a relationship and you don’t feel these things then really ask yourself, what can you do to feel happy and loved. 

Because you deserve it and I want you to realize that. 

8 Signs You’re in a Toxic Long Distance Relationship 

This is probably the hardest blog post I have ever written. 

I usually gravitate towards posts that are positive and praying for the success of your relationship.

You know, empowering ones that let you know long distance relationships can work and how fulfilling they are. 

There is also a side of me that has to be responsible and tell you about the negative side of long distance relationships.

You could be reading this out of curiosity wondering if your long distance relationship is toxic, or you might have found your way here because you need a way out. 

No matter what category you fall under, I recommend you to share this post with your partner and talk about each paragraph together. 

This will help y’all to create a baseline in what behavior is acceptable and which ones aren’t. 

It will also give you time to reflect on the current relationship and consider if you have experienced any of these things in past relationships.  

Your partner will not be able to understand your struggle if you don’t share it with them. 

To better understand how to handle intense conversations while in a long distance relationship, check out this blog post I wrote about arguments before talking about things with your partner. 

For More Information on Dealing With Conflict in an LDR Check Out These Posts

6 Red Flags You Miss When you Start a Long Distance Relationship  

11 Easy Steps for Handling Arguments in a Long Distance Relationship

9 Ways To Stay Safe During a Meet-Up

50 Great Questions to Ask in a Long Distance Relationship

How to Use the 5 Love Languages in a Long Distance Relationship

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