Long-distance relationships can be very hard. Recently, I received a question from Rajesh about how to deal with escalating suspicion, jealousy and fear while he and his girlfriend are miles apart and rarely see each other. Below is his story, and my response.
I have a simple question. How to get rid of suspicion? Me and my girlfriend have a wonderful relation. But from last few months I have become very suspicious.
Our relation is two years old. We live 1000 kms (625 miles) apart and rarely meet, as she is attending a business school. Due to pressure of study she is busy most of the time and does not give the response she used to give. The matter looks simple, But I think I have complicated it very much. Most of the time I probe her and ask her routine and then I ask why she does not call. I know she is busy with her career, she has few close male friends too, quite obvious but some how I become very angry, I have even abused her. Till now she has taken it, but now I feel the relation is in turmoil. I know its my mistake most of the time but I am not able to control.
For the last 6 or 7 months I have not done anything for myself. I am ruining my career and my day to day life. I know what should be ideal situation but I am helpless. I am not able to control my self. Please help me . I do not want to loose her. She is the most precious thing for me.
Thanks for entrusting me with your question, Rajesh. I feel your pain.
The Root Cause: Fear and Insecurity bleeds Suspicion and Jealousy
The heart of the matter here is not your relationship — it’s your insecurity. The long-distance relationship is a trigger, but not the root cause.
The reason you become suspicious is because you equate her not calling as often as a potential sign that she is no longer interested in this relationship. It’s understandable that you interpret it that way, but is it entirely reasonable?
I’m guessing that you have given it a thought that she may actually be telling you the truth — that she is too busy with her studies. One of the sad tendencies of human relationships is that sometimes we tend to neglect relationships that feel secure to us. Once we start trusting that that relationship is secure, then you bump it off the top of the priority list. I can think of a situation where I would call back my business associates sooner than I call my wife — for this reason. I trust my wife and I trust that she understands when I say that I was too busy with my work. In a way, I am taking advantage of the strength of our relationship. It’s not a good thing to do at all — we ought to always take care of relationships that are important to us first — but what I’m saying is, sometimes being lax in a relationship is actually a sign of trust, not a strain. (it would start to cause strain, though, if this pattern is kept up)
Imagine yourself in her shoes and try to see how you’d feel. The studies are overwhelming. When you call your boyfriend, he is very suspicious and gets mad at you on the phone. You have other friends nearby, with whom you can meet some of your social needs. Do you think this is a situation conducive for calling you?
Getting out of a Vicious Circle
I think you realize that your getting suspicious and getting mad at her is completely counter-productive. By doing so, you’re making the situation worse, and you’re decreasing the likelihood of her calling you. Who wants to call a person who makes you feel bad by being suspicious, asking probing questions and verbally abusing you?
Let’s get back to the original point I made. The problem is not her, it’s inside you. You are afraid. You are afraid of losing her, and that drives you to do things that increase your chance of losing her — the very thing you don’t want. Can you see how you’re contributing to the outcome you’re trying to avoid?
There are a couple of realizations that need to take place here.
1. You can’t control her. There is absolutely nothing you can do to make her like you. When she likes you, you graciously accept her. When she doesn’t like you, you have to accept that, too. If you were being nice to her to make her like you, you’re engaging in a deceptive and manipulative practice, using her to fill your own needs. That kind of practice will backfire on you, sooner or later.
2. So, what is it that you need her for? Does having such a great person for a girlfriend makes you feel significant? Does it make you feel like you’re special? Does it make you feel like you’re a good man? These are all reasonable reactions to having a great girlfriend, except that you shouldn’t need a girlfriend to feel this way. You alone have the ability to create such security. A loving girlfriend is a convincing evidence that you’re a good existence, but it’s unnecessary and a wrong basis on which to form such a belief.
From Self Love to Power of Giving
You have to really learn to love yourself. You don’t need a girlfriend to love you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a girlfriend. But you need to be happy with yourself on your own.
So here are a few of suggestions I have for you:
1. Work on your insecurity. This is a major topic, so I won’t go into details. Here are a couple of articles that may be of your interest: Low Self Esteem Is the Root of All Problems, 5 Ways to Self Produce Unconditional Love and Heal Yourself
The goal here is to feel secure in yourself so that you no longer need to interpret life’s events in negative ways.
It sounds like you have developed some anger/stress management issues — if this is important to you, as it sounds like it is, I suggest you go see a counselor to work on this.
2. Meet your own needs — but don’t use her
It sounds rather severe when you say you haven’t done anything for yourself in the last 6-7 months! What are the reasons why you’re neglecting your own needs? Whatever the reasons are, this practice must stop at once. Find other friends, talk to a trusted family member of a counselor, exercise, eat good food, get some sleep, take a vacation — do whatever it takes to nourish yourself and restore your own balance, on your own. Do not look to your girlfriend to do this for you — she’s far away and is not available. Besides, it’s never good to count on somebody else to meet your needs. In order to maintain a mature, stable relationship, you need to become self-sufficient first.
3. Be there for her
And whenever you talk to her, focus on her needs. By that, don’t be nice to her with the intention of making her like you — find in yourself a genuine love and concern for her well-being, and do whatever it takes to help her meet her needs. If that means you call her less often so she’s not distracted and overwhelmed, you respect her wishes. I’m not saying it is inappropriate to share your needs with her — quite to the contrary, it’s a critical ingredient in a healthy relationship — but at this point you’ll want to minimize your time looking out for your own needs in this relationship, as it may have caused some damage to the relationship already. Once you start taking care of your own needs, you’ll become more able to look out for her needs as well.
You may not feel this way right now, but it can be quite joyful to willingly devote yourself to helping others with their needs. Selfless giving can be very freeing and empowering, as you’re no longer concerned with “getting” something out for yourself. By focusing on the above two points, hopefully you can get to a place where you can focus on her needs primarily in this relationship, at least for a while, until the trust in the relationship is restored. Then slowly reintroduce your own issues, so that the relationship can really reach an optimum state, where both of you are looking out for the other person’s needs.
The healing must begin inside you. Rajesh, use this occasion to learn this important lesson about your personal security and loving yourself. And learn to truly be there for her, in her time of needs.