Long-distance relationships aren’t easy —but the added weight of other people’s judgment certainly makes it a whole lot harder than it needs to be. I met my husband when he lived in Canada, and I lived in South Africa. We dated for 2.5 years across continents, seeing each other every six months. A long-distance relationship is never something one enters without thinking it through carefully. It is a deliberate and informed decision made by the people involved. The list below is constructed from things that we had the pleasure of hearing on an almost weekly basis… so without further ado, here’s a list of three things you don’t need to say to a person in a long-distance relationship.

1. Wow, that must be so hard. I could never do that.

Of course, it’s hard. Take the average difficulties couples face and then add several thousand miles of distance between them. You can’t hug after a bad day. You can’t reach for them in the night after a nightmare. Some people get antsy when they haven’t seen their partner for a week, let alone half a year. Upon reuniting, I remember feeling deeply uncomfortable kissing my boyfriend (now husband). It had been so long since I had last kissed him that it felt sort of like cheating, even though it wasn’t. So yes, it’s hard. There’s no need to state the obvious. As for the fact that ‘you could never do that’… then don’t? No one is forcing you.

2. Aren’t you scared he’ll cheat on you?

Speaking of cheating, this one comes up all the time. “Aren’t you scared he will cheat on you? Because, like, you’d never know if he did.” For some reason, this question doesn’t often get posed to people with partners in the same area code, though it really should. Yes, my network in Canada was considerably more limited than in South Africa, but that only really matters when you use the said network to inform you of your partner’s movements. And that’s a pretty weird thing to do to someone you are meant to trust. Also, somewhat ironically, the only partner I have had who has cheated on me (to my knowledge) lived 10 minutes away from me (maybe 15 minutes with traffic).

3. Do you have an open relationship?

For some reason, asking intimate questions to people in long-distance relationships is permissible when you would never ask someone with a local partner the same thing. Whether someone is or isn’t in an open relationship has little to do with the people outside of that relationship… unless they explicitly choose to disclose that information. Ethical non-monogamy is more popular than ever before, but that doesn’t mean your friend in a long-distance relationship is more likely to go for it. So, maybe keep your curiosity to yourself with this one. Oh, and that applies to asking about phone sex. Just don’t.

Are you in a long-distance relationship? What are you sick of hearing?

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