It’s pretty simple, long distance relationships are hard. This is a given, but the big question is if the situation is temporary, are they good or bad for relationships? I would argue for better. As much as anyone says otherwise relationships develop into a routine. That isn’t meant to sound like a bad thing, I promise. It’s just that we tend to do a lot of the same things over and over with our partners; things we are comfortable doing and enjoying together. We stop noticing certain things that once drew us in and begin taking these things for granted. Then all of a sudden we realize that the other person is going away and that things are going to change for a while. We aren’t going to be able to continue the same routine we’ve been sticking to over the last few days/months/years. We are forced to take a step back and look at the relationship in a different way. We do not get to see and touch our partner the way we’re used to so we have to find other ways to get this connection in which inevitably makes us focus back on the little things. We start to notice the small habits that we miss about the person we’ve been taking for granted. Maybe it’s brushing your teeth together before bed, sitting on the couch with one person’s legs on the other, or maybe it’s just coming home and giving/getting a hug and a kiss. These are the things we need to try and do in different ways so we feel the same connection. This may be a simple letter they don’t know is coming, an email with a link that reminded you of them, or taking 5-10 minutes out at the same time each day just to say hello. Long distance relationships force the people involved to think outside of the box to find ways to recreate the emotions they have when they’re together. They don’t have to cause constant sadness and loneliness. Essentially, they should improve your communication as a couple and reassure you why you’re together in the first place.
No relationship is perfect; that’s a given, but there are definitely couples that seem “perfect.” These are the couples I am talking about. We get into a relationship because we, obviously, enjoy sharing our time with someone else. We also want to grow and develop as a person with our significant other. This is done easiest when the two individuals share slightly different interests and hobbies hence why they (who ever “they” really is) say opposites attract. In no way am I saying the more opposite the people the more we’ll grow as people; there needs to be something initially that draws these people together – most likely a common interest or hobby. Each person in the relationship has to step outside of their comfort zones at times to appease their partner. Appease might not be the right word because at times we do want to step outside of our comfort zone because we want to try things our partner is interested in. Then again, there are the times we do them to simply appease the other person. These are the times we are forced to learn, become vulnerable, grow, make mistakes, become wiser, and develop into better people. The roles are often flip-flopped frequently so we get a chance to be on both ends of the situation — teaching and learning. All in all, these experiences together enable us to bond and grow as a couple. The relationship becomes stronger as we grow as individuals.
If two people are too similar they don’t push each other. The relationship may be awesome, loving, and very healthy, but the individuals in the relationship may not get a chance to expand their views and knowledge. They get so used to doing the same things over and over and are very content doing just these things, but there is a lack of development. I keep using the word relationship and non-development like they’re bad things here. I am talking more about the people in the relationships. If relationships get redundant, we, and our minds, become stagnant as well. If you’re in a relationship and feel like you’re in a rut — go sign up for cooking classes, yoga, or simply take a vacation to a spot neither one of you has been to before. As great as we may think our relationships are, we must continue to grow as individuals as well. Take a step back and make sure this is happening for you; I will do the same.
“Bros before hoes” and “chicks before dicks” are common phrases used when one friend chooses to hang out with their boyfriend/girlfriend instead of their friend(s). I want to dissect these sayings a little more to see how pertinent they really are. We grow up hanging out with friends on a daily basis and get used to having friends to call and hang out with. These friends generally feel the same way in return and are always game to spend a lot of time together. We may be friends with some of these people for 5+ years so there is a routine developed. During these years (middle school and high school) we start to mature while we become closer friends but also, we develop an interest to pursue more intimate relationships. When we find someone significant in high school and begin hanging out with them on a consistent basis we generally get one of the two phrases mentioned above thrown our way. The friend we have been hanging out with over the years has suddenly been placed in the backseat and now feels like they are being replaced. Since we spend so much hanging out with friends in high school it feels like you have to choose one or the other. This puts the person in the relationship between a rock and a hard place.
Now fast forward to college. Many people go off to school and start over. They don’t have many friends and most likely don’t have any close friends. During this time they are meeting people at a friendship level but also are meeting potential boyfriends/girlfriends. We hardly develop routines with certain friends in such a short time that require us to always be spending time with them. Also, the friends we do make are in the same classes, live in the same dorm, etc. so there is natural time built in where we still see each other on a consistent basis. We are on our own and live in close proximity to one another making it easy to get lunch or a drink together. The time spent together does not have to be entire nights like it seems to be in high school. We are also generally much busier and the expectation to hang out every night is not there. Our good friends in college may expect to see each other once on the weekend and a few times briefly throughout the week. This is by no means a big chunk of time. This leaves us with plenty of time to do our “own” thing and to hang out with someone we want to develop a serious relationship with. We don’t feel the pressure of having to choose one or the other.
In the grand scheme of things, life seems to more closely resemble our time in college. We essentially want to find someone we can spend the rest of our life with and have friends on the side. Friends are not overrated; we just don’t need them around as much.
Have you ever not said or done something because you were scared to get rejected and/or end up with nothing? If so, we all know how it goes: we feel like we should not have said anything and kept going with what we had because we were content – whatever that means. We try to justify that having something is better than having nothing. But we shouldn’t be content with what we have right now if we want something more. Simply going through the motions because we’re afraid that asking for more might result in us having less, or nothing, is the wrong way to look at it. If you want more, it means you’re not happy with the current situation. Holding onto this because it’s “something” is a waste of your time and effort. Waiting around for more to just come may eventually happen, but the possibility of waiting around and that resulting in nothing is just as likely. It isn’t worth the risk.
Ask yourself this: would you rather ask for more knowing you tried and did everything in your power to achieve this and end up with nothing (and be slighty embarrassedal albeit only temporarily) or continue trying to convince yourself that what you have now is ok but more would be much better never knowing if you could have actually had more?
I almost learned the hard way; fortunately, it wasn’t too late and things worked out for the better. Don’t find out the hard way. Say something regardless if it’s easier said than done.
(This might be rather confusing because I purposely left this as vague as possible, but you can apply it to anything this way – your current job situation, a relationship, etc.)
Most people enjoy hearing compliments; it makes them feel good about themselves. We go out on dates and immediately say/hear, “I love your outfit. You look so nice.” We get a smile on our face, maybe blush a little, and then move onto the next thing. We quickly forget about it because it’s a generic compliment. It’s easy to say and almost necessary. If you’re out with someone it’s safe to assume you’re attracted to that person (if not, you’ve got other issues) and there are a number of obvious physical characteristics you like –they have a nice smile, you like their eyes, you love their long blonde, curly hair, etc. I’m not saying we all need to take these things for granted and forget them because yes, it is nice to hear these things once and a while, but the real compliments are the little things. I want to hear how you get butterflies in your stomach before we hang out, how you like when I rub a certain part of your back, or how easy I am to talk to because I am simply a good listener. These are the things we don’t notice about ourselves because it’s impossible to realize we do certain things without them being brought to our attention. When you hear a compliment like that you subsequently think about it every time you do it from there on out, and each and every time it brings a smile to your face. These are the compliments that truly stand out and have a lasting impression. Think of something your significant other does that makes you smile; now go tell them.
It seems like everywhere I read lately, the articles suggest that my generation is losing its social skills and ability to interact without a computer screen between them and the other person. If we eliminate the computer screens and mobile phones from our relationships, apparently our social skills will dramatically improve because we are forced to interact face-to-face, but why is this so certain?
Does electronic communication allow us to interact more conveniently at times when, with a little more work, it may be more successfully done in person? Of course, but this is generally with people you don’t have a substantial relationship with anyway. With individuals we have/want a relationship with, electronic communication provides a tool to enhance it. I say enhance because it definitely speeds up the progress of the relationship. Electronic communication allows us to talk when it was otherwise impossible to do so. We are technically able to communicate at any time and on our own accord. It also gives us a sense of comfort when we say things we would not ordinarily bring up until much later in a relationship. Topics such as our beliefs, sex, opinions, etc. which may seem like issues previously only covered when two people are/were extremely close to one another are now issues that can be discussed with ease at a much earlier stage in the relationship. These things often tell us if the relationship is worth advancing or not and discovering these things about people earlier is a positive thing. Essentially we aren’t “wasting” as much time getting to know people that may wind up as just another acquaintance. And speeding up the process with people we do want to pursuit a relationship cannot be a bad thing.
Electronic communication definitely acts as a crutch at times and allows people to take an “easy” way out of interacting with individuals we normally would be forced to deal with, but concluding that it is limiting our current relationships and disabling our abilities to be as intimate as we once were is wrong. The ability to communicate via electronics has only provided a gateway to improve my relationships and eliminate the ones that I am not interested in quicker.