Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, we're going to spill some tea on relationships. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I'm some sort of guru with a roster of fulfilling, amicably concluded relationships to draw on. However, I am something of an expert on what not to do. As such, I've found that the golden rule (as is the case in platonic friendships and filial relationships) is emotional honesty.
I'm not saying that we need to bear our soul every second of the day. You shouldn't have to release your every thought to your Person to feel like you're communicating, either.
But there's a happy middle ground somewhere between those spectrums
More still, in comparison with those in long-distance relationships, individuals who have unwittingly become part of an emotionally-distant relationship suffer more. This is because people in long-distance relationships still have communication, which is gold dust for relationships. It's precisely because they know they're apart that they have to prioritise each other and make time. Indeed, as the distance amplifies silences and makes any dissatisfaction reverberate all the more intensely, it's really important to communicate when needs aren't being met. If one party feels neglected, in a long-distance relationship, there's only one way to resolve that: tell your partner.
Therefore, even with physical barriers, emotive, empathetic communication is a great, if not, the only true tool to negotiate these long absences.
However, if you have become acclimatized to an emotionally distant, neglectful, abusive or apathetic relationship, there is no quick fix.
This is because you feel trapped
Trapped in your insecurities or concerns about the other person, and yet unable to communicate that. This is either because you feel that your concerns wouldn't be taken seriously, or you're just simply not comfortable putting yourself out there and rendering your emotions open in an honest and exposing way. Frankly, making yourself vulnerable is super hard, even if it's to friends you've known for years, or your own family. So it's no small feat.
Trust yourself enough to walk away
We all have those moments of doubt and insecurity in relationships. That's inevitable. Humans aren't infallible, nor should they be. If everyone was just robotic and said exactly what we were meant to say, where would the fun and surprise of life be? That said, we also acclimatise to toxic environments which aren't good for us.
We need to be better at recognising that we deserve better than what we sometimes get. Often, we might be investing more of ourselves and putting our time on the line for a relationship that isn't being reciprocated in the same way. Also, we often feel guilt for thinking about stepping away from such relationships, as though we are withdrawing a service that we 'owe' another person.
We don't owe people anything in this world, not inherently. Not if they're not giving us the same in return, it's just not emotionally sustainable. You end up expending and exhausting yourself and having nothing left for yourself.
Therefore, we need to recognise and relearn our power to say 'no' and mean it
Or to tell the people around us what we need when we need it. We don't need to become dictators or totalitarians to do this, or to control the relationship, we just need to have an active and equal part in it. If we want to know where the relationship is headed, that's perfectly within our rights. Should your partner not be on the same page as you, that's fine – but that's the signal to leave the relationship. If you explicitly do not have a future there, then you're both wasting each other's time and effort, and making things harder for yourself in the long term.
There are so many self-care or self-help books out there that operate under the guise of improving us. Of elevating our identity and crystallising into something more ideologically secure, consistent and productive. There are so many means of approaching ways to improve our emotional wellbeing, mental health, physical fitness, and overall social prospects.
It can get super overwhelming
You aren't alone in thinking that. Particularly when entering the office of your guidance counsellor in high school. The walls were pasted top to bottom with naff inspirational posters and placards. 'It's not about the destination, it's about the journey'. Or 'things that are hard are worth fighting for'. The old faithful: 'Life isn't a competition'.
Honestly, I'm sure all of these epithets are true, but that's not to say that there isn't more informative, helpful advice out there. Like, there's a reason the clichés exist.
So I ask you, my implied audience, a question. What's gold dust?
The art of not caring
If your partner isn't meeting your needs, leave! Don't feel the need to stay in a floundering relationship just because of peer pressure or because you feel the need to stay in a 'social relationship'.
Trust yourself. Leave. You know what your gut is telling you.
Don't think about anyone else. You have to live with your decisions, not them.