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. 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.
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 years or your own family.
So it's no small feat.
I'm not going to lie to you, guys. Being alone is tough.
Really tough. It's also not helped by the changing seasons as the hot girl summer migrates into autumnal nostalgia when the leaves fall, the first rounds of gingerbread mochas are ordered, and the early notes of the Gilmore Girls theme rings out. Yes, it's 2019 and your Lorelai still hasn't found her Luke. Woe is me.
But as you rewatch an ungodly amount of wholesome noughties feel-good television and consume an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's, it will occur to you that you don't want to feel sad and alone. You might be single, but it doesn't mean you have to be sad or pitiful (not, of course, that watching Gilmore Girls constitutes being pathetic, that would be sacrilege).
We all want to feel like we should be able to cut it alone, but that's easier said than done. It's our natural instinct to band together and form communities around adversity. But not always. Sometimes, it's the lone wolves that grow stronger and more resilient than the pack wolves with a soft underbelly.
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 when 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 – because they're solid – but I can do better.
So I ask you, my implied audience, a question, What's gold dust?
The art of not caring.
But life happens. Let it. Don't waste it worrying about being hurt. Get hurt, then get the hell out of there. If you aren't comfortable, leave!
I know it can be hard and may sound harsh and alien to 'not care'. But it's not suddenly like you will overnight cease to have a functioning heart. Or that you will be unable to love again – that's unrealistic and sensationalist.
The art of not caring. I'll say it again, it doesn't mean that the net output of emotion that you put into the world decreases. It just means that all the emotional distress and stress you cause yourself thinking about what everyone else is thinking about. You can just channel that into self-love. Convert that toxic, spiraling energy into a more wholesome, respectful, and forgiving dynamic.
Allow yourself to make mistakes, then look them in the eye and learn from them. A mistake is only ever useless to us if we ignore it and pretend it didn't happen. That leads to bottling up emotions that are liable to explode at the most inconvenient of moments.
We don't love a breakdown, even if they generally do follow a breakthrough of sorts