I think we all know how stress from an unhealthy relationship or friendship can have broad sweeping effects on the rest of your life. Emotional stress can drain your energy, interrupt your focus, decrease productivity and just really put a damper on your joy. I believe that healthy, effective, communication in relationships is a key component in happiness and success in your relational life.
In my attempts to be transparent and share parts of my life with you I’d like to tell you about how I got dumped last night. Okay I may be being a little dramatic… but it’s how I feel. Technically I was already single but I feel like I just got dumped.
(Disclaimer to my friends and women I may date in the future: Don’t be afraid that you’ll end up in my blog or I’ll put you on blast. My goal is not to trash talk or put my ENTIRE personal life out there. My goal in sharing personal stories and lessons is that someone will be able to learn from my lessons or just find solace that someone else is going through similar bullshit as they are.)
So the story is I dated a girl for the last year and a half up until the end of July when she had to move back to her home in Jakarta Indonesia. Yes. Other side of the world, 14 hour time difference… yea, it sucked. But I dealt with the pain in a healthy way and was okay with the change. When she left, we agreed we wouldn’t try to stay together but that we would still talk and skype when we could. Also she was looking into returning for grad school in a year and she wanted me to save some money to come visit her in Indonesia in February or March in Indo. So we weren’t holding on to the delusion that a long distance thing would work, but we were still keeping in touch almost daily and keeping some type of friendship/relationship going.
Honestly I knew it probably wouldn’t work. I figured we’d stay in touch for some months, slowly getting into our separate lives and finding less and less time for each other as the months apart went on. I was okay with her moving on, me moving on and us living our own separate lives. I’d even been on a couple of dates between August and October so I was accepting and embracing the change. What I wasn’t ready for was for her to suddenly stop talking to me all together.
I could sense a couple weeks ago that her texts were getting shorter and less personal. Her responses more boiler plate and less caring. She stopped asking about my life, didn’t care to listen when I brought up cool stuff that was happening, she just replied “cool!” Then I noticed I was the only one initiating, at least that’s what I perceived. So last Sunday I thought “Man I’m the only one putting in any energy to communicate, I wonder how long it will take her to actually text me if I weren’t putting in all the energy to keep us talking?” So I didn’t text her after last Sunday and waited all week to see if she took any time to say hello. I waited until that next Saturday night and, after a couple of drinks, couldn’t keep the silence anymore so I text her.
I made a conscious effort to not be needy or demanding, I said hello and asked her about how she’s been and if everything was okay. She said yea and that she was busy and would have to text me later. So I asked her “have you just been busy/preoccupied the last couple weeks or are you just not really wanting to talk anymore?… I miss my friend but if you don’t want to talk anymore then I won’t chase you. Just let me know what’s going on so I’m not left hanging and wondering like I am now.” She replied “I don’t think I will go back to Seattle and so I have to move on. So should you, we have to.” She softened it with how I’m a special person to her and how she’s grateful for having met me, so as not to be completely crass. But for me, I was hurt…
How could she punctuate our relationship, our friendship, with a “I’m not coming back, let’s move on…”? No forewarning, no conversation, just bam! Here ya go! I felt so dispensable, so disposable. Did she ever really care? Was I just something to do while she was here and now that she’s found something else to do I’m yesterday’s news? My imagination exploded with all the bad shit that could possibly have preceded this decision to completely end everything we’d had over the last 18 months. I had nothing else to go on except my imagination because this terminal decision came without warning or explanation.
All my feeling of hurt ego, bruised pride and fragile self-esteem aside, what really hurt was the fact that she didn’t think to tell me to my face (skype) that she was moving on. Or even on the phone for that matter! After 18 months all I get is a text message? Really?! Is that all our relationship was worth to her? 60 seconds of time & energy to send a text?
Damn… That’s cold blooded…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing her or saying she’s a cold blooded person. She’s a very logical person and I get where she was coming from. She needed to move on and needed to take the initiative to disconnect from me. I respect the decision and don’t disagree with it. I haven’t moved on to anyone else yet because I’m focused on my work and don’t want the distraction of dating right now. So I wasn’t motivated to make it happen myself. She needed it though and I understand it. But just disappearing and then when asked about why she disappeared, telling me she’s moving on over text wasn’t the best way it could have been handle in my opinion. In the end it’s MY opinion. It’s MY feelings that were hurt and I can’t blame her for my hurt feelings. But I can communicate with her so she can understand how certain behaviors can affect other people. Then at that point it’s on her how she wants to handle things in her life.
I saw this quote today and it made me recognize that I put my expectations, of what I thought was right, onto her. I expected her to behave the way I think she should have. I blew up at her for not communicating the way that I wanted her to. I know she’s a logical, sometimes unintentionally cold, person who makes decisions in order to get a desired outcome. One of the things I love about her is that she’s not as emotionally charged as me, she keeps things calm and easy. So instead of getting immediately hurt and venting I could have thought into who she is, how she communicates and what she was attempting to do. I am trying to change her because I think it’s better to communicate feelings and intentions when you care about someone. Am I wrong? Maybe.
But for me to be a complete person I’ve learned that I need to validate my feelings and stand up for my heart. For many years I just bottled up my feelings and let them go unsaid. I didn’t communicate for fear of upsetting other people and still I think there’s a line between being an emotionally belligerent asshole and an open, honest communicator. In this case, after weeks of not talking, I thought about how I felt and decided I needed more from her.
So in the end I feel I’m being a bit selfish because I’m the one that feels the need for closure, I take responsibility for that. But I don’t feel like I’m being selfish in asking her to talk to me about it. I feel like it’s something a friend does when the other friend is upset. They call them and talk to them about it to try and help them through it. But again that’s my opinion. At the end of the day she doesn’t owe me anything. I just hope she cares about me enough to sacrifice her comfort for the closure I need. If not, then it is what it is. I’ll get over it and learn from it. It’s just disappointing to think that so much happiness, hurt, joy, anger, learning, sharing, sadness, fear, comfort and everything else we shared over the course of almost 2 years of our lives can be boiled down to one simple text message.
What I’d like to leave you with, and what I hope to take from this, is that communication in friendships and relationships is SO, so, so, so, so necessary. Especially in today’s world where you can catch up on people’s lives on social media and it’s so easy to say important things via a text message. So many things are lost and disconnected in the written medium and us as people need visual, verbal and physical communication to feel connected. To feel important. To feel cared about. To feel loved. At least this man does.
What beloved person have you not talked with in a while? Have you told the people you love how you feel about them? Do you have any tense or poorly functioning relationships that need a little communication and care? Go talk to your coworker after last week’s situation in the break room. Go call your sister after she called you a biach last week. Go call your dad and tell him how you feel. Open the door to communication and start repairing your broken down relationships. Don’t just assume that people know what you’re thinking or how you feel, just because they “SHOULD”. Lay your pride to the side, take responsibility for your part, for your feelings, say what needs to be said to get the conversation started. If there’s love or respect between you then something good will come out of it.
So I’ll leave you with that and I’m gonna go call a few people.
Followup: We talked the night after this went on. She understood and apologized for being callous. I understood her and apologized for jumping to conclusions. We had a long great talk and got some closure on things. All is well and after some time and emotional distance, we will still be friends with love for each other and our friendship.