Last June I decided to take a year off from dating and romantic relationships. It was one of the most ballsy, scary decisions I’ve ever made, but after spending my entire adult life either married or in relationships, I knew that I had to do something radical in order to bust out of the pattern I was in and learn something new about myself.
Oh yeah. I went cold turkey. After the first few rocky months of love detox and hugging my cat a lot, I got into the groove of being single.
I am an introvert by nature, a worker-bee, and have a penchant for submerging myself into any love relationship I’m in. After my kids, my man got all of my attention, with work devouring the last bit of my focus. I loved my friends, but it seemed that social media and texting provided adequate means of staying close.
My ability to maintain loving, generous, reciprocal friendships was grossly under-developed. Bursting onto the scene as a freshly single woman, I blinked with wide-eyed amazement at the sparkly potential friendships in front of me and realized I freaking sucked at this.
I spent the year clearing out what wasn’t working. I created spaciousness to breathe, dream, and realign myself to my values. I learned so, so much about myself, life, love, fears, and how truly tender my soul is.
One of the things I found myself appreciating above everything else was real, wholesome, positive connections. Organic, raw, honest relationships with myself, my family, my friends, and my colleagues.
I became very sensitive to the phantom friendships that were in my life. The kind that were surviving only by social media and the occasional text message (but no face-to-face time). The nebulous, weird-vibey connections with a few guy friends who only inboxed at 1 a.m. (you’re sooo prettyyyyyy). Mass Christmas and Easter texts. Gentlemen who were in a relationship and didn’t want me to get to know their lady. Colleagues who would only communicate by email. Anyone who continuously asked for advice or favors. Female friendships that had run their course. Anything and everything that was there by default.
I took an honest assessment of my relationships and realized I wanted to have deeper connections with fewer people. To invest in my tribe. To let go of mass attachments and embrace the sweet, small few.
After the past year of examination, I’ve come to realize that 1997 was cool. There were only so many people you could be close to because friendship meant an investment of your precious, limited time. You got your ass in the car and drove to them or sat on the phone and talked. And from that you experienced depth, and laughter, and tears, and LIFE.
What about technology? I think of it as a blessing and a privilege to have access to it, but it is not my default for communication. For me, that means more face-to-face time. More picking up the phone (instead of texting or emailing). More hugging. More listening. No more phantom connections.
One of the best things about being single this past year has been the time I’ve had to invest in my friendships and build a close-knit tribe. I truly love the people in my life. The connection I enjoy with them has set the bar incredibly high for all future relationships – whether platonic, business, or romantic.
Whether you are a friend or colleague, I only use text or email if I have to. I will first pick up the phone to get the update, describe the vision, go over the changes, hear the news. I’ll schedule coffee, drinks, or dinner to brainstorm the project, hear your engagement story, or just because I want to hug you. If you live too far away, let’s skype. I want to see your gorgeous face, look into your twinkly eyes, hear your laugh…and to hang up with us both feeling like we have really been seen and heard.
No more phantom friendships. And a big fat YES to sweet, real-time LOVE.
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