Embracing the joys, challenges, and questions of healthy relationships
Hello beautiful people! This is the column of all things relationships from our Preventing Assault & Violence through Education (PAVE) program. The purpose of this column is to provide you with the opportunity to send in any and all questions you have about dating, sex, friendships, relationships, consent, etc…
Navigating the world of relationships (romantic, platonic, or otherwise) can be incredibly vulnerable, awkward, sometimes weird, and amazing. So let’s share in these experiences together. This is a shame-free space and the only bad questions are the ones left unasked.
If you’d like to submit an anonymous question you can do so by stopping by Bartlett 102 (and grab some condoms while you are there) or you can send it to [email protected] or at https://forms.gle/WuW7vWBxF15sirTf9 All names and identifiable information will be changed or omitted. You can also follow @mc_peereducators on Instagram to see more.
Q: Dear Vulnerable,
My partner wants to spend most of their free time with me, which is wonderful, but sometimes it is hard to find time for myself, and I find it hard to set that boundary because we are long distance, and I do want to see them. But I’m also lacking time to myself between them and other relationships/responsibilities. I want to see them, but I’m tired of feeling so drained and never being able to recharge. What do I do??
I want to start by saying that I love this question. I did long distance with my partner for almost two years and really struggled with this at times. I’m also an extreme introvert (and hated talking on the phone), so I am happy to share some things that worked for me.
First, I will recommend that you find a way to classify your priorities. One way I did that was by listing out the ways I spent my time in a week and order ranked them from absolutely essential to absolutely frivolous. I didn’t completely eliminate the frivolous but rather just thought differently about how and when I made time for the less important things (i.e., I could easily check my socials, a low priority item, while doing my laundry, a high priority item). This helped me structure my time around partner time and know what was easier to give up to make time for the relationship.
Next, it’s helpful to talk to your partner about a few things. Do you prefer to schedule your times together or be more spontaneous (or a mix of both)? Regardless of your preference for making time together, focus on the intention of that time.
Do you feel like you are getting as much out of your time together as you can? I do not just mean having deep conversations but doing all of the things that fill you both up. What shared experiences can you do long distance?
For my partner and I it was watching “Game of Thrones.” We got very good at hitting “play” at the exact same time. We also enjoyed sharing pictures of whatever activities we were doing while apart. I was gifted a small dog (Lucky Little Puppy) that started to be the star of all my pictures and travel with me. At our wedding, my partner ended up making a video stringing together many of our shared photos.
Just as important, what are some experiences you want to do for you? Think especially of those top priority items from before.
For me, working out has always been sacred time, and I shared with my partner its importance for my mental and physical health. I asked for that time to be respected as my time to help me be more present during our shared time. Then, before my run or work out, I’d send a reminder text (sometimes as plain as “going for a run, talk later” to a bit more coded “me time for the next hour”). Maybe your absolutely necessary and solo time is studying.
Setting aside time for your care will allow you to be more present and intentional with the time you do spend together. How are you taking time to care for yourself now? Hydration, sleep, eating, and being active are just the basics but can be time consuming (how did you rank them in your priorities).
Beyond that, what fuels your soul and spirit? Is it something you want alone time to do or want to share with someone? It may be helpful to remind your partner that refilling yourself (brain, body, and breath) is necessary for you both and a way to deepen the relationship, even if it means a little less face time.
What are they doing to keep balanced? Another helpful question to ask them is what they need out of the time you both share. They may need reassurance or connection differently than you. If you have never looked into the 5 Love Languages, I would recommend that as a shared read/activity. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
With the answers to some of these questions, hopefully you can approach the conversation with your partner a bit differently to balance setting the boundaries that are best for you, for them, and for you both. Please reach back out if you’d like more information or a deeper dive on any topic covered.
Please keep this conversation going and if needed reach out. Violence thrives in silence. Remember to take a deep breath, unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders and dive in. We are here for you.
Vulnerable, Awkward, (sometimes) Weird, & Amazing