When I have thoughts running circles in my head, the only way I can break the cycle is by talking a friend's ear off until they set me straight again. I am so grateful to have an incredible support system of friends who understand me down to my core. The real credit for this post goes to a friend who talked me through this one.
Have you ever thought about the different ways in which you demand and give space to the people in your life? Take your parents for instance. From my experience, most of us build a lot of space into our relationships with our parents. We often don't need to touch base with our parents (or at least not both of them) every single day, or even every week. This goes for most siblings too. Our bonds are unbreakable and don't rely upon constant contact. In fact, if we spend too much time together, after a while, we can hardly stand each other. Over time, we organically figure out that accepting and demanding space from family members is key to maintaining healthy, loving relationships.
Many close friends share this mutual and unspoken understanding as well. For the most part, my most meaningful friendships do not require daily communication. While we would prefer not to, these friends and I could go months—perhaps even years—without talking and start up right where we left off when we were to see each other next. In past generations, this wasn't a choice at all, but just the way things worked if you were apart from someone.
Today, with practically endless outlets for communication (ie. text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail), it seems many of us have forgotten that space is normal and in fact, necessary, when it comes to relationships. Nowadays, when we don't hear from someone day in and day out, we have the capacity to feel vulnerable, forgotten, and unimportant. For me, this is actually more of a double standard that I hold. I am constantly demanding space from others. I typically only call friends back when the mood strikes and responding to an email might go on a to-do list rather than being immediately replied to. On the opposite end, I cannot even think of a time that I was offended by a delayed response from a friend or family member. However, when it comes to a relationship that involves romantic feelings, I spend hours over analyzing, putting myself down, and drowning in shame and vulnerability. What the beep is that all about?
It wasn't until I began to think of this self-inflicted mental trauma as an issue of space that I could begin to change my mindset. Everyone has a different threshold for space, and some demand more than others. I can relate to the way some of my friends feel neglected by my boundaries because I too get that way, just not with friendships. We must train ourselves to understand that the people we care about aren't ignoring or denying us, they are just doing what they need to do to stay sane and love us whole heartedly.
When it comes to space, we are all unique, but I think it goes without saying that maintaining a certain level of space in all of our relationships is crucial for longterm success. There's logic behind why we intuitively establish space within our families, and it's time we stop beating ourselves up and notice that. Just because you don't need space from someone doesn't mean you should hold them to that same standard. However, on the other end, vocalizing that you need a minimum amount of contact from someone to feel recognized is an equally fair compromise. It's important to remember that some people thrive with more regular contact and quality time, and if they are important to us, we can make that extra effort too. The allure and mysterious aura of those who demand a whole lot of space sure is sexy, until you're written off for being a little too space-y.
Here's to working towards understanding & establishing our own spatial requirements while simultaneously recognizing the needs of others. After all, we all deserve to feel confident and loved.