by Erin Roca
Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram. It’s no secret that if we allow it, we’re constantly bombarded with notifications, tags, and newsfeeds. Our entire social world is now at our fingertips. I’m not here to admonish the direction in which we’re going and I’m not even here to tell you how to manage it or do a social media cleanse. That’s all up to you.
What I would like to talk to you about is how you can mindfully interact with the people you care about despite these platforms that seem to encourage mindless chatter.
In an age where much of our intimate communication happens via text and the written word, it is essential to be forthright and courageous in our typed and texted interactions.
As conscious humans, we don’t want to hide behind a smiley face or a one-word reply. We must dare to be transparent and generous with our truest, innermost desires. We must dare to shine a light inside our mind for just a moment and reveal that which makes us fully human.
It’s childish to play games. It takes courage to speak honestly.
It’s manipulative to coerce someone into getting your way. It’s mature to give them the freedom to be themselves.
It requires no effort to continue unhealthy habits and patterns. It takes diligence to release old patterns and begin new ones.
In this age of instant gratification, wait patiently for a reply. Just because we bared our soul in a 4 paragraph text message, doesn’t require a response or an acknowledgment on other person’s part. It does require us, the writer, to release our words to the other person for them to mull over and receive in whatever capacity is true for them. While we are so busy living out our own truth, we cannot deny that same right to those that we love.
It matters not if you are single, in a long-term relationship, in an open relationship, are poly-amorous, or are just plain confused: open communication is a necessity. What this looks like may vary, but the need for it does not.
Communicating effectively in all intimate relationships is important because conversation and sharing thoughts is a big part of said intimacy. This doesn’t mean sharing every detail of our day or laying out the contents of our brain for the other person to examine. It means treating each relationship and each person with the dignity and respect that they deserve, which usually means different things for different dynamics.
While there are endless variables, there are two general key thoughts to remember when deciding whether or not to share something with a partner, potential partner, or friend:
- Articulating and defining our own personal truth and speaking it when appropriate.
- Allowing the other person the space to be themselves and live their truth.
These are not mutually exclusive, but they are also not inclusive either. Just because we want to share some detail with someone doesn’t require them to receive it and respond. No one owes us a response. This is true love. The obligations of conventional relationships are a thing of the past. All they create are games, drama, miscommunication, and an exhausting commitment. This is of course pertaining to texting and written communications, not face-to-face conversation.
These two points include one singular, valuable practice: solitude. Defining our own personal truth – what we think, our morals and philosophies – requires time alone. As Olivia Wilde said, “…it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” In this space, we have the freedom to explore our own needs and wants, and to fulfill them on our own. When waiting for a reply, we again are left in solitude. We can either spend this time agonizing over the impending response, or we can continue on our personal quest for knowledge and truth in our books, our minds, our journals, our personal practices, or whatever it is that keeps us living.
We can be kind and loving while not responding to someone. We can be kind and loving when we feel hurt by a text or a lack of response. What the other person is doing or thinking is not a reflection of our true selves. These texts cannot define our worth or our love.
In modern dating and even within established relationships, there seems to be some unwritten (or in some cases, written *cough Buzzfeed cough*) rules about texting. Don’t text back too quickly. Don’t double text. Don’t come across desperate or too eager.
Where is the love, compassion, and honesty in these games? If the goal of these relationships is to love genuinely and feel love in return, why are we playing games and wearing these texts and rules as armor to guard our fragile hearts?
I say, throw out these rules! If we love someone, let’s tell them! At the same time, be kind and respectful of their true feelings too. If we want to see them, say so! If we miss them, they hurt us, they’re bombarding us, let’s put aside conventions and get real and honest and genuine. We can be truthful and loving at the same time. We can treat each relationship with the respect it deserves.
What we cannot do is have a one-size-fits all definition of how loving communication works or what it looks like. Different humans have different needs. This is not limited to romantic or sexual relationships. A friend or partner may need lots of texting attention. You may need it. It’s okay to communicate this need or desire to those you love. It’s not okay to force them to comply.
In previous forms of communication between lovers, hand-written letters were exchanged in between each rendezvous. There was none of the instant gratification of an immediate response to soul-baring display. There was none of the reliability of the internet or 4G. There was no social media stalking. There were only words on a page and hours or days in between. Respect that you may get a response at any time between 2.5 milliseconds or a fortnight. Or maybe none at all. Treat each form of communication as if you were sending out a love letter with a man on horseback and can’t begin to guess when a response might come.
There’s a perception that we can do something to be worthy of someone else’s affection and attention or that if it’s not there, then f*ck it, I’ll find somewhere I do feel worthy.
Well, that sense of worthiness, deep-seated knowledge and wisdom, true worthiness doesn’t come from another person’s validation and attention. It comes from the core of our being.
Another thing worth noting is mindfulness and remaining in the present moment. Often, in a texting, messaging, or emailing conversation, we’re anticipating where the conversation will go, or wondering whether or not to say something. These things take us out of the present moment and into the future we’re trying to plan, the expectations we’re creating, and/or back into the past wondering if there’s something different we could have done or said.
Remember, it’s tough to change ourselves and our own attitudes, but it’s impossible to change other people. Develop and cultivate a relationship with yourself and watch your other relationships thrive!
Erin Roca is a writer, yoga teacher, tarot reader, and Reiki Master. She is a sex-positive mother of two wonderful and sometimes maniacal children. Her upcoming book on profanity is due to be published in 2017. You can connect with her on Facebook, her blog and at Mystics on the Mat.