When we first started dating in our mid twenties, my partner and I were in constant communication. Texting, emailing, calling. One way or another, we stayed up to date on each other’s lives in near real time.
Photo by STIL
A few months into our relationship, Charley went on a three week trip. He was eight time zones ahead. We struggled to find time to speak to each other on the phone.
When I was winding down for bed, he was waking up. I’d text him to see if he was free to chat, and then I’d just…wait. I’d eventually give up and get into bed, and then my phone would vibrate. He was available, could I talk? (This was before I instituted my airplane mode policy.) We’d finally get each other on the line and then he’d have to go and our conversation would be cut short.
The pain of being apart was exacerbated by the frustration of trying to connect on the phone.
After our first year of dating, we instituted a new policy: No communication expectations when we are apart.
We are fortunate to be together most days of the year. When one or both of us is traveling, there are actually many benefits to cooling our communication jets .
Our policy allows us to be fully present in our respective experiences, whether that’s enjoying solitude or schedule freedom at home, or totally leaning into a trip itinerary. When we’re apart, we agree to depend on ourselves or other people in our lives to get our needs met. This way, neither of us needs to worry about letting the other person down.
Texts are allowed to go unanswered and we avoid the stressful rigamarole of trying to find a convenient time for a phone call. We trust that we’re both thinking of each other and we know we’ll catch up on our adventures when we’re both back home.
Of course, the occasional emergency comes up where communication is called for. And sometimes we both happen to be available and we’ll jump on the phone for a few minutes.
Though this may not be an ideal strategy for a couple that’s long distance or travels very frequently, it works for us. This practice reduces our miscommunications and frustrations and increases our peace and presence while we’re apart.