This weekend I travelled home for the first time since school started in September. I was really excited to see my friends from high school and especially my boyfriend. But when I hung out with these people, I found it really difficult to connect with them. It was like we weren’t on the same page anymore. Am I crazy? Or did we grow apart in 6 short weeks?
~Lonely in London
Oh, LIL, I’m sorry to say it, but I think what you are experiencing is the beginnings of a Turkey-Dump. The truth is, going to university/college is a huge transition and can result in drastic changes in personalities over a very short time. Traditionally, the Turkey-Dump takes place over the Thanksgiving weekend and is initiated by the person who left to go to school.
Without more information, it’s difficult to say whether or not this is what’s going on with your friends/boyfriend. But it got me thinking about when is it the right time to call it quits on a relationship, be it a friendship or a romance.
I think the holidays get a lot of people thinking about the state of their relationships. It’s something about being with family and all the warm coziness in the air… If you don’t have that going on year-round with your significant other, the huge shot of it that you get during the holidays can cast your relationship in pretty stark terms.
The fact is, most of your relationships are not going to be the ‘forever’ kind. Romances explode and some friendships will wither with time, this is natural. When you add the stress of distance and the new friends/interests that school (or a new job or traveling, or whatever) has generated, it’s no wonder you’re not able to find as much common ground as you once did.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself, especially with regard to your beau:
1. Why didn’t he want to come to your school of choice?
2. Why didn’t you want to stay local?
3. Did you discuss how you would deal with the strain the distance would create?
4. How serious was this relationship when you moved away?
If you have only been a couple since July, you probably should have seen this coming. There isn’t enough of a commitment/trust base to build on when a relationship is so new, so it’s no wonder it’s starting to fizzle out. Now, if you’ve been a couple since July 2008, there’s something else going on and only communication with your significant other will reveal what that “else” is (i.e. he might be cheating on you). It’s worth keeping in mind that some people are just not built for long-distance relationships (so he also may not be cheating on you).
Now, I’ve been approaching this from the angle that he’s losing interest in you, but could it be that you’re losing interest in him but don’t want to admit it to yourself yet? Look at the reality here: you are probably not the exact same person you were when you left. Frosh week, pub nights, and living with the opposite sex are pretty life-changing events. Think of the butterfly, do you think she wants to crawl back into her cocoon after fighting her way free? No, she wants to hang out with the other butterflies at the flower bar. You’re a butterfly now, LIL. Own it.
Here is the advice I would give to anyone who is experiencing difficulty with a long-distance relationship: you need to think about your reasons for being in this relationship and determine if they are still applicable. You also need to think about the amount of stress this is causing in your life. Relationships do require work from time to time, but if it’s all work and no play, what’s the point? You got together (I assume) because you made each other happy. If you’ve lost that, you’ve lost something pretty fundamental.
There are certain symptoms that I always associate with my need for freedom. These include, but are not limited to:
– being irritated at everything the person says/does
– total lack of desire to have any physical contact
– laissez-faire attitude about the status/future of the relationship
– immediate regret of having made plans with the person
If any of the above feels familiar to your sense of not being on the same page, end it now before it gets worse.
As far as your friends go, it’s like I said earlier, you’ve each had 6 weeks of crazy experiences and it can be difficult to reconcile the new person you are becoming with the person you were. Consider this, how comfortable were you with telling stories about your new friends and the hijinx you’ve been up to? I bet it felt awkward as ass trying to recreate a scene for people who are totally unfamiliar with anything or any person in the story. It’s like trying to explain why inside jokes are funny to someone who isn’t in on the joke in the first place. They aren’t going to get it, no matter how hard you try.
I’m not saying that you have to write off old friends. You’ll always have the experiences you shared and the memories you created together. If you try to pretend all that high school stuff never happened then you’re pretty much a jerk. Cherish those times and reminisce about them when you’re together as a group – it’s good for the soul.
How you move forward from here is up to you. If you feel that you’ve outgrown these people and that you need to spread your wings, that’s fair – just try not to burn bridges as you take your flying leap. You never know when you may want to reconnect with someone, especially if they end up being famous for some reason. Won’t you feel silly then?
Don’t kid yourself, though, because maintaining long-distance friendships takes work. This has been made much easier by such things as email, Facebook and Twitter. Gone are the days when long-distance friends were known as ‘pen-pals’. By tooling around on the internet, you can discover where your friends are at this very moment, find out how they feel about where they are/what they’re doing, even creep on pictures of what they did last weekend. If your high school friendships are important to you, chances are you’re already doing all of those things. As long as they are too, you should be able to find your way back to the same page.
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