Friday, February 23, 2018

Embrace the ambiguity of what holiday break means for relationships

Savahna Reuben ’15

Contributing Writer

Thanksgiving break is here. The past few days we’ve all just been gunning for this break –  counting down the seconds ’til our last problem set was handed in, paper was written, or class was over and we could taste home. And that stuffing. Though I know some of us will take a momentary lapse in doing work to stuff our faces, some of us will have to continue to do work while simultaneously stuffing our faces. The second is rather unfortunate, but either way, yum.

Now, I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but let’s be honest: We all come back on Sunday… and then the games begin. It’s when those of us who haven’t set foot in the library all semester settle into their new cubicle-residences and become regulars at Peter B’s. It’s when the “would you rather” papers vs. exams debate takes hold of all conversation that isn’t, “I’m dying,” or “Help me,” or “Are you going to the cave slash do you wanna be my best friend?” It’s hell. But winter break follows. And whether you’ve only got two weeks off campus or a month, it will be worth it. You’ve got this. It’s temporary…keep pushing through.

But let’s examine finals period and winter break from a different perspective. Let’s look at it from the view of a couple…rather, a potential couple. What happens when you’re in that awkward phase of sliding between, “we’re avoiding labels right now” and “where were you last night when you didn’t text me between the hours of 1-3am? Kidding, I’m not crazy. But really, where were you?” What do you do when winter break is just around the corner, you live 400 miles from the person you’re seeing on campus, and you potentially won’t be seeing each other for a month? And you start to worry about that crazy ex that lives next door to him that he always used to talk about. And you start thinking about that guy she went to high school with that won’t stop texting her because they’re “best friends.” The “what ifs” start to creep into your mind and the tension starts to build as each person looks to the other to start the conversation…the conversation that can only really go one of three ways. The first is the, “we’re official!” Facebook relationship status update. The second is the “let’s just keep doing what we’re doing” half rejection, one-sided conversation where one person feels satisfied and the other is left wondering if any of it was as legitimate as they thought it was. The third is the extremely unproductive, awkward talk where nothing is established and both people are too uncomfortable to drag out the conversation. But are any of these actually good roads to travel down?

Let’s work our way backwards, tackling the last scenario first. One of you brings up winter break and what’s going to happen between you two, but you’re both too afraid to actually say what you want…or what you don’t want. So instead of establishing any kind of ground for you two to stand on over break, nothing is accomplished, except a few implanted fears derived from the notion of, “well, if s/he wanted something more serious, s/he would have told me.” Yeah. That’ll end well.

In the case of the second scenario, well, how do you bounce back from that? Someone might feel relieved, as if s/he is now less responsible for the feelings of the other. But as for the other, the other who thought that you two were heading towards a “happily ever after…”, is going to have a pretty difficult time being jolly and merry over the holiday season. Stage 5 Alert: Take “It’s a Wonderful Life” out of the DVD player and put the ice-cream down.

Now let’s tackle the first scenario. And I know what you’re thinking: How could a conversation that ends in two eager, happy people committing to each other ever be considered a bad thing? Relax. I’m not saying it’s a negative occurrence, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s beautiful. Mazel Tov. But I am saying that it’s not worth it to push the issue right now. If two people like each other enough that they’re willing to commit to a relationship right before break, then those feelings should still be there in four weeks when we return. If they’re not, then the relationship was either being rushed into for the wrong reasons (I’m afraid while you’re home you’ll lose interest), or it wasn’t that strong to begin with and probably wouldn’t have lasted (feelings strong enough to warrant a relationship shouldn’t fade or be deterred in four weeks).

Don’t force the conversation. If it happens naturally, let it happen. But there’s no need to stir the pot. If the feelings you have for someone are strong enough that you want to be in a committed relationship, those feelings will not go away in four weeks. And if the person you’re seeing fails to maintain those feelings while s/he’s away….well, would you really want to be with that person anyway? (If you answered “yes” to that, the answer should be “no,” and you know it. So read it again, and answer “no”…because you deserve better than that).

Enjoy the holiday season by embracing the ambiguity of what’s to come. Allow yourself to be comfortable with the idea of focusing on your family and friends at home. Give yourself a break from worrying “what this is” or “what this isn’t” with him/her. If it has the potential to be something great, you’ll be able to pick up where you two left off when you return. You’ll have over four months of solid time to see each other pretty much everyday, which is a pretty great place to test drive a relationship or come up with a label.

There is no count down clock. Do not look at winter break like a deadline for deciding what’s to come of your love-life for months or years to come. We live with these people. No one is going anywhere. Your feelings are not going anywhere. His/her feelings, if they’re worth the time you’re willing to put in, are not going anywhere. Trust in that. Trust in yourself that you’re worth everything you know that you deserve, and enjoy the holiday season without any binaries. Everything will be here when you get back…including that one person you’ve been thinking about the entire time you’ve been reading this article

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