I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Mainly,
- How I’ve treated them in the past
- Their importance in my life
- How I’m trying to improve them
Why am I thinking about relationships in this way?
- I’ve lived by myself for the past 2 years, and at times I get bored & lonely
- I don’t have a lot of friends in the Richmond area
- There are important events happening in the life of my friends, family & loved ones
- I’ve been exploring the online dating scene, and have had a few interesting encounters
All of this has led to my decision to try to improve relationships in 3 main areas of my life:
- Family relationships
- Friend relationships
- The girlfriend relationship
Improving family relationships
Growing up, we never had big family gatherings. My family was somewhat spread apart, up and down the east cost. Several divorces & fallings out led to complicated relationships that I didn’t even understand until I started asking questions in college.
With age comes appreciation
As I have gotten older, so has the rest of my family. Health issues have arisen. And in some cases, even death. With more practical life experience, I understand these things at a much higher level than I used to. I’m much more appreciative of my family & close friends.
They’ve sent me a birthday card every year for the past 26 years. They attended hundreds of baseball games when I was growing up. They’ve donated money to charity on my behalf. Every time they see my parents, they don’t leave without asking how I’m doing. Bottom line: They care. They always have cared. And they always will.
I used to think this was some stupid cliché. Now I understand what it means (well, I’m starting to, at least). We all need people to care about us & be there when we need something or someone. If you can’t count on family, who the heck can you count on?!
It’s the thought that counts
I used to hesitate before calling my relatives & close family friends. I thought, since I have never talked to them on the phone before, and haven’t spoken to or seen them for a few years, it would be awkward. I wouldn’t have anything to say.
All the while I’ve been missing the point. They don’t care if I say nothing at all. Just the fact that I picked up the phone means the world to them. Most of the time they’re the ones asking all the questions. They want to know how I’m doing. Just to know I was thinking about them… that alone can make a huge difference.
Improving friendship relationships
I haven’t made many friends in Richmond. I chose to put my job first. And for many years, running second. This left no time for hanging out, meeting new people or socializing with friends. It was all about working & running. That was it.
You don’t miss it until it’s gone
Recently, I’ve come to realize the importance of friendships. I miss the interaction with other people. While I do need some alone time to recharge, there are many times when I thrive in an environment with ample human interaction. I get into this fun zone, where I’m about as happy as one person can be. I can’t ignore that feeling. And I certainly don’t come anywhere near it when I’m alone in my apartment.
The more time I spend by myself, the more selfish I become. If I’m not spending time with other people, I don’t think about other people. This is clearly not a good habit to start forming.
I’m actively looking for opportunities to get out more. Just being out with other people, regardless of where we are, what we’re doing or who I’m with, will help get me back to where I need to be. My life is missing a little piece right now, and these new opportunities will help fill that void.
Improving the girlfriend relationship
Until recently, I was clueless about relationships. Again, it was working & running that gained all my attention. And while I still thought a relationship was possible with my one-track mind, it didn’t stand a chance.
Relationships take time, effort & sacrifice. Any extra time went into my running. And sacrificing my job or a big race… ha, forget about it. Just wasn’t happening.
Once I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being single (which didn’t take long at all), I realized I needed to make some changes. While I still love my job, and spend many hours/wk running & training, I’ve created room for a third priority… a relationship. And I’ve even vowed to sacrifice parts of my job and/or my training to make a relationship a real possibility.
I’ve met up with a handful of women I met online. With each experience, I’m learning something. I’m mainly interested in learning things about myself: my turn-ons & turn-offs, how I communicate, what kind of person makes me happy, etc. What I’ve also learned is that very few people I’ve met communicate in the same way I do… and that can be really confusing (for both sides).
Never stop exploring
This is The North Face‘s tagline. While they use it in reference to outdoor adventures, I’m using it in a slightly different way. I’m in the midst of an interesting time in my life. One in which I’m exploring myself, as well as the relationships in which I participate. This exploration has led to a new understanding of my life, one in which I’m sure will continue to change as I continue to explore.