Staying connected over the summer
by Marina Giannitsos
However, the one thing I am concerned about is keeping in touch with my friends and my boyfriend, who will be in Calgary. Technology has made it so easy for us to stay connected with our loved ones. Whether by texting, long-distance phone plans, Facebook, Skype or whatever else have you, you can pretty much be with a person 24/7 without physically being with them.
But is technology enough to stop you from missing someone, or somehow drifting apart from them, whether friend or partner? Ande Stewart, a student at the University of Alberta, spent her first year of university away from her boyfriend of four years. She said technology didn’t really help their situation; if anything, it put more stress on it.
“For us it was really minimal interaction, like we would text a couple of times a day and then always talk for a bit before bed, but it’s just not the same as when you’re actually with them,” she said.
“I mean it’s hard to talk on the phone, ‘What did you do today?’ ‘Work, went to school’ ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Playing COD, homework.’ Nothing exciting ever happened so it was hard to have conversations that were deeper than that.”
Mirjam Knapik, a psychologist and student counsellor at Mount Royal, said that even with technology, it can be hard to maintain a sense of intimacy and connectedness with your loved ones.
“It’d be very easy to just talk about the day and after a while you kind of feel disconnected; you’re kind of (at) the level of intimacy right at the surface of things” she said.
“To maintain a sense of intimacy, you also have to talk about things that are really important, that person has to know what’s going on with you.”
She also mentioned how a relationship can suffer greatly because you no longer have small ways to positively connect, like hugs or smiles.
So what do you do if you’re going in for the long-haul over the summer? Well Knapik gave some helpful suggestions to maintain a strong bond with both friends and partners:
Talk before you go
Before you leave for the summer try sitting down and talking about your situation with your loved ones. Talk about methods you plan to use to stay connected, talk about worries that you might have and how they can be resolved, and then be realistic: figure out the signs that your relationship isn’t working and develop ways it could be fixed.
Doing this before you leave is a preventative measure to arguing about it later on.
Stay away from negativity
“Often we think, of that person as a confidant, so (when) finally I get to talk, I’m going to tell you all the terrible things that happened in my day.” Knapik said. “Of course, they weren’t with you when you laughed at that joke over coffee or when you had a really good chat with your prof because in that moment you want to share something that’s bothering you, those leftovers of the day.”
Constant negativity can put a real strain on long distance relationships, especially since, realistically, your friend or partner can’t do that much to support you from far away. It’s best to keep this type of thing to a minimum and try to be more positive. In general, be aware of what you’re like when you’re interacting with someone from afar, you may be neglecting to showcase part of yourself that they really like.
Show that you care
“(Do) anything you can do to show appreciation, to be curious about that person and what’s happening in their lives and to show you remember special things about them,” Knapik said.
Plan care packages, handwritten letters and anything creative that shows the effort you put into making them smile. It helps keep the positive vibes going and breaks up the dull day-to-day routine.
Stay connected to your community
Knapik also said you should rely on more than just your loved ones to keep you going when you’re far away. Stay updated on the news of what’s happening in your community and your city. This will help ease feelings of loneliness.