Annie Fox for Teens... Hey, Terra!

Annie (AKA Hey Terra!) has been around long enough to have experienced a lot of what Life can dish out. But, it hasn’t been so long that she's forgotten what it's like to be your age. Check out some of the thousands of email questions teens from around the world have sent to Terra. You may learn something useful from her answers:

“We're apart and we fight about ridiculous things.”
(Continued)

Hey Terra,

It started in April when our term was ending, and there was a little over a month left for us to go to our respective hometowns. We live some 1500 kms apart now!!

Initially the fights happened right after any talk of how will we manage when we left college. Now, even on the phone, it happens even if I ask him when I can call or when he would be able to call. Or if he just tells me to eat right! Somehow, we have become very short tempered with each other and this has happened fairly recently.

It's getting expensive to fight on a long distance call, and then make up! He is more worried about it than I am. We are both looking for answers, and that's how I found you!! Even my best friend now lives in the same city as him! It's equally expensive to talk to her!!

HELP!! Regards,

Wanting the Peace

Dear Wanting the Peace,

Thanks for putting more thought into my question about "when" did this start happening. What you've said explains a lot about the changing dynamic of this relationship. What happened in April was what I'd call "anticipatory stress." Meaning that you two knew you were going to be parted and instead of talking about feelings and expectations you had for the relationship and the separation, and making clear agreements about how often you would call each other, etc., you got "short tempered" with each other. It's not a rational response but it's understandable because stress makes it impossible to think rationally. Also a lot of people under stress "snap" and lash out at each other, again, without thinking.

Now you are 1500 kms apart and you're stressed about the separation and what that might mean to the future of this relationship and you're stressed about the money you're spending on the phone calls (especially unpleasant when you are paying for the opportunity to fight with each other long distance!).

It sounds like the two of you really haven't gotten to the bottom of all of this arguing. The separation is causing the stress. You have to acknowledge that aloud to each other. While you may not be able to shorten the distance between you in the near future, you can talk about whether the two of you want to make a commitment to be together in the future. If you both acknowledge that the relationship is of value to you and that you want to do what it takes to make it work, then you might start talking about a plan that would allow the two of you to live close to each other again. If you made that kind of commitment to each other and to the future of the relationship, that is likely to relieve some of the stress of not being together right now.

But it might turn out, after an honest heart to heart conversation, that you discover the two of you have different expectations about the future of this relationship. (Which would be a good thing to find out about before you continue much longer in this realm of uncertainty.) If it turns out that one of you wants to make a long term commitment and the other doesn't, then there is less to fight about. Someone will be disappointed and upset, but then there will be some resolution replacing the stress of uncertainty.

My suggestion is that you write down some of your feelings about this relationship, what it means to you and what you see for the two of you in the future. Then call him up and share your thoughts and feelings with him. Make it safe for him to do the same. When he's talking do NOT interrupt him, just listen. And if it turns out that you disagree, you each have to accept that and respect the other person's point of view.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Terra


Need some advice? Write to Terra. She'll give you a straight answer you can trust without any lectures.


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