On Friday, we had a couple, Evan and Alexa, come on the HealthyGamer stream to discuss their relationship. Dr. K had individual conversations with the couple, followed by a group conversation where they shared their thoughts and feelings about their relationships. Dr. K gave them relationship advice on talking about growth, stagnation, problem-solving vs. validation, and how to deal with an evolving relationship.
Growth vs. Stagnation in a Relationship
Evan shared with Dr. K that he felt that he was not growing as a person in this relationship. He had moved cross-country with Alexa, which made him wonder about all the opportunities he had potentially missed. He asked if he should take the high-risk option of ending the relationship and try to force growth that way or choose the low-risk option of staying and trying to find other ways to cultivate growth.
That is a tricky question. Environmental change can be one of the most significant driving factors for growth in our lives. However, it does not have to be the only one. If you feel that you are being held back in the relationship, it is essential to discuss this with your partner. What parts of your relationship make you feel held back? Is there anything either of you can change?
While a lot of relationship advice would recommend breaking up, ending the relationship for growth is not the only option. Moreover, as Evan put it, making that decision is tricky because another person is involved. It is not merely about moving on and trying to explore other areas of life. The waters of decision-making get muddied when you have to consider your decision’s impact on your partner.
While some relationships are not the most conducive to growth, it is essential to recognize whether or not it is the relationship that is holding you back. During this interview, Evan realized that it wasn’t his relationship that was necessarily holding him back (though it could be a factor). Last summer, he had spent about 60-70 hours per week playing video games. A month ago, he logged about 40-50 hours per week. Usually, relationships that fall apart are followed by immense growth on the part of the gamer. However, it is not necessarily because of the breakup. The reason tends to be that the girl breaks up with the guy due to his gaming habit, and then the guy realizes that he needs to get his act together. As a result, he cuts back on his gaming.
Click here to learn about the addictiveness of video games.
Providing Validation vs. Fixing Problems
Alexa shared an incident with Dr. K, in which she and Evan argued. Alexa was making tea on the stove, and Evan commented on how the stove made an annoying crackling noise. Alexa felt that it was her fault and turned it off, which made Evan even more annoyed.
A lot of relationship advice addresses this point. Sometimes, when you share something with your partner, they interpret it as a problem that needs solving. While that thought process is understandable, it is not necessarily the most productive one. Sometimes we share thoughts with people only to express ourselves and get some validation. However, if a person goes into problem-solving mode and tries to find a way to fix the issue, then that can create conflict.
In this situation, there are a few things you can do. The first one is to address your thought process. Why do you feel like it is something that you need to fix? Alexa’s case was due to her experience of being the problem-solver and mediator in her family. While it was useful with her family, it was maladaptive with Evan. You can become aware of your thought process, and recognize when the perceived need to problem-solve bubbles up in your mind. Simply acknowledging and being aware of this phenomenon will help to dismantle it over time.
The other thing you can do is give your partner some validation. If they share something with you, that does not necessarily mean that they want you to fix their issue. Sometimes, they only want you to acknowledge and validate their feelings. For example, Evan shared that the stove made an annoying crackling noise, and one possible response from Alexa could be, “Yeah, it is really annoying, isn’t it?” Merely acknowledging their feelings is enough. That was the best relationship advice that Dr. K gave them.
This style of listening is called reflective listening. You can learn more about it in this video:
How to Handle an Evolving Relationship
People tend to change over the course of a relationship, especially if they start dating at a young age. Many relationships fall apart because people treat the relationship in the same context as the one in which it started, instead of the present one. For example, many long-distance relationships that transition from regular ones don’t work out because people hold it to the same standard as they did when it was not long-distance. Similarly, having children together can strain relationships, and many fall apart because of it.
Relationships, much like the people involved, need to grow and evolve. It is better to treat a relationship as a new one after one significant change, or several small changes. Doing that leads to the cultivation of understanding from both partners. It is beneficial for both of you to learn about each other’s perspectives and understand how you have changed. This is a piece of important relationship advice that nobody talks about.
While this approach is likely to work in the long-term, it does not necessarily mean that it removes all chances of a breakup. Sometimes people become too different to remain compatible. If that is the case, then perhaps it is time to move on. Staying in a relationship just for the sake of doing so is not fair to either person involved. It is healthier not to commit to something that does not align with your needs and wants.
Dr. K and Mrs. K did a stream on relationship advice. Click here to check it out!
Meditation: Om Chanting
Dr. K, Evan, and Alexa ended the interview with Om chanting meditation. The Sanskrit word “Om” is composed of three syllables: ‘Aa’, ‘Oo’, and ‘Mm.’ Here’s how we perform this meditation:
- Take a full, deep, long breath.
- Open your mouth and make the “aa” sound for 3-5 seconds.
- In the same breath, make the “oo” sound for 3-5 seconds.
- Continuing the exhale, make the “mm” sound for 3-5 seconds.
- Repeat the previous steps for 6-8 rounds, resetting with a full breath each time.
In this meditation, it is crucial to focus on the vibration in your body rather than the sound you make. This meditation is especially powerful when you do it with people around you. Harmonizing the vibrations has a more substantial effect than if you were to do it alone.
Check out the full interview here!