There is this notion, for some reason, that we should be fearful of silence in a social setting.
If we have nothing to say, or cannot bring about a conversation in the company of someone we care deeply for, we sit in this silence often described as ‘awkward’ and ‘uncomfortable’.
According to an article, on Elite Daily, (which is a satisfying read, I must say), when we send any form of correspondence to a friend or work colleague, be it an email or text, and receive no response in return, we can’t help but immediately conclude we are being ignored and forgotten.
So, it’s no wonder that when we are physically sitting next to someone we know and care for, and experience moments of silence, we think something is wrong.
Except, is there really anything wrong?
I must confess, I have been guilty of interpreting a period of silence or delay in reply as being forgotten. Or it being awkward or uncomfortable. Even when you know someone so well, and you know their response habits (or should that be, lack of response habits for some) it still at times, slips into your mind. Esepecially even more so, when you find yourself apart from the one you love, and the sounds of opinions and murmurings are constantly around you.
I am usually not one to fall victim to other’s opinions of myself and my relationships with people, esepcially my relationship with my partner, but just recently, I have. Somebody within my family made a fleeting comment about something which completely angered me, and was entirely unneccessary – in hindsight, and as I’ll come to explain, it meant nothing at all – but it did the stupid thing of staying in my mind, and toying with me.
It surrounded the idea of communication, and silence. If silence exists, then there’s something wrong. The lack of replies, the not being able to talk instantly. Feeling as though there was this breakdown in something because there wasn’t the need for constant ‘I love yous’ and ‘What are you doing?’ every hour or so. Silence was basically every relationship’s number one enemy.
It was a direct conversation in which I left feeling a little down about really, nothing at all.
My partner has always said, our ability to sit in silence together and just be with one another, is something he’s always appreciated. I’ve always agreed – I mean, how else can you fully realise being comfortable with someone, when you can just exist together without a word said between you? – but now, I truly understand it.
There is this notion, in society and especially, I feel, in relationships in this age of technology and instant reach, that a lack of constant communication is a sign of something wrong.
That if we’re not talking, we’re not relating. If we’re not in constant touch, there must be something wrong. If we don’t have anything to say in each other’s company, then something is wrong with our relationship.
The focus is on talk. Words. Constant communication.
As humans, each and every one of us is educated in knowing how to make sense of others’ words. Unfortunately, it seems, no one taught us how to interpret others’ silence. It is a language in itself, one that is seemingly being lost, and it’s one I feel is key to having a healthy, happy relationship which doesn’t rely on constantly being in each other’s pockets.
Silence, alone, can bring you closer to someone. When you share a moment together, the awe of it all transcends anything either one of you could possibly say. Simply sharing that moment together, without the need for words, inspires a shared, deep appreciation of the snapshot of time you’re sharing together.
What creates the perception of interpersonal silence as awkward, is solely our expectation that every second has to be filled with words. Being physically present with your loved one – or in my case at the moment, of just knowing our relationship is something we’re both completely committed to – says more than you could ever put into words. This idea of ‘awkwardness’ or being ‘forgotten’ quickly flows into appreciation, when we trust ourselves in knowing that what we are sharing together in physical presence, as well as the mutual bond of love and commitment, is more important than anything we could ever say.
Silence can also be, as my partner has alluded to, an incredible interpersonal gift. The luxury of not having to fill every moment with words, knowing we don’t have to talk, makes it entirely special. Why? Because we ‘get’ one another, even in the absence of words.
When you let go of this need to fill every moment with words, you become more perceptive of the person you are sharing space with. You become more perceptive of the setting you are in. And you become more aware of even your own, very presence.
When we become comfortable just sitting with another without speaking or being spoken to, awkwardness falls away and deep appreciation of every other aspect of our partner, is allowed to fill our senses.
The smell of his skin and his cologne, is completely euphoric to me. The deep rhythmic breathing as he snoozes in bed or as we watch TV, is almost like a lullaby. The touch of his skin against my own, whether he’s holding my hand or resting it on my thigh, blends into a perfect union of temperature. Would I necessarily have really noticed these if we were intent on filling our time consistently with sound?
My family member was wrong.
And I was wrong for allowing myself to be somewhat warped by his words.
It’s been well over 12 hours since I last heard from my partner, and that’s no cause for concern. It does not lessen our relationship at all, or chip away at our love or commitment, or the trust that exists between us. We both lead lives that we wish to be entwined, but it doesn’t mean that every second has to be spent, constantly updating one another.
Although he is definitely terrible at replying, and he’ll be the first to admit that one!