I have developed separation anxiety for the first time in my life. In the 10 years I've been dating I've never been one to be overly attached to my mate. I mean I'm full of affection and miss my beloveds when we're apart but this time it's different. My man was recently away for seven days, and unreachable by phone, and in that time, when I wasn't fervently finding things to try to distract myself from the empty feeling he left me behind with, I was literally staring at the phone wishing it would ring. I'm a little worried for myself. I don't want to find myself creating a secret closet shrine if he's ever out of touch again in the future. Got any advice that'll keep me from turning into a bad '50s love song?--My Boyfriend's Back
That song always makes me think of zombies, as in "My boyfriend's back …from the dead!" In which case, of course he wouldn't be reachable by phone. Because he's dead. But now he's undead and he's comin' after you, so run for the hills, girlfriend!
We happen to live in an era where being out of communication with someone is increasingly impossible, what with texting, IM, e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and those creepy eyeglasses from Google that turn your head into a smartphone. With all that hootin' and hollerin' all day long, it can be really scary when suddenly those means of communicating are taken away. One time I went camping and the wifi in my cabin kept going out, and I was like, "If I can't watch ‘30 Rock' on Hulu, I'm going to eat someone's brains!" And my girlfriend was like, "Oh shit. You're a zombie!" And she ran for the hills. Do you see where I'm going with this?
Separation anxiety develops when one's sense of security in a relationship is uncertain. You don't say how long you've been together, but if this is a newer relationship, the anxiety you feel may reflect you trying to find your footing and figuring out how to establish healthy boundaries of attachment to someone who clearly means a lot to you.
Since some aspects of life will always be beyond our control, (taxes, death, people calling themselves Social Media Gurus on Twitter) the next time you are feeling angsty, focus on what you can control--yourself and your interests. Of course, you should be doing this throughout your relationship as well, but especially when you know you're going to be spending time alone or with little contact. Often when we become attached to a partner, we tend to slack off on meeting new people and maintaining social relationships and activities outside of our romantic relationship.
Also, don't discount the helpfulness of regular exercise, which has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety as much as antidepressants. Instead of staring at the phone, for instance, have a friend hide it somewhere in your house and then make her get a stopwatch and time you to see how long it takes you to run around and find it. This activity provides two-folds of awesomeness--exercise and quality time with friends.
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