My husband is a very smart man.
I say that because he pointed something out to me when we met that I hadn't really noticed. Many of my friendships were of the sort that praised supporting each other's decisions rather than pointing out poor choices. It wasn't until Jacob showed me through our relationship that we could ask better of each other that I began to realize how much my friendships lacked.
Since websites like Buzzfeed began touting "you do you" rhetoric, it has become harder and harder to talk to our friends and offer advice. I know that for myself there were times in my life that I didn't want to hear advice that steered me away from bad choices, but, at the same time, a good friend will risk hurting your feelings to push you on the right path. It's incredibly difficult to do, and it means doing something that we have been told not to in this day and age: judge.
Being judgmental can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you use the term. But using your judgment to notice a friend's bad choice is not bad - it's human. We have been given the opportunity, by God, to see how our decisions affect ourselves and others, and to push away something that raises us above the level of beasts is to be ungrateful for our position in this world.
Let me give you an example. A girl is dating a guy. Both of them know that there is no future there. They enjoy each other's company, and they say they'll break up when the time is right. She says that she's fine, that she can keep her feelings under control, that she's "living her best life." But she talks about him as if they were meant to be; she is envisioning a long-term relationship despite the fact that he doesn't feel the same way. If you are truly her friend, you can see that she's making a choice that will only lead to unhappiness, but instead of mentioning to her that she should be strong and end the relationship before she's in too deep, you "support" her. You tell her that she's being true to herself, that she's being casual, that she knows what's best for her.
And let's take an example on the flip side. A guy is hooking up with a girl whom he knows he'll never have a future with. He tells you that they've spoken about things and that she's aware of the situation, and she's fine with it too. You know that your guy friend is acting in a way that can be cruel, and that he could be leading this girl into a world of hurt, but you don't say anything. You tell him that he's a stud, that he has made everything clear, that he's just having fun.
I know that it's easy to say these things because I've done it myself. But it isn't right, and it isn't fair.
We all deserve better friendships than that. Know your friends - know what truly makes them happy, and support them by giving them the strength to make better decisions. Tell them when they're prolonging their pain, or when they're hurting others. Be honest with them, and use your judgment to make your friends better. Because they should be doing the same for you.
Do you agree? Did you ever have a friend that pushed you in the right direction, or have you done so for a friend? Let me know in the comments!
I set up a couple of friends a few years ago. They seemed like a good fit, and there was chemistry on their first date.
There was never a second date.
Why? Because after the first, they started texting. Miscommunications abounded, they read into what each had written, and things said nonchalantly became incredibly serious. All of a sudden, when I spoke to each of them, I realized that things began to fall apart and they had never had the opportunity to pick up the phone and clarify where it had all gone wrong.
Texting is poison for relationships. As someone who dated my husband long distance, I know how tempting it is to want to feel connected at all times, especially when you're far apart. But funnily enough, our texting usually centered on making plans to talk on the phone or meet up in person. When texting is used as your main medium of communication, especially at the beginning, about a billion things can go wrong.
Take this example: "I don't know what you mean." How did you hear that in your head? Was it a genuine question, or was it laced with sarcasm? When you've first met someone, and even after you've been in a relationship for a while, you don't always know what the subtext of a text is. You can read whole worlds of meaning into something that was completely innocuous. The only good thing about having been in a relationship for a while is that you can ask your partner to clarify. But miscommunications are so easy when all you have to go on are the words in front of you. You're lacking all of the major components of a conversation: facial expression, tone of voice, and body language. And all of a sudden, that cute conversation that started off flirtatiously becomes something you hold over someone's head for no reason at all.
Another issue? The amount of time between answers. This is bad for two reasons. First, if you were in the middle of a conversation in real life and your friend were to walk off in the middle with no warning and return two hours later to pick up where you left off, how would you respond? I would guess not well. But that is perfectly acceptable in the world of texting. You are having a fun conversation with someone when all of a sudden he signs off. Two hours later, you get a response. You're excited that the flirtation is picking up where you left off, but you've been waiting for two hours, checking your phone every two minutes to see if he wrote back. So you sort of resent him. Then you calculate when you'll do the same to him. "He didn't text back for two hours? I won't respond for two hours and twenty minutes!" In what way is that natural? And you've built up resentment toward a person who you've barely gotten the chance to know.
So what's the second reason timing is an issue? You and he have time to think of your responses. You said something funny, and he wants to respond with witty banter. Well, now he has thirty minutes to think of something. Would he have that time in real life? Of course not. You are communicating with the best version of a person when he has time to think of the best response. It's not real, and yet now we've decided it's perfectly normal.
Here's another thing. It is SO easy to be charming over text. All your crush has to do is end a text with a little heart, and you think he's fallen head over heels for you. It is so much easier to write something cute in a text than it is to say it to someone's face. And if he can't say it your face, when you can see all those aforementioned things that make up the major components of a conversation, then you don't have any idea what he's really feeling. He has all this time to craft the perfect response to you, and he has a million emojis to make his words more meaningful than they really are.
But all of this is now taken for granted. Texting is just a part of the fun, and it's nice to have someone always on the other end of the phone, like two paper cups connected with a string.
So here's my suggestion: don't fall into the trap of texting. Meet your date in person and get to know him for real.
Am I the only one who always feels like Valentine's Day is stressful?
I went to an all girl's high school growing up, so I never really had the opportunity to receive a valentine, but I used to fantasize about what it would be like. I thought it would be so incredibly romantic and meaningful. When I did receive my first valentine, it was sweet, but it wasn't magical. Why would it be? It's a lovely thing but, depending on your relationship, it's not unique to one day a year.
The reason Valentine's Day is stressful is because there are expectations. And there really shouldn't be! Think about it like this: we celebrate our birthdays every year, we celebrate our anniversaries (of which there are usually multiple: the first time you went on a date, the first time you said I love you, when you got engaged...the list could go on), and yet, we still expect this age-old day to tell us what to feel and when to feel it. Hopefully, if you're in a good relationship, you don't need a calendar to know when to celebrate your partner. You celebrate them every day just because you're so happy that you're together. My husband buys me little things all year and big things on the days that are unique to us. Do I need him to buy me something for Valentine's? No. Do I like it? Of course!
Valentine's Day in its romantic form has been around for a while - it was mentioned in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and then became the version we're more familiar with in the 1800's. But it's not a holiday in the same way Passover is a holiday. It can be celebrated, but it doesn't have to be.
So here's how to get the most out of your Valentine's Day.
1. Celebrate it only if you want to. Maybe you're just not thrilled about having to shell out $100 for dinner this week because you celebrated your birthday ten days ago. Or you don't really connect with Valentine's Day and would rather chill out on the couch with your partner than do anything else. Those are perfectly fine excuses to not do Valentine's Day. Don't feel pressured to do something to prove that you love your partner or your partner loves you, for the 'gram. If you and your partner agree that this isn't something you care about, then don't do it!
2. Do something that fits YOUR relationship, not something that you feel like you have to do to be romantic. You guys hate flowers. You hate splitting chocolate cake. You hate champagne and you hate jewelry. So plan your perfect night of romance! Maybe you listen to a true crime podcast together while rubbing each other's feet. Or maybe you read together in the same room. It doesn't matter! Just be romantic the way that works for you as a couple.
3. Don't make it into a bigger deal than it is. Your partner told you that he doesn't know if he can make plans for the night of Valentine's because his meeting will run late. Don't hold it against him. You can always celebrate Valentine's that weekend. It's not like a religious holiday that falls on a certain day, and that's that. This is more flexible, and you should be too.
4. Understand if your partner isn't as excited about it as you are, but don't compromise too much. You want Valentine's Day to be special, but your partner really doesn't care much for it. First off, forgive him for that. Valentine's can sometimes feel like an obligation that's being enforced on you by a random calendar day, and if it's not something you're excited about, it doesn't mean much. But if you really want to celebrate, ask your partner if you can come up with a plan that works for both of you! Maybe it's slightly more low-key, but that doesn't mean it can't be special. Just find something that works for you both (refer to number 2).
5. But if you are on the same page as your partner, feel free to be totally cliché and romantic! Love Valentine's? Your partner adores the flowers and the presents and the romance? Then you should absolutely enjoy it! Don't give up on a day that means something to you if it means something to you. The fact that Valentine's is important to you is what makes it special and gives it that special place on the calendar. So celebrate it in the most cliché, lovey-dovey, romantic way possible.
So there you have it! The main point I'm trying to make is that romance doesn't have to be cookie cutter. It's whatever fits your dynamic and your lifestyle. So don't try to impress anyone, and just do you!
What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Do you like celebrating, or couldn't care less? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you have any relationship questions, please feel free to post them - I'd love to answer in my next blog post!
The Polar Vortex is here, and it's no party.
When it's this cold outside, it's easy to say forget it and cancel any and all plans you may have. But don't let the bad weather get you down! There are plenty of fun ways to escape the cold and have a great time with your partner (or first date!). It just takes a bit of creativity and a little forethought to create an unforgettable evening. So grab a cup of tea, wrap up in a warm blanket, and check out this list of five winter date night ideas.
1. Go see a movie at a theater that's connected to a dinner place. This is the best of all possible worlds. As a woman who is constantly freezing, the best winter date night plans require me to be outside as little as possible. If I can go to one place that's connected to another and never have to cross into the winter weather, I'll be happy as a clam. When movie theaters started connecting themselves to restaurants, I couldn't wait for winter to roll around because I already knew that I'd be ready for it. And I am! This is perfect for a first date in the winter time, and it allows couples to get to know each other and then share an experience, a tried-and-true dating method. And for more established couples, you can take the time to catch up on your week and then relax with someone you care about. My favorite movie theater with this set up is the Alamo Drafthouse near me, which has great food and an awesome policy of not allowing people to talk or text during the movie.
2. Sign up for a dance class. Here's a thing about me. I'm obsessed with jazz and swing dancing. Can I do it well? Not really, but I'd love to get better at it. And I'll tell you now, there aren't a lot of great swing dancing tutorials on YouTube. So for my birthday, my husband and I took a swing dancing lesson. And we had an awesome time and learned a lot! That's where this next suggestion came from. Learn something new together, warm up your bones while it's freezing outside, and once you're comfortable, take your moves out on the dance floor and show 'em off!
3. Bake something together. What better time of year to bake and indulge in something sweet than February? You're past the Christmas parties, the Chanukah parties, and the New Year's Eve parties where you'd want to fit into your nicest clothing and look great in photos. You're not yet into spring and summer, where you'd want to wear shorts and bathing suits. So that extra pound or two? Totally worth it. Grab your partner and make your favorite desserts together, decorate them, and eat them in front of a cozy fireplace. You can even come up with a rating system and judge each other's desserts like on The Great British Baking Show. You can be Mary Berry and your partner can be Paul Hollywood!
4. Make yourself a mini holiday. Picture this: the snow is falling and streetlights are shining through the hazy mist as you and your partner are snuggled up on the couch keeping each other warm. If that sounds like perfection to you, then this date night idea will be right up your alley. Sometimes, it really is too cold to go outside and the temptation to cuddle up with someone you love is just too great. If you know in advance that night is coming, do a gift exchange with your partner. Set a budget for each of you, wrap your gifts, and set them up on the table. Then grab some hot chocolate, trade gifts, and watch a holiday movie to have your own little holiday in the middle of February!
5. Go see an opera. Well, you knew this was coming! There are a ton of operas being performed right now around the country, and what better place to get out of the cold than an opera, where you can watch three hours of glorious story-telling and music? Plus, opera houses are usually a piece of art in and of themselves - the architecture is gorgeous and the people-watching is a ton of fun. So grab your coat, leave it at the coat check, and enjoy a sparkling evening out.
Let me know in the comments if you try any of these date night ideas or what your favorite date night is in the winter! If you have any other relationship questions, leave those in the comments too. Keep warm and enjoy your date!
Hey! I'm Abby, the creator of Classically Abby, a commentary, opera, beauty, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. I'm the first Conservative Influencer and I'm an opera singer with three degrees in performance!