I knew what that glare meant. His bottom lip would quiver with anger and his eyes would bulge up to the size of ping pong balls. As an eight year old, my father looked like a giant. So when his voice thundered down from Mount Olympus that I was in timeout and to go to my room, I didn’t walk. I ran. And I gotta tell you, timeouts really suck. These usually happened at family parties where I got a tad bit too rowdy for my dad’s taste and I was forced into isolation. From fun. Sitting on my bed hearing the kids screaming downstairs from all the fun they were having was torture. And with MY toys. Who knew if Raphael was still in one piece and if they had put Gokou’s Super Saiyan hair on Piccolo? The horror!
But, as young as I was, I would cover my ears and begin to think about what I had done wrong earlier that got me here and reflect on my actions. If my father didn’t forget that he had sent me upstairs, which he often did, he would eventually come discuss my thoughts with me and if they were satisfactory to his disciplinary standards, I was allowed to return to the world.
Casual dating has become increasingly more complicated with the amount of ways we can communicate with people. I’m guilty of being socially awkward in person and on social media. This includes snarky nitpicks on your FB status about your spelling, mysterious comments on your Instagram pic that have nothing to do with the image itself, and RTing your grammatically inept tweet with my corrections. But nothing becomes more complicated in the world of internet feeds, until you need to end a relationship.
The first time I tried to give my last girlfriend my number, she simply told me to hit her up on Facebook and walked away. On the second try, I obviously had to be clearer with my approach that I was trying to date her, and thank goodness she caught on. There was an instant connection in chemistry and that connection also spread to the interwebz. But, when things didn’t work out and we ended our relationship, those connections loomed over our failed romance. We had agreed to remain close friends, so it seemed fitting to retain our friendship on social media. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 28 years of life, it’s that sometimes you need a timeout.
Now, there are lots of factors at stake here. Usually, one person is more inclined to continue to chase the person they lost while the other is having the time of their life being single again. There’s also the situation where both people are hurting but know that they can’t be together because it’s not leading anywhere. Whatever the case is, you need to stop it.
No random text messages because you saw a t-shirt they would find funny. No passive-aggressive liking of Instagram photos of her with another dude. If you want to have a conversation, have one in person and make sure that you’re both clear about what you want to happen next. And don’t even think about having it at your place because we know that never just stays as a conversation. But, you need that timeout. That break from their world, to remember the world you worked so hard to create for yourself. And it’s a mutual respect that should be accepted by both sides. If she blocks you on Facebook and unfollows you on Twitter, realize that it’s her being disciplined. She knows you’re hurting her, so acknowledge it and give her some space. It’s a fresh breath of air for both of you to reflect on what worked and what didn’t so you’ll be ready for your next relationship.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I have no willpower. I also don’t have my father watching my every move still and knowing when it’s time to send me to my room. But, I do have the power of removal. When your addiction is out of sight, it also becomes out of mind, because you don’t have the option of even getting a glimpse of it. Yeah, it’s tough to remove a person out of your life, but it’s easier to just click a few buttons and make them disappear from your feeds.
In basketball, timeouts are called by the coach to stop momentum coming from the other side or when the team needs direction. It’s a breather to reassess the situation and to discuss strategy without the influence of the opposition. In life, timeouts hold the same weight, but realize that you’re not just the coach, but you’re also the team. Your mind and your actions need to work hand in hand for the self-realization to happen. Double tapping that picture can speak louder than words, but creepily stalking your ex is only making it worse for your imagination. So cover your ears, take a deep breath, and reflect. And when you’re ready, return to the world that hasn’t changed even though you have.