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Why letting go of your “Big Love” is okay.

Why letting go of your “Big Love” is okay.

So you ended things with that one person you loved more than life itself? It’s okay. You thought you two were going to be together forever? It’s okay. You were loving the fact that you were never going to have to live through another awful first date? We promise you, it is okay.

There are people out there who meet their true love at an extremely young age (high school sweethearts. How cute, right?). However, there are also those who have to kiss quite a few frogs before they are willing to settle down with someone til’ death do them part. Below you will find several reasons as to why it is completely okay that you did not end up with your Big Love, may they be your first or your seventh.

You’re probably not the same person you were when you got together

You will not remain the same person you are now throughout the duration of your life. You and your significant other are going to change tremendously. Especially during the age of adolescence and young adulthood. The idea of ending up with your high school sweetheart is extremely romanticized; while that possibility is beautiful for those that can accomplish it, it is most certainly not for everyone.

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High School and College are the times in your life when you are really figuring out who you are and what you want to accomplish for yourself. If it turns out that you two are becoming less compatible or heading in different directions, it is completely okay to say goodbye. You take what you learned from that relationship, utilize the good and discard the bad.

If the relationship is not benefiting you, you need to let it go

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have thought this, and spoken it out loud. Relationships are work, yes, I get that; but relationships are also meant to be your breath of fresh air in the craziness that is life. When you’re having an awful day at work or your best friend is driving you bonkers, your significant other is supposed to be the person that is there to give you a hug a.

They are not meant to add additional stress to your already stressful life. They are supposed to be the ones who make you laugh when you’re pissed off and who will take the weight off your shoulders by helping out around the house when you just can’t handle it that day. When all else fails, your significant other is supposed to be your salvation, not an additional burden.

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Nothing irks me more than when I hear someone say “We’ve been together so long, I have to make it work.” No. You don’t. When you’re married or have kids, that’s a different story. But when you’re young and unencumbered by that legal tie, you are free to do whatever the hell you want. Spend that time being happy, not constantly being dragged down by someone who supposedly loves you.

They are all about themselves

Compromise. Give and take. There are a million ways to say it, but the meaning is the same. If you are in a relationship (or friendship, for that matter) where the person only cares about themselves and their needs, run. Run fast. If they are all about themselves now, imagine how they’ll be when shit hits the fan and you have a mortgage, two cars, three babies, and a golden retriever that all depend on you.

In a successful relationship there will be times when they are the focus, there will be times when you are the focus, and there will be times when the focus is split evenly. There is a delicate ebb and flow to relationships that are supposed to benefit both sides. You are each others rock, but one person can only remain the rock for so long before the weight ultimately ends up crushing you; rendering you useless to them and to yourself.

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Someone different, and probably better, is waiting for you

Seriously. I promise. Don’t ever stay with someone simply because you don’t think anyone else would want you. Or, say it was they who made the decision that you were no longer the right person for them; grieve, and then move on. Even if it feels like they were the best thing that would ever happen to you and you will never find anyone better; you will. End of story.

That seems so impossible, I know, but it’s the truth. Take as long as you need. Sit in your pajamas and watch Sex and the City on repeat and blast some Taylor Swift for as long as you need to before you can realize your worth and emerge from this break up better off then you ever thought possible.

And last but not least;

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You are allowed more than one Big Love

Isn’t that amazing? You are more than welcome to have as many Big Loves as it takes for you to find the perfect one; as I like to call it, your Soulmate. Big Loves are rare, beautiful, and have an incredible impact on who a person eventually becomes. But nowhere in the manual of life does it say that every person only gets one Big Love.

In a society where people are living to be over 100 years old, it would be soul-crushing to believe that you only get one shot. So go out there, live, love, and say goodbye when you need to. Life is simultaneously too long and too short to spend it with anyone who doesn’t bring the best out of you, and love you in as Big of a way as you love them.

Featured photo credit: gratisography via gratisography.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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