I'm no Mac Daddy like Leon Phelps, nor am I a love psychologist like Dr. Phil. But between my on-and-off relationships with women of all types, I've learned a thing or two about love and the female psyche. As you heard in my last Mayo Love Clinic piece, I've learned how to maintain a relationship even when so many factors were against me, such as long-distance separation and jealousy. In this week's installment I'll expand my advice beyond long-distance relationships, talking about how to best manage relationships in general, whether they're long-distance and serious or short-distance and casual.
I'm involved in a complicated relationship myself, and I'm currently dealing with the ups and downs firsthand. Anyone who's been in a relationship knows that it takes work, and I hope the advice I offer here can shed some light on how to manage the hardships. Most importantly, the advice I'll be giving out will be based on questions from readers like you. My fans, Fuse readers, HypeMachine fiends and Soundcloud junkies will be able to ask me questions on how I've overcome relationship woes.
Let's get it on.
1) Is there such a thing as too much communication in a long-distance relationship? –Alexia of Harvard Square, Cambridge
Everyone knows how important communication is in a relationship. If you’re never on the same page it’s hard to be compatible with one another, and even harder to work through the problems no matter how small. And achieving compatibility, especially in a LDR (not to be mistaken for Lana Del Rey), means communication must prioritize quality over quantity. In fact, too much communication can often hinder compatibility.
I’ve seen too many couples communicate through multiple shallow, one-word messages that don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the topic at hand. A mass amount of texts or convos about irrelevant, meaningless topics doesn’t do anything but fill time and entertain complacency. It’s too easy to become complacent sending “Hi”s and “Hey”s throughout the day, thinking that small talk is sufficient communication. In reality, all that small talk is really just going through the motions.
Too much mindless chatter is honestly nothing but a cop-out; it’s white noise that gets in the way of going into a deeper discussion. What's meaningful are those 1-hour FaceTime calls, where you'd update each other about your day, goals, and progress. Always make the effort to find something interesting to share so your communication conveys thoughtfulness and care.
2) My boyfriend's a really successful tattoo artist. Although he's been able to build a stable income from his passion, my parents don't like him because he's not working a "real job." How do I change their views? –Ashley of Brixton, London
I'm guessing that your parents don't like your boyfriend because they think his career is unstable. If that's the case, you should argue that no career in 2015 is truly stable, whether you're a thriving tattoo artist in Silver Lake, L.A. or an experienced timeshare broker in West Palm Beach. With so much change and competition in the world, in 2015 especially, it'd be foolish to do something that you didn't feel passionate about.
Let you parents know that any typical 9-5 job at a long-standing company is nowhere near as promising as it used to be. The dramatic fluctuations in the world of corporate America make your odds at succeeding in music video set design no different than climbing up the corporate food chain. Think about it—we don't take cabs, we UBER. We don't book hotels anymore when we travel, we AirBnB. So if even you've had prior success working a 9-5 sales job at a hotel chain, chances are that you're just now beginning to face some real career challenges.
You need to convince your parents that the risks in being a talented tattoo artist are almost just as high as the risks in working a "real job." Tell them to respect your boyfriend's passion, and to appreciate his talent for the stable income it's provided (which a lot of corporate jobs can't even provide).
As long as your boyfriend has talent and a long-term plan for success, reassure your parents that your boyfriend's ambitions are as reasonable as anybody climbing the corporate ladder. I'm going through this myself. I mean, what parent can see the long-term value in the ambitions of a rapper? However, I have a detailed and structured plan for my career that validates my ambitions, making it easier for my girl's parents to understand the direction I’m heading. Just realize that the times are changing, and stressing that to your parents—along with your boyfriend's long-term plan (which he’ll need eventually to achieve success)—is essential to convincing them that his career is worthwhile.
3) I'm an artist myself. When I’m on the road touring, I'm constantly doing shows, talking to press, and networking with industry ppl. I try to contact my girlfriend back home every chance I get, but sometimes I get the feeling that she's lonely. What’s the best way to make her feel a part of the process, and make her feel included in my journey? –Joshua of Willow Glen, San Jose
Man, it’s crazy because I’m dealing with the same shit right now. It’s always a sensitive topic because there are so many great opportunities on the road, making it easy to get swept away from your relationship commitments. I’m sure you want to give her just as much devotion as you do your career, but it’s not always possible, especially if you’re just starting to breakthrough. But no matter how busy you get, make it a priority to keep her updated throughout your journey. Updates, to whatever degree, will give your girl peace of mind and security. More importantly, updates will give your girl a sense of participation, making her feel as if she was right by your side throughout the development.
As much as possible, I’ll send my lady videos of my pre-show activities and concert rehearsal videos of my band. Sometimes I even send her blooper footage of me and my team goofing off. All this makes her feel a part of the experience, as a member of the team.
There are different ways to make her feel involved in what you’re doing—you just have to find the dynamic that works best for the both of you.