I love personality tests because I like labelling things, including myself. Recently, I took the Gallup’s “Strengths Finder 2.0” test, which is supposed to identify what you’re inherently good at. The idea behind is that you should train and focus on what are already your strengths rather than wasting time improving areas you will never excel at.
The Gallup test provides you with five strengths. After taking the test, I started observing (somewhat obsessively) how those strengths apply and condition different areas of my life. For this blog post, I picked the area “romantic relationships” (also knows as “love”, but it sounded too abstract for this pragmatic article). So please discover below my five Gallup’s strengths applied to how I deal with romantic relationships.
Mmmmh… not that easy actually. My first strength is Achiever. How can you be an Achiever in romantic relationships and what does that even mean? Gosh, I shouldn’t have embarked on this… Uh, got it! Being an Achiever basically means that I’m a doer and I’m addicted to ticking items off my to-do lists and getting things done in general. And just look at what happened with my relationships in the past seven years. In the same time window in which all my friends got stuck with one relationship, I instead, for the sake of achievement, successfully put a tick on three of them. Done, done, done!
My second strength is Learner. What did I learned from these three relationships then? Since there’s always a lesson behind anything, I’m sure I haven’t missed the lesson behind these three relationships. The last two were long-distance relationships (Frankfurt-Geneva and Frankfurt-Paris) and what I surely have learned is the importance of planning ahead when to see each other. This is to create a feeling of continuity and stability in the couple, which makes being apart less harsh. No, I’m joking of course! You need to plan ahead to coordinate among your period days, your wax-epilation appointments and your laundry, because you want to make sure to pack matching sexy lingerie. And all this in the hope that you won’t get ripped off by Lufthansa or Deutsche Bahn.
What I also learned was that meeting often does not necessarily improve the relationship. It might instead prevent you from feeling at home in the place where you actually live and from building a life there. This is what happened to me during my first two years in Germany, where I was flying to Geneva every two weekends. When we broke up, I found myself exhausted and living in a place I still didn’t belong to. Since I’m a learner, I learned from my mistakes. For the second long-distance relationship, I decided to travel to Paris once a month. However, I guess I didn’t learn enough because it was still exhausting at times. So if this long-distance shit will ever happen again, I’ll make sure to visit him every two months!
Being “shiny and new” on the weekends where you meet your partner means that for the rest of the time you’ll be either having your period, or being on “bad hair” days, or wearing unmatched and sex-preventing underwear, or all of the above at the same time. If you also add a subscription to a female-only gym (which left everybody puzzled and wondering why I’d choose a gym where only muslim women with a jealous conservative husband would go), then you know that I don’t believe in willpower. Instead, I believe you should build an environment that works for you by removing all distractions that are not aligned with your purpose. And yes, my third Gallup strength is Focus.
My fourth strength is Intellection, which is the ability to think and engage in extensive mental activities, especially when it comes to introspection and self-reflection. I mean, it’s not that I launched Breaking Thirty because I hate overthinking and obsessing about stuff! Take for example long-distance relationships. Why two in a row? Is this a pattern I should be aware of and make sure to break? And why did I engage in this sort of relationships in the first place? Was it because it was easier to still regard Geneva as home than building a new life in Germany? Or was it because I cannot draw boundaries in romantic relationships besides the physical ones, so that a distance of 500+ km seemed a good strategy to circumvent this issue? And was it this distance that kept my desire and longing for my boyfriends alive? Would I have lost interest much sooner if we were living in the same city? And if we lived in the same city, would I have been able to do a PhD if I was expected compromise on my default “working long hours” routine to see him multiple times a week? These are some of the questions I’ve been entertaining myself with for the past few months. And I said “entertaining” because this is how the Intellection part of me likes to be fed. Saying that falling in love with two guys who hapened to live in another country was just a coincidence wouldn’t make my Friday nights that interesting.
Do I regret having had those two long-distance relationships? Not at all. I still believe it was worth it. Also, it was never because of the distance that we broke up and now I’m more aware of the ups and downs of this type of relationship. That was all experience that Input (my fifth and last Gallup strength) appreciates that I went through. The Input side of me is happy to have now collected a bigger data set of facts, insights and thoughts about long-distance relationships. And since machine learning algorithms provide no insight if run over small data sets, the Input side of me is even more eager to tick the next long-distance relationship off so that it can add one more data point.
How about you? Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? Did you guys manage to be together at the end? Do you think that being in a long-distance relationship is a way to procrastinate rather than an unfortunate coincidence? Let me know in the comments and if you’re interested in this type of topics don’t forget to subscribe to the Breaking Thirty Newsletter for more.