Comfortable silence is a rare and beautiful thing.
Most of us live our lives in a constant struggle to fill the quiet with noise. We’re afraid of what happens when there’s nothing left to say. We dread the anxiety of awkwardness, of vulnerability, of uncertainty, of all the uncomfortable things that can fill the silence between one another. I, too, used to worry about running out of words, about being left to navigate that uneasy limbo between sentences.
But when I found him, I learned that silence can be not only comfortable, but special.
Like the silence between jokes, after a burst of laughter that leaves us clutching our stomachs. Too breathless to speak once it fades, we make eye contact. His eyes are alight with joy. His smile, contagious. It’s a silence that affirms how much we appreciate each other’s humor. We don’t need the “that’s so funny” filler. Our wide grins and rosy cheeks say it for us.
In the car, we sometimes drift into a quiet place. The conversation’s lull is filled with the low hum of road noise and the barely-there radio. His arm crosses the center console, hand reaching for mine. We interlace fingers and share a glance. Our silence is punctuated by contented smiles. And when one of us finds something else to talk about, we effortlessly ease back into conversation.
And the silence that comes after sex, as the voice of our passion ebbs, as we lay breathless and spent in a tangle of limbs. We’ve said everything there is to say with our bodies. He pulls me closer. I can hear the elevated thud thud thud of his heartbeat matching time with my own as if in conversation with one another. We let them do the talking and languidly drowse in the aftermath of our lovemaking.
In that moment before bed, after goodnight kisses, as we lay side by side staring at each other through darkness, it finds us again. Soon, we’ll drift off to sleep, but for now, we’re encased in the stillness and silence of night, thankful for the comfortable weight on the opposite side of the bed. I gladly trade words for hearing the rise and fall of his breath. Before “good mornings,” we gaze at each other through sleepy eyes and trade tired smiles. It’s too early for words, but we don’t need them. We snuggle closer and doze a little longer in the morning quiet.
It’s knowing that sometimes silence is more comforting than comfortable. When something happens, silence gives the space needed to process, to regroup, to mourn. We know when to give each other time in that space. He knows his presence soothes me. He sits wordlessly by my side as I retreat inside my mind looking for answers. And when he needs it, I do the same for him. It’s about knowing words aren’t always the solution and staying near even when there’s nothing you can say to help.
With him, silence is more than the absence of words. It’s a reminder that I can be the quiet, reflective person that I am without fear of creating awkward lulls in conversation. It’s knowing that the other connections we make – the feel of our grasped hands, the sight of each other’s smile, just being in each other’s company – carry just as much significance as a conversation can. It means sharing the space to think or hope or mourn in solitude without worrying about what the other person isn’t saying out loud.
When your heart decides to take a chance on someone, there will be lots of laughter and late-night conversations. There will be jokes and stories and a thousand things to say to one another. In between the seemingly endless sentences, let the pauses linger. Take a breath and experiment with the silence between you. Let it linger longer than it needs to. Make eye contact, hold hands, smile. See how it feels. Because all relationships have moments of silence. Find someone who makes those moments count, who fills them with the same meaning ascribed to long, heartfelt conversations.
Find the other half of your comfortable silence.