Don't be a guilty villain who can't speak up. Intimacy depends on admitting what you want, even when it's illogical or embarrassing.
You know, it took me more than fifty years to understand that I could NEVER have a truly intimate relationship with a romantic partner until I gave myself permission to stop Being A Good Person.
Because women are conditioned to be so infinitely kind, patient, tolerant, clean, forgiving and understanding that we completely lose sight of our actual personalities.
I sincerely believed that I had to be the perfect patient receptacle of whatever bullshit any random man threw my way, and eventually, when I was perfect ENOUGH, my needs would get met.
It's only after setting boundaries which include my ACTUAL NEEDS that I can start discerning what my responsibilities to others entail. And when those needs go consistently unmet, my responsibilities are very, very few.
My partner and I have a rule that we bring up Big Emotions when they’re at a 4 (on a scale of 1-10). It helps a lot, because we don’t get all the petty little things constantly coming up BUT ALSO we catch them before they get bad. AND “we need to talk” doesn’t activate the “Oh no they’re pissed at me and this is going to be a huge fight and we’re going to break up” defensive response that would normally come from that phrase. It’s made it soooo much easier to be open and listen, and also makes it easier for my avoidant self to actually air my own grievances instead of holding them in until I feel like the best option is to just run away.
With the freedom to talk a river of shit comes the responsibility to create that freedom for others around you. That goes for knives and dinner rolls alike.
It's a lot of work but then one day you notice how you and your beloved get to cheerfully trade insults and dumb kneejerk opinions while still fundamentally respecting each other and being capable of deep conversation and it's just a deep breath and cool drink of water and pure love all at once. Wouldn't trade it for anything.
Thank you for explaining that the Knife part in us actually has a warm, soft core (e.g. a sweet bunny).
I've come to understand this soft part in me more as a big rubber duck (like the Canada rubber duck that everyone seemed to hate) because I see and understand rubber ducks as pure fun, joy, playfulness, and lightheartedness.
I am at a point where I can hold space to laugh, poke, and prod at this rubber duck with my Knife part, without poking a hole in the duck (losing respect for the Duck or feeling ashamed of it), because I accept this Duck part of me is central to my wholeness and I respect what it likes, wants, and needs. I have developed a level of security with the Duck that allows me to give my Knife part space to jab but it I notice that it actually feels blunt and not sharp. Meaning, I'm not hurting myself with my jokes and insults. My dark ass humour is a fun part of me that needs to be seen and heard and given space to have fun.
And for me to be in DEEP relationship with people, I have to search for the rubber ducks in other people, and poke and prod them as well. I want to be able to engage my Knife with someone I love and want to love deeply. So that will require others to have a level of security with their softness/sweet bunny/rubber duck so that we can truly enjoy each other, have some real fun and feel connected on a deeply human level. Because real, whole people like real, whole people.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. That was a wild ride.
"He said 'they’re work pants.' I said 'okay, boomer.'" Heather, that is a tip top "he said, she said" if there ever was one. - totally cracked me up
Loved your advice, strongly agree, she's not asking for what she wants. Also, I love how you could see -her- and not just her needs. It did feel like she was missing herself in her letter.
Question, how did you sort out the "The merest whiff of need" from "big big talker"? I got totally tripped up when I read that. It sort of made me think that she picked the same kind of guy again.
You should drop the guy.
I spent years feeling like a villain because I couldn’t listen to my boyfriends the way they wanted. Turns out I listen fine, just not to the specific type of very expressive guy I was dating. You probably do too. It’s a lot easier to recognize our shared human vulnerability and speak up for yourself without blaming and all that when you don’t have the emotional equivalent of a pillow pressed over your face every goddamn day.
I will say that dating people who don’t feel like bottomless pits of endless, sucking need is crazy scary, because need is suffocating but it’s also an ironclad guarantee that they’ll never ever leave you. (Which is where the whole avoidant people are also anxious thing comes in.) It takes a lot of getting used to and I’m not really there yet. But it already beats the alternatives.
This piece really resonated with me. Here’s a thought spawned while cogitating on it in the dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned.
It seemed to me that the LW was asking for a lot more than one can reasonably ask from another person. There’s going to be times-- lots of them in fact -- when you simply won’t be in sync with your partner and vice versa too.
One other thing. You can properly expect your brain surgeon to be at the top of their game all the time, but to expect or demand it from others is to ask for constant disappointment.
This hit hard today. It's difficult to remember, and even harder to locate, the sweet little bunny at the core of us, especially when that sweet little bunny was hurt deeply and learned to hide early in life. Like other commenters have mentioned, what has been central to my marriage is not only learning to recognize when my inner bunny is crying out for love and gentleness and understanding (usually when I'm at my most avoidant) but also getting to know my partner's inner bunny, another soft, hurt, needy little kid just like me. A union between two sharp knives can be complicated and messy, but the sharper the knife, the softer the bunny. AND BUNNIES ARE FREAKING ADORABLE!
Fantastic response. As a man, I loved the subtext (in my own biased view). My girlfriend just a few days ago became my fiancé. She also happens to often (too often) be right about stuff. It’s so frustrating!!! 😂. But I’ve learned to go on 3-5 mile runs and just generally accept the fact that she’s often right. It’s hard at times but I’m getting there.
Another great point, and something I’ve learned the hard way: Listening to and getting vulnerable and nakedly honest with each other is crucial. You gotta tell each other what you’re wanting/needing. No one can read minds. Just take the risk and tell the truth. What’s the worst that could happen? They leave you? Then it truly wasn’t meant to be. And that is highly unlikely to happen. I think most people in relationships get into trouble by not speaking up, making assumptions, holding onto unexpressed resentments.
‘The Incompatibility of Being Alive’
Homie don’t play that shit 🐰🗡️