I’ve been listening to the Polyamory Weekly podcast pretty regularly for a while now and I found the latest show on communicating ‘fearlessly’ with one’s partners quite timely and relevant. Mainly because I don’t do it.
Oh I do communicate some. I’ve learnt to tell my partners when I’m not comfortable with something or how I feel about things and all that. Sometimes I’ll even bore them with why I feel the way I do and they, bless their hearts, will listen. I love listening to them and discussing how they feel and what they want too and I love that they feel safe enough to open up like that. But me? The way I hide what I want, you’d think it was the secret code to bringing about Armageddon.
I have my reasons. And yes, they’re all about mommy and daddy and their unique brand of Let’s-fuck-up-the-kids. (Issues springing from childhood, you say? My, what a novel concept.) But the trick is realizing not everyone is my parents (thank you, unspecified, non-denominational and utterly fictitious deity) and that not everyone is a lying sack of shit that manages to consistently disguise itself as a lovely human being.
Basically, I hate being told ‘no’. And not because I’m a spoiled brat. I hate putting myself in a position that allows another person the power to decide whether or not I get what I want. (Control issues? Ya think?) So when it comes time to fess up to a partner that I feel like crap right now and would like some attention, I turn into an all-singing, all-dancing treasure trove of information on the weather, politics, movies I want to see, movies I hate, that funny website I’ve been meaning to tell people about, something stupid a colleague said, that sudden itch on my left foot – anything at all, basically, to avoid the issue.
Yes, I know. Not the healthiest of approaches. As Minx points out in the podcast, by not bringing it up at all, you remove all possibility of getting what you want. When you speak up, there’s at least a 50% chance – and probably more – that you’ll get it. And it’s not like staying quiet feels all that great. If it did, there would at least be some justification for it. But not speaking up doesn’t actually stop you feeling scared or worried or insecure. In fact, it can compound it because on top of feeling like crap, you feel alone and unsupported, and isn’t that just what you need? Well done, you, for retaining control and keeping things…er…controlled.
Even if your partner(s) can’t give you what you want or be there for you in the way you want them to right that minute, telling them how you feel gives them the opportunity to at least express support and remind you that you are loved. And that may actually end up being pretty much all you really needed anyway.
So to hell with the I-must-always-be-invulnerable schtick (which wasn’t really convincing anyone anyway). Part of being a grownup in any kind of relationship is getting up the guts to express your needs and understanding that a ‘no’ does not mean that you are a worthless human being undeserving of love, specially when all it might actually mean is that your partner’s stuck in really lousy traffic.