Saturday, August 7, 2010

Can We Talk?

One of the things that's most challenging for me is knowing when to talk about something, and when to just let it go. I've gotten myself into loads of trouble saying what's on my mind without giving it any thought.

I have friends who think that every little thing needs to be talked about. Dot your i's, cross your t's - don't leave anything to chance. They're big thinkers and planners and they want everything laid out like a blueprint, so they know exactly what to expect and will be prepared for everything.

That seems a common theme for a lot of women I know - wanting that control.  They want things to happen according to their own timeline, on their own terms. When I first started dating, I was like that, too. My only goal was to meet my next great love, "lock him in" and start Life - Part Two. I had no interest in remaining single.

Not a good plan.

What happened instead was I met a bunch of not-so-great guys who practically shoved me back into single-hood. Eventually, without even realizing it, I started to like enjoy get used to single life. I also learned a bit about myself, and found some things that I really want to change - such as my tendency to worry and plan everything to death.

Still, I'm a girl - so that "ohmygod ohmygod I need to know what's going on right now" gene is in there. I can't get rid of it. Medication, therapy...bleach, exorcism... Nothing. Still there.

When you look at it closely, that "talk it out" tendency has a lot to do with control. Planning. You want to steer things a certain way; eliminate any risk of them not going your way. When I really looked at myself, I realized I was doing this because I really felt like I wasn't good enough. So, if I controlled the relationship, I could prevent the guy from figuring that out.

Bad plan.

All I successfully managed to do was show the guy the worst sides of myself. Controlling, insecure, angry, worried. He never saw the best of me because I was so busy worrying about what he was thinking, I wasn't making myself better.

So, now - I wait. Have a thought or a worry or a question? I sit on it. For at least a day, maybe more. Sometimes I write it out. When I go back and review it (either on the screen or in my head) I look for a few things.

Did I answer my own question? ["I know you said this, but did you mean...?" It's best to believe he meant what he said. If it turns out he didn't - it will be his own fault. Don't make it yours.]

Do I sound selfish or whiny? ["I know you bolted from work early, rushed through traffic, stopped at four stores to get me this thing, but I really wanted a lighter shade of red." Ask yourself how this would make you feel. Lousy? So don't do it.]

Am I just asking for a fight? ["I understand what you were saying, but I really think you could have said it better." Could he have said it better? Probably - but it's not your job to fix that. Move on.]

This eliminates at least 99% of the talks I will ever need to have (not an actual statistic). It's amazing how much more fun, laughter and just pure enjoyment you can fit in a life when it's not bogged down with unnecessary conversation. 

How do my friends react to this method? They perceive it as weakness. They think I'm backing down to avoid making the guy upset or risk having a disagreement. They think I'm being "that girl" - you know, the one who yeses a guy to death and gives in to everything, just to keep him around. Or they think I'm dysfunctional; unable, or afraid, to stand up for myself and let the other person know what I'm thinking.


There's no question that thinking is bad. The other person should never be your sole focus. But if you think about it - a conversation is only necessary if you're both going to get something out of it. If you're having a conversation that you both won't get something from - that other person is still your sole focus. Whether it's to criticize, guilt or manipulate the other person - you're still focused on them and not yourself. 

Is that really much better?

I'm certainly not perfect. I have a lot of "I wanna talk" moments, believe me. But I've come a long way (trust me) and I've gotten to know myself much better along the way. 

And who better to have good, honest communication with than yourself? 

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