Oh love, you fancy bitch. In honor of Saint Valentine I’m dedicating this post to all the folks out there in a relationship. Whether you’re just starting out and are a cute little dovey fledgling couple, are over the 2 year “getting to know each other” but under the 5 year “I’ve totally farted in front of you” phase, or are a post 10//decade+ romance like me (16 years and counting- hollah), I’m going to outline some info I think might be useful to you and your partner. *I am writing a second book on relationships called, “Please Don’t Get Semen in My Eye; the nuts and bolts of relationships.” Don’t be fooled by the tender title, it’ll be a look at the practical things that go into making a strong relationship. I’ve studied relationships, facilitated couples counseling, and have been in a relationship that’s seen some shit. Including dealing with long distance for a good chunk of time, being cheated on, peacing out then working it out- and then later getting married (whut?!), and now, dealing with weirdness about having kids//not having kids. That book will be out sometime in the year 20-something. Whatever forever, I do what I want.
For now, here are some things that might help you in your partnership. Three little nuggets of insight, because while there is more to it, who has an attention span longer than 4 minutes for a freaking blog post written by someone you only 5% care about?
1.) Being inconsiderate will poison your relationship. What is inconsiderate? Here are some words the internet uses to define it (research!): thoughtless, unthinking, insensitive, selfish, self-centered, unsympathetic, uncaring, heedless, unmindful, unkind, uncharitable, ungracious, impolite, discourteous, rude, disrespectful. Things get all fucky because as humans we can have different perspectives on issues, situations and stuff. *We can also have identical perspectives on issues, situations and stuff, too. Therein lies the tricky dicky nature of relationships. What I view as inconsiderate you may see as a non-issue. In fact what I view as “inconsiderate” you may view as so much of a non-issue that you think I’m nagging you, a regular ole Naggy McGee up in here, driving a Naguar, with a nagazine in my travel tote. And then if you think that, what do I think? I think that you’re a soaking wet jack-ass drenched in piss and vinegar (again). Where does that leave us? It leaves us in a dank spot, probably both feeling mad or frustrated or whatever other word you want to use that captures a shit feeling state. In this example there is no hero or villain, there’s only one us. Me thinking you’re inconsiderate doesn’t automatically make the thing that you did inconsiderate, it doesn’t make me right. But if I feel it, if I feel that you’re inconsiderate* (*insensitive, selfish, rude, disrespectful etc), it-must-be-dealt-with-together. The underlying principle here is that if 1 of the 2 people in your monogamous relationship has a problem with something, then it should be important to both people. When a person in a partnership feels something so intensely that it disrupts the harmony of the dynamic, it should be discussed so both people can share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Coming together to share these things is the only way to resolve it. You have to talk about it.
2.) Stop avoiding talking about it. That shitty thing that is eating at you needs a voice and you have to be the person who speaks the faaack up to give it one. I’m not saying go mental and scream until your lungs give out- in fact, when you yell, you may be less inclined to be heard (how’s that for irony), but you do have to speak up. Why do you think you hold onto things? Why can’t you let it go? Why does it gnaw at ya? Because it’s unresolved. Unnnnnnnnnn-reeeeeeeee-solvedddddddd. U-N-R-E-S-O-L-V-E-D (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). And what do you think happens to things that are unresolved? Do they get better as time goes on? Do they magically turn into dust, or go away randomly on their own? Hmmmm, does a brain tumor go away randomly on its own? Nope. When you don’t talk about something important two glorious things happen-
(A) you ruminate and stew and brood and get all sorts of next level pisseds. So many pisseds that your reality begins to get f’ed with. You start pulling for things to reinforce your feelings, examples left and right of “inconsiderate,” and you can actually experience certain things your partner does or does not do, in a distorted way. The idea that your thoughts and feelings have the ability to influence what you actually experience in life is both really rad and really scary. It’s rad when you use your thoughts and feelings to cope in adaptive ways, to pull yourself up out of the dumps, and transcend your limits in healthy ways. It’s bad when you have something so unresolved that it amasses to the point where you’re not seeing things clearly and you have blinders on. *As a side, this is where people get into trouble with justification. Justifying to the most disgusting n’th degree why you did something hurtful. “I called you a maggoty sack of donkey shit because you pushed me to.” “I cheated because things have been bad for so long.” “We broke up because he’s not as assertive as I want.” “We broke up because our sex life fizzled out.” How is the other half of your duo going to know you have a problem with something IF you don’t mention it? Or IF you mention it but do not clearly/truthfully/accurately convey how important it is to you? They’ll keep living in their world and soon you’ll be on planet Melmac. Moving right into my next point-
(B) the other glorious thing that avoidance does is it causes distance between you and your partner. The bigger the thing(s) you’re avoiding, the further the distance. The more you avoid, the further you both sail away from each other and soon your relationSHIP will break apart and sink. Say sayonara to having a healthy and fulfilled dynamic if you or your partner don’t learn how to stop avoiding and start talking about things. And I get why people avoid. We avoid because we get uncomfortable talking about certain things. We don’t want to hurt our partner’s feelings, we don’t want them to be mad at us, and we don’t want to feel like a jerk. But can you see the error in this? Not only are you doing your relationship a disservice, you are deluding yourself into thinking you’re the good guy/gal. You’re not! When you avoid to prevent discomfort or a fight that you “know will happen” (ugh, that excuse is something I hear all the time in therapy!), the only person you’re thinking about is yourself. YOU don’t want to deal with it. YOU don’t want to go there. YOU don’t want to open a can of worms. Well, if you love your relationship and want it to work, here’s a can opener, open that bitch up. It’s the only way to let air in. Air on a wound will heal it, keeping it sealed up will make it fester and it’ll get all crusty and infected. I’m not attacking you avoiders out there, I do it too, but only for a little and I’ll say (for example, to my husband), “I’m so mad right now, I need a little while to get my self and my thoughts together, can we talk about it in 1 hour.” It’s not always said in a nicey tone, I’m human, I can get ultra pissed and I have an inner Beyonce thow’ing middle fingers up waving ‘boy bye’ sometimes too. The point here is that you talk about it together. If you want to get through something together, you have to let the other person in on what’s going on in that beautiful, magnificent, but also sometimes bonkers head of yours. AND if you need help talking about something, maybe you would benefit from speaking to a therapist or seeking couples counseling. Maybe you never really had a “healthy” romantic relationship modeled to you, or maybe you’ve never been in one so you are learning. That’s ok. In the US, I recommend looking at www.psychologytoday.com to find a therapist in your area.
3.) Try putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. I know when our buttons are pushed it’s easy to be reactive, but before you react, try having a moment where you attempt to understand where your partner is coming from. Why he or she may have said, done, or acted the way they did in a scenario that made you mad or hurt or sad. What could be contributing to it? Does it have anything to do with you perhaps? Perrrrrrrrhaps? I mean, when something is up in a relationship it’s not usually one sided. There’s usually more depth and dimension to it, and you’d benefit from asking yourself and thinking about what you’re doing to contribute to the dynamic that exists. I’m not telling you to obsess over yourself and try to read your partner’s mind and get all neurotic and super anxious, don’t do that, but do raise your level of interpersonal awareness by stepping into your partner’s shoes.
There’s certainly a lot more that goes into making a relationship work, but for a blog post this seems like enough. Last, I’ll say that yes men can be pigs and girls can suck. But know what? Pigs are adorable and smart and loving and funny (don’t eat them, go veg!). And girls, while we may suck sometimes, we also happen to be able to lick and blow too. We’re sweet, intelligent, kind and bad-ass. The truth is, men and women are not that different. If you’re in a committed relationship and you want it to last, you have to be willing to communicate openly with each other. And both partners have to be willing to receive what the other is saying. If you both have the desire to work on something, your chances of getting through the proverbial “it” increase exponentially, and soon you and your mate will be riding the happy train all the way to Blissville. Smooching passionately, hand in hand, in first class.