Communication baggage

I realized lately that I have a lot of baggage around healthy communication that comes from my previous partners. I sometimes freeze up with anxiety at the thought of bringing up anything serious about relationships because I’m anticipating a fight or a negative reaction. Sometimes Mike and I do fight, but it’s unfair to expect him to react in the condescending, mean or manipulative ways my exes did. This lesson was brought home to me a few days ago when Mike and I had a miscommunication leading to a fight. After, I realized that if I had just told him directly how I felt instead of making assumptions about what he was thinking and trying to communicate indirectly, the worst of that could have been avoided.

Last night I decided to bring something up that had been making me less satisfied with the relationship. I was anxious and expecting a disagreement, but I reminded myself that I didn’t actually know how Mike felt or would react. So after he got home, I very nicely said “I’ve been thinking, and I miss [X] in our relationship.” To my delight, his immediate response was “Yeah, me too.” We had dropped this thing during a more tumultuous time and so I had thought he wasn’t interested, but it turns out that once things settled down with us we both missed it and hadn’t wanted to push it on the other person.

That discussion went really well and sort of meandered into talking about some tangentially related topics and we realized we were very much on the same page. We also had the opportunity to talk about how both of us have changed since we started our relationship in the sense that we are no longer interested in sleeping with someone we aren’t friends with. That one is a more recent revelation about myself. For a while I tried to meet new people and it always made me anxious. But when I started seeing people I was already good friends with it was fun and easy. Mike told me a little about his feelings on a (maybe not) potential partner. It was nice because I didn’t feel at all vested in the outcome, but I enjoyed hearing his thoughts and feelings and knowing where his head was.

Sometimes you have to learn a lesson the hard way, but sometimes you get to learn it through positive reinforcement. Lately I’ve learned the same lesson twice in different ways, and the second way was way easier.

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2 thoughts on “Communication baggage

  1. It’s amazing how much we are often aligned with our partners on a lot of various issues, without even realizing it. And even if we’re not, how easy it usually is to at least talk about it. When you’re not aligned AND the conversation doesn’t go well, that’s a warning sign that much deeper work has to happen.

    So glad this turned out well for you! Great post! 🙂

    • Thanks! I’ve spent so much energy worrying about fighting that my attitude towards communication has actually started fights. Luckily, the irony of that is no longer lost on me.

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