I have recently been confronted on many levels with this idea:
In relationships, the other person behaves in a way that you don’t like, but you believe that saying something about it will cause a blow up. So the tendency is to not bring it up because you just don’t want another shitshow, even a minor one. I mean, I get that, who wants anything resembling a shitshow, like ever?
My daughter came to me with this issue that was occurring between a couple she is friends with, the girl did something the boy didn’t like and it made him super uncomfortable. The boy didn’t want to say anything about it because he was scared that the girl would be mad at him. But him not saying anything, prevented the girl from knowing how he really felt and also ensured that this whole situation was likely going to repeat.
So he could say something and two things could result:
1. Girl could hear him and they could work out something that didn’t result in the same scenario happening again so that both people got their needs met. OR
2. Boy could say something and girl could not hear him, freak out and get super mad. Shitshow the result.
It was such a simple solution to me. Clearly the boy needed to talk to the girl and be honest with her about how her behavior made him feel. Yes, he was risking a fight. But if he just let it slide, he would be taking an action, in this case an inaction, that would absolutely bring about another situation just like this in the near future. And assuring that this thing that made him super uncomfortable, would happen again.
So simple. Not easy but simple.
I said to my daughter the following:
Well if he says something to her, he may get a nasty fight or she could hear him. In this scenario, he was just as likely to be heard and avoid this thing happening again as he was to not be heard and a fight prevail.
If he chose to stay silent, this situation that hurt him and made him feel uncomfortable would absolutely happen again.
I like the odds for the first scenario.
So why then do I always seem to pick the later?
Short term gain for long term pain. It is the deal I see cut the most in long term relationships. It is the deal that I cut in long term relationships.
I stay silent. Afraid to rock the boat. Afraid of the confrontation. And I fail to see, repeatedly, that my silence is the thing that brings me more of the same.
A quick example...
I hate balloons. I am not afraid of balloons but I am not a fan (unless they are hot air and in New Mexico for Balloon Fiesta, then they are AMAZING!)
My boyfriend bought me balloons for my birthday. And I didn’t like them. But I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So guess what I got for Valentine’s Day? Yep, more balloons. And these are tenacious fuckers and they are still existing in my kitchen...all because I never handled this issue when it presented itself last November.
I picked current peace for future problem. Again. Still.
But after me talking to my daughter about her friends' issue, I could see the fallacy of my own thinking and behavior. And I knew what I had to do...
I had to tell my boyfriend that I didn’t like and don’t want balloons. It was hard and uncomfortable. But he listened and he was like, “for the love of God, please tell me this shit, the last thing I want to do is buy you something you do not like!”
And just like that I grew a little...
And I assured myself and others that I engage in the relationship in a more authentic, real and healthy manner. And I am much more likely to get those things that I need and want, and far less likely to get all those very many things that I do not...like balloons.
I can do it now, or I can do it later...the only difference is how long I am willing to suffer.