Communication: my longest lasting committed relationship. This week Chance Taureau and I ask the question, “is all communication is created equal?”
One of my greatest triggers is feeling unwanted. In so many of my early relationships I felt alone. Like I wanted the other person more than they wanted me. And I did. I wanted them to fix me. To fix everything about me. That is too much wanting. But I had no idea how to say that out loud to myself or to anyone else who stood counter to me. I remember one boyfriend, a fellow rower, told me we couldn’t hang out because he had to train. “Honey, I’ve known that rowing machine longer than I’ve known you.” We both had priorities. He needed to train. I needed to feel special. We just didn’t know how to say it in a way that didn’t leave wounds.
I still tumble into that hole fear creates when I’m unsure I’m wanted. I need it said out loud perhaps more than most. I ask for it. “I know you can’t answer honestly, but am I sexy….do you love me…am I safe here?” It’s one reason why a more open relationship style has been good for me. It demands communication. It requires that I trust I’m enough.
To date me means to communicate with me. To talk about love and fear and sex. To tell me where you’re at on a particular Tuesday and to be able to hold the fact that my emotional ceiling is low sometimes.
“Too much” is a perpetual fear of mine. In this version, when is my need to communicate too much? For me it comes down to my motive behind communicating. Is it from fear or from understanding? And if it is from fear, can I say that out loud?
Communication isn’t about knowing everything about a partner. But it is about knowing the details of your connection to each other. It’s about understanding a partner’s triggers and wounds alongside his or her desire.
Let me share about a couple distinct versions of myself, one where I treated trust like it was important and a version where I didn’t. In one version trust was more fluid, I’d massage it, shift it, and use it to get something for myself usually at the cost of others. For obvious reasons we’ll call this an earlier version. During this time I was somewhat successful at convincing myself I was trustworthy because that’s what most of us do, we want to think good of ourselves.
I have been elusive at times in my life where I’d weave a loose enough context around areas of my life to create ambiguity and space. A space so I could do certain things in that were outside the boundaries of my integrity. Communication was engineered specifically for the purpose of serving my own needs even amidst explicit agreements to do or not do something. Implied agreements had even more grey area.
The other version is where I found and believed that trust was sacred and non negotiable. Trust was no longer a situational convenience, it wasn’t an optional, after thought that came in second, third, or last place. Trust came first.
I didn’t go from one version to the other overnight. It took a long weekend. Just joking. It took quite a while. This wasn’t the flip of a switch, it was a period of transition and… it’s still happening. I’ve come to value connection and intimacy more than fear it.
As you can imagine, these two versions handle communication differently. After doing the courageous dance with my imagined inadequacies and the humble realization of my real inadequacies I became more compassionate. So when asked questions about reassurance I respond differently. I also admitted to myself that I have been needy before and that there’d be times of being needy again, when I feel hurt, broken, and fragile. The street goes both ways.