Why is it so hard to say what we really mean? Our feelings of pride often conflict with being vulnerable. Its hard to let our guard down. Even in a relationship. A former student said to me once that her boyfriend never listened to her. She explained by saying that one night she went over to see him. She told him she had a hard day and she was exhausted. She then stated that she was mad because he went on to tell her about how hard his day was. I mentioned that he seemed to listen to what she said, but she wasn’t happy with his response. She said that she was mad because he didn’t ask her what was hard about her day, or offer to give her a hug, or tell her how great she was anyway. We discussed the fact that she didn’t ask for those things, but still expected him to get that message.
So often we want something from someone, but instead of being direct, we assume people are mind readers. This student wanted a hug, she wanted to talk about her day and be encouraged, but she never asked for those things. She wanted her boyfriend to just “know” she needed them. A lot of times in relationships people don’t want to risk rejection, so they don’t always ask for what they want. Or they believe that they shouldn’t even have to ask. You may believe it doesn’t mean as much if you have to ask for something because you think it is less sincere. I disagree. If you tell someone what you want and they are willing to make that adjustment or change, it says a lot about their feelings for you. I think its important to let your boyfriend or girlfriend know what you want or need, especially in a relationship. If they ignore you, then you have a problem to address.
Communication is complicated in relationships especially because its hard to find someone that thinks, feels, and believes the exact same way you do. It is easy to become upset when people don’t always interpret your needs in the right way. It can cause a lot of conflict. The first person to look at when it comes to communication is you. Find out if there is anything you can do differently to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that others can understand you more easily. Ask yourself if you are sending “coded” messages to your partner. Is it fair that they should always know what you mean without you having to open yourself up a little more? Remember, its not always the listener that is at fault.
It is difficult to be vulnerable. You may be rejected. You may ask your partner for a hug and they may look at you like you’re crazy. You may come to realize that your partner isn’t ever going to be the physically affectionate type. They aren’t going to automatically hug you when you’re feeling upset. You can handle this a couple of different ways. You can choose to let it go and get that affection from other friends and family. You may talk to your mom or your best friend if you need a hug. It may decide its enough that your partner does other great things for you when you feel down. Maybe they offer great advice or cook you your favorite dinner to make you feel better. Look for the other things that your partner brings to the table and ask yourself if that is enough for you to feel good about your relationship?
The other thing you can do is decide that it isn’t enough. Maybe you’ve opened up to your boyfriend or girlfriend about things you need in the relationship and they’ve ignored all of them. You may come to the conclusion that they aren’t able to give you what you need. Sometimes a couple may have similar interests, but the way they communicate or show love is completely opposite. This can be overcome, but it requires a lot of compromise. Again, you can look outside your relationship to meet some of your needs. One person is never going to meet all of your needs anyway. Which is why friends and family are so important. However, if you are going outside of your relationship to meet almost all of your emotional or physical needs, then you may want to consider the fact you may not be in the right relationship.
The key is first ask for or explain what you want or need. Don’t let yourself get upset over something your partner may not even know you are wanting. Again, not everyone comes from the same background or thinks the same way. What may seem obvious to you, may not be obvious to your partner. Give them a chance to know what you need. Also, remember that you may need to remind them sometimes. Habits are hard to break and they may not always react the way you want or need them to. If they ask you to do something that seems odd or different to you, you’ll realize that it isn’t always so easy to remember something that doesn’t come naturally to you. However, if you both can be patient, it will be worth it. It always better if both you and your partner open up and help each other make a few healthy changes. However, sometimes the person can promise to make a change and never follow through. You’ll feel like you have to constantly remind them and they constantly forget or fall off after one or two times. The anger and resentment will build and start to really damage the relationship.
In this case, you may come to realize that you need to leave the relationship because you’ll start to feel rejected by your partner. It does happen. Not everyone can give you what you need in a relationship. This is why you date before you get married. You want to find out what works and what doesn’t. Dating helps you realize what you can and can not compromise on. You can either change what you need or change the person you depend on to meet those needs. It isn’t easy, but definitely necessary to live your life with someone and be happy.