How Do I Have a Relationship Discussion Without Causing a Fight?
I’ve been reading your blog religiously for two years and find it both entertaining and seriously useful. I have never read any kind of ‘self-help’ in my life and would generally approach it with a great dollop of cynicism. But I’ve found your ‘mirroring’ approach has done wonders for me in recent years and I find myself much more in a position of power as a result. I’m Irish and we have a totally different dating set-up over here than the States, but I feel the core message of your advice (letting the man reveal his intentions) manages to cross the cultural divide!
Ok, so here’s the deal: I’ve been seeing an amazing guy for six months. After three dates he asked me to come off Plenty of Fish. We’ve met each other’s families. He’s great with my son. We’ve talked about a future. He’s told me he loves me. All of that good stuff! There has been no conflict so far because everything is rosy in the garden.
So a small (seemingly insignificant) thing has come up and I’m worried that if I address it, the genie will be let out of the bottle and this ‘everything is perfect’ vibe will be lost. You’ll laugh now, but here’s the problem:
I’ve been involved with a series of men who haven’t wanted to become ‘involved’, i.e. meet my son, my family or anyone belonging to me.
I felt I could just be myself with this new guy immediately. So I told him how hurtful I had found these other scenarios and how I really wanted someone now to be my partner. Early on, I had told him how important it would be to have him at my birthday dinner, for example, or at our big group Christmas night out. The latter is imminent and we have a night planned. My closest few friends and their partners will be out and its seldom enough we all get together these days what with work, kids etc. everyone is dying to meet him and he’d promised he’d come.
Only now he tells me, casually, he’s going ‘to skip it’ as I’ll ‘want to have a natter’ with my friends. I just said, ‘uh, ok’ because I don’t want to be giving out to a guy who has only, so far, been very good and considerate towards me.
I suppose I place more importance on this ‘friend-meeting’ issue that most because I’ve never really had a boyfriend before who wanted to go there. I’ve always gone for alpha commitment-phobe types who shun all that ‘boyfriend behavior’. My new boyfriend is completely a boyfriend: he calls every day and makes plans and talks about ‘us’. So I thought, for sure, I’ve hit the jackpot this year! I’ll be accompanied to my Christmas drinks! I was also really looking forward to showing him off because I think he’s great. It’s not a case that he’s socially awkward or shy – the opposite! He’s fantastic with people and a really confident, intelligent, attractive guy.
How do I approach this conflict without ruining things? Should I just let it slide? Or should I tell him it’s really important to me and give him a chance to change his mind?
I know it seems like such an insignificant matter but it’s taken on epic proportions for me!
Molehill, meet mountain.
It’s been six months. He’s a great boyfriend. He calls every day, makes plans, and talks about your relationship. He’s met your family and gets along with your son.
And you’re going nuts that he wants to give you time alone with your friends?
Leave these “epic” emotions out of it because your reaction is disproportionate to the stakes involved.
DO YOU WANT TO FIX YOUR BROKEN MAN-PICKER?
I’m not telling you to let it slide. You feel what you feel. You have the right to talk with him about what you’re feeling. What I am telling you is to leave these “epic” emotions out of it because your reaction is disproportionate to the stakes involved. It’s no different than this recent post about Christmas expectations dashed by a clueless but devoted boyfriend.
As to how you approach this conversation, it’s essentially the same way you should approach ANY relationship discussion. I pulled this straight out of Dr. Jamie Turndorf’s “Kiss Your Fights Goodbye” and I recommend you use this as your new Bible.
1. The Disclaimer – “John, you are the best boyfriend ever. I’ve never felt so safe with a guy as I have in my six months with you. What I particularly love is how we can communicate everything and it only makes us stronger. Thank you so much for restoring my faith in love.”
2. Presentation of your issue — “You’ve always been so enthusiastic about spending time with me or my son or my friends, that I was really surprised when you said you didn’t want to come to Christmas dinner. I know you felt that I’d get more quality time in if you weren’t there, but the truth is, everyone else was going as a couple and I wanted you there with me. It’s not your fault that you didn’t know how important this was to me; that’s my job. I just didn’t want to build up resentment for you not reading my mind, and I didn’t want to make a big deal about one lone party.”
3. Suggestion for the future — “I promise to do a better job of communicating my needs when things come up, and I want you to assume in the future that I ALWAYS want you by my side on holidays and celebrations. Can you do that for me?”
What do you think he’s going to say to that?