Everybody knows this dance. Partner is quiet and withdrawn, you ask the logical question, ‘Hey is anything the matter? You ok?’ The stroppy response of ‘Yeah I’m fine’ is grumbled, followed by a long awkward silence. Great. What next?
Over the years I’ve noticed this bizarre routine of ‘I’m not fine but you need to figure it out through telepathy or some shit and fix it, or I’ll get even more pissed off.’ tends to be committed more often by women. To the massive frustration of all the males friends I’ve ever had. Not sure why or how, but I seem to have grown up with a really blunt attitude and can’t remember ever playing this weird, backwards game. When I say I’m fine, I mean it. When I say I’m not fine, I also mean it. Which only adds further to the frustration of my male friends. ‘What? You’re like, the perfect woman. Can you go and teach all the other women this honesty thing you do?’ No. I can’t be bothered. But you feel free to remind my partner how perfect I am. Ahahaha, no-one’s perfect.
Now I have a theory. It’s not accurate to say that women want men to mind read and play games and all men want is blunt honesty to help them stumble through their day. That’s a rather sexist assumption. But I DO think that the universe likes to enact a certain balance. Completely irrelevant of gender, one of you is more blunt and honest in your communication, the other tends to be more reserved and tricky to understand their true meaning. Or at least that’s always how it’s worked for me. This often leads to arguments, awkward silences and misreading each other.
I have lost count of the amount of times a partner has repeatedly asked me if I’m ok and I’ve become more and more annoyed that (because of previous experiences they’ve had) they’re utterly convinced that me saying ‘I’m fine.’ means I’m not and so the badgering begins. Which results in me suddenly not fine at all and really annoyed at being nagged. Maybe they’re clairvoyant I dunno.
Also, I’ve lost count of the amount of times a partner has muttered through gritted teeth that they’re ok, and I’ve foolishly taken their word for it and been happy in the thought that they really are ok. And over the course of a couple of hours, days or longer, ended up face palming at my naivety in believing the words said straight to my face.
The rare occasions that I accept the fake ‘I’m fine’ is when you only say it because you’re just not ready to talk about what’s bothering you. Fair enough. It can wait, but say so! ‘Well I’m actually pretty stressed, but let’s not talk about it. I’d rather chill out and take my mind off it for now.’ Totally acceptable to say. But say that! Do you think you’re doing me a favour by not pestering me with your worries? This is what monogamy is all about! We’re a team!
Sometimes with this, I can be a bit of a cheeky git and resort to a subtle troll-fest. I’ll reply out loud with ‘Good I’m glad.’ when really I’m thinking ‘I know damn well you’re fibbing, you’re not fine at all. But you’ll spit it out when you’re ready. I’m on to you. Mwa hahahahaaaa.’ This isn’t a very mature response I know. A more supportive girlfriend would insist that if there was anything the matter then I’m here to listen or help if I can. But the mischievous part of my personality sees it as a form of tough love. Only when you’re prepared to be honest with me shall I be supportive.
I am not a mind reader.
I’m often complimented on my no nonsense approach by friends and family. But a partner often tends to resent the ability to be honest without a struggle. I can often see that it has the effect of making them feel guilty for not being as open. ‘I wish I found it easy to speak up and ask for help or someone to listen like you can. But I don’t, and now I feel bad for keeping things from you. But it’s a natural response for me, I’ve often felt people didn’t care anyway so the habit of repressing my feelings is hard to break.’
I totally get that and I do try my very best to be understanding, supportive and patient. But I will hire that psychic terrier if you take the piss for much longer. And he looks expensive.
All my love and rage, Mandy xx.