I’m a lover — not a fighter. And while I’d like to think I dodge arguments because I’m filled with so much compassion, the real reason I avoid confrontation is because I hate to be wrong.
The sensitive ego inside me just cannot take the attack. It shrivels. It loses its sense of purpose. And it gets really, really scared and vulnerable.
In relationships — romantic or not — there will always be some disagreements. And within those disagreements, arises an opportunity to evolve — if you choose to take the challenge.
I knew all of this when going into a relationship with my then-boyfriend (now-husband), but it still didn’t help the impulse I felt when the sign of our first fight presented itself. One little attack on my beliefs had me packing my bags.
See, we had been in a lovely state of bliss where neither of us could do much wrong. But as we were approaching our one-year anniversary, we started to discover the things that make us both a little imperfect — and ultimately, the things that make us, us.
I started the fight. And instead of voicing my concerns, I took drastic actions — leaving the house; not answering the phone; you know the drill — and assumed he’d understand my signals. My poor boyfriend was thinking, “Great, so she is crazy like the rest.”
Obviously, it was my cry for attention. But like most human beings, my boyfriend’s reaction was to be on the defense. Midway through our angry text messages (I’m not the best at verbal fighting. I’m much more eloquent in writing.), I found myself giving him the most honest response: “When did this become about you? Can’t you see that my feelings are my own insecurities that you can help me with?”
We all enter relationships with our own special baggage. Most of the time we don’t even know we’re traveling with it. But a lot of the times, we just choose to ignore it. Sometimes, you just have to admit your baggage is not a carry-on, and you could use the help checking it in.
I’ve come to realize that most people start fights because they feel unsafe due to a past experience. So instead of attacking right back when an argument arises, I’ve decided to check my ego at the door, and really ask myself what I can do to help this person feel safe and loved. Because most of the time, the truth is: “It’s not you, it’s me.”
A good partner will catch your insecurities before you do. Or at least, understand when you show them and will be compassionate about where you’re coming from. They’ll be strong enough to know it really isn’t them, and that there’s an opportunity to help you. And if you can promise to work on your insecurities, while your partner promises to work a little harder to help you feel safe, you’ve already succeeded.
If you want this type of partner, start by being that person for someone else. Basically, give someone a break. It’s a beautiful exercise that will force you learn the truths about love and support. And here’s a hint: It’s not about forcing your prophecies or beliefs on others. It’s about standing right beside that person and letting them know that you are always available for support.
Eventually, we got over the fight. I gave him a peak into my not-so-awesome side, and he didn’t run for the hills. He got it. He cut me some slack.
And aren’t those the type of people we want to be around, anyway? The ones who look pass the angry text messages and still get us. Now, that’s true intimacy.