Marshall Rosenberg wrote and talked about ‘tragic suicidal ways to get our needs met’. Most couples get into coupledom for the purpose of meaningful connection. Maybe the word for you is companionship, partnership, mutual understanding. Maybe another says it most appropriately for you?
You want to be able to share yourself freely and talk about what is important to you. You want to have another person who gets you, and cares about your heart’s desire. You want someone to accept you ‘warts and all’ (like in the movies, grrr.). You want someone who will attend to you when you don’t feel so well. This person will get you soup, or take the kids for the evening so you can sleep. Someone to run your ideas by who will listen and offer support in ways that feel good to you. Celebrate your version of enthusiasm, and offer suggestions that indicate they believe in you, no matter what. You want to talk about anything. You want to be heard and seen and accepted and held dear. [Should we cue the Alanis Morissette song?]
Certainly it is what I hope for in my significant relationship(s). Not only with my partner, with the people I hold close as friends and family as well. Obviously different relationships offer different versions of this story, yet this is the core story I attempt to create with my people.
Why is this so elusive?
1. The other person wants these exact same things.
2. It is more difficult to be the one to offer this than demand it in a relationship.
When both people in a couple are deeply longing for this kind of acceptance and honesty, likely with ‘substandard skills’ to achieve it, before too long, each person is confused and disappointed. Usually looking at the other as wrong —and the person to blame for all this mis- and dis-connection.
This continues, likely escalates into (obvious?) tragic ways to get connection needs met. Although it isn’t obvious when you are in the middle of it.
Have you ever said (or thought)…
1. If you would just listen to me
2. You will never understand me
3. Just go ahead and leave
4. If you loved me…
5. I don’t understand how you could think that.
6. What’s wrong with you?
7. What’s wrong with me?
8. I could never tell him/her/they that!
9. How could you say that to me?
10. You are absolutely crazy.
11. Hurry up and just say it.
12. Why are you crying?
13. How could you be mad at that?
14. You are overreacting.
15. You will never understand me.
16. I will never understand you.
17. You are just like your mother.
18. The kids don’t understand you either.
19. All my friends agree with me.
20. How could you…?
21. That’s not a feeling!
22. If you would just…everything would be okay.
23. When are you going to get over it?
24. That’s a terrible idea.
25. That isn’t very practical.
26. I need some respect!
27. Really?! You are going to do that?
28. What is your plan to fix this?
29, If you do that, I am not going to _______.
These sentences are all tragic attempts to get connection needs met.
Next time, try saying only this:
Tell me more…
See what happens.