The Secret To Mature And Accepting Relationships
Why We Stonewall
It was a good day. Now it's 9:15pm.
You're just about to leave your favourite coffeeshop with your partner.
Sipped on a few lattes. Finished a lot of work. You're feeling accomplished. And you're pretty sure you saw your partner type up pages of notes/emails/slides/copy.
You think to yourself:
"I can't believe we did so much"
"Today was so productive"
"I love working with her/him/them by my side"
It was a good day.
You get in your car, choose a mellow Spotify playlist, make your way out of the parking lot, and turn onto the main street. You reach over to hold your partner's hand, and BAM.
She pulls her hand away.
What just happened?
You're confused and scared.
"What's wrong?" you ask politely, as you turn down the music.
This is called stonewalling
Stonewalling is when we become just that -- a stone wall. We become unemotional and unpresent. We don't care and we're unmoved by things. At least that's the image we like to give off.
John Gottman describes and defines this within the context of couples already sending a barrage of criticisms, but we don't need to be arguing to be able to stonewall someone.
To stonewall someone is to completely retract from engagement or communication.
We've all done this.
Our partners did something, we feel upset by it, and then we get pouty and keep our mouths shout and act resentful. Without even telling them why.
Maybe we know we're being immature or dramatic about something, but for some reason, we're still upset.
Maybe we know we're overthinking their actions or words, but for some reason, we're still upset.
Maybe we know we're expecting too much of them, but for some reason, we're still upset.
And the reason for this is one of the exact reasons we were attracted to them in the first place.
They just get you.
When you first started talking, going out, getting to know each other, it was like a scene out of a cheesy Valentine's Day movie. You exchanged secrets, hobbies, ideas, and they almost magically overlapped with your secrets, hobbies, ideas. They understood your loneliness, they had similar stories to your confused childhood, and you could even finish each other's sandwiches. They just got you.
They accepted you.
And this gave you a sense of security. You may have had slight fears of being rejected (more on rejection in a future post), but it was far outweighed by the feelings of acceptance and "divine" connection. And this is probably the posterchild of Romanticism - the idea of intuition.
Their romantic acts of acceptance led to your falling in love.
And that is both inspirational and worrisome. Inspirational in that you've found someone to bestow all your worries and share all your growth, and worrisome in that you've come to expect a voiceless intuition from your partner that doesn't require any form of actual communication.
Now you expect a mindreader
Sure, the reason we came to love them was because of their high level of empathy and sympathy for us, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they can't read your mind. Let me say that again. They can't read your mind.
The secret to a mature and accepting relationship is to understand and practice open communication.
No one can completely know our complex human mind of complex animal behaviour. Not even ourselves. No one knows you as well as you do, and you can't expect anyone else to be able to do that.
It's your responsibility to help share who you are to your partner. This includes opening up and communicating your feelings.
We shouldn’t get mad when they surprisingly don’t get us.
We shouldn’t succumb to the fiery emotions we feel when they do something.
We shouldn’t lock our lips shut when we feel they don’t get us.
Even the most caring people need some sort of guidance.
Perhaps understanding why we stonewall, why our human nature sparks such a behaviour, is the primary step in preventing it.
Reasons we stonewall:
And by ego, I mean arrogance, entitlement, and vanity. We're too good to have to explain ourselves. We are the sole embodiment of angelic virtue, and our wicked partners don't deserve our gospel.
Of course this is not the case, and we should try our hardest to convey our feelings and be open to teaching our partners more about ourselves. We may feel scared to let our vulnerable sides out, to let out our deepest emotions and frailties. But we must do this to succeed in love.
Part of the successes of love is to allow others to know our pain and tenderness, to convey our needs and neediness. Yes, we must be strong and independent, but we must also accept our need for affection.
Swallow your ego.
2. We weren't raised to explain.
In most movies, in popular novels, in the telenovela, true love consists of "you just get me". Romanticism emphasises the act of intuitive communication and frowns upon it's appearance.
We were taught that romance is spontaneous and the omnipresent mind of the lover will be forever perfect.
Sadly, this is not what mature relationships consist of.
No one is capable of reading the complete mind of another. Granted, there are some highly astute empaths who can feel what others feel, but never into all aspects of our past, present and certainly future thoughts.
There is no prince or princess with a magic kiss.
Do not learn from fairytales, learn from communication.
Acceptance is one of the high factors in determining someone's attractiveness, and ultimately their potential for love. Your partner from the coffeeshop -- they fell in love with you because you accepted them for all the weird secrets and habits that they had. The trouble started to happen when you didn't understand their weird secrets or habits.
Maybe she wanted a different coffee. Maybe he wanted to leave earlier. Maybe you weren’t listening or talking to them enough. Or maybe she simply didn’t like your shirt.
Sure, it may have been on them for stonewalling, but it's just as much your responsibility to keep your communication open. Don't stonewall the stonewaller.
Keep conversation open.
Don't show any signs of rejection when they try to explain.
Speak with love.