It’s Friday! That means it’s time for my Lusty Vegan column on iEatGrass.com.
Communication is a bitch. It’s absurd how in a world where we’re all so connected 24/7, we can simultaneously be utturly disconnected to each other. But trust and communication are the pillars to a healthy relationship. Yeah, love and chemistry and the fact that you both like Apatow comedies and Chinese food are all important, but without trust and communication, everything will fall to shit. If your communication is bad, then your relationship is doomed. DUN DUN DUN. Just kidding. Like everything else, you can work on improving communication, but it’s hard, and you have to really commit. Here are a few helpful suggestions/exercises for those who are shoddy communicators, and/or are partnered up with someone who has trouble fessing.
Big note: there is a difference between being quiet and being unable to communicate properly.
Free Talk. When I was studying writing in college many of our professors used to make us “free write” for 10 minutes at the start of class just to get our creative juices going, and to get us used to writing on command. In the real world, there are things called deadlines, and you can’t solely write when inspiration hits. Many of these rants were pointless—I once wrote for a solid 10 minutes from the point of view of the Gala (apple) sticker stuck to the back of my professor’s pants. But sometimes some of my best work was sparked during those 10 minute writing sessions.
If you’re having communication issues, doing the same type of exercise with your partner can be helpful—if they’re down for it, of course. Set aside some time to talk, and just go. Start blabbing. Say whatever comes to mind. Sometimes you may end up babbling about your breakfast the whole time, but sometimes you end up divulging an extremely interesting story from your childhood that you had completely forgot about until NOW. I know that 10 minutes is sort of intense so maybe start at 2 or 3.
Take off the Pressure. This is sort of the opposite of free talking, but different things work for different people and different situations! If I am trying to have a conversation about something specific with my tight lipped guy, instead of bullying him to talk when I feel like it, I tell him I want him to start up a conversation when he’s ready, but I give him a specific deadline. For instance, “I want you to bring this up sometime in the next two days.” This way he can stew on what he wants to say without feeling like I am putting him on the spot. If YOU are the one who gets nervous broadcasting those ril ril scary feelings, then suggest this in reverse: “I want to think about this, and I will bring up the topic again on my own in the next few days.”
Listen. Okay so confession time: I talk a LOT. Listening is actually my biggest communication issue. My boyf has trouble talking, and I get so worked up about it, that by the time he does try to tell me something, I have been reigning in my feelings for so long, waiting until he is ready to discuss, that I then have verbal diarrhea all over the place. I don’t usually notice myself doing it. He will struggle to get two shaky sentences out about The Important Thing We Have Been Trying to Discuss, and I will then cut him off to respond/spew my feelings all over him. I ask him to communicate, and the I shut him down before he is finished doing so. No good. So practice actually listening. And no, don’t just sit there thinking about what you want to say. Listen, take a few breaths to collect yourself, and then respond. This is actually way harder than it sounds.
Okay, how are your communication skills?