“…was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.” I’m not sure if you’ve ever listened to the words from Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (I hadn’t), but it routinely shows up on my Christmas Pandora station. This year, Pentatonix’s version was so beautiful, I stopped to really listen, and this line hit me in gut. If you’ve read blogs of Mairead’s past, you know healthy relationships haven’t been my forte, so out-drawing a partner (re: leaving before I’m left or hurting them before I get hurt) has kinda been my thing.
Fast forward to right now, and I’m actually in a healthy relationship (SURPRISE!! for the family/friends I don’t talk to regularly. Sorry you’re finding out in a blog). We are both pretty emotionally intelligent, and he’s
routinely helped me work through bad habits that have sabotaged every relationship I’ve been in prior to this one. What I’ve realized is at the core of our success is communication. Open, honest, often-tough communication.
I hope like hell this isn’t a profound revelation for most of you. I have a gotdamn degree in communication and still refused to communicate effectively for a long time. But listen. When I tell you we talk about everything as it pertains to the two of us? Ev.Er.Y.Thang. All of it. Good, bad, ugly, and in between. It’s not a, “Hey, what did you have for breakfast? I had the same thing I have everyday because that’s what my meal plan says. Kthanksbai.” kind of relationship. It’s more, “Hey, I was thinking about our conversation the other day, and I’d like to revisit that. I’m okay to chat via text, but if you’d rather talk in person, I’m open to that too” kinda thing.
We talk about past relationships. Everyone has their baggage, and we’re no different. If something is said or done that doesn’t jive with one of us because of past experiences, we bring it up. Not necessarily in the moment, and not always as a face to face conversation, but there’s no grudge-holding if something from a week or two ago resurfaces to be addressed. Shoot, we talk about future relationships too. He is not going to be my forever, we both know that, so talking about how I can bring what I’m learning now into the future is applicable and necessary.
And ya know what we talk about a whole lot? Sex. As most of y’all know, Tom Segura is one of my all time favorite comedians. He has a sketch about men not telling women what they like. The guy says something like, “Eh, she didn’t act slutty enough for me.” Tom: “Well did you tell her what you’re into?” Guy shakes his head no. Tom: “Okay, cool, you weird, silent fuck…” Yeah, well when I tell you, “Weird, Silent Fuck” could be the name badge of every man I’ve dated before, that’s not really an exaggeration. I won’t get into the nitty gritty because my family reads this blog, but I pinky promise that talking about sex makes actual sex much better. Try it and thank me later.
Is it easy to be so open? Absolutely not. I sometimes revert back to less mature behaviors and thought processes. “I’m frustrated, but I’m not going to say anything and just hope he knows I’m mad.” Uhhh wut? He’s awesome, but he’s not a mind-reader. Likewise, because I can be so literal and bull-headed, he’s had to share quite a bit with me so that I “get it” when he acts a particular way. When I look at where we’re at, what we’ve shared, and where we’re going compared to past relationships, I could easily name you a dozen junctures where I’d have run off in the past because it was easier. One thing we’ve found helpful is to leave the door open for conversations to be in person or via text. That may seem childish, but as a person who cries out of frustration, it’s often easier for me to keep my rational thoughts separate from emotions if we can text through the initial discussion.
Bottom Line: Stop trying to outdraw your partner. This isn’t the Wild, Wild West. Shooting before you get shot, leaving before you get left, hurting them before they can hurt you: none of this is productive or conducive to a healthy relationship. Relationships, at their core, are not easy. They require a level of work and investment that I know for sure I was never ready for in the past. You’re gonna mess up, so is your partner, but showing each other grace and working through mistakes together is infinitely more enjoyable than walking away because you’re scared.