Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Too Close for Comfort

I don’t remember how we got into it, but one of my female friends and I got into an online discussion about why guys don’t talk. Now the fact that we were having this discussion at all puts the lie to the idea that we never talk. We do talk, just not the way that women talk to each other, or want us to talk to them.

I think the question she was asking…on behalf of millions of American women…was why don’t guys talk to their significant others about the important things. You know, the things that might be gnawing at them. Most of us have heard or read about the many ways that men and women communicate differently…both with others of the same sex and across sexes, so I won’t bother going over them again here. Besides, I’m not sure if they explain one important reason why we don’t share certain deeply felt issues with our significant others. At the very least, they don’t explain why I don’t share certain deeply felt issues with my wife.

Sometimes a person can just be too close for comfort.

“What?” I can hear you asking. “How can your significant other be too close to talk to?”

Well, maybe it’s just me, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. On the other hand, I’ve been surprised lately to find out how many things I thought might just be my little idiosyncrasies, were shared by other guys.

As I explained it to this particular female friend, sometimes your significant other can be so close that talking about the problem with her doesn’t make it better at all, but instead creates a “feedback loop” that takes forever to dissipate. If you’ve ever heard feedback through an audio system when the microphone is too close to the speakers, and the sound from one keeps getting picked up by the other, building and building instead of being out and gone, you know what I’m talking about.

There are just some things that are so sensitive to you, and so intensely personal, that you need to talk about to someone who’s not your significant other, who’s not a member of your household; because you need for it to be better by being spoken about or dealt with, and going away. You don’t need it hanging around in the air of your home and your relationship. You need to talk about it, or deal with it with someone you don’t see every single day at home, so that the “sound”, so to speak, has a chance to dissipate before the next time you see them again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about talking to your significant other about some sensitive issue, and having her continue to “throw it in your face.” What I’m talking about is something totally unintentional that’s just a function of being in that close of a relationship or being in the same household. I’m talking about that person knowing about this deeply-felt issue, you knowing that they know, and not being able to get away from it because you know that they know, and you’re reminded of it every time you see her…which is constantly. This is why I don’t share all of my deepest thoughts and concerns with my wife, but have other friends I talk to about things that she’s too close to talk to about. These are friends I might not see for months at a time, but the fact that I might not see them for that long means that by the time I do see them again, after discussing the issue with them, we’ve both had a chance to let things dissipate.

I understand that some women may feel hurt by this. They may feel hurt by the fact that we won’t or can’t share some of our deepest hurts or concerns with them, but can with someone else. But believe me, for guys like me, it’s not meant to hurt you, it’s meant to help us. That’s how it has to be so that we can process the emotions better and heal any hurts easier.

It keeps our ears from hurting from the feedback.

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