Are some things better left unsaid?

Do couples in committed relationships need to be completely honest and open with each other all the time, or is it better to keep those passing thoughts to yourself? Here are some situations to consider:

Attraction/Lust for another person

You’re walking alone down the street and notice an attractive stranger coming in your direction. You feel sexually aroused for a moment, but have no intention of pursuing him. In fact, you even look away as he passes you. Does your partner need to know that you briefly lusted for someone else?

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect anyone to no longer find another person attractive after being in a committed relationship. In fact, I believe it happens, but I’d rather not know about it as long as my boyfriend has no intention of acting on his thoughts and those feelings are not interfering with our relationship.

What about those times when a couple is out together, and the woman notices and confronts her man ogling another female? “What girl?” he says, pretending to be clueless. She doesn’t believe him, of course, and continues to feel jealous. Despite knowing that he’s just looking because men like to look, I still feel offended. Obviously, ogling another woman in front of your girlfriend is rude.

Jealousy

Your partner has a friend of the opposite sex that makes you feel uncomfortable. You know that your jealousy is irrational. Should you still bring up your feelings or will that only cause strain in the relationship?

Jealousy drives people away. Revealing that you’re jealous might cause him to feel like he’s walking on eggshells, and could lead to him not be as open with you.

Some people say if you are certain that your jealousy is unreasonable—that is, it’s due to your own insecurities and not because your partner crossed a line—then you need to take responsibility for your feelings, instead of wanting someone else to change his behavior. Hold off from saying anything, until there is actual evidence that your feelings are warranted. That might be difficult to do if it’s bothering you so much that it changes the way you behave toward him. He might notice and wonder what’s going on.

If he cares about you, he’ll ask if you’re alright. Some people say that’s a good time to tell him, but I’m not sure if revealing it is a good idea. I’ve noticed that trying to understand why I felt the way I did helps alleviate the jealous feelings, and they’re gone after a good night’s sleep.

Annoyance

There’s something that he or she does that annoys you. He’s been playing TowerMadness 2 for hours instead of spending time with you. You’re not happy about that, but if you say so, it might make him think you’re clingy or demanding. On the other hand, keeping your thoughts to yourself might lead you to become overly frustrated, to the point where your anger could be hurtful or destructive.

What if the two of you disagree with how a chore should be done? It’s a petty annoyance and you’ll probably forget about it after five minutes, until the next time it comes up. Should you just try to brush it aside? Mentioning it might make him feel unappreciated. It’ll also make it highly likely that you will be the one who does that chore for the rest of your time together.

Ideally, couples should have similar attitudes about money and spending habits. What if you find him wasteful? He doesn’t stop to fill up when he sees cheaper gas. Instead, he waits until the tank is nearly empty and ends up filling at the nearest (and more expensive) gas station. You brought it up the first few times, but it keeps happening. At this point, you keep your thoughts (and frustration) to yourself.

I’ve read somewhere that those minor annoyances won’t go away over time—they just get more annoying, so either deal with them before you commit, or don’t stay together. I suppose if you bring it up as something to work on together, it might be less hurtful than if you were pointing it out like a fault. Also, habits do take time to change, so it’s possible that he is working on being less wasteful, but still slips up from time to time.

Once again, trying to understand the other person’s perspective has been helpful to me. Looking over my boyfriend’s shoulder as he plays TowerMadness 2, I was able to see the appeal of the game and understand why he plays it, even though I would prefer that he not spend more than an hour on it every day.

Those questions

There are those questions where an honest answer is likely to be hurtful. For example:

  • Does this make me look fat? Yes
  • What’s the best sex you’ve ever had? That time with [another person]….
  • What do you think of my friend? Wonder what she’s like in bed….

Do you let your partner read your blog?

If it’s a public blog that you let many people read, it might not matter if he or she sees it. Of course, I know bloggers who do not want the people they know in person to read their blogs. What if you have a blog that is limited to a few readers whom you trust? Do you let your partner read it? Or is it off limits so you can vent about him or her?

*      *      *

As you can see from the examples above, every now and then we have momentary thoughts and feelings that come up that might be hurtful to our SO and/or the relationship. It appears that in many cases it would be better to not express temporary frustrations or desires to your partner. Those thoughts would only be hurtful, and as long as they don’t matter in the long run, they’re better off unsaid.

I’m not advocating lying and cheating. If your doubts and desires are recurring, and you do intend to take action, then I think it’s important to have a good discussion about the relationship with your partner.

What do you think? Are some things better left unsaid or should couples always be open with each other?

When someone keeps asking you the same question that you’ve already answered

This is my newest pet peeve.

Someone asks me a personal question. I answer it. A few days later, she asks me the exact same question, and it happens over and over again. It’s not like a question where the answer changes over time, and she’s checking for updates. The answer remains the same, and I give her the same answer each time.

I know that people are preoccupied with their own lives, so I understand if you don’t remember something the first time I say it. But to ask the same question week after week? To the individual you’re asking, it looks like you don’t really care.

Back in college, a girl in my statistics class kept asking me what I wanted to major in. I gave her the same answer every time, but a few days later, she’d ask me the same question. I concluded that she’s exceptionally forgetful.

Recently someone asked me if I had done something yet. I already told her two months earlier that I decided not to do it. Either she is extremely forgetful, or she likes to make conversation, or both. I’ve also noticed that she’ll bring up a past topic for the sake of giving advice. I know she means well, but it is extremely annoying to be nagged about something that isn’t her business.

I am a quiet person. While I’m not actively participating in conversation, I am observing. I tend to remember what people say, even if they weren’t talking to me directly (but I’ll pretend I don’t know, so as to not seem like a creepy eavesdropper). More importantly, if I truly don’t care about what’s going on in your life, I won’t pretend to care by asking you questions and then forgetting your answers. I will only ask if I actually care, and I will remember what you say.

Since I don’t engage in this repetitive questioning, I’m trying to understand why people do it. Here are some reasons I’ve come up with:

  1. Forgetting. This person honestly is interested but is seriously forgetful.
  2. For the sake of making conversation. What is discussed only matters in the present and is promptly forgotten.
  3. To give unsolicited advice or to disparage.
  4. For their own entertainment. This is quite rare and happens more with small children and immature adults.
  5. They don’t like your answer and are hoping for a different one.

I’m hoping that most people fall into the first two categories, and not the third. However, regardless of the reason, I still find it annoying.

I’d like to know what would be the best way to handle such questions. As much as I would love to say, “I already told you last week,” it might appear rude and embarrass the asker. I care about other people’s face and don’t want to embarrass anyone by correcting them publicly.

Someone has suggested to give a different answer each time, to mess with the person who’s asking. After all, it doesn’t matter what you say because they’ll forget it, anyway! I like that idea. However, it won’t work with questions like “Have you done _____ yet?” since the answer is either “yes” or “no.” I could try to mess with her by pretending I have no idea what she’s talking about, but that might spiral out of control. So far I have been giving answers along the line of “working on it” or “looking into it” but it really is something that I do not wish to discuss with that person. Saying “I’d rather not talk about it,” will make things awkward, but might be necessary.

I am confused.

Why would someone ask another person the same question over and over again, after the person has answered it? What would you do if you’re on the receiving end of such repetitive questioning?

People, please stop making up excuses when canceling dates!

Since many people make up an excuse for why they can’t meet you, instead of being upfront about a lack of interest, it’s hard to tell if someone is actually being sincere when they cancel. Even if they suggest meeting another time, it could just be a way to sound interested and not flat out reject you, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll reschedule.

Dishonesty when canceling a date leads to several problems. If you were the one who got canceled on, you’ll initially not know whether or not you should still have hope for seeing that person or forget about him entirely. After a lack of follow up, or more excuses for why he can’t see you, you’ll equate canceling with a lack of interest. At that point, even if someone is honest about being unavailable at that time, you’ll assume that he is making up an excuse to avoid meeting you, and lose interest in him.
[Please leave a comment saying you noticed the hidden text.]
I spent the morning searching the web for how to know if someone is sincere when canceling a date. It was hard to find information on both sincerity and canceling dates, but I found several articles on the proper way to cancel a date. Some made the distinction between canceling when you want to see the person but something actually came up, and canceling because you really don’t want to see him or her.

What I got from all of it was that if you do intend to see the person, you should:

  1. At least give 24 hours notice, unless there really was an emergency or something serious.
  2. Apologize
  3. Provide your reason, and be honest about it.
  4. Suggest another time to meet.

It seems to me that a suggestion to reschedule would be the most important indicator of interest. Would simply mentioning rescheduling be good enough, or must there be actual planning? Something vague like “how about another time?” obviously doesn’t sound like it’ll be followed up on. I understand if someone really had an emergency or was going through a period of uncertainty that it might be inconvenient to schedule another date at that particular moment. From the comments when I first posted this on Xanga, it appears that if rescheduling is not done right away, the one who canceled is responsible for bringing it up again.

Is it safe to assume that the person who canceled really is not interested so that the person who got canceled on should just forget about it? I don’t believe that a broken date always means a lack of interest, since sometimes things do come up. It’s distinguishing what is a legitimate reason from what is not that is the hard part. Unfortunately, thanks to the people who lie, we’ve come to interpret a broken date as a lack of interest, even if it’s not.

What are some ways to tell if someone is being sincere when they cancel a date?

 Originally posted on Xanga 12/24/2011. I was having a conversation with my boyfriend recently that prompted me to repost this.

Balancing privacy and openness in a relationship

I’ve had this question for a while, though I’m sure it has been asked plenty of times already. It recently came up again after I read an article on password sharing.

My ex-boyfriend chided me several times for not respecting his privacy, such as when I read his email without his permission (and saw his communications with other women), and once when I read the writing on a napkin left on the kitchen counter. Should email and text messages be kept private? Or are the ones who say so the ones who have something to hide?

A male friend of mine who is happily married told me that he and his wife are very open with each other. I’m not sure if they read each other’s email. They aren’t friends on Facebook, which gives me the impression that they don’t want to drag any of their drama into the public light, and that they trust each other to not be messing around with Facebook friends.

Some people claim that sharing passwords is an indication of trust because you’re trusting the person to use it responsibly. However, if something turns sour, it can end in mutual destruction.

Other people have argued that trust is not knowing your partner’s passwords and believing they have nothing to hide. Furthermore, they point out that a relationship cannot be healthy when each person does not have privacy or a life and friendships that are separate from the relationship.

What do you think is a good balance of openness and privacy for a couple?
What if you snooped and found out your SO has been cheating on you?


Originally written 1/31/2012

Can men and women be platonic friends? My comments on the ladder theory

For those of you not familiar with the ladder theory, it’s an explanation of how men and women are attracted to each other, and provides an answer to the question of whether or not men and women can be platonic friends.

I acknowledge that the 1-2 ladder scheme illustrates the “fundamental difference in outlook between men and women.” I understand that having one ladder means he’ll be thinking, “how much do I want to fuck her?” and rank the woman he just saw according to that. The answer can sometimes be “not much” or more likely “not as much as I want to fuck [another person].” However, by only having one ladder, it presents men as only wanting sexual relationships with women, and from my observations, that does not seem to be the case. Although the author acknowledges that there are women clinging to the bottom of the man’s ladder that make a guy want to “chew [his] own arm off to get away [from] rather than fuck them,” the man’s ladder is presented as a continuum between “would actively like to fuck” and “would fuck drunk and not admit to it.” I can see how it would make sense if the guy was very desperate for sex, but all the guys I know aren’t desperate.

The conclusion of the ladder theory is that a man can only be friends with a woman if 1) he’s gay, 2) he’s not attracted to her, and 3) he already has someone else who is higher on his ladder. Now, I agree with this, but I think that men do have a friends ladder for the women they don’t find sexually appealing. I’ve had male friends who weren’t attracted to me, and I know this because I don’t match their preferences. (For example, the superficial boob guy is not satisfied with breasts smaller than a C cup.) You can usually tell if a guy is attracted to a lady if he approached her. In all my experiences, when a guy (who wasn’t already in a relationship) approached me, he later revealed his attraction to me. The male friends who weren’t attracted to me were the ones that I initiated friendships with.

Even a guy wrote “I have other very close female friends with whom I have never pursued any kind of physical relationship—because I’m not physically attracted to them.” Regarding his relationship with his friend Juliet: “we weren’t physically attracted to each other in any significant way, and as a result, we were able to explore a different kind of relationship.”

Actually, it appears that the man doesn’t even need to be in a relationship with someone higher on his ladder. He just needs to have his rankings: “It’s not that I found her unattractive, but both times we kissed, I would rather have been with someone else.” This is additional evidence as to why I don’t think guys are so desperate as to want to have sex with, to different extents, every girl they know. All the guys I know tend to be choosier. Perhaps there should be a cutoff point on the man’s ladder for women he’s not interested in sexually? (If that actually exists.)

So my conclusion is, men and women can be platonic friends as long as no one is physically attracted enough to the other. It doesn’t mean that he can only be friends with her if he thinks she’s unattractive. After all, the superficial boob guy said he wouldn’t hang out with a girl who is ugly; as long as she’s “cute” in some way, even if not romantic potential, he’d be friends with her—but then he’s extremely superficial, so I’d stay away from guys like him.

I still doubt that it’s that simple. After all, having something that both people can relate to is important for friendships. As a male friend once said, “It seems like when friendships start sexually, it appears impossible to have a meaningful non-sexual relationship if the spark dies. When relationships start as friends, then the friendship seems to be able to continue even if the relationship becomes (and then stops being) sexual.”

I am still a bit confused, so I’m curious as to what men have to say about the ladder theory. Ladies are also welcome to share their insights.


Originally posted on Xanga on 6/8/11