Con­flict can build trust

GA Voice - - A Modicum of Decorum -

I was talk­ing to my friend, Missy, a few weeks ago. We were dis­cussing con­flict in re­la­tion­ships and I said that I was hop­ing one day to find a part­ner that would use con­flict in our re­la­tion­ship to build trust with me as op­posed to some­one who would use it as an ex­cuse to vent their anger and re­sent­ment and erode our love.

A few days later, we were talk­ing again and she said, “When you told me that thing about us­ing con­flict to build trust, it blew my mind. But I keep think­ing about it and I think you’re on to some­thing! No­body does that!”

No­body does that be­cause I am a weirdo, ap­par­ently.

One of my (few) love­able charms is my weird Briggs-Mey­ers per­son­al­ity type. I am an INTJ. Don’t worry about what it means – all you need to know about it are th­ese two things:

1. Less than 1 per­cent of the world’s fe­male pop­u­la­tion is my type.

2. We are fan­tas­tic at any­thing we set our minds to. Ex­cept re­la­tion­ships.

The prob­lem with my way of think­ing and how I re­late to women (and why I fail at re­la­tion­ships) is this: I am log­i­cal. I have feel­ings, but I’m not ruled by them.

In my per­fect world, when con­flict in a re­la­tion­ship arises, I like to take a mo­ment to calmly dis­cuss the prob­lem with an­other calm and ra­tio­nal adult. I like to speak and be heard and I like to com­pas­sion­ately lis­ten to my part­ner and try to step into her shoes and imag­ine what she’s feel­ing so I can come from a place of em­pa­thy. I also like for my part­ner to do the same.

Women have this hor­monal thing. It ba­si­cally starts at birth and ends at death. You never know when it will strike but make no mis­take, when it does, you will won­der what the hell just hap­pened.

A few years back, I was liv­ing with my first part­ner and she knew I had a mad crush on Robin Meade (HLN’s “Morn­ing Ex­press”). One morn­ing, she called out from an­other room, “Shan­non, you have GOT to come look at Robin Meade. She’s your shy li­brar­ian fan­tasy to­day. Her hair is up, she has nerdy glasses, a short skirt – come in here and look at her. She looks amaz­ing!”

I went in and we ex­changed lusty com­ments about how fine Robin looked that day. I con­grat­u­lated my­self on hav­ing such a cool girl­friend.

The very next morn­ing, we were get­ting ready to leave and I walked into the liv­ing room. I looked at Robin and said, “Oh, wow! She’s wear­ing those sexy thigh-high boots to­day. Damn!”

With­out any warn­ing, she stood up and said, “Well why don’t you just go MARRY Robin Meade if she’s so per­fect!” She stormed out and would not dis­cuss it – she was en­raged.

I could not fig­ure out this in­con­sis­tent pat­tern in her be­hav­ior. Then, it dawned on me. “Baby, are you hav­ing your pe­riod right now?” She looked down and be­gan to cry, “Yes.” I went over to hold her as she sobbed in my arms while I con­grat­u­lated my­self on fig­ur­ing out the anom­aly. It wasn’t the trust-build­ing ex­er­cise that I had planned, but I found out an­other way to build trust with her by show­ing com­pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing. I also got the hot, prob­lem-solv­ing, cel­e­bra­tory sex.

“The prob­lem with my way of think­ing and how I re­late to women (and why I fail at re­la­tion­ships) is this: I am log­i­cal. I have feel­ings, but I’m not ruled by them.”

Shan­non Hames is a mom, writer, realtor, vol­un­teer, rocker chick, world trav­eler, and ’80s hair band afi­cionado. She loves ba­bies, ob­serv­ing peo­ple, read­ing great books and tak­ing hot baths. She has been writ­ing for Ge­or­gia Voice since 2010.

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