Conflict can build trust
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.