A little self-awareness

You know, I’m beginning to think I may have been a little hard on myself.

When it was initially pointed out to me that I have a habit of following a pattern in my relationships, I didn’t think to question the idea that any pattern must be unhealthy. I also ended up categorising this “problem” as a male-only issue of mine, when in reality that’s not an entirely fair assumption to make – based on the fact that, in my whole life, I have only had two relationships with women that have lasted more than a week. Although, you may understand why I made that connection when I tell you that those two relationships were/are far far more comfortable than any relationship I’ve ever had with a man. And perhaps that’s a coincidence (I do feel blessed with the relationship with my wife), though it’s also possible that there just aren’t that many males out there who can really fulfil what I need in a relationship.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what I need in my relationships, and perhaps more relevantly – what I’ve not been getting from the ones that haven’t worked out. I think I must have made the assumption that all of these failed relationships were down to me freaking out and running away from my problems. And after a little observation I realised that it was much more that I wasn’t getting what I needed and didn’t feel like I could be myself around them anymore. And this has happened time and again, and all (I believe) because I just wasn’t getting the right amount or quality of communication that I need for my relationships to flourish.

I came to this conclusion because of the fact that Night admitted to not really needing that much communication in her relationships to feel quite happy. Until recently I thought this was an absurd notion, and she must be in denial about something… I still wonder, but the fact of the matter is – we’re all different, and who am I to judge what other people need. This brought me around to the idea that maybe it’s me that’s different in this area, and that maybe I just need more communication than most people tend to need in relationships. And I don’t see anything wrong with that, in fact it makes a lot of sense. As soon as I started to think about this it was fairly clear that I leap out of relationships as soon as I can see that communication is not good enough. Sometimes it’s because they refuse to talk about certain things, or sometimes they’re just not capable of the level of openness I need because they just don’t understand themselves well enough to really discuss and analyse the things I need to.

Recently, I was asked if I had any ‘dealbreakers’. A few months ago I may not have known quite what to say to this, but it seemed fairly relevant to all my recent musings. So I compiled the following list of dealbreakers based on my experience with initial chemistry and then what I need for a functional relationship (and naturally what problems I have encountered in recent relationships):

  • no sex appeal,
  • too insecure,
  • too assertive or stubborn,
  • has pride issues
  • not willing to communicate,
  • not able to communicate due to lack of self-awareness,
The first two are fairly exclusively to do with my ability to be attracted to someone, the first one’s fairly obvious, and the second one is fairly subjective. We all have insecurities, but it depends how it affects your ability to function healthily whether this will be a problem. Besides, you have to possess a certain level of security to be able to flirt well in the first place.The next two are to do with people’s ability to have calm discussions about sensitive topics. I don’t function well in a competitive debate, and I end up feeling inept after the fact which in itself tends to snowball if the behaviour continues. So I need people to be completely open-minded and not too invested in their ‘argument’ or I just won’t share my opinions at all.And then these last two are fairly obvious. To me – emotional bonding is based on a deep understanding of each other and I find having analytical discussions about emotions to be a very intimate and necessary experience. I learn a lot about myself through these experiences and growing together can be an incredible experience. So anything that hinders my ability to do this will effectively limit my ability to bond with my partner at all. I think these two points cover the large majority of scenarios in which the possibility for sufficient communication is unlikely based on their personality. Also, a lack of self-awareness is a complete turn off when I first meet someone. I need to feel on the same level as my partner.

This also brings me to my last topic, which is my ‘user manual’. I don’t know how many of you know about cunningminx’s idea to write your own user manual (I’m pretty sure it’s her idea, i’ve not managed to find it anywhere else)… but the general idea is to write a basic guide about ‘how to date me’. I’m tempted to put mine online like minx did, but I think if I do decide to do that I would leave out all the sexual stuff. I prefer to have one-on-one conversations about these things, it can be a very sensitive issue for me (more so than most I think). But the main section that has been gaining additions over the last few months is “How I work emotionally”. I think this is fascinating, because it puts into simple terms the things I think about a lot in so much detail.

So here’s that section for you (more bullet points I’m afraid people):
” Part B – How I work emotionallyI need to feel:

  •  Empowered!
  • Respected and appreciated (not for my actions, but for my identity)
  • Not excluded – I need to feel invited, but not necessarily included
  • Like I have space, time, and am not being pressured. I function happily only in a relaxed environment
  • Free to speak my mind and like people are interested in what I have to say
  • Able to express my opinion without provoking a strong reaction.
  • Understood
  • Opened up to and trusted
  • Able to bond through a mutual sharing of thoughts/feelings/problems “
… I guess that’s it for now. The user manual feels like it needs a fair bit of work really, but it’s proving a fairly useful tool and a good space to write things when I feel like I need to explain myself succinctly.

4 thoughts on “A little self-awareness

  1. The trick with a personal user manual seems to me to make it specific enough. Not to fill it with Barnum statements that sound specific but actually apply to most people. And also to make clear what steps can be taken to meet the requirements.
    Although I suppose what people highlight (as priorities) may be telling.

    I wind my fiancée up a tiny bit (largely on purpose) from time to time by telling her that it doesn’t help anything to explain how I’m feeling about things,why I’m unhappy or whatever and that it’s liable to just be spreading problems and unhappiness from one person to another.

    • I disagree actually, I think knowing how and why you feel about certain issues in your life is very important. Once you understand and have enough self awareness you can usually work out how to work through the problem in some way. I find that talking to someone about this sort of thing is really helpful. Fair enough if you don’t really find it helpful, but I think I work best with people who share this attitude of analysing myself and working through problems by talking.

      Yeah, that’s probably true – saying random things like “I need to feel empowered” may be a little vague. I suppose I was just trying to be succinct. I think I’ve explained most of the reasoning behind the things I wrote in this blog.

  2. I didn’t really expect you to agree. 😛 I certainly wouldn’t generalise my experience to other people, and I’m certainly happy to listen to and talk about how other people feel.
    Personally though, aside from primarily practical problems, I’m not sure I can think of any problem that I’ve resolved by talking it through with someone. They tend to be mundane and/or intractable. Maybe I went off introspection.

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