There’s a lot of advice swirling around out there on “How to talk to your partner” – a thousand techniques to chip past their defensiveness, speak loudly enough to be heard, be nice enough to encourage niceness.
And it all falls short if your partner sucks.
Truth is, there’s basically two types of partners: The ones that care about how you’re feeling, and the ones who don’t. And sometimes the partners who care about how you’re feeling do need to be approached in the right way to maximize their compassion, but…
There’s a lot of deluded people who have partners who legitimately do not give a shit. And those people are endlessly convinced that their partner is a bank vault, just packed with love if only they can find the right tutorial to pick the locks, and they are endlessly blaming themselves because they somehow didn’t unlatch the great wellspring of tenderness that lies within them.
There’s not an approach that’ll help there.
And these people will point to their partner’s sporadic kindnesses as though these isolated incidents are a treasure map leading to the great stockpile of sympathy. But the truth is, almost everybody’s nice occasionally, if only by coincidence. Sometimes these unreachable partners want to make love when you do, but that’s not proof that they’re good to you, it’s proof that occasionally disparate agendas can line up like an optical illusion of kindness.
So the first part of establishing any real communication is ensuring that your partner actually gives a shit about you personally. Do they react with concern or exasperation the first time you raise an issue? Do they look for ways to write you off as a nut because it’s more convenient to them? Do they have a history of dropping partners whenever they prove troublesome?
Because yeah, you can – and should – work on presenting your problems in a kind, nonconfrontational way. But chefs work on great food presentation, and even they realize it won’t make a full man hungry.
First rule: Make sure they care about you.
Everything you do after they fail the first rule is, unfortunately, doomed to fail as well.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.