My journey into better communication
by Rosa Lugo
The Human Condition
Communication is the key to a happy, healthy relationship or friendship, mono or poly. It goes without saying, it’s easier said than done. Why is this? Why is it so hard to say what you want to say or feel to the one who needs to hear it most? In my humble opinion, it is the human condition. Communication comes with a level of vulnerability that most of us are not comfortable with. Good communication also involves a level of raw honesty that is sometimes hard to muster, especially to those we love.
Joe Blow V.S Loved Ones (Story of My Life)
Now, I can go tell Joe Blow just what I think and then some, but when it comes to my girlfriend, or my boyfriend, that’s not the case. I have been with my couple for about 2 years now, and we are doing pretty good so far. This is my first poly relationship, and as such, there are a lot of things that I am still learning. One of which is to be more open in my communication with more than just one person. I can talk to my girlfriend about anything, but it’s not always easy for me to get the words out to do so. A year ago, I would just let things go if I couldn’t express myself through verbal communication. It lead to us not being as close as we are now and has almost lead to us breaking up entirely.
I don’t have that verbal diarrhea that most people that I know tend to have. I can’t just have feelings and then spit them out as they come. I guess you would say I’m too shy for that. I have built my walls and built them for good reason! In the past, I have opened up to a partner and been shut down, rejected or emotionally mistreated because of my partners being (nicely put) a bad match for me. In example, my worst relationship, my open communication usually resulted in physical altercation. I learned to keep my mouth shut! My walls had become thick and iron clad in an armor of silence. My communication had been stunted. How do I ever come back from that?
Well, I found a beautiful woman, who saw me for who I was and loved me. She is married, and communication is something that was causing issue within her own marriage and before meeting me, they had never been poly, nor did they ever have plans to be. Neither did I for that matter, so this newly fledged bond between her and I was new for us all the way around.
My girl and I grew an emotional bond, we grew as friends who could talk about anything and everything. It goes without saying that as just friends, there are some emotions and emotional topics that you don’t encounter, much less talk about. One might fantasize about kissing one’s best friend, but in most cases, fantasy is as far as it goes. When it goes beyond fantasy and attempts to break into reality is when you find yourself sailing unknown seas. So how do you move forward if you have these communication barriers and are in uncharted waters? Be open and be honest.
It’s a text thing
I am a texting machine! Text is my way of communicating everything, even my emotions. Now remember, because of my past relationship, I had learned to keep my mouth shut, so even in text, I was not fully open emotionally. I held back quite a bit. My usual response to whats wrong would be “I’m just irritated” or “I just need to get over it”, but there was so much more sitting underneath those cover words that I was unable to get out. So much more that would catch in my throat and choke me until speech was impossible, causing it all to back flow into my mind where it would swim and fester until I literally felt insane.
Fast forward two years and I am much better at it, but still have some work to do. With my girlfriend, I have been able to be more open verbally because we have built up that trust. That trust in each other that no matter what we say, we are safe with each other. I can be open and raw in my honesty to the best of my ability. There is still a bit of sugar coating here because I love her. She isn’t just some random Joe Blow and neither is her husband. Now communication with him is not as extensive as it is between her and I because our bond started after I was head over heels for his wife, and it is still growing from friendship to romance. It’s not easy forming a triad from a mono couple and being formerly mono yourself.
Your point is?
By now you’re probably sitting there saying, Um hello! Enough about your life story, where is the communication and what do you do to keep open communication between you three? Well, we have a chat group in messenger, we have open talks together and we struggle through things together. Nowhere in this piece, will you find me saying our communication is perfect. We still have our hang up’s and we still have things left unsaid, but we are still human, and that is to be expected. One thing we are still working on is our communication between all three, where we can all openly share our feelings and not fear an anger response.
Blow your mind! (Wide open)
One thing that you will need to keep in mind is that if you want open communication, you need to make the others feel safe to be open. Well, how on earth do you do that?? Simple. You love them no matter what is said. We are all human and our emotions are not going to be so automated as to let us bypass being angered or hurt by something someone else says. We must be mindful of how we respond back while keeping that raw honesty intact. This is how I’ve managed to go the entire two years without a fight between myself and my girlfriend. I believe that it is because I love her and I love him so much that I mind my words and when my words catch in my throat, I step back, take a breath and text it out to them.
Take for example, “I feel very alone when I work so hard to keep up with the house and kids and have no one else pitching in with me.” Instead of responding “Well, I work all day and when I come home, would like to relax instead of come home to chaos, I help when I can but I’m tired too”, one might simply say “I understand. I get tired from a long day at work and I get frustrated when I can’t just kick my feet up and relax.” Both things are said openly, both are said honestly, safe space is still intact. “Ok, watch your words, that’s it?” you might be thinking. No, that’s not it, it would be nice if it was! It boils down to this – Love.
Step one: Love
You wouldn’t hurt the one you love, would you? You wouldn’t lie to the one you love either, right? So step one, love. Step two, honesty. Looking back at step one, you wouldn’t lie to the one you love, so keeping honest is a major key.
Step two and three: Honesty and openness
Step two goes hand in hand with step three- openness. Be open with your partner(s). Don’t let fear or shyness get in the way. Do as I do, text it out if you have to. If you have something that is bugging you and you know it’s going to upset your partner, mind your wording, be honest and let it out. Chances are they don’t even know that thing that they do is bugging you. Chances are that thing that they said or that joke that they made might have hurt your feelings. OPEN UP! Let them know so that it can be fixed. There may be some butt hurt feelings for a while, but, when things calm down, progress can be made. Be honest, be open.
Step four: Listen
Now I’ve covered love, honesty, being open… is that all? Not quite. There is another component to good communication. Two if we want to be technical. First one is listening, actually listening. I threw in “actually” because a lot of the time people listen and only hear a tone, or only hear choice words or get stuck on certain things, and forget that there was anything else said. One often misses the point of a conversation for these reasons, and that is where miscommunication comes from. Hear the words, not the tone, not just choice words, but all words. Then think before responding.
Listen: Part 2
The second part of this is that you must respond with love. Even if you are angry or hurt in that moment, thinking about what was said, then responding from a place of love about your feelings about what was said is always progress over yelling and screaming and adding further injury to your relationship. I have seen my fair share of this. The yelling, the screaming, and the injury is harder to undo than to calmly look at your loved one and talk or text out your feelings to each other. Trust, full trust, in its truest most raw and uninhibited form is not easily gained, once its gained and lost, its not easy to regain. It is however easily maintained.
Long Story Short
So, in short, communication basics 101 is to always stay in a place of love, think before you speak, listen, be open and painfully honest, and did I mention LISTEN! Truly listen to your partner and how they are feeling and be honest with your feelings in return! These are our tried and tested techniques to better communication between our happy group of three.