breaking up, criticism, learning to accept, life lessons, picking my battles, restraint, silence is golden, Stubbornness
“You build walls to fortify your heart,
and blame on others for your loneliness.”
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity
I stepped away from a relationship with the guy mentioned in the previous post. It was too much, too soon and I just felt closed in. He agrees with some of the readers here that I should see a therapist to help me sort out my feelings. He, and my friends here, are probably right but for now I will stay put and will continue following my heart and trying to figure things out on my own. Stubborn is my middle name!
He agreed to just be friends for now, even though he says he hopes I will change my mind. Unfortunately this Aries never changes her mind! There is a first time for everything but I would not hold my breath if I were him.
So back to the dating pool:
This guy from E-harmony calls me. It is the first time we are speaking. We had only gone through the questions on the site, so we didn’t really have much information on each other. I imagine this phone call would be a good way to get a lot information about each other without wasting too much time on back and forth emails.
For the first time ever I don’t monopolize the conversation. I normally have so much to say that I keep cutting people off – I am not proud of that and I continuously work on being able to listen without interrupting. I am super proud of myself because I am actually allowing this guy to talk.
Unfortunately for over 30 minutes all he did was complain about his last girlfriend. He went on and on how she didn’t show her true self until months into the relationship, so he felt betrayed, etc, etc.
I wanted to be polite and thought he just needed to vent so I let him keep going. I also knew that he was only accomplishing one thing: Turning me completely off! I managed to say a few words here and there to try be a part of the conversation but 90% of the talking was done by him.
I think at some point he realized he was talking too much because he said: “I am going to let you talk”, but he proceeded to talk anyway. At this point I am thinking to myself: Should I point out to him that this is not the best way to talk to a prospective date? I didn’t. I sensed he would not welcome constructive criticism, and honestly I felt I didn’t have the energy to point out the error of his ways. He had already lost me by now.
“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
He finally stops talking about the ex-girlfriends (yes, plural! he mentioned another one that he felt wasn’t honest with him either). I am thinking that perhaps now he will ask me questions, something to get to know me. He did ask me a question:
“Do you think you are interested in me?”
“I don’t know! I know nothing about you and we didn’t even meet in person”, I said.
He says: “But we have been talking on the phone for 30 minutes, that should give you an idea”
I said: “The idea that I get from our 30 minutes conversation is that you really don’t like your ex-girlfriends and feel they tricked you. We have not talked about us, about our likes, dislikes, plans for the future, etc. You have not asked me anything, and I didn’t have a chance to ask you anything.”
I guess he didn’t like my answer because he then starts telling me that he can tell a lot from the way a person talks, by the velocity of the speech, by how loud or soft someone speaks. He then said I speak too fast, too loud and too aggressive on the phone. He also said that I didn’t make him feel good about himself. He said that women should have a softer welcoming tone of voice, and be more agreeable specially when meeting a man for the first time”.
I so wanted to lash out and say: “It is not that I am aggressive, the problem is that you are too weak to deal with an assertive woman. It is not my job to make you feel good about yourself! Perhaps you should work on making yourself feel good first and then date. I am not here to validate you and make you feel like a man”
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle
But I didn’t! What would be the point?
At this point I am congratulating myself on my restraint. Before the break-up, before Kabbalah, before the many self-help books, before years of writing this blog, before age and experience, I would not have listened quietly to that. I would have let that affect me personally. That criticism would cut like a knife and I would end up saying exactly what I thought of him.
But not now, not anymore. I have to be honest and say that for a second, for a brief second, I thought to myself: is he right about this? Then I decided to take that stupid notion out of my mind. He is entitled to feel whatever he feels, but that doesn’t make it true. I have never been accused of being aggressive, even when disagreeing with someone I do it kindly. I do speak fast and somewhat loud, but I am a Brazilian New Yorker, so that is a given. However most men tell me they find my voice and accent sexy.
So I listened to everything in complete silence. He went on and on, and if I hadn’t put a stop to it he would probably have gone another 30 minutes on how bad I sound on the phone. Finally I just said: “I agree we are not a match. Best of luck to you!” and I hung up.
What saddens me a bit is that I try to leave people and places better than I found them but in this case I knew it was a losing battle. It was like talking to a wall the two times I tried to say something. He had his opinion formed about the ex-girlfriends and about myself.
“When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.” –Mahatma Gandhi
At the end of the day I am happy with myself because I see progress. I have been able to let someone monopolize the conversation without interruption. I have been able to not react and “fight back”. Most important I found out that:
- Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all
- I no longer need to always point out the obvious
- I don’t need to have the last word
- I don’t need to prove I am right
- I don’t need to justify myself
- I don’t need to please everyone
- I don’t need to be understood by all
- It is enough to know that I am true to myself and I speak my truth
- It is enough to know that my heart is in the right place
Some people will love me, some will hate me, some will try to pick me apart, but that is a cost I am happy to pay for the honor and right of being myself and not attempt to change to fit in.
“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.” ― Winston S. Churchill