In six months, we haven’t had one fight. No drama, no stress, no arguments, no compromises. Just drifting along blissfully, and no doubt sickeningly, free to enjoy eachother without endless questioning of the relationship and ourselves.
But one weekend, that calm sea of tranquility got a stone lobbed into it. Not a fight, per se, but a definite misunderstanding. He said X, I heard X and inferred Y, he did mean Y but never actually said it and so didn’t think I had taken it as gospel… in any case, it left me standing at the bus stop crying and shouting down the phone at him.
He was with his friends and I was more cut up about looking like the nagging girlfriend than I was about him letting me down. I felt wretched having to tell him that I was upset, knowing he’d leave his evening with his mates to come make me feel better. I didn’t *want* that. I didn’t (and don’t) want a boyfriend who’s scared of upsetting me, who has to mollycoddle me into good humour every time we fall out. I especially didn’t want his friends to see him come running to me after an argument. But he insisted.
I sulked home, just as annoyed at his imminent presence as I was at the falling-out to begin with. I thought about calling him and telling him not to bother, that I didn’t want to see him… but that felt petulant, like a punishment. So I sat, and sulked, and ordered pizza.
I was walking out the door to pick up my pizza as his car pulled up to the gate. I was expecting an awkward, slightly bashful, vaguely annoyed boy to emerge… I felt as much in the wrong for dragging him away as he was to begin with.
Instead, he leapt out of the car and swept me up in a hug. Squeezing me tight, he apologised over and over and promised he’d never let me down again. I was stunned. Pulling back, I could see he was visibly upset; and all this emotion was pushing me over the edge as well. We stood blubbing together in the street, and he smoothed out my hair and promised me again that he’d never let me down.
It seemed wholly incongruous; out of proportion with the incident itself. In fact, I couldn’t stop giggling and telling him it was ok, don’t worry, we’re fine, it was just a misunderstanding. And then I realised… this is how it’s supposed to be.
When you have a fight with your partner, and they are upset, you get upset. You feel bad. Hurting someone you love, hurts. You’re scared and sorry and anxious and repentant. I’ve felt that way before myself… but I’ve never been with a guy who felt that way about me before.
To express upset to my partner and not be faced with indifference, defensiveness, lack of caring or understanding… was shocking. And the aftershock was that I’ve become accustomed to being treated that way. To having my hurt feelings count for nothing, or less important than a multitude of other things in the life of my partner.
As a woman who prides herself on, well, her pride, her self-respect… I was shocked at what I’d accepted previously. At the same time though, I can’t quite believe I’ve landed myself a man who knows how to appreciate me. Pinch me?