Interesting fact about me: a lot of the time, I enjoy when people tell me “no”, or tell me that they’re frustrated with me in some way. It makes me feel more secure in my relationships with people when I know they’re able to tell me what they want and don’t want. It makes me feel like I’m more likely to know if I’m doing something they don’t like, and it makes me feel like they think their relationship with me is important enough that they’re willing to do the work to communicate with me about things.
I know this about myself, and yet in spite of it, I still find it difficult a lot of the time to tell people “no” about things or to tell them that I’m frustrated or angry with them about something. Recently, I had a long conversation with a friend about my preferences in terms of reliability and communication. It was a scary conversation to have, for me, but it went very well, and I was proud of myself at the end of it for having managed to get myself to communicate the things that were important to me.
About a week or two later, I ended up very frustrated with this friend, and realized I needed to have a conversation with them about it. As far as I could tell, that first conversation hadn’t been an annoying or in any way negative experience for this friend of mine — it had been a generally positive conversation, and she had thanked me for communicating about the things I talked about. Even so, my brain’s instinctive reaction to needing to have this second conversation with her was “Shit! I just had this one Serious Conversation, now if I have to have this other one so soon after it, she’s just going to feel like our friendship is too much work!”.
Much of the time when people have these conversations with me, I think it’s great, but when I have to initiate these conversations with other people, I assume it must just be annoying and exhausting for them. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe I just need to ask people the deliberate question more often and confirm that they find the initiation of such conversations as valuable and affirming as I often do. I don’t know. But it’s definitely a double standard I plan to do more thinking about.
After all, when I had the second conversation, it went fine.