I haven’t read The Hairpin in a long time, but I came across a very thought provoking response from a staff writer to a girl asking for advice.
Read the whole thing to get context if you like, but this is the bit that resonated with me most:
You have to work on giving other people space in your life, space to have their own experiences and responses to stress and to situations that make them uncomfortable. Your traumas, while HUGE, can’t blot out the sun so completely that they always, always take center stage and push everyone else’s needs to the side. If they do, then you should probably be alone until you’re strong enough and resilient enough to enter a relationship with a spirit of generosity, of give and take, where two very different people bring different qualities and passions and also injuries to the table.
In a relationship, two people should be on even ground. The way I interpret this excerpt is that one partner shouldn’t walk on egg shells for fear of upsetting the other, and thereby preventing themselves from expressing a response to a situation. Relationships aren’t just about you, even though they may feel like it sometimes. It’s important to remember that your partner is experiencing their own sensations, processing events and words in their own way, and interpreting them in ways that oftentimes will differ from yours. This is especially important to remember when the chips are down and shit hits the fan. Moving past your own anger and getting to the root of the issue and understanding your partner’s motives and feelings helps to dissolve the confusion, resentment and sense of betrayal. It helps put you both on the same page. It can even save relationships. Communication, communication, communication.