Imagine you go to a fine restaurant and order for yourself the tasty salmon platter. After awhile, the waiter returns with the king cut of prime rib; thick, warm, red, juicy, cooked rare to perfection..
You say “I ordered the salmon”.
He replies, “But our prime rib is delicious today”.
You say, “But I wanted salmon”.
He replies, “Our prime rib is famous throughout the area”.
You say, “But I asked for salmon”.
And he finally replies “Everybody loves our prime rib” or “A man like yourself must love prime rib”. Or maybe the worst, an attack, “What’s wrong with you that you don’t want this delicious prime rib?”
I just broke up with a woman I was dating, just as things were on the threshold from steady to serious. I told her early on that for me “trust is an aphrodisiac”. I even sent her the link to my blog post on the subject.
Of course she didn’t read it, she knew me better than that. As things progressed, during our time together she told me which lane to use, how to open the door when somebody knocks, even how to put items in the trash. Ahh, trust.
Separately she said she was self-conscious about her appearance based on a temporary health condition (“a woman wants to look her best when meeting a new man”). I replied, “Appearances are nice, but for me … trust is an aphrodisiac”. That little thing will heal. I can already imagine you in your future natural beauty.
I tried to explain “power relationships” and my summer long journey of discovery, but there was no time for such details. She said “I know what men want, we need to spend more time together … to bond”. To which I replied, “Sure, time together is important. But for me … trust is an aphrodisiac”.
A couple days ago I said at one point I was worried about her health, that she seemed tired but continued pressing on her daily tasks (possibly dangerous). She replied “I’m getting the vibe that you don’t respect my own knowledge of my own body. You’re second guessing my decisions”. I replied “Its no such thing”. When I say “I’m worried because I feel you appear fatigued” I expect you to automatically reply with “thank you for watching, and for telling me”. I then explained I would expect either one of two generic answers. Either “Hmmm, no, I’m ok, I must just look groggy but I’m ok … thanks” or “Hmmm, wow, you’re right, I’m more tired that I thought. I’ll take a break. Thanks for helping me be my best”. In either case, my reply would be “you’re welcome”
She replied “only two responses”? There are an infinite number of responses (including, I presume, her own ‘How dare you question my judgement’). I didn’t have the heart to say that after the various forms of either “No, I’m ok” or “Yes, I’m tired” almost all the other (of those infinite responses) are just plain whack-o. I just smiled as I received my lecture on how self actualized people communicate.
I was given confusing tasks like “Put the fork in the sink” only to be reprimanded with “not THAT fork, how could you not understand the assignment?” Or “empty the trash” only to be told I was doing the wrong basket, or into the wrong collector, or in the wrong sequence. I adopted the natural response to micro-management which is to delay actions awaiting confirmed detail instructions (which lane, which fork, which canister). To that I recieved “Why are you standing there?” and the follow-up “Those tasks are universal, you do them at home. Just use your judgement, there is no special way of doing that here”. But actions speak louder than words.
The frosting on the little cake of “I don’t have time to give you every little detail”, was when I offered to step away from doing detail tasks, so she could relax and do the tasks to her own mysterious specification, without monitoring me. But that offer was considered insulting, as abandonment.
Today I said “ENOUGH!”, a little too brusque, a little too macho for my tastes, but it was “enough” that I was feeling. As my mind’s eye watched the coming weeks of fun and frolic together loft away, like a fair balloon released by a tiny tyke, I nodded (sadly) and thought how the curtain was falling on our one act play.
But I had previously sat through a couple speeches, early on, when we were bouncing around randomly trying to explain ourselves. It was back when each word, each nuance, each life experience revealed us to be two jigsaw puzzle pieces perfectly cut to fit into each others’ world.
Back when I first sent her the link to “trust is an aphrodisiac”.
During that time she said “I had to get rid of (a certain friend), because they are always creating drama and I have no room for drama in my life”. They later warned me that my certain behaviors (which I immediately started to extinct), were “condescending”, “belittling” and created pent up frustration and anger. Yes, I agreed, that came across like I was treating you like a child, and so I began changing my instincts.
As I left this morning (when “enough” finally was “enough”) my parting shot was to compare micro-management to being condescending and that the loud and pointed reactions amounted to nothing more than “drama”. Her two verboten visitors
I said I had spent 30 years with a spouse that I tried to help adopt self-image and self-actualization in an effort to not imagine, not project the worst onto otherwise neutral events (ink blots). I stated “I now know that I can’t fix somebody else, only myself”. The reply was “Nobody asked you to fix me”, and my reply was “Yes, I know”.
My parting words were these: “Do you understand the irony of acting out being condescending and creating drama while hating that in others?” and, of course, “For me, trust is an aphrodisiac”