Monday, June 19, 2006

Love in the Real World

Polly's post about recent relationship difficulties made me realize that I haven't been entirely forthcoming about my own little stumbling blocks with BF David. This wasn't in an effort to paint things between us as some kind of fairy tale, merely something I haven't had the chance to extrapolate on.

The truth is, we've had a few tense moments. I don't know if "argument" would even be the right right word, because usually it's more a conversation or situation that evolved into something more uncomfortable and negative. One time, it was sparked by our differing opinions on a play we saw together. Another time, it was triggered by his momentarily overwhelming me by venting about his new job-related stress. On Friday night, it was caused by a homeless man.

We were in midtown, heading home after meeting Willow for a couple of drinks. I kept my eyes peeled for a taxi, nervous because we had already passed a group of loitering teens on the street who shouted something out to us. It's also worth mentioning that we were both tired from an exhausting week and a little tipsy.

On the next corner a homeless man approached us and said something hostile to BF David. I didn't hear what it was (later I found out it was something derogatory about me), but the two of them instantly got into a screaming match.

I hailed a taxi right away, opened the door, yelled for BF David to get in the cab, and pulled him inside. It took a couple of seconds to get him in the car, and the homeless guy followed us and pounded on the back window.

I was terrified that this guy might be a lunatic who was carrying some kind of weapon, and my fear quickly mutated into anger. I shouted at BF David that he shouldn't have gotten into an argument with that guy, that he should have walked away in case the situation became dangerous. BF David replied that he was defending my honor, that I was never in danger because he was always standing between me and the homeless man, and that if things had escalated, he would have been able to handle the situation. BF David was angry that I lashed out at him while he was standing up for me, whereas I was angry that he let himself be provoked by a complete stranger who could have been a real threat (he probably wasn't, but this is New York City after all, so giving mentally unstable strangers the benefit of the doubt isn't the best idea). It isn't that I didn't trust BF David to be a man, I didn't trust the other guy.
We were both quiet in the taxi and there was an awful negativity in the air. I wasn't even angry anymore, just sad that we both got carried away with our tempers. Even after making up, which we did later that night, it took a while for that tension and feeling of gloom to die down.

Adding a humorous moment into the mix helped. When we got out of the taxi, both of us were still pouting. BF David spotted one of those plastic stands that holds free public magazines (Learning Annex, etc.) which had been knocked to the ground. He lifted the kiosk angrily until it was upright, and the sharp motion caused all the magazines to spill out onto the ground. I tried to keep a somber face, but couldn't help chuckling as we walked to his apartment building.

"You liked the way I did that?" he asked.

"Yeah, it was really smooth," I laughed again, despite myself.

We were still upset while talking in bed later, but were able to discuss what happened more rationally, seeing each other's perspective.

Whatever temper issues BF David and I may have, I'll credit him with being a very good communicator and making me a better one as well. In the past, I didn't always air out my grievances when I should have, and let hostilities build over time. Or, when arguing with a significant other, I would feel like we were talking in circles and kept believing I was in the right without making an effort to see the guy's point of view. These days, I realize how destructive that kind of passive-agressiveness and selfishness can be.

I also realize that things aren't always going to be easy. The first two months have been relatively smooth for BF David and me, but life will always add speed bumps. Lately, work has been more stressful than usual for both of us, and personal projects and numerous social obligations have been leaving us frequently frazzled. What matters is that we try to be aware of our triggers. He gets cranky when he's hungry. I get cranky if I don't have time to decompress right out of the office. He needs me to be flexible while adjusting to new job responsibilities. I need him to be patient with my mood swings at certain times of the month.
Considering the fact that we are still together and still nuts about each other, this whole open and honest communication thing must be working.

Of course, it could also be that we never wait more than 24 hours to have makeup sex...


Sandra Dee said...

I haaaaaate fighting. But it's such a necessary part of relationships and growing closer.

Yay for make up sex! :)

NotCarrie said...

Amen on the makeup sex!

a.nort said...

In my opinion the makeup sex is always better if there is "clearing of the air time" first :)

I definitely appreciate being able to have a disagreement/discussion/whatever with the BF, and it NOT turn into a screaming match, or me crying...

Guess that's one of the perks of getting older--we really DO get wiser!

Dolly said...

I hate fighting, too. It makes me feel sick. I don't know that it's a necessary part of relationships, either. If two people know how to handle conflict, it doesn't always have to escalate into a fight (though I realize sometimes it just happens).

Yeah, almost makes the arguing worthwhile!

I agree, clearing air time is necessary. And I hope we do get wiser, considering how many fights get sparked by the silliest things!

coasta said...

>I don't know that it's a necessary part of relationships, either. If two people know how to handle conflict, it doesn't always have to escalate into a fight

Fighting is all about ego. If you can separate yourself from your ego and just let'll drop the need to fight at all. Afterall fighting is about filling a need on some level...insecurity or need to be right or resentment or whatever....

As you said clearing the air is necessary, but operating with out the ego is the way to go. No make up sex this way, but much more harmonious cohabitational circumstances. Oh, and I'm drunk. I'll check back tomorrow to see if I am coherent or not (sigh). Now..on to that pesky sihn in 'word verification' code.

Dolly said...

Not bad for a drunken comment!