I’m dating an ex. My friends, who listened to me cry about him for months, have all been rightfully skeptical. All the things that are wrong with our relationship: he dreams of owning a farm, while I want to move to the city and travel; he’s happy just spending time with me every night, while I thrive on interacting with a lot of different friends; he thinks its his role as a partner to suggest changes to my lifestyle, while I chafe at any inkling of challenge to my independence. Worst of all, we spent months not talking about any of these differences.
Normally I know better than to be in a relationship without good communication. But we had a good reason: a language barrier. It was getting better day by day, but I couldn’t find ways to communicate the nuances of difficult conversations. I finally got frustrated enough that I told him we might need to breakup, and he checked himself out of the conversation and wouldn’t communicate at all.
Three months later, we started running into each other regularly. Encounters were friendly, but I refused to make any effort beyond that. I just kept saying, “You need to call me if you want anything more than this.” After a couple of weeks of this, he finally did. And we finally talked about all these differences that made our relationship really challenging. And our mutual feelings that despite all these differences, there was still love and attraction that drew us together. We decided that being “friends” (with benefits) was a better label for us, because as soon as we made it anything more serious we both got trapped back into expectations of each that were never going to work.
In reality, it’s like we are getting a “do over” with this relationship. Now, when the same old situations flare up, I get to actually communicate about it this time. I’m not so worried that it’s going to end the relationship, because it’s already over. I know exactly where not communicating leads, and I know that’s an avenue I don’t want to head down again. So we talk, I get to say the things that were always in my head, but never got out of my mouth. It heals the prior pain and suffering, and gives me good practice for communicating in the next relationship.