I had an experience that was not pretty several years ago in a relationship. It was one of those moments that was so impactful it caused me to vow to do something differently on the spot. I was living with my girlfriend at the time and I was sitting in the living room playing a video game while my girlfriend was in the kitchen making a snack. The kitchen was adjoined to the living room and was separated by a window. We were having one of those distant but audible conversations. (Those are never good.)
She asked me, “Are you meeting me at the restaurant for dinner after work or can you pick me up on Friday night?” I didn’t know what she was talking about. “What dinner?” I asked. “The dinner with my friends Sarah and Benjamin.” she said casually. “I don’t remember that” I responded, realizing I really did not. “Come on, I told you about this Michael, remember?” she pleaded. “I really don’t think you told me babe. I have no idea about Friday night. In fact, I know because I made plans and I wouldn’t have done that if you told me.” She began to get really upset, “But I DID tell you!” I felt her upset and thankfully stayed calm. I got up off my chair and headed towards her, “I don’t know if you did tho.” She began to break down and cry. “You always do this, Michael! You never really listen to me! You think you’re listening but you’re not!” Her tears came hard and fast. I could tell they were genuine. She crouched down towards the floor as if in pain, “I told you about the dinner and I was really looking forward to it! You suck!” I was shocked. I was stunned. I had no idea what was going on! I stood there with my hands outstretched towards the floor. My mind went blank and my jaw nearly dropped. ‘What the fuck just happened?’ I thought. How could such a simple misunderstanding have affected her so much? I stood there dumbfounded.
Thankfully, it hit me. This was not simple. This was our relationship. This was not a misunderstanding. This was how I communicated. I felt like an asshole. I felt like a shitty boyfriend. It took a minute or two and then I got over myself. I left the self pity there in that moment. I was clear this was not about me. This was about her. I vowed, I swore, with complete certainty that I would be a better man. I would listen. I would find out what it meant to listen. I would fucking pay attention! I will know what it means to really hear and understand someone. I promised her that would never happen again. I am very thankful to say, that has never happened again. I am at cause in my communication and it feels good.
As we look to communication, the most important chapter of my book “Find ’Em & Keep ’Em: A Guide to Attracting The Right Partner”, I reflect with gratitude. I feel pride as I have become the communicator, the listener, the partner and yes, the man, I wanted to be those years ago. Better still, I teach other men and women how to communicate. To communicate is to listen.
I am thankful for her and for that experience. I’m thankful for the way she reacted. If you must know, yes we went to dinner that Friday. You damn sure bet we did. I cancelled my plans and explained what I did to the other person and we had a great time at dinner.
What did I do between then and now? I put in effort. I took training, and courses. I spent a lot of time and money. I considered them investments in myself. And I practiced what I was being taught. I am grateful to teach others because the value…. well, its invaluable.
Thank you for reading.
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