Dear Barb – Poor Communication Strains New Relationship

Dear Barb:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for three months. We really care for each other and get along great for the most part; however, communication does seem to be a problem at times. We had our first argument and the communication difficulty was definitely an issue.

We went out to a social gathering and John knew a lot of people there and spent a lot of time socializing. Therefore I was left sitting alone and was not happy about it. At the end of the evening I told John how I felt and I wasn’t prepared for his response. He told me that That’s who he is and that he isn’t going to apologize. I was so hurt that I just got up walked out. Now I don’t know what to do. We are not even speaking. I thought we would be able to talk about this and work it out. Should I call him or just say goodbye?

Thanks, Emily

Hi, Emily. Thanks for the great question.

It does seem that you are at a crossroads in your relationship. If you can’t resolve this issue, you will undoubtedly have a very difficult future with this person. Healthy communication is pivotal in any relationship if it is to be successful.

I would not call him right away, but rather wait a few days. Hopefully, after a cooling down period he will realize his reaction was inappropriate. Then if he doesn’t call you and you feel the relationship is worthwhile, give him a call. Tell him how he made you feel. If he still shows no understanding or empathy for your feelings, you may want to rethink this relationship and decide whether you want to continue. If he is not willing to compromise and work with you to resolve issues, this may not be the partnership you have envisioned for yourself.

On the other hand, if he is receptive when you call him and willing to discuss your feelings you probably will be able to come to a mutual understanding. This will be the first of many issues you will confront as a couple and It’s important that it is handled in a healthy way. You and your boyfriend need to share both positive and negative feelings on a consistent basis. Issues that are not discussed don’t go away, but frequently are left simmering below the surface until they eventually erupt at inappropriate times. Consequently things may be said that aren’t meant and people get hurt and sometimes grudges are formed and carried on for years.

It is still very early in this relationship, but if you feel the relationship has a lot of positive qualities, I would suggest you both continue to work on keeping the lines of communication open. Couple counselling may be helpful in learning healthy communication skills.

Thanks again, Emily, for writing in.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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