PQ 6.2 — If I have a problem with someone’s behavior, do I discuss the problem with that person?

an illustration of a dog saying "whoop!" on one side of a pond and a person wearing a rad jacket and a black hat and black boots sitting on the other side of the lake (which is filled with orange fish) saying "Oh dear..."
Image by hills_alive / CC BY

PQ 6.2 — If I have a problem with someone’s behavior, do I discuss the problem with that person?

*

“So Skyspook texted me. Says he has a migraine?” Michelle said. “Give me a break.”

“He really doesn’t feel well,” I told her.

“He was supposed to come over and work on your room.”

I sighed. “He’ll come over when he feels better. At least it’s free help, right?”

Michelle frowned. “Some kind of friend, flaking on me like that.”

I sat there, stunned. What could I say? I got that she was frustrated, but people get sick. Besides, I liked Skyspook. And he’d seemed miserable to me earlier.

“Friends are always letting me down,” she continued. “But I really thought he was different.”

“Different?” I asked.

She talked about her hopes from before, when he first moved in. That he’d become her cuddle buddy. That they’d spend more time together. Instead, he had saved up for his own house and moved out. And now she rarely saw him.

“You should make plans to hang out with him when he’s feeling better. I bet he’d glad to,” I offered.

“I don’t know,” she said. And rayed off again in another direction, criticizing the quality of other work he’d done for her. Something about the wiring in one room. The drywall in another.

I couldn’t really follow it. Not my area of expertise. And it didn’t help my focus that I kept wondering over and over the same thing. Until I found myself speaking it aloud, “If you’re frustrated with Skyspook, why don’t you talk to him about it?”

“I just want someone to be a real friend to me,” Michelle said.

*

Michelle continued to complain about Skyspook for months.

And her doing so got progressively more awkward as Skyspook and I became closer friends. And even weirder after we became lovers.

“Michelle,” I would say. “This is probably something you should be saying to Skyspook, not me.”

But she never did take it up directly with him.

*

I’ve previously written about the unique challenges of being “stuck in the middle” in polyamory (here and here).

Having metamours can be a truly wonderful thing. Our partner’s other partners can become some of our best friends and greatest social supports.

And while it’s often a lot more comfortable to vent to a third party, we ultimately still need to directly communicate with people about what concerns us.

It can be difficult and scary to talk openly with people who matter to us.

But if we don’t? We’re basically choosing for it to continue. Choosing unhappiness.

Besides, a healthy relationship can handle us having needs and sharing those.

As I wrote in PQ 5.11:

When we’re afraid to tell people what they are and worry that we will ruin the connection by communicating these things, we deprive others of the opportunity to be there for us. It can be difficult, and I’ve fallen into this trap myself. A string of bad relationships had taught me that to ask for help and to share what I wanted was dangerous.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that people tend to look very similar so long as you are saying yes to everything they want from you and asking little to nothing of them. But by putting ourselves out there and walking that line, calibrating that balance of give and take? That’s when we really know that a connection will work for us and our life.

*

This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

 

Liked it? Take a second to support Poly.Land on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

You may also like