When You’re Tired of Being the Only Person Who Knows There’s a Problem in Your Relationship

a closeup of a very sad black and white dog.
Image by Carmela Nava / CC BY

“I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this,” he says.

“I really want to work on fixing the problem,” I say.

“What problem?” he says. “You’re the only one who thinks it’s a problem.”

And as I stand there, aching from what he’s just said, it occurs to me that this might be the biggest problem of them all: That we disagree on whether there is one in the first place.

*

Everyone knows that successful relationships take work. But what happens if the other person refuses to do it? Or even acknowledge that there’s work to be done?

I’ve always found this to be the hardest.

*

“Drop it,” he says. “I can’t deal with this right now.”

And so I do. I can hear the frustration in his voice and get where he’s coming from. I have no problem with him taking a step back, getting space in the moment if he needs it.

But will we ever get back to this? I wonder.

Or will I be relegated to an existence where I’m carrying this hurt alone? A purgatory of one-sided problems.

Dismissing Someone Else Sends the Message That Their Emotions Are the Real Problem

And it isn’t just that you can’t fix a relationship problem unless everyone acknowledges it (although that’s true).

When you dismiss someone enough times, it sends another message: That their emotions are the problem.

*

Healthy relationships thrive on a foundation of mutual understanding, on working together to really know and appreciate the person we’re spending time with. Honoring their emotional inner life — the joys and challenges.

As Steven Covey writes, “When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.”

But when you don’t? It’s like choking them.

*

My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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