“I forgot how exhausting you are to talk to,” my ex says.
We’d been having what I thought was a fairly pleasant conversation when he says this. And even once he does, I try my best not to take offense. He is a blunt person, after all. Always has been. His frankness is part of why I was attracted to him in the first place. He’s one of those people who are confident, sure of themselves. And I typically am full of doubts.
“Not that that’s a bad thing. You’re not annoying or difficult,” he clarifies. “You just say a lot. You never seem to run out of energy.”
“Ah,” I reply, not quite sure what to say.
I’ve found that when someone tells you that you talk a lot that there’s not a lot you can do. Part of you becomes defensive and wants to argue with them, but the problem is twofold: Arguing about how you do not talk too much inevitably involves a lot of talking, which seriously undermines your point. And two, if you’re even marginally self-aware, you know they’re right — as defensive as you feel.
We talk a bit more after this but in fits and starts. I match his volume of conversation, all the while feeling like it is too much, like he hopes I will limbo under him and say less than him.
Being Actively Encouraged to Learn & Talk About What I’ve Learned
After this conversation is over, my husband wants to chat. He shares an interesting article about some science news. We talk about the implications and limitations. We bandy back and forth comparing and contrasting it to other things we’ve read, other things we know.
We’ve done this so many times, sharing what we’ve just learned with the other person and discussing it. And it’s not just one arena: We talk about physics, medicine, and nature, yes — but also about history, logistics, and business. There really isn’t a single thread running through it, other than we both love to learn. And we never stop.
He sends me information about niche topics I’m particularly fascinated with. And I do the same for him.
As we’re chatting, it occurs to me that he’s never once called me exhausting to talk to. And he’s even more introverted than my ex. Now, that doesn’t mean I can’t talk too much or overload him. I certainly can, if I’m not careful (which I try to be) and morph into the extrovert stereotype, monologuing at 8 am and singing songs like I’m in a musical before people have had a chance to have coffee (I’ve met extroverts like that, and they even get to me).
But we seem to both enjoy learning (and teaching one another), instead of viewing the process as exhausting or an obstacle.
It’s wonderful. We’re always learning — separately and together.
Yes, we’re imperfect humans. And yes, we’re probably not for everyone.
But I have to say that’s probably my favorite thing about my life, even on the tough days: I love having someone to learn with — about the world, about others, and about myself.