Dealing with differing problem-solving styles.
January 4, 2012 9:58 AM Subscribe
How do my girlfriend and I deal with differing styles of communication? I'm a wait to talk it out person, and she's a talk it out now person.
When one of us is upset, I like to take time to think about how I feel about the situation, gather what I'm going to say, and try to identify the real issue and possible solutions. Then I like to come back and talk about it so I can say "This situation bothered me because X." or "I'm sorry I did X, that was wrong of me because Y and I won't do it again."
I might try talking it out at the time but if emotions get too high or I feel like I'm going to cry or something I prefer to take time to cool off. If she starts crying or getting angry, I instantly freeze up and want to leave the situation until we've cooled down. I know this means I totally suck at comforting her at times, and yeah I need to work on that.
If we decide to talk later I'm perfectly capable of going about my day and cheering up and not really thinking of the issue and talking about things later, or just not talking about them if I find that after some time I'm no longer upset about the issue.
My girlfriend is the opposite. She likes to talk things out at the moment, express how she's feeling and get the conversation over with. She feels alone when I avoid the conversation, and while I'm off taking time to cool off she'll be upset and beating herself up until we can resume the conversation. It also tends to make her more upset if we wait to talk about things because she believes in talking things out and not going to bed angry. If I start to cry, I'll generally try to leave and she'll wrap her arms around me and won't let me go until I cry on her shoulder because she wants to be there for me and hates to leave me alone when I'm upset.
She's told me that when we leave an issue alone she'll often end up going to bed crying and feeling alone that night. She likes to solve problems by getting all the emotions out there, solving the problem or apologizing or what-have-you at that moment and then cuddling together while we make sure we've gotten everything out there so there's no lingering anger/upsetness.
The differing styles have caused a problem with solving things. A lot of the time, I'll want to talk about it later but she won't leave until I talk about it. I feel pressured to have the conversation, which generally results in me not really contributing much to the talk and her feeling worse because of it. When I do talk about it, I'll either hit a point where I feel like crying and want to leave the room, which doesn't go well, or we'll make up but I'll feel resentful about being "forced" to talk about something when I wasn't ready.
On the other hand, when she agrees to let something go until later she usually feels like I didn't care enough about her feelings to try to resolve what was upsetting her. Or she'll feel like I'm making things about me and what I need at the time (to be alone.) It really, really upsets her if we're having an argument and I ask her to leave, which is what I tend to do if I find myself getting too upset. She's told me she feels like she has to be upset alone.
We're both really happy with each other otherwise. We talked about the possibility of just not being right for each other and both agreed that we want to stay together. However, we really need to find a compromise for this issue. She suggested a compromise that if I don't want to talk about something until later that's fine, as long as I give her a hug when she's feeling upset instead of trying to exit the situation. I agreed, but I feel like that's not fair to her because in the end we're still not talking about it.
I'm sure we're not the only couple with these differing styles, so what are some compromises you've found?
Additional maybe relevant info: We're both women. I'm 21 and she's 22. We've been seeing each other for eight months. I've tried to describe the communication styles equally so hopefully I don't come off as biased! I love this girl so much and really want to work things out.