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how can i be open, communicate better and learn how to talk about my feelings with out getting so upset?
November 7, 2007 6:06 PM   Subscribe

ok so does he really think he can replace me entirely? how can communicate how i feel?

ive been going out with ma boy for about 6 months during which time we have never been in a fight before

he hardly ever gets mad and i hardly do ever either but when he does upset me i normally don't say anything about it im the type of person that finds it reeeeeal hard to talk about feelings does anyone else get that?
i want to get better at communicating how i feel but don't know where to start sometimes if im real upset i feel if i say anything i mite cry and i never like other ppl seeing me cry any suggestions?

anyway last nite me and my boy had a conversation,
he was saying that everyone can b replaced
i was saying yes they can but it will never be excatly the same - example an employee of yours quits and you replace him but no one works exactly the same way he will have a different approach and view on things
he said that you can easily find someone the same or almost pretty much the same and kept repeating that everyone can be replaced which i disagreed with
what i really should have said to him was 'so do you think you can replace me easily then?'
however i ddnt think fast enough instead i kept my mouth shut
later on i said so what if a i died?
he said then id wait a year and then find someone else
fair enough if i died i would want him to move on but although he never used the words directly it upsets me that he thinks he can replace me entirely every single bit of me...

i had a mate say that to us once and not as a joke that she could easily replace us and even that hurt!

its not til the next day at work when i properly sit down and think about it and although its a little thing it really really hurt me
made me feel like i was of little value to him that he believed i could easily b replaced!

from what ive told you do u think im making a big deal out of nothing?
i wish i had asked that question to set things straight that would stop me from over analysing things like i am now! so h ow can i be open, communicate better and learn how to talk about my feelings with out getting so upset?
if someone close to you said that you could easily be replaced would you be mad?

thanks for the help guys :)
posted by cathec to Human Relations (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you need to learn how to communicate.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:08 PM on November 7, 2007 [73 favorites]


You sound very young to me, cathec. Are there any youth counselors you have access to? If you're willing to share the region where you live I could probably point you towards some resources.

More generally, almost anyone would feel hurt by the sense that they're replaceable...but I'm going to presume you haven't brought this up with him...and you probably should. Share your feeling directly with him and see how he takes it...it'll help you more directly than posting here.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:22 PM on November 7, 2007


Sheesh, I think I'd have saved the five bucks and used Yahoo Answers or something if I were you, cathec.

Additionally, yes, you're making a big deal out of nothing. If you're looking to be totally irreplaceable, that seems selfish and cruel. "I died, so I guess you get to be lonely forever!" totally ignores the fact that there's someone else in the relationship other than you, with needs and desires all their own.

Be glad that your significant other doesn't think you're "The One" to the point where he'd try to kill himself if you left, or to the point where he'd stalk you in hopes of getting you back. The idea that someone is totally unique and can never be replaced is behind a whole lot of domestic violence situations.

I seriously doubt you hold yourself to similar standards. If your boyfriend died, would you become a nun forever?
posted by InnocentBystander at 6:30 PM on November 7, 2007


I'm going to guess your boy is under the age of 25. Guys have a way of saying callous-sounding things and defending them out of a twisted (but probably internally consistant) sense of logic. It's partly a tough-guy/tough-minded fascade. And it's partly because they don't have a lot of experience with loss or being mindful of other people's feelings.

A while back, a girl I was going out with for a couple years had a similar question. She asked if I believed anything was for certain or permanent. I said I thought that nothing was certain; that anything could change. And we went back and forth much as you did. I got hung up on some BS philosophic point that nothing is certain in the cold scientific Universe. It took me a months to realize that she was referring to how I felt about her. And I was wrong.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:35 PM on November 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


"If I'm not everything I'm nothing" is no way to go through life, and it will kill you if you don't develop a more sophisticated sense of your place in the world. Just my 2 pence.
posted by rhizome at 6:36 PM on November 7, 2007 [11 favorites]


If he's saying this kind of thing all the time, maybe it's him that feels replaceable. Maybe he feels like he's not special. You could tell him that he's unique, and while you could find someone else, it would never be like it is with him.

Or maybe he's feeling insecure in another relationship -- his family? His work? You need to ask him about this.

Sometimes, when people feel bad, they try to make themselves feel better by making other people feel bad. You shouldn't put up with that kind of behavior for too long, but you can ask him why he's doing it. He may not even realize why he is saying these hurtful things, but maybe you both can figure it out together.

Good luck! If you can help him, great, but don't forget to take care of yourself.
posted by amtho at 6:37 PM on November 7, 2007


Maybe he can't tell you from an Eliza bot.

Or maybe he meant that the quiddity of people is material, ie a statement on the Star Trek transporter philosophy problem.

Or maybe he has DNA from you that he believes will be clonable within his lifetime.

Or maybe he's a jerk and you're a spaz? I mean, when I encounter people who are having weird relationship over-reactions and mega-drama, I usually start out with the assumption of a jerk/spaz axis.
posted by klangklangston at 6:45 PM on November 7, 2007 [11 favorites]


I'd be hurt too if someone I was dating thought I was completely replaceable. I think most people would. Even my most casual friends are distinct enough I wouldn't say I could find an exact replacement.

Communicating is hard especially with someone you're close to (or want to be close to) because it means opening up, letting them know how you feel, letting them know what you really care about, letting them see you cry. It makes you vulnerable: maybe they'll think less of you; maybe they'll use it to hurt you or manipulate you.

So, looking at it from the other side, that might be why he doesn't want to admit you're not interchangeable. Maybe it scares him to think you could leave him and he'd never find someone quite the same. Maybe he doesn't want to have that vulnerability.

Or maybe not. Maybe he really doesn't see you as any different from the next girl. That would suck, and if it's the case, you should ditch him and find someone better.

But anyway. If you're this upset you should bring it up again. Tell him that what he said "made me feel like i was of little value to him". Maybe he doesn't understand why this makes you feel bad. Maybe he values you but doesn't think about it in the same way. Or maybe he just thinks of you as a generic placeholder for the "girlfriend" slot. You've got to just keep trying.
posted by hattifattener at 6:51 PM on November 7, 2007


I think your mind is moving faster than your words come out. And, you may need to drop this particular guy, not the next will be better, but, you'll see that can break up without it being the end of anyone's world. Change is good.
posted by kellyblah at 6:55 PM on November 7, 2007


You do sound pretty young. One of the nice things about being young is being able to come up with an outlandish idea (e.g. "everyone can be replaced") and just run with it for a while. It's also fun and intellectually stimulating to talk over your ideas with your friends.

I'd hesitate to bring it up if you think that the conversation is going to end in tears. He said, "Everyone is replaceable, " but you heard, "You're replaceable." And yeah: one of the things that sucks about being young is that it's sometimes hard to realize that not everything people think is about you.

He'll eventually learn that not everyone is replaceable. Someone very close to him will die, or move away, or distance themselves from him, and he'll feel that loss. Until that happens, he's playing with abstract ideas.

Counseling is a great idea. It's a safe way to learn how to talk about your feelings, and even bring up some outlandish ideas of your own.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:00 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh my god. Yes, you are making a big deal out of nothing. You took some quasi-metaphysical conversation you two were having and you totally personalized it. Then, you festered about it and after festering you brooded and you are still brooding. Is it self-destructive to pout about something that hurt your feelings that the guy has no idea about? Men are not mind readers, no one is, and this is the kind of thing that drives men nuts--that female reaction to something that wasn't meant that way at all. I think you not only need to learn to communicate, but you need to take 10 giant steps backwards when you get little hurt feelings and try and determine exactly what the cause of it is. Maybe is is more the idea in general that you are replaceable and not the fact your boyfriend said it.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:17 PM on November 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


A.) Yes, the reality is, pretty much everyone in a relationship is replaceable. The person you are with now may feel like your world, and you can't may not be able to imagine living without them.

This is an illusion.

You will probably not be with you forever. That is a fact of life. Your current SO isn't really your world.

Chances are after this relationship ends someone else will come along to take their place. And soon you will feel this (or a similar way) about them also.

B.) Despite the fact this is the reality of the situation, when dealing with a significant other guys should learn to ignore reality and focus on making your partner feel secure.

This is all part of the dance.
posted by Ceci n'est pas une marionnette de chaussette at 9:15 PM on November 7, 2007


On talking about feelings - consider keeping a diary, or a (private) blog. Practice trying to articulate how you feel, and why, about what, with no audience but yourself. Once you can write stuff down about how you feel, and think you can represent yourself accurately, then try talking about it with your boyfriend. Also, bring a box of tissues, just in case. Above all else, communication skills require practice and honesty.

Crying sucks. I should know; it happens to me a lot, and then I go a funny colour, and its really obvious for a couple of hours afterwards (if I'm lucky), and sometimes my face swells up and it looks like I'm having an allergy attack, and it's a totally pain in the ass. But it happens, and it's a reasonably natural reaction to a turbulent emotional state.

On the replacement thing - well, I'm not a believer in One Twue Wuv. That is, whilst I love my husband very deeply, cherish him, and would be incredibly grieved if he left my life - I would eventually (probably in a few years or so) get over it, and find someone else. In that sense, he is replaceable - he completes my life, but he's not the only one capable of doing that in the world. Which is not at all the same as saying I want to replace him - if we die of old age in bed together, that's fine by me, and optimal as far as I'm concerned. Also, no-one else would be exactly the same - there's a shared history, language, injokes, mannerisms, patterns of behaviour that are different between any two (or more) people that associate intimately for a long time. And I would miss him until the day I died. In that sense, he is not replaceable.

You sound quite young. Working on those communication skills is probably a very good idea.
posted by ysabet at 9:35 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Rule one of a successful relationship: You're not allowed to get mad, feel bad or have sucky feelings about the person you're with unless you tell that person what's going on and give him a chance to explain, defend or redeem himself.

You know how it can take you a day or two to even start to figure out what you're thinking or feeling? That works both ways. So take some time, figure it out, then tell him and ask him not to respond at all. After he has some time, maybe he'll have something to say or maybe he won't.

Also, PLEASE learn how to spell, capitalize and write. If you want anyone to take your written ideas seriously, you need to be literate.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:26 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here is a lesson in communication: The way you present your message has a lot to do with how it's received. Not just what you say, but how you say it.




In addition to that mutiply applicable principle, I might suggest that your cathexis upon this lad, or upon the relationship between you, or most particularly upon the idea of his loving you, has gone a little far. You need to decathect or you're going to drive yourself and him, and many unwilling observers completely crazy.

Meanwhile, you need to talk with him. Practice this by writing out what you might say. You'll be tempted to fill in his side of the dialogue for him. Don't, or you won't listen to him when he speaks. This is for your benefit—to find how to say what you really mean, to decide whether you will trade truth and kindness for drama or not. Then go to speak with him about your hurt feelings without preconceptions about how it's going to turn out. He's got to learn something from you and you've got to learn something from him, and learning only happens when you're vulnerable to surprises.
posted by eritain at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


It doesn't matter than anyone can be replaced.

It matters that although we could replace each other, and there may be good reasons to replace each other, we choose not to. You may be a little crazy and he could probably replace you easily.

But he doesn't want to.
posted by ewkpates at 7:15 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


from what ive told you do u think im making a big deal out of nothing?

No, the biggest issue here isn't that he thinks you're apparently replaceable -- it's that he's expressing this to you, whom he supposedly loves very much. It's not incorrect, really, but it is a bit discomfort-inducing. No one would argue that people aren't vulnerable to knives, but I'm not about to sit down with a girlfriend and whisper, "Just so you know, if I cut your throat while you slept, you would bleed until you die."

so h ow can i be open, communicate better and learn how to talk about my feelings with out getting so upset?


You should practice logically assessing how you feel in the moment, which requires making yourself vulnerable. For example, telling him "this upsets me", and then working out why it does so you guys can talk through this. I don't think he was acting maliciously, just a bit carelessly. If you talk about why you were upset by this with him, he may be more tactful in the future.

if someone close to you said that you could easily be replaced would you be mad?

I wouldn't disagree with their assessment of human relations, but I'd be kinda hurt and weirded out that they felt they should tell me that.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:42 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, cathec. You can never be replaced. Take my honest-to-god word for it.
posted by koeselitz at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Rewritten for easier readability:
--

Okay, so does he really think he can replace me entirely? How can I communicate how I feel?

I've been going out with my boy for about 6 months, during which time we have never been in a fight. He hardly ever gets mad and I hardly do ever either. But when he does upset me I normally don't say anything about it.

I'm the type of person that finds it really hard to talk about feelings. I want to get better at communicating how I feel, but I don't know where to start. Sometimes if I'm really upset, I feel if I say anything I might cry, and I never like other people seeing me cry. Any suggestions?

Anyway, last night me and my boy had a conversation. He was saying that everyone can be replaced. I was saying, yes they can but it will never be exactly the same - for example, an employee of yours quits and you replace him, but no one works exactly the same way. He will have a different approach and view on things. He said that you can easily find someone the same, or almost pretty much the same, and kept repeating that everyone can be replaced, which I disagreed with. What I really should have said to him was, 'So do you think you can replace me easily then?' However I didn't think fast enough, instead I kept my mouth shut.

Later on I said, so what if I died? He said, then I'd wait a year and then find someone else. Fair enough, if I died I would want him to move on, but although he never used the words directly it upsets me that he thinks he can replace me entirely, every single bit of me...

I had a mate say that to us once, and not as a joke, that she could easily replace us, and even that hurt!

It's not until the next day at work that I properly sit down and think about it, and although it's a little thing, it really, really hurt me. It made me feel like I was of such little value to him that he believed I could easily be replaced!

From what I've told you do you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing?

I wish I had asked that question to set things straight. That would stop me from over analysing things like I am now! So how can I be open, communicate better and learn how to talk about my feelings without getting so upset? If someone close to you said that you could easily be replaced, would you be mad?

Thanks for the help guys.
posted by russilwvong at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


MeTa.

If someone close to you said that you could easily be replaced would you be mad?

My general rule is: Don't be offensive, and don't be easily offended. I don't think I'd be particularly offended by the conversation that you recount.

I'm the type of person that finds it really hard to talk about feelings. I want to get better at communicating how I feel, but I don't know where to start.

You might find it helpful to take a workshop on assertiveness or self-esteem. We don't know where you are, but here in Vancouver they're offered by non-governmental family service agencies like Catholic Family Services.

I'd recommend reading When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, by Manuel Smith. A good book on assertiveness.

Maybe you should also read How To Dump a Guy, by Kate Fillion and Ellen Ladowsky. That isn't to say that you should dump your boyfriend, but it's useful to know how to do it in case you need to in the future. Plus it's extremely funny.
posted by russilwvong at 11:07 AM on November 8, 2007


Here's an important life tip that you can take away from this: never ask someone a question if you're only prepared to hear one answer.

This applies to reductio ad absurdum arguments like Am I replaceable, all the way to "Would you mind taking out the garbage?" Yes. Sometimes people mind. So the way to communicate your feelings is to quit dancing around them and to speak them directly.

Of course you're replaceable, but that's not what you care about. Ask him if he WANTS to replace you, and therein lies the answer you seek.
posted by headspace at 11:09 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Oh, and by the way:

cathec: "if someone close to you said that you could easily be replaced would you be mad?"

Yes, cathec. I would. And you should. People who care about each other shouldn't talk to each other that way. But he probably didn't know what he was saying.
posted by koeselitz at 1:07 PM on November 8, 2007


Dave Barry on the difference between men and women.
posted by russilwvong at 11:20 PM on November 10, 2007


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